XIKAR HC Series Habano² Robusto

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In my original review of the XIKAR HC Series Habano² Robusto, I gave a fair amount of history on the cigar, including the opposition filed by Corporación Habanos S.A. and Empresa Cubano del Tabaco, otherwise known as Cubatabaco, the organization who runs the Cuban cigar industry.

In short, on Sep. 22, 2008, they filed an objection with the United States Patent and Trademark Office to XIKAR’s use of the word Havana in their Havana Collection line of accessories and cigars, saying that use of the word Havana would lead consumers to think the products were made in Havana when in fact they weren’t. When my review was published, the objection was still making its way through the review and decision process. Since then, the USPTO Trademark and Trial Appeal Board released its decision on Nov. 13, 2012, upholding Cubatabaco’s opposition and saying that:

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In view of the foregoing, opposers have established that the mark HAVANA COLLECTION for cigar accessories in geographically deceptively misdescriptive under Section 2(e)(3) of the Trademark Act.

But that’s not the end of the story, as on Jan. 28, 2013 XIKAR’s application was marked as abandoned after an inter-partes decision. A request to XIKAR requesting comment on that decision was not returned.

There’s also more to the XIKAR HC Series Habano² story besides the legal aspects of its history. It’s the first XIKAR cigar made by A.J. Fernandez after the company had previously used Jesus Fuego to create their initial release, the Defiance, and the subsequent trio of cigars that became the Havana Collection/HC Series. Those cigars were rolled at Nestor Plasencia’s factories in Honduras and Nicaragua.

The XIKAR HC Series Habano² was blended by “the HC Team” and debuted at the 2012 IPCPR Convention and Trade Show in Orlando, Fla. It was offered in the following four sizes, all of which began shipping on Aug. 20 of that year:

  • Robusto (5 x 50)  — $6.75 (Boxes of 21, $142.00)
  • Toro (6 1/2 x 52) — $7.75 (Boxes of 21, $163.00)
  • Belicoso (6 x 54) — $8.00 (Boxes of 21, $168.00)
  • Grande (6 x 60) — $8.50 (Boxes of 21, $178.50)

Here’s what I said about the XIKAR HC Series Habano² Robusto back in August 2012:

When trying to put a number to a cigar, for me there are two schools of thought: start at 100 and deduct points as you find things wrong, or start at zero and add points as you find things you like. In the case of the XIKAR HC Series Habano² Robusto, the two approaches would end up with a slightly different score. There’s not a ton to dislike about this stick: it performs flawlessly, has absolutely no harshness or unpleasant parts, and given the price, is about as good a value for the money as I can recall in recent memory. That means there’s not a lot to deduct from a perfect score. But start at zero, and the lack of a few more pronounced flavor changes and a somewhat uneventful second third keeps it from achieving the same high score it would have gotten using the deduction method. So how do I resolve this gap? Split the difference and give it an unreserved recommendation, while picking some up for myself whenever I want a flavorful medium-bodied cigar with some character and a friendly price.

  • Cigar Reviewed: XIKAR HC Series Habano² Robusto
  • Country of Origin: Nicaragua
  • Factory: Tabacalera Fernandez
  • Wrapper: Ecuadorian Habano2000
  • Binder: Ecuadorian Sumatra
  • Filler: Honduras & Nicaragua
  • Size: 5 Inches
  • Ring Gauge: 50
  • Vitola: Robusto
  • MSRP: $6.75 (Boxes of 21, $142.00)
  • Date Released: August 20, 2012 
  • Number of Cigars Released: Regular Production
  • Number of Cigars Smoked For Redux: 1

The XIKAR HC Series Habano² Robusto has a mottled medium brown color with a fair amount of texture to it. Veins are minimal save for a few and a bit of toothiness in the wrapper adds to its visual appeal. With its softly rounded corners, its reminiscent of A.J. Fernandez’s San Lotano Oval line, which shouldn’t be a huge surprise given they come out of the same factory. The pre-light aroma is subtle but complex, with notes of toffee, some wood, and a faint hint of spice. The cold draw is firm with a mild flavor profile that is reminiscent of the inside of a Butterfinger bar – not really peanut butter, toffee or butterscotch, but somewhere in the middle. The tobacco offers a spicy sensation on when touched with the tongue, but little is to be found on the cold draw.

For such a minimal amount of pepper on the pre-light aroma and cold draw, the XIKAR HC Series Habano² Robusto offers a surprisingly peppery start, going right after the nose and the middle of the tongue. It’s not as earthy as it was when first smoked, shedding that note for a bit drier profile. There isn’t a lot of change in flavor until the second third begins, when a chalky note joins the mix and seems to lighten up the profile just  a bit, though the pepper is still present. The burn line is razor sharp and the draw is perfect – any concerns from the cold draw were quickly dashed as the air is moving freely without being too open.

XIKAR HC Series Habano² Robusto

After the midpoint, the flavor shifts a bit, bringing in a stronger, tangier note of wood that overtakes the pepper but keeps the palate as engaged, if not even a bit more so. The burn line gets offtrack a bit as it seems to hit a bit of wrapper it just can’t get through and as such moves faster up one side than the other. The texture of the smoke remains very favorablelight, fluffy and fairly full—making it a surprising delivery vehicle for such a full–flavored smoke. The metallic, mineral taste I picked up in the final third of the cigar is still very much present, something I had really hoped would have faded away with time. It seems to climb on top of the other flavors and prevents them from standing out, a disappointment given how good the cigar had been up to this point. The XIKAR HC Series Habano² Robusto shakes off most of that note in time to take the cigar down to the fingertips, with the pepper remaining a significant player alongside a hearty wood note that is only hampered by the increasing amount of heat present.

88 Overall Score

Much of the core flavor notes from the XIKAR HC Series Habano² Robusto are still in tact after nearly nine months of rest in the humidor, and what shifts have occurred are both good and bad. I would have loved to have more of that earthiness in the final third, but I’m glad to see the metallic and mineral notes in the final third have begun to dissipate. The flavor transitions also seem slightly less pronounced than they were originally—and they were subtle to begin with in the first place. It still has plenty of character and makes for an upfront yet approachable cigar and with a decent price makes it worth trying. That is, assuming you can find it; I haven’t seen this in many retailers’ humidors since it was released and a quick search turned up more reviews than listings of it for sale.

Original Score (June 2012)
89
Redux Score (June 2013)
88

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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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