The entire brand concept behind HVC Cigars is Havana.
Founder Reinier Lorenzo was born in Havana before coming over to the U.S. a few years ago. Like many, he wanted to make cigars and wanted to pay tribute to the city where he was from. The name is Havana City Cigars and earlier this year, Lorenzo released a cigar with even more Havana connections: La Rosa 520.
It’s named after the address where he lived in the city with the boxes making that even more apparent.
As for the cigar, it’s a limited edition produced in a single 5 1/2 x 54 size at the Tabacos Valle de Jalapa S.A. (TABSA) factory in Estelí, Nicaragua. 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 Pīnar del Río province.
- Cigar Reviewed: HVC La Rosa 520
- Country of Origin: Nicaragua
- Factory: Tabacos Valle de Jalapa S.A.
- Wrapper: Nicaragua Corojo 99 (Jalapa)
- Binder: Nicaragua
- Filler: Nicaragua
- Size: 5 1/2 Inches
- Ring Gauge: 54
- Vitola: Toro Extra
- MSRP: $9.60 (Boxes of 20, $192)
- Date Released: May 21, 2015
- Number of Cigars Released: 150 Boxes of 20 Cigars (3,000 Total Cigars)
- Number of Cigars Smoked for Review: 3
While it looks a bit lighter in the picture above, the actual cigar is darker, albeit not particularly dark. The La Rosa 520 is a fairly large departure for HVC, whose bands have oftentimes been understated, but there’s little doubt that Lorenzo is spending a bit more effort here. As for the aroma, there’s some smoother leather from the wrapper and sweetness, although the lack of cellophane and fact that it’s been almost two months since these were released definitely has reduced the aroma for the loose cigars sitting in the halfwheel humidor. The foot smells like a s’more sans marshmallow, offering lots of graham cracker and a bit of sweet cocoa. On the cold draw, it’s still sweet, particularly with the chocolate, but there’s some graininess and garlic bread that work their ways in. What’s very odd is a Dr. Pepper-like sweetness on the finish of the cold draw. Given it’s been almost three months since I last had a soda, this might have caused a slight craving.
For better or worse, the HVC manages to indulge my craving with some sweet cocoa and Dr. Pepper flavors on the start followed by nuttiness, then manure and then quickly nuttiness. There’s spices all around the tongue along with some of the graininess. It’s medium-full to begin with and a great mixture of sweet and savory. An inch in and a salty peanut character enters along with sweet earthiness and soy sauce. The retrohales are big with a mixture of corn tortilla chips, a floral flavor, bright cinnamon and green onion. I pick up black tea, buttered toast and some herbal flavors on the back end. While the strength is medium, the body and flavor are quite full, perhaps amplifying the actual nicotine content. There’s no complaints construction-wise through the first third.
Twice my notes had something to effect of “almost an excellent cigar, but a bit harsh in areas” in the first third. Each time, the La Rosa 520 corrected whatever those issues, at least for the most part. My issue wasn’t an overall harshness, but rather each flavor was a touch harsh. Fortunately, the harshness became isolated into the back of the throat allowing the other flavors to shine through with ease. The buttered bread continues to be a force, along with some more generic creaminess and a sweet tortilla flavor. It has creamy cedar on the finish with some sawdust, a bit of vegetal flavors and sharp white pepper. Construction remains the same, but the strength has bumped itself up to full.
A sweet orange liqueur becomes a part of the flavor profile as the HVC enters the final third. There’s still a significant creamy presence, along with some muted peppers and earth on the mouth. Meanwhile, the retrohale has some of the corn tortilla chips along with an earthy mixture and some sweetness. The finish is still dominated by bread and cream, very reminiscent of the buttered toast found earlier, although it’s now much fuller and with a more muted sweetness. The strength finally makes it to full, a reality that became very apparent in the final third.
- As is mentioned in the first paragraph, while the strength and body are full, the flavor starts medium. It of course ends full and I would not recommend to this to anyone who does not consider themselves at least a regular medium-full smoker.
- Flavor-wise, this is a very vivid cigar with details readily apparent. Unfortunately, the first third saw all of the flavors have a bit of roughness. That being said, by the midway point that was worked out.
- La Rosa 520 was limited to just 10 accounts making this a bit more challenging to find.
- Final smoking time was two hours on average.
- Cigars for review were purchased by halfwheel.
For many, I suspect that this could be the cigar that converts someone to HVC. While the previous releases from Lorenzo have been between decent and good, this is noticeably better. It’s a great example of what a complex and full cigar can be with detail and progression throughout. The limited nature makes it a bit challenging to pick up, but I’d recommend it.