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It seems like we’ve written about more anniversary cigars in recent weeks than I care to remember. From company and store anniversaries to personal anniversaries and even anniversaries of certain cigar lines, it feels like hardly a week goes by without a cigar to celebrate something.

Which is why I was a bit taken back by my colleague Charlie Minato’s opening line in his article announcing that this cigar, the HVC 500 Years Anniversary, had begun shipping back in October.

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Every HVC cigar is a tribute to Havana, Cuba…

That is very true, and as Charlie noted the company’s name comes from an abbreviation for Havana City. While HVC—the brand—hasn’t been around for 500 years, the city for which it is named has been, and as such this cigar celebrates that.

 

 

 

In celebration of Havana’s quincentennial, Reinier Lorenzo created a Nicaraguan puro using AGANORSA tobacco, with a corojo 99 wrapper from Jalapa, a binder of undisclosed varietal also from Jalapa, and criollo 98 and corojo 99 fillers from Jalapa from Estelí.

He is offering it in a 5 7/8 x 52 parejo vitola, which Lorenzo said is known as the Tesoros vitola in Cuba, though that name isn’t found on one of the most definitive resources on the matter, CubanCigarWebsite.com. Instead, it’s referred to as the Cañonazo or Cañonazo (T), a size best known as being used for the Cohiba Siglo VI.

It’s also a limited edition, with 1,333 boxes of 15 cigars produced by Tabacos Valle de Jalapa S.A., the factory often referred to as TABSA.

  • Cigar Reviewed: HVC 500 Years Anniversary
  • Country of Origin: Nicaragua
  • Factory: Tabacos Valle de Jalapa 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: October 2019
  • Number of Cigars Released: 1,333 Boxes of 15 Cigars (19,995 Total Cigars)
  • Number of Cigars Smoked For Review: 3

The HVC 500 Years Anniversary wears a fairly medium and familiar shade of brown that could be described as well-tanned or nutty, with a few veins and occasionally visible seam lines, but it’s a pretty decent looking leaf. The roll also appears good and is on the firm side as well as consistent from sample to sample, with just the occasional spot offering a bit more give. The heads are also constructed quite well, with one cap about as perfectly round as I see on a cigar. The foot has an interesting and complex aroma that has orange jam, wheat toast and black pepper as the three standouts, though it definitely seems like there is more there. There is a lightness that is almost floral, while the initial orange note blossoms and ranges from peach to mandarins with very levels of syrupy sweetness tagging along. The cold draw is a bit more straightforward with peanuts and peanut butter, plus a bit of creamy sweetness to boot. There’s surprisingly little pepper here, with a bit of sensation coming from just a bit of the wheat flavor.

The HVC 500 Years Anniversary begins with a very interesting and engaging flavor that mixes smooth creaminess as the base note with a bright but balanced black pepper that plays very well through the nose. It’s a profile that seems both relaxed and hyper at the same time, depending on which side you choose to focus, yet before long the hyper side wins out as the pepper gets a touch irritating on the back of the throat. After the first clump of ash falls, the pepper gets markedly brighter through the nose, leaving an extended tingle in its wake. On the palate, the smoke has become a bit rougher, leaving a subtle but noticeable irritation on the back of the throat. Thankfully there is some very enjoyable nuttiness and aromatic woods that complement the pepper and set the base for much of the first third, helping the cigar settle in around the medium mark in terms of flavor and strength. The technical performance has been very good, with an even burn line, smooth draw, and no shortage of smoke production.

As with most cigars, incorporating retrohales is the ideal way to get the complete picture of what a cigar has to offer, though they must be done in tandem with getting the smoke on the palate. I mention that as I find myself retrohaling one sample more than I probably should, which has focused my mind almost exclusively on the bright pepper, almost to the exclusion of what else the cigar has to offer, which is a combination of mixed nuts, black pepper and a bit of smokiness on both of those aspects. The aroma of the smoke is a bit lighter and brighter, with the pepper shedding the char and getting a bit more fragrant by way of a flavor that has something similar to a sourdough roll character. The transition to the final third begins with a bit more nuttiness though moves to hazelnut at times as opposed to what I think of from a typical can of mixed nuts, along with a bit of citrus sweetness hitting the senses. The progression of the burn line feels like it slows a good bit during the second third as well, and I’m having to readjust my estimate of how long it will take to smoke this cigar, but otherwise, the technical performance has been quite good. The profile is a bit more vibrant in terms of flavor, now at medium-plus, while strength remains at the medium level or even a tick below, depending on the sample.

The home stretch of the HVC 500 Years Anniversary brings on what may well be its more complex and enjoyable profile as the first noticeable change is that things get a bit smokier, as the nuttiness picks up a well-roasted finish before the entire profile seems to get thrown over a charcoal grill for a few minutes. The aroma reminds me of a large grill with a number of things on it from chicken to vegetables, while the flavor picks up a bit more earth. Right as the burn line approaches where the bands would otherwise be, there is a significant onset of creaminess to the profile that lightens both the flavor and the texture of the smoke as it hits the tongue. The draw also feels a bit more open, which leads to a bit of over-puffing the cigar but thankfully doesn’t adversely affect the flavor. The pepper has a tendency to get much brighter on the senses, including the eyes as some puffs result in a stinging smoke you want nowhere near your corneas. Other than that, the flavor stays complex with sweet creaminess setting the overall tone with a healthy amount of black and white pepper, roasted nuts, hearty bread and the occasional bit of caramel bringing the cigar to its conclusion at a medium-plus level of flavor and medium level of strength. The technical performance remains stellar as I haven’t even looked at my lighter since the first puffs and plenty of smoke results from each smooth and easy puff.

Final Notes

  • I’m not particularly crazy about the Habanos-style Limited Edition band on the HVC 500 Years Anniversary, or any other cigar that uses it, for that matter. I’d much rather see a unique design that better matches the main band’s design.
  • To go back to the Tesoros vitola name, there was a cigar called the Saint Luis Rey Tesoros, an Edición Regional for Spain that was released in 2017. It measured 4 3/8 x 52, a petit robusto vitola that is formally known as the Petit Edmundo.
  • There was also the Bolívar Tesoro, another Edición Regional release, though this time for Germany in 2016. That cigar was a massive 7 1/4 x 57 salomón.
  • I don’t know how it will do in the voting for the packaging awards, but I really like the use of the Havana skyline on the HVC 500 Years Anniversary boxes. I really love the skylines of big cities, and to see it represented here was a plus. It’s one of those boxes that I like enough to consider displaying somehow.
  • I was a bit surprised to see one of the wrappers develop some small cracks as it doesn’t seem like it’s that thin or fragile of a leaf. The other two were problem-free, but it might be worth keeping in mind if you intend to smoke this in a dry environment.
  • There is very little nicotine strength in the HVC 500 Years Anniversary, something that is very much appreciated both on its own and that it frees the cigar’s flavor and aroma from any distracting strength.
  • I was a bit surprised by the smoking time of this cigar, as nothing seemed to indicate it would take as long as it did to smoke, yet somehow it did.
  • The cigars for this review were sent to halfwheel by HVC.
  • Final smoking time was two hours and 10 minutes on average.
  • Site sponsors Cigar Hustler and Famous Smoke Shop carry the HVC 500 Years Anniversary.
91 Overall Score

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.

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Patrick Lagreid
About the author

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.

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