Many cigar companies are inspired by Cuba, either due to family roots or in trying to make cigars with a Cuban-esque flavor profile, a broadly defined goal that can be accomplished in a number of ways and ultimately judged by the subjectivity of one’s palate.

But for HVC Cigars, every cigar is a tribute to Cuba, and in particular, the country’s capital city of Havana, which is fitting that HVC is shorthand for Havana City.

In 2019, the company celebrated the 500th anniversary of Havana by releasing a limited edition called the HVC 500 Years Anniversary. The cigar is a Nicaraguan puro, with a corojo 99 leaf grown in Jalapa used for the wrapper, a Jalapa-grown leaf of undisclosed varietal for the binder, and then criollo 98 and corojo 99 grown in Estelí and Jalapa for the filler.

The cigar was offered in a 5 7/8 x 52 robusto extra vitola that was produced by AGANORSA Leaf at its Nicaraguan factory, which at the time was known as Tabacos Valle de Jalapa S.A., or TABSA for short, but it now known as Agricola Ganadera Norteña S.A. It is where the first three sizes were rolled, while the most recent vitola, the Salomon, is produced by Fábrica de Tabacos HVC S.A. de Reinier Lorenzo, which is also in Estelí.

Since its launch, the HVC 500 Years Anniversary line has grown to include more vitolas, and this particular size became known as the HVC 500 Years Anniversary Tesoros.

Here’s what I said about the HVC 500 Years Anniversary when I reviewed it in December 2019:

The HVC 500 Years Anniversary is a beautiful cigar that comes in a beautiful box and smokes as good—if not better—than it looks to the eye. Other than a bit of roughness in the first third, the cigar’s profile is marked by lush creaminess and nuttiness that gets highlighted by some bright, vibrant pepper that shines both on the palate and through the nose on retrohales. Most impressive is how the cigar finds its balance after the first third and moves gracefully from there, never jumping too far from its core but never remaining monotonous. The experience is capped off by nearly flawless construction, with plenty of smoke, a very even burn line, and just the right amount of resistance on the draw. While I won’t attempt to rank it among Reinier Lorenzo’s other creations, this is certainly about as good of a cigar as I can remember from HVC and one I would highly recommend.

  • Cigar Reviewed: HVC 500 Years Anniversary Tesoros
  • Country of Origin: Nicaragua
  • Factory: Agricola Ganadera Norteña S.A.
  • Wrapper: Nicaragua (Jalapa Corojo 99)
  • Binder: Nicaragua (Jalapa)
  • Filler: Nicaragua (Estelí & Jalapa, Criollo 98 & Corojo 99)
  • Length: 5 7/8 Inches
  • Ring Gauge: 52
  • Vitola: Robusto Extra
  • MSRP: $10.60 (Box of 15, $159)
  • Release Date: September 2019
  • Number of Cigars Released: Regular Production*
  • Number of Cigars Smoked For Redux: 1

*The original release, which this cigar is from, was limited to 1,333 boxes of 15 cigars. However, last year HVC opted to make this a regular production vitola.

Much like the vast majority of the cigars in my redux humidor, I have passed by the HVC 500 Years Anniversary a number of times, waiting for a time when it would be closer to an even number of years since I first reviewed the cigar. Every time I moved it around, I noticed that it was a pretty good-looking cigar, and now that it’s time to smoke the cigar, that opinion still holds. The wrapper is a shade that can be described as well-tanned or nutty, depending on one’s preferred term. The veins are thin and small, and while the wrapper doesn’t appear to be very oily, it is very smooth to my fingers. The cigar is quite firm, feeling dense without even needing to it. The foot has a very mellow aroma that reminds me of plain cookie dough with just a bit of sweetness as part of that. The cold draw is on the firm side, while the flavor has some leanings towards that cookie dough flavor, but also a bit of peanut and a slightly oily texture that draws on both of those components.

