Almost exactly one month after the Guardian of the Farm Guapo H-Town Lancero hit the shelves of Houston-based STOGIES World Class Cigars, the 14th addition to the Houston-based retailer’s most popular series was released.

STOGIES’ H-Town Series—named after the store’s home city of Houston, which has long been known as H-Town—is the brainchild of store co-owner Jorge Ahued, who is known for his love of the lancero vitola. To that end, in 2013 he commissioned a number of different manufacturers to produce lanceros in various blends to be sold exclusively at his store. Interestingly, while the series was originally scheduled to end after just 10 releases, it has continued past that point and now constitutes 14 different cigars, all of which measure one of three different lancero sizes: 7 x 38, 7 x 40 or 7 1/2 x 38.

The newest addition to the series is the A.J. Fernández Bellas Artes H-Town Lancero, a brand new 7 x 38 box-pressed lancero that is the first new vitola since the regular production line was originally introduced during the 2016 IPCPR Convention & Trade Show. According to the company, the cigars incorporate tobacco that is aged for at least three years. However, while the box-pressed lancero vitola is unique in the Bellas Artes line, the H-Town Lancero features the same blend: a Nicaraguan wrapper covering a Nicaraguan Havana 92 binder and filler tobaccos sourced from Brazil, Honduras and Nicaragua.

The cigars were rolled at Tabacalera AJ Fernandez Cigars de Nicaragua S.A. factory in Estelí, Nicaragua and were put on sale at STOGIES on Dec. 8, 2018.

There are now five different vitolas in the Bellas Artes line.

  • Bellas Artes Robusto Extra Robusto (5 x 52) — 2016 — Regular Production — $8.80 (Boxes of 20, $176)
  • Bellas Artes Robusto Extra Short Churchill (6 x 48) — 2016 — Regular Production — $8.30 (Boxes of 20, $166)
  • Bellas Artes Robusto Extra Toro (6 x 54) — 2016 — Regular Production — $9.50 (Boxes of 20, $190)
  • Bellas Artes Robusto Extra Gordo (6 1/2 x 60) — 2016 — Regular Production — $10.50 (Boxes of 20, $210)
  • Bellas Artes H-Town Lancero (7 x 38) — 2018 — 100 Boxes of 10 Cigars (1,000 Total Cigars) — $9.50 (Boxes of 10, $95)

Prices above are the prices when the cigars were originally released.

In addition, there have now been 14 different cigars released in STOGIES H-Town Lancero Series.

  • Cigar Reviewed: Bellas Artes H-Town Lancero
  • Country of Origin: Nicaragua
  • Factory: Tabacalera AJ Fernandez Cigars de Nicaragua S.A. 
  • Wrapper: Nicaragua
  • Binder: Nicaragua (Quilalí Havana 92)
  • Filler: Brazil (Mata Norte), Honduras & Nicaragua (Estelí, Condega and Jalapa)
  • Length: 7 Inches
  • Ring Gauge: 38
  • Vitola: Lancero
  • MSRP: $9.50 (Boxes of 10, $95)
  • Release Date: Dec. 8, 2018
  • Number of Cigars Released: 100 Boxes of 10 Cigars (1,000 Total Cigars)
  • Number of Cigars Smoked For Review: 3

No matter how many times I see one, a box-pressed lancero still seems odd when held in my hand, and the Bellas Artes H-Town Lancero is no exception. The cigar is covered in a medium brown wrapper that is exceedingly smooth to the touch and features a noticeable amount of oil and is quite spongy when squeezed. The aroma from the foot is a combination of sweet hay, manure, sawdust, cedar, earth and raisins, while the cold draw brings flavors of cinnamon, citrus, leather, dark chocolate, cedar and a slight, indeterminate sweetness, along with a noticeable amount of spice on my tongue.

Starting out, the first third of the newest H-Town Lancero features a strong cedar note as the dominant flavor on the palate, followed by notes of sweet hay, leather, salted peanuts, espresso beans, anise and cinnamon in various amounts. A very nice caramel sweetness is noticeable on the retrohale, although it is a bit harder to pick up for the first 10 puffs or so due to the amount of black pepper that is also present.  There is also some very aggressive spice on my tongue that is stronger than the pepper for the entirety of the first third but seems to be calming down after that. Construction-wise, the draw is excellent after a straight cut, while the burn is uneven but non-problematic so far and smoke production is extremely dense off of the foot. The strength starts off fairly low, hitting a point a bit higher than halfway between the mild and medium marks by the end of the first third.

