When I was visiting the HVC Cigars booth at the 2022 PCA Convention & Trade Show, Reinier Lorenzo—founder of HVC—was handing out samples of his newest line to retailers and telling people, “after dinner.” His point is that the HVC Selección No. 1 is strong.

The Selección No. 1 is the first new line from HVC’s new factory, Fábrica de Tabacos HVC S.A. de Reinier Lorenzo, which opened up earlier this year in Estelí, Nicaragua. When the cigar was announced, he told halfwheel that he wanted to pay tribute to the old Cuban style. Blend-wise, it uses a Mexican San Andrés wrapper over a Nicaraguan binder and fillers from Estelí and Jalapa, Nicaragua.

Note: The following shows the various HVC Selección No. 1 releases over the years. Some of these cigars may have been released after this post was originally published. The list was last updated on Nov. 3, 2022.

  • HVC Selección No. 1 Short Robustos (4 1/2 x 52) — $9.30 (Box of 20, $186)
  • HVC Selección No. 1 Esenciales (5 5/8 x 46) — $8.40 (Box of 20, $168)
  • HVC Selección No. 1 Poderosos (6 x 54) — $10.40 (Box of 20, $208)
88 Overall Score

There's no category on our scoresheet that is designed to evaluate strength. It's not there because 99.99 percent of the time, it shouldn't matter. This is one of those rare times when it might matter. I enjoyed the flavors I tasted from the Selección No. 1, the construction was pretty good, but the strength made this uncomfortable to smoke. In this case, the score will be justified, but despite a decent score, I have little desire to smoke another Selección No. 1 anytime soon.

  • Cigar Reviewed: HVC Selección No. 1 Esenciales
  • Country of Origin: Nicaragua
  • Factory: Fábrica de Tabacos HVC S.A. de Reinier Lorenzo
  • Wrapper: Mexico (San Andrés)
  • Binder: Nicaragua
  • Filler: Nicaragua (Estelí & Jalapa)
  • Length: 5 5/8 Inches
  • Ring Gauge: 46
  • Vitola: Corona Gorda
  • MSRP: $8.40 (Box of 20, $168)
  • Release Date: July 2022
  • Number of Cigars Released: Regular Production
  • Number of Cigars Smoked For Review: 3

The HVC Selección No.1 is a pretty pedestrian-looking cigar. My most recent cigar review had four pieces of paper for packaging, this cigar has just a single band. There’s also no frills when it comes to the cigar’s appearance: no pigtails, covered feet or dual wrappers. Instead, it’s a consistent dark brown color that looks pretty close to the potting soil we use here at the office. There are lots of oils on the wrapper, but touching the cigar reveals a very rough-feeling wrapper, almost to the point of feeling like sandpaper. The aroma from the wrapper is medium-plus with notes of sweet licorice, some woody fragrances that remind me of a wood-scented candle and some campfire smells. The foot is medium-full and keeps with the woody and campfire scents, though it also has some underlying sweetness and leather notes. One cigar has a sweetness that reminds me of Arizona-brand Arnold Palmer Lite. Cold draws are full and taste like there’s Nicaraguan tobacco in the filler. I pick up milk chocolate, red pepper, earthiness and some sweet lemon. What’s odd is that the flavor is full, but each flavor is muted.

Once lit, there’s a combination of sweet cedar and chocolate that reminds me a lot of the Oliva Serie V, along with gritty earthiness. While not the single strongest flavor, red chili pepper is the most obvious flavor because it seems to accent everything. There are flavors of oak, leather, cedar, lemon sweetness, damp earthiness, toastiness and some soy sauce-like flavors. Each puff is a bit different as the flavors rearrange themselves, but the woodiness, toastiness and red pepper are present on each puff. The finish has damp earthiness, red pepper, black pepper, creaminess and toastiness. Retrohales have red pepper, cocoa, honey, earthiness and some metallic flavors. The red pepper sticks around for the finish, joined by cedar, creaminess and leather. Flavor is full and body is medium-full and strength is very full. A touch-up is needed about an inch in to help with smoke production.

