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The first day after Thanksgiving—otherwise known as Black Friday—has become more and more synonymous with shopping, crazy deals and even violence. In 2015, HVC Cigars released the first in what has now become an annual series for the company named for that day.

The latest version was rolled at Tabacos Valle de Jalapa S.A. (TABSA) in Estelí, Nicaragua and is comprised of a 5 x 50 robusto packaged in boxes of 50 with only 150 boxes produced that shipped to retailers on Nov. 12.

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However, while the previous three releases of the cigar were similar in many respects, it quickly became apparent that the newest release in HVC’s Black Friday Series had a number of differences: for one, at $7.40 each it is the most expensive yet and by quite a large margin. Secondly, it is the largest release in terms of overall numbers, with 50 percent more cigars produced than any of the prior releases. Finally, it is the first incarnation to not use solely Nicaraguan tobacco, with a blend that is composed of a Mexican San Andrés wrapper covering a Nicaraguan tobacco in both the binder and filler.

The HVC Black Friday 2018 Series now includes four different releases.

  • Cigar Reviewed: HVC Black Friday 2018
  • Country of Origin: Nicaragua
  • Factory: Tabacos Valle de Jalapa S.A.
  • Wrapper: Mexico (San Andrés)
  • Binder: Nicaragua
  • Filler: Nicaragua
  • Length: 5 Inches
  • Ring Gauge: 50
  • Vitola: Robusto
  • MSRP: $7.40 (Boxes of 50, $370)
  • Release Date: Nov. 12, 2018
  • Number of Cigars Released: 150 Boxes of 50 Cigars (7,500 Total Cigars)
  • Number of Cigars Smoked For Review: 3

When held in my hand, the HVC Black Friday 2018 has quite a bit of visual appeal, with a mocha brown wrapper that features both a bit of tooth as well as a bit of oil. While there there are a number of significant veins running up and down the length of the cigar, they are not overly distracting, and it is quite firm when squeezed. Aroma from the wrapper is a combination of manure, dark chocolate, grass, earth, nuts, coffee beans and a touch of floral while the cold draw brings flavors of leather, cedar, ground coffee, almonds and black pepper.

Starting out the first third, the HVC Black Friday 2018 features a dominant flavor that I can only describe as toasted bread, followed by other notes of bitter espresso beans, earth, baker’s spices, dried tea leaves, leather and a touch of hay in various amounts. There is a slight berry sweetness as well as some significant black pepper on the retrohale, along with a bit of tongue-tingling spice that seems to already be receding. Construction-wise, the draw is giving me just the right amount of resistance, but the burn is nowhere close to razor sharp and needs to be touched up almost immediately out of the gate. There is quite a bit of smoke production flowing from the foot, while the overall strength ends up well short of the medium mark by the time the second third begins.

Although the second third of the Black Friday 2018 features the same dominant flavor as the previous third—namely, toasted bread—there are some changes in the profile that become apparent, mostly after the halfway point. There are some new flavors of creamy oak and slight citrus, as well as flavors of generic nuts, espresso beans, leather and a tiny amount of hay. Both the berry sweetness and black pepper on the retrohale have decreased noticeably as well, while the spice that was present on my tongue is long gone by the halfway point. Thankfully, the burn has evened up nicely and requires no additional attention, and the draw continues to impress. Finally, the smoke production shows no signs of slowing down anytime soon, but the overall strength increases noticeably and easily hits the medium mark by the end of the second third.

The final third of the HVC seems to be a carbon copy of the second third with the same toast flavor easily taking the dominant spot on the palate, along with other notes of espresso beans, citrus, hay, dark cocoa nibs, leather, barnyard and anise pulling up the rear. The berry sweetness is still very present, but nowhere near the level that it was during in the first half, and the black pepper on the retrohale has almost totally disappeared. In terms of construction, the burn continues on its excellent course, and the draw is as good as ever, while the smoke production continues to be well above average. Finally, the overall strength has seemed to be content to remain around the same level as it was at the end of the second third, and I put the nub down with about an inch left still solidly in the medium range.

Final Notes

  • While the construction was overall quite good—the draw was particularly notable—I did have to touch up each of the samples at least once, although the burn never really threatened to get out of control at any point.
  • The box for this release has Classic Robusto written on it, which may be a true statement in the U.S. However, the classic Cuban robusto size is actually 4 7/8 x 50.
  • I liked this cigar enough to buy a box of them, but it annoys me quite a bit that I would be forced to purchase a cabinet of 50 of them, with no smaller box options.
  • The cigars smoked for this review were sent to halfwheel by HVC Cigars.
  • I was a little shocked at how fast these cigars smoked, even after I made an effort to slow down the puff rate. Final smoking time for all three samples averaged one hour and 8 minutes.
88 Overall Score

As I have mentioned before, I find the premise behind this release—and Black Friday in general, for that matter—to be pretty kitschy. Having said that, there is nothing kitschy about this series, as each that we have reviewed has done very well. Thankfully, the HVC Black Friday 2018 is no different: while not overly complex, it is quite flavorful, with a very interesting and distinct toasty note that remains dominant throughout as well as some noticeable berry sweetness on the retrohale. Throw in excellent balance and very good construction and you are left with a cigar that is well worth paying full price for.

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Brooks Whittington
About the author

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.
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