Thankfully, both the black pepper on the retrohale and the aggressive spice on my tongue recede significantly by the time the second third of the Bellas Artes Lancero begins, allowing more of the caramel sweetness to become noticeable. The dominant flavor on my palate has also morphed into a buttered popcorn note, interspersed with other flavors of rich espresso, creamy oak, earth, peanuts, leather and a touch of floral. Both the burn and the draw continue to impress, while the smoke continues to emanate from the foot like a house on fire. Finally, while the overall strength has increased, it still comes just short of hitting the medium mark by the time the second third comes to an end.
The final third of the Bellas Artes H-Town Lancero has few new changes when compared to the second third, although that is not a bad thing at all: both the buttered popcorn and caramel sweetness are dominant on the palate and retrohale respectively, with other flavors of cocoa nibs, leather, espresso beans, earth, hay and creamy peanuts flit in and out. While there is still a bit of black pepper noticeable on the retrohale, it is reduced quite a bit from its high point in the second third, and the spice on my tongue is long gone, never to return. In terms of construction, the draw is as good as ever, but the burn becomes problematic enough that I am forced to touch it up twice in rapid succession, while the smoke production remains extremely high. Strength-wise, the H-Town Lancero does hit the medium mark—and even goes a bit further than that—by the time I put the nub down with about an inch left.

Final Notes

  • The cover leaf on the Bell Artes line is fairly unique: basically, it is a hybrid wrapper named rojita that is a cross between Connecticut 8212, corojo 99 and Havana 2000 seeds, all of which are grown in Nicaragua.
  • In addition to the above, the Brazilian filler is sourced from the Mata Norte region of the county and is said to be high in nicotine content with prominent sweetness.
  • One sample had a very tight draw; while it was far from unsmokable, it was tight enough that it obviously affected the flavors in the profile that were fairly consistent between the other two cigars.
  • Editor’s Note: The difference between the score of that one sample and the other two was roughly 20 points. — CM.
  • The Bellas Artes Maduro that was introduced at last year’s ICPPR Convention & Trade Show took the 10th spot in halfwheel’s 2018 Top 25 awards.
  • Somewhat interestingly, I have reviewed the last four entries in the H-Town Series, going all the way back to October 2016 with the Neanderthal OM H-Town Lancero.
  • Ash falling quickly on a cigar this thin is not exactly shocking, but even so, I was a bit surprised that the ash fell about every quarter inch or so. This blend also produces smoke like a house on fire; not quite Liga Privada levels, but enough that it annoyed me a bit when I was smoking inside.
  • The cigars smoked for this review were sent to halfwheel by STOGIES World Class Cigars.
  • STOGIES World Class Cigars advertises on halfwheel.
  • The final smoking time for all three samples averaged one hour and 43 minutes, although that number is a bit inflated due to the one cigar that had a tight draw and therefore took longer to smoke.
  • If you would like to purchase any of the cigars, the only place you can get them is STOGIES World Class Cigars here.
84 Overall Score

As I mentioned in my recent review of the Guardian of the Farm Guapo H-Town Lancero, I hate it when one sample out of three has construction issues that are bad enough to lower the score significantly, but that was the case with the Bella Artes H-Town Lancero. While two cigars I smoked featured nice transitions and very enjoyable flavors that included buttered popcorn and creamy cedar along with a caramel sweetness on the retrohale, the tight draw one my second review cigar really affected the entire experience. Even with the draw issue, I can easily recommend these cigars, especially if you are a fan of both box-pressed lanceros and medium-bodied, full-flavored blends.

Brooks Whittington

I have been smoking cigars for over eight years. A documentary wedding photographer by trade, I spent seven years as a photojournalist for the Dallas Morning News and the Fort Worth Star Telegram. I started the cigar blog SmokingStogie in 2008 after realizing that there was a need for a cigar blog with better photographs and more in-depth information about each release. SmokingStogie quickly became one of the more influential cigar blogs on the internet, known for reviewing preproduction, prerelease, rare, extremely hard-to-find and expensive cigars. I am a co-founder of halfwheel and now serve as an editor for halfwheel.