While the nicotine strength was very full in the first third, it gets substantially stronger in the second third. By the halfway point, I’d say this is amongst the strongest two or three blends I’ve smoked in the last five years. Flavor is still enjoyable, but my attention is increasingly turning to the question of how I am going to feel at the end of this cigar. Earthiness, red pepper, black pepper, black tea, French bread and leather remain the flavor. Like the first third, the flavors are muted even though the overall profile is quite full. The finish has red pepper, bread, coffee, red grapes and oak. Retrohales have red pepper, lemon, oak and earthiness. Interestingly, the metallic flavors aren’t as prominent as they were in the first third. The finish has black pepper, red pepper, grapefruit, earthiness and cedar. Flavor is full, body is medium-full and strength is very full.

Cedar and chocolate flavors pick up noticeably in the final third, though I’m distracted by the intensity of the nicotine. Secondary flavors include leather, creaminess, oak and a touch of saltiness. I still think the flavors are muted, but they aren’t as muted as before. It’s unfortunate that that development is happening this late in the cigar because of the aforementioned nicotine strength. The finish is toastier than before and I find herbal flavors breaking through the earthiness for the first time. Red chili pepper remains part of the profile along with leather and a touch of barnyard. Retrohales are interesting because I can’t taste much beyond red pepper and leather when the smoke is directly interacting with my nostrils. Oddly, the finish has more flavors: toastiness, Ritz crackers, sugar and red pepper, though the latter is more down the throat than in the nose. Flavor is full, body is medium-full and strength is outrageous, more on that below. Construction remains pretty good, just one cigar needs a second touch-up but otherwise, I have no complaints about the burn and draw.

Final Notes

  • This is the strongest cigar I’ve reviewed since at least February 2020 when I reviewed the Perez-Carillo Encore 10th Anniversary.
  • I think the HVC is likely stronger than that cigar. To give you some idea of how much nicotine there was, more than two hours later—and after eating—I still was feeling the effects. I avoided needing to lie down or dry-heaving, but an hour later, a 15-minute car ride was uncomfortable. That was after I ate some candy to help boost my blood sugar following the cigar. This is one of the 10 strongest blends I’ve smoked and very few cigars have made me feel this uncomfortable.
  • I firmly believe that some cigars affect certain people differently, but I don’t think many people will smoke this and find it mild.
  • This all raises the question of how successful this cigar will be given the strength. I suspect that this is too strong for 95 percent of the people that will walk into a cigar store.
  • I don’t associate with HVC as a company known for having a portfolio of strong blends.
  • It would appear that this might be the first use of the word Esenciales as a name for a cigar. The word translates to “essentials.”
  • Cigars for this review were purchased by halfwheel.
  • Final smoking time was one hour and 40 minutes.
  • Site sponsors Atlantic Cigar Co., Cigar Hustler and Famous Smoke Shop carry the HVC Selección No. 1 Esenciales.
88 Overall Score

There's no category on our scoresheet that is designed to evaluate strength. It's not there because 99.99 percent of the time, it shouldn't matter. This is one of those rare times when it might matter. I enjoyed the flavors I tasted from the Selección No. 1, the construction was pretty good, but the strength made this uncomfortable to smoke. In this case, the score will be justified, but despite a decent score, I have little desire to smoke another Selección No. 1 anytime soon.

Charlie Minato

I am an editor and co-founder of halfwheel.com/Rueda Media, LLC. I previously co-founded and published TheCigarFeed, one of the two predecessors of halfwheel. I handle the editing of our written content, the majority of the technical aspects of the site and work with the rest of our staff on content management, business development and more. I’ve lived in most corners of the country and now entering my second stint in Dallas, Texas. I enjoy boxing, headphones, the Le Mans 24-hour, wearing sweatshirts year-round and gyros. echte liebe.