As 2022 came to a close, HVC Cigars sent a limited edition size of its Serie A line to Atlantic Cigar Co., a retailer based in Norristown, Pa. that also has a notable online presence.

It’s the HVC Serie A Short Toro, a 4 1/2 x 56 vitola that uses the same blend as the regular production sizes of the line, meaning all grade-A Nicaraguan tobaccos from AGANORSA with a corojo 99 leaf used for the wrapper.

While the blend is the same, the cigar isn’t produced at the same factory as the regular production sizes. Those cigars are produced at AGANORSA Leaf’s Agricola Ganadera Norteña S.A. factory, while the Short Toro is produced at Fábrica de Tabacos HVC S.A. de Reinier Lorenzo, a factory that Lorenzo opened in February 2022. It is also located in Estelí.

The HVC Serie A Short Toro was listed to a production of 500 boxes of 10 cigars, a total run of 5,000 cigars, each of which comes with an MSRP of $10. The cigars went on sale in early December.

  • Cigar Reviewed: HVC Serie A Short Toro
  • Country of Origin: Nicaragua
  • Factory: Fábrica de Tabacos HVC S.A. de Reinier Lorenzo
  • Wrapper: Nicaragua (Corojo 99)
  • Binder: Nicaragua
  • Filler: Nicaragua
  • Length: 4 1/2 Inches
  • Ring Gauge: 56
  • Vitola: Robusto Gordo
  • MSRP: $10 (Box of 10 Cigars, $100)
  • Release Date: December 2022
  • Number of Cigars Released: 500 Boxes of 10 Cigars (5,000 Total Cigars)
  • Number of Cigars Smoked For Review: 3

The first thing I notice about the cigar is its name, as it’s not everyday you see a cigar referred to as a short toro. Usually that means a robusto, but the 4 1/2 x 56 vitola doesn’t feel like that size either. In some ways it feels like it could be a NUb vitola, just on the skinnier side of that spectrum. The cigar looks good, with its darker-than-medium brown shade a nice match with the orange in the band, more than it is with the black base color. There are no visual issues, with flat seams, an average vein structure, and no blemishes on any of the wrapper. Each of the three samples is rolled quite firm with little to no give depending on the individual cigar. The aroma off the foot is soft and nostril-filling, leading with a rich wheat bread and a multigrain crust before pepper comes along to deliver a gentle tingle to the nostrils. One sample has more creaminess than the other two, and I’d say it’s better for it, though it comes with a tradeoff of a bit of texture and tingle. The cold draw is smooth and maybe a tick open, and repeats the bread notes of the aroma, though they are more tightly intertwined and offer less of the multigrain crust component. There’s not a lot of pepper here, and thus not a lot of tingle on the taste buds. The creaminess tends to mirror itself between the aroma and the flavor, with the same comment on how that difference affects the impression.

The HVC Serie A Short Toro starts strong with a vibrant cedar and pepper kicking things off, seemingly showcasing the corojo 99 wrapper right out of the gate. In the case of one cigar, it reminds me of smoking a purito of corojo 99, as it’s that concentrated. Another cigar—the one with more creaminess in the pre-light experience—sees that cigar deliver the creaminess in the opening puffs, with a slightly minty finish. A retrohale really tingles the nose with a lighter expression of the pepper and generally not quite as much of the woodiness, though what it does offer lingers in my nostrils and eventually takes over for the pepper. Throughout the first half-inch, the tingling effect that the cigar imparts on my nose continues to increase, as if someone was slowly turning the intensity knob up. That said, not every one of the three cigars start so vibrantly; one cigar is more mellow and takes a good bit longer to hit the vibrance of the first sample. When that happens, a creaminess sets the tone out of the gate, slowly dissipating so that the cedar and pepper can begin to drive the profile. As the first third progresses, the retrohales take the intensity lead and begin imparting a sensation that draws memories of the hot mustard that accompanies barbecued pork in Chinese restaurants. The flavor on my taste buds begins to go in another direction, getting a bit creamier and not quite as stimulating on the whole. The first third packs a medium-full to full flavor profile, a medium-full body, and decent strength that I’d put around medium. Construction is very good, with good smoke production, an even burn line, and easy draw.