The HVC 500 Years Anniversary starts with a profile that is quite like the cold draw, though now with a bit of pepper along with a bit of a more defined sensation of the flavors, as opposed to their softer expression before the cigar was lit. I’m not crazy about the firmness of the draw in the first puffs, as while it’s still within the range of being fine, it’s just a bit firmer than I would like and has me wondering how long it will take to get through the cigar. The first retrohales that I take are fairly light with just a touch of pepper and go back to the cookie dough sensation, now tasting like it is on a wood board with a dusting of flour on it and thus in the air as well. Until the point where the first clump of ash drops off, I find the profile to be fairly smooth and mellow, though not necessarily showing its age. Once that ash drops, the cigar wakes up by way of black pepper throughout the senses, while the rest of the profile picks up something I want to describe as being a bit of sharpness and simply an edgier profile than it had earlier. It’s not particularly sour or rough, and I don’t know if I can attribute to a specific flavor, but it is a notably more dynamic profile on the taste buds. In addition to the black pepper, retrohales get just a bit smokier as the midway point approaches, reminiscent of the aroma of a smoked cocktail. From there I get some graham cracker on my taste buds, along with a building creaminess. Even with the slightly firm draw, the first half of the cigar burns well, with an even burn line, dense ash, and good if not quite abundant smoke production. Flavor in the first half starts a bit more than mild and finishes right around medium, while the body has undergone a similar progression. Strength is mild thus far, with no immediate signs of nicotine.

While the first half of the HVC 500 Years Anniversary wasn’t particularly dry, the second half starts with a bit damper texture to its smoke. There are puffs where it seems like there is just a bit more humidity and others where I get a bit of oiliness as if from a handful of peanuts. The pepper hasn’t changed much, and neither have the other core components, as it seems like the cigar has stayed fairly consistent since that first clump of ash dropped off during the first third. The final third begins by flirting with a bit of woodiness, and there are times I get a bit of smokiness entering the profile, but it disappears almost as quickly as it appears. When the final third gets going, the profile shifts again and gets a bit more charred, almost getting a bit ashy or at least tasting a bit more like a smoked cigar as opposed to a cigar being smoked. I could make the case for a bit of a campfire sensation, though the finish has me thinking more of ash and char. An underlying sharpness begins to return as well, a change that I once again can’t attribute to a specific flavor, other than a bit of a generic tobacco sensation, as in when some bits from the head get into my mouth. A light, earthy pepper comes along in the final inch to give the cigar one last shift, particularly on the finish as my taste buds have a lingering tingle when I let the cigar rest for a bit. Flavor is medium to medium-plus in the second half, while body is medium-plus and strength has ticked up to just shy of medium. The draw remains a bit firm, but otherwise there is nothing regarding combustion or construction with which to take issue. It does prove to be a fairly slow-burning cigar, finishing up at two-and-a-half hours.

85 Overall Score

The HVC 500 Years Anniversary was certainly a fantastic cigar when it was released, and by-and-large it seems to have held onto most of what made it so good when I first smoked it about three years ago. The first half was the standout in this lone sample, as it was the more refined of the two halves and while mild, still offered an enjoyable smoking experience. The second half was a bit rougher and saw the flavor take on an ashy, slightly charred sensation that wasn't as enjoyable as what was offered in the first half, even though there were plenty of puffs that were palate-friendly. Given that the smoking time for this redux was 20 minutes longer than the average for the three samples smoked for the original review, I'd be interested to know if that had an effect on things, but even if they did, the HVC 500 Years Anniversary Tesoros is still enjoyable on the whole. That said, I'd certainly suggest smoking some sooner than later to make sure they're not on an overall downward trend.

Original Score (December 2019)
91
Redux Score (November 2022)
85
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Patrick Lagreid

I strive to capture the essence of a cigar and the people behind them in my work – every cigar you light up is the culmination of the work of countless people and often represents generations of struggle and stories. For me, it’s about so much more than the cigar – it’s about the story behind it, the experience of enjoying the work of artisans and the way that a good cigar can bring people together. In addition to my work with halfwheel, I’m the public address announcer for the Colorado Rockies and Arizona Diamondbacks during spring training, as well as for the Salt River Rafters of the Arizona Fall League, the WNBA's Phoenix Mercury and the Arizona Rattlers of the Indoor Football League. I also work in a number of roles for MLB.com, plus I'm a voice over artist. I previously covered the Phoenix and national cigar scene for Examiner.com, and was an editor for Cigar Snob magazine.