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As a special offer for retailers who attended the 2016 IPCPR Convention & Trade Show, HVC Cigars offered an additional size of its La Rosa 520 line, a 6 1/4 x 48 toro called the Reyes.

The guts of the La Rosa 520 remain the same in this new size; it’s a Nicaraguan puro made by Tabacos Valle de Jalapa S.A. (TABSA) in Estelí, Nicaragua and using a corojo 99 wrapper from Jalapa. Pricing is set at $11.80 per cigar or $118 for one of the 500 boxes of 10 cigars produced.

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The La Rosa line debuted in 2015 as a 5 1/2 x 54 robusto gordo that was limited to just 150 boxes of 20 cigars. In addition to the Reyes, HVC also put out a second batch this year, with 250 boxes of 20 produced and priced at $9.60 per cigar.

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As fans of HVC know, the company gets its name from an abbreviation from Havana City, Cuba, where company founder Reinier Lorenzo is from. Building on that theme, the La Rosa 520 line gets its name from the address where he lived in the city, with the boxes making that even more apparent as they bear a stamp that says “Special Delivery From: La Rosa 520 Havana City 10400.”

Tobaccos come from the TABSA-affiliated AGANORSA company with Lorenzo saying he was looking for tobaccos that reminded him of the San Luis and San Juan y Martínez regions of Cuba’s Pínar del Río province, which is the westernmost province in the country and home to the island’s famed tobacco fields.

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  • Cigar Reviewed: HVC La Rosa 520 Reyes
  • Country of Origin: Nicaragua
  • Factory: Tabacos Valle de Jalapa S.A. (TABSA)
  • Wrapper: Nicaraguan Corojo 99
  • Binder: Nicaragaua
  • Filler: Nicaragua
  • Length: 6 1/4 Inches
  • Ring Gauge: 48
  • Vitola: Toro
  • MSRP: $11.80 (Boxes of 10, $118)
  • Release Date: August 2016
  • Number of Cigars Released: 500 Boxes of 10 (5,000 Total Cigars)
  • Number of Cigars Smoked For Review: 3

I hate to call a cigar nondescript, but other than the short and stubby pigtail, the HVC La Rosa 520 Reyes is just that. The seams are flat but visible, and the wrapper offers a fair amount of vein structure to attract the eyes. The color is a fairly uniform shade that sits between Colorado claro and Colorado, though there are a few spots where the hue lightens a bit. A tiny pigtail sits atop a triple-capped head that is well applied, though the decoration looks a bit more like a fantail in all fairness. It’s a firm cigar without much give, though by no means does it feel overfilled or abnormally hard. The foot of the cigar offers a delicately sweet aroma that immediately has me thinking of bubble gum before conjuring up ideas of delicate pastries and assorted berry jams. There is a very faint hint of pepper tucked well into the background that only comes out after repeated sniffs. The cold draw is almost spot-on in terms of airflow and in the cigar with the dominant bubble gum note further shows it, making me think of Hubba Bubba Bubble Tape with notes of strawberry coming through most vividly. It’s not a consistent flavor however, as the other samples shift to wheat bread and faint strawberry jam.

There are a few flavors that I see my colleagues describe in cigar reviews that I rarely find myself experiencing, but the HVC La Rosa 520 Reyes crosses one of those off: bubble gum. The first sample leads off with the unmistakable flavor that combines a bit of dried strawberry with confectioners sugar to produce a distinct sweetness and flavor, though one not shared by every sample. The second is much more bread and wood driven, and as such seems to set a better launchpad for the pepper that the cigar contains. The bubble gum—when it appears—is a defining but not lasting flavor, as the cigar pivots to bring in some pepper and light coffee that is transported by a thick, creamy smoke, and I also get tastes of campfire and chocolate, almost enough of both to call it a s’more. The first clump of ash falls off at about an inch in length, and when it departs the cigar takes another step forward in pepperiness, particularly through the nose, and while the flavor doesn’t turn explicitly coffee-like, the suggestions of it are there with touches of acidity and roasted beans. The draw and burn have both been quite good, as has smoke production.

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After a first third that had a few transitions and variations, the HVC La Rosa 520 Reyes finds a consistent track to start its second third, gravitating towards the drier profile offered by smoky wood, coffee, wheat toast and pepper. By the midway point, the cigar has taken on a decidedly dry profile that has an underlying note of wood and light coffee that easily yields to the black pepper. While the sweetness is largely gone, I do find myself getting occasional hints of Butterfinger candy on the palate, namely the chocolate coating and peanut butter core, while touches of toffee—à la a Heath bar—also can be detected. There are also touches of campfire smokiness that add a bit more allure to both the flavor and aroma. The technical performance of the Reyes remains above average, as the consistent and even burn are so good that it’s easy to overlook them since neither needs any sort of attention.

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While there isn’t a dramatic shift in flavors at the start of the HVC La Rosa 520 Reyes’ final third, a bit of peppermint begins to come in and I’m getting a few suggestions that the bubble gum flavor might not be far behind, though it turns out not to be the case. Instead, the peppermint and sweetness quickly bow out so the pepper can return with brightness and a good bit of vigor for both the nose and tongue. The La Rosa 520 Reyes closes out with a bit less pepper and one more appearance from the early sweetness before needing to be put down. It nudges its way into medium-full bodied and strength at times, though tends to say a tick or two below both ranges for the better part of the cigar.

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Final Notes

  • While only 500 boxes of 10 were produced for the Reyes, it would make sense to think that more might be made, given the relative uncertainty of how FDA regulations will affect manufacturers releasing new sizes. No sense in letting a perfectly good vitola go to waste.
  • The original HVC La Rosa 520, which Charlie Minato reviewed in July 2015, finished number 10 on halfwheel’s top 25 cigars of 2015
  • HVC also released a new line called San Isidro at the 2016 IPCPR Convention & Trade Show, a regular production addition for the company’s portfolio.
  • I can’t say I noticed much in the way of harshness from the tobacco; there were a few spots that weren’t as smooth as others, but for the most part it was almost completely harshness-free.
  • I also can’t say that I felt a ton of strength from the HVC La Rosa 520 Reyes. That’s not to say that it is a mild or mellow cigar, far from it. Yet despite being a Nicaraguan puro, it just never goes full-bore in strength.
  • Other than the quality of flavors and aromas offered, I have to give praise for the consistency of the cigars after the first third.
  • Construction and burn were both also fantastic.
  • Final smoking time was just over two hours on average.
  • The cigars for this review were provided by HVC Cigars, which advertises on halfwheel.
  • Site sponsor Cigar Hustler carries the HVC La Rosa 520 Reyes.
92 Overall Score

The fact that 500 boxes of the Reyes were made--more than were made for the first two runs of the La Rosa 520—should be an indication of the faith that Reinier Lorenzo has in this cigar, and I'm pleased to say it's well-founded. Other than the bubble gum note at the start of the first sample, each of the three cigars I smoked were incredibly consistent and rock-solid in terms of flavor and aroma, with construction so good it hardly gets thought about. I'm incredibly impressed by where these are now and hopeful that time will be good to them, as this is a cigar I wouldn't mind having in my humidor.

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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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