I can’t tell if it’s just how I’m feeling or if the cigar has some nicotine in it, but by the start of the first cigar’s second third, it feels like this cigar might be packing more of a punch than I was anticipating. Thankfully, I don’t get that sensation in each cigar, but to say that I was concerned after my first cigar would be an understatement. As for the flavors and aromas, they’re a bit heavier than they were in the first third, as the profile has more black pepper and the palate gets a heavier, more robust finish that reminds me of a well-grilled steak on the finish. The resting aroma has a smoky aroma to it, reminding me of a just-used grill or the final flames of a fire pit. There are times when I pick up some heat beginning to emerge, which in this case gives the profile a bit of red chili pepper spiciness and the corresponding sensation in the back of the throat. The end of this section also brings about a change in the smoke that results in a bit more irritation when it hits the eyes, something that I try to avoid for the obvious reasons but which can be hard to actually do. Construction remains good on the whole, though it seems like one cigar has slowed its combustion rate, and the ash begins to flower and flake a bit more than it did in the first third. Flavor is medium-plus, body is medium-full, while strength ranges from just shy of medium to outright full.

As noted above, the smoke becomes a bit more potent as the final third gets going, and while I try and avoid it getting in my eyes, I can’t avoid a bit of a tickle emerging at the top of my throat. There’s a more pronounced black pepper that’s triggering that sensation, though I don’t quite get the pepper on my taste buds. There is still some underlying creaminess in the flavor that provides a smooth, full-bodied base note, while the cedar from the first third makes a return in smaller doses. I can feel some strength beginning to emerge in two cigars in this section, and while I appreciate the fact that these samples have delayed the effect, it still hits with the same kind of punch that I was worried about after the first cigar, starting in my gut and then making my arms and hands feel a bit shaky, while giving me a bit of a headache as well, a real trifecta of nicotine strength. The final third has a tendency to struggle with combustion a bit, leading to the need to either touch-up or fully relight the cigar and thus extend the smoking time, but one cigar completely dodges those issues while another only needs a single touch-up. Flavor finishes medium-full with occasional moments of outright full, body is medium-full, and strength is consistently full.

Final Notes

  • Brooks Whittington recently reviewed the HVC Black Friday 2022, a cigar that celebrates the annual American day-after-Thanksgiving shopping tradition.
  • The varied combustion of the three cigars, particularly in the final third, really shows how one experience with a cigar doesn’t generally tell the whole tale.
  • I haven’t yet seen a Serie B, or any other lettered Serie release from HVC, though I’m wondering if one day we might.
  • The first cigar hit me with a lot more strength than I was anticipating, starting in the second third and carrying through the rest of the cigar. It was so strong that I had a couple teaspoons of white sugar to try and neutralize the effect, along with several pints of water. I even commented to Charlie Minato about it, who said he hadn’t had the same experience with other vitolas in the blend.
  • The other cigars weren’t as strong, thankfully, but this was a case of a seemingly innocuous cigar packing much more of a punch than I was expecting, something I find happening every couple of months or so. That said, each of the three samples hit me with an appreciable amount of nicotine strength that has me really weighing whether or not I’d smoke or another one or recommend it to someone.
  • The cigars for this review were purchased by halfwheel.
  • Final smoking time was two hours on average.
  • Site sponsor Atlantic Cigar Co. is the exclusive retailer of the HVC Serie A Short Toro.
88 Overall Score

If there is one thing that I will remember about the HVC Serie A Short Toro, it is the brute strength of nicotine that it packs. The first cigar hit me like an absolute truck, and the next two didn't quite run me over, but certainly hit me harder than almost any cigar I can think of in recent memory. But beyond the strength, the cigar does have a lot of good flavor, particularly showcasing the flavors of corojo 99 with a vibrant cedar and pepper combination that are constant threads throughout each cigar and the three samples. What is most interesting is the varied amount of creaminess, and when it's there in its most abundant amounts, the overall profile is quite good and impressively complex. If you decide to light one of these up, be prepared for more strength than you might expect, as well as a flavor that just might make the ride the HVC Serie A Short Toro offers one worth taking.

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Patrick Lagreid

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 previously the Arizona Rattlers of the Indoor Football League. I also work in a number of roles for Major League Baseball, plus I'm a voice over artist. Prior to joining halfwheel, I covered the Phoenix and national cigar scene for Examiner.com, and was an editor for Cigar Snob magazine.