It is the year of anniversaries.
As I noted last weekend, there are multiple major brands celebrating their 50th anniversary, companies celebrating 130 and 200 years and a plethora of smaller milestones.
One of those is VegaFina, which celebrates its 20th anniversary. It was founded by Tabacalera S.A.—a precursor to the company now known as Altadis—and is largely sold in markets outside the U.S., though from time to time makes its way into U.S. humidors through Altadis U.S.A.
Image via Tabacalera S.L.U.
To celebrate its anniversary, the company created the VegaFina Gran Reserva 20 Aniversario is a 5 3/4 x 54 parejo with a pigtail, which seems to be showing up on more and more VegaFina releases of late. As for the blend, it uses an Ecuadorian habano wrapper over a Nicaraguan binder with Dominican piloto and Nicaraguan fillers.
Production is limited to 7,000 numbered boxes of 10 cigars with pricing set at €7 ($8.62) per cigar.
- Cigar Reviewed: VegaFina Gran Reserva 20 Aniversario
- Country of Origin: Dominican Republic
- Factory: Tabacalera de García
- Wrapper: Ecuador (Habano)
- Binder: Nicaragua
- Filler: Dominican Republic (Piloto) & Nicaragua
- Length: 5 3/4 Inches
- Ring Gauge: 54
- Vitola: Robusto Extra
- Est. Price: $8.62 (Boxes of 10, $86.20)
- Release Date: March 1, 2018
- Number of Cigars Released: 7,000 Boxes of 10 Cigars (70,000 Total Cigars)
- Number of Cigars Smoked For Review: 2
It has a fairly dark Ecuadorian habano wrapper with some nice reds in the wrapper. Aroma off the wrapper is medium-full—despite being stored out of cellophane for over two months—with barnyard, leather and earthiness breaking out. The foot is stronger, sweeter and smoother: sweet chocolate, waffle cone and licorice—sort of what I imagine a hipster version of hot chocolate to be like. The cold draw keeps some of that chocolate, but is dominated by a ketchup and barbecue sauce flavor. In addition, there’s some weird plum-like flavors.
The two samples start quite different in terms of smoke production: one is great, the other is anemic. Flavor-wise, both begin with earthiness, coffee beans and some fruitiness. Flavor-wise, it picks up to include cherry woods, earthiness and some burnt coffee. Retrohales are acidic and a bit rough, though there’s a nice cinnamon before the fruitiness takes over on the finish. One sample is burning well, while the other is not. Flavor is full, body is medium-full and strength is medium-plus.
There’s a nice mixture of earthiness, cinnamon and pistachio developing in the mouth, but the retrohale is what’s particularly of note. The VegaFina Gran Reserva 20 Aniversario has somewhat of a watery flavor, almost like a blanched peanut, along with mild leather, nuttiness, melon and a familiar cinnamon. An underlying sweetness comes and goes, though unfortunately it seems more prevalent with retrohales. Flavor and body are both full, while strength remains medium-plus.
It’s still quite earthy, with its presence coming from all angles. Elsewhere there’s some pink salt and a bit of white pepper, though like the second third, the retrohale is once again providing the most flavor in the VegaFina. There’s some floral flavor at the beginning of the retorhales before Worcestershire sauce and some metallic flavors add themselves to the mix. The acidity comes and goes, though unlike the sweetness, it’s not dependent on how