On April 22, HVC Cigars debuted a new release during an event that took place at Plainfield, Ill.-based Burning Leaf Cigars.

Named Pan Caliente, the 5 x 50 robusto features a 109-style cap and is composed of two-year-old Nicaraguan tobacco from AGANORSA, including a criollo 98 wrapper. The cigar is rolled at Raíces Cubanas in Honduras and is sold in boxes of 25, with cigars retailing for a suggested priced of $6.20.

The 5 x 50 robusto’s name translates from Spanish to hot cakes, and is taken from the Spanish phrase se vende como pan caliente, or selling like hot cakes. 

HVC Pan Caliente 1

  • Cigar Reviewed: HVC Pan Caliente
  • Country of Origin: Honduras
  • Factory: Raíces Cubanas
  • Wrapper: Nicaraguan criollo 98
  • Binder: Nicaragua
  • Filler: Nicaragua
  • Length: 5 Inches
  • Ring Gauge: 50
  • Vitola: Robusto
  • MSRP: $6.20 (Boxes of 25, $155)
  • Release Date: April 21, 2016
  • Number of Cigars Released: Regular Production
  • Number of Cigars Smoked For Review: 3

The HVC Pan Caliente is quite attractive visually, featuring a 109-style cap and a nutty brown wrapper that is fairly rough to the touch. There is very little oil present on the cigar, and it is extremely spongy when squeezed, although there are no soft spots that I can detect. Aroma from the wrapper is a combination of almonds, leather, dark chocolate, manure and earth while the cold draw brings fairly light flavors of hay, barnyard, citrus, cinnmon and white pepper.

The HVC Pan Caliente opens up with an obvious maple syrup sweetness, interspersed with flavors of roasted peanuts, earth, hay, fresh ground coffee, anise and leather. There is a very slight—and sadly, fleeting—peppermint note on the retrohale that does not last long, along with some significant black pepper that seems to be getting stronger as the first third burns down. Construction-wise, both the burn and draw are excellent so far, and the amount of dense, white smoke coming off of the foot is well above average. The overall strength is quite light to start, but ramps up a bit to reach a point halfway between mild and medium by the time the first third comes to an end.

HVC Pan Caliente 2

The roasted peanut flavor from the first third has morphed a bit by the time the second third rolls around, reminding me strongly of peanut butter. The maple syrup sweetness remains strong, and plays well with other notes of earth, hay, dark cocoa, creamy oak and bitter coffee. While there is less black pepper overall, I am also picking up some spice on my tongue, as well as a touch of salt on my lips. Both the burn and the draw continue to impress, while the overall strength seems to stall out while still firmly in the medium zone.

HVC Pan Caliente 3

While the dominant flavor in the Pan Caliente is still a creamy peanut butter note interspersed with the same maple syrup sweetness from the first two thirds, I am notice a slight new floral note that is present on the retrohale. Other flavors of baking spices, leather, earth, dark chocolate and dried tea leaves flit in and out, and the black pepper on the retrohale remains constant compared to the second third. The draw remains excellent, and while I do have to touch up the burn once, it is not that big of a deal and I probably could have proceeded fine without it. Strength-wise, the Pan Caliente ends up not budging from a firm medium by the time I put the nub down with a bit less than an inch to go.

HVC Pan Caliente 4

Final Notes

  • Perhaps it is just because it is the state where I was born and now live, but the first thing I thought of when I saw the star in the middle of the band was Texas.
  • I really love the 109-style cap that this cigar comes with, and it reminds me of the marblehead cap on some Crux Cigar releases as well as various Cubans and limited edition Tatuajes over the years.
  • My second sample had a hard spot very close to the foot that caused some fairly significant burn and slight flavor issues during the first third, but after getting past it, the construction and profile returned to normal.
  • Having said the above, the rest of the second sample and the other two cigars I smoked featured both an excellent draw and burn.
  • The final smoking time for all three samples averaged one hour and 10 minutes.
  • Cigars smoked for this review were both purchased and given to halfwheel.
  • If you would like to purchase any of the HVC Pan Caliente cigars, site sponsor Cigar Hustler and Lone Star State Cigar Co. (972.424.7272) has them in stock.
89 Overall Score

HVC produced one of my favorite cigars last year, the 520, which incidentally came in at number 10 in our Top 25 list for 2015. The Pan Caliente is not quite that good, but the interplay between the roasted peanut creaminess and the maple syrup sweetness was excellent, and really elevated the blend in my mind. Throw in a surprisingly excellent price of $6.20 and very good construction overall, and you have a winner any way you slice it.

Brooks Whittington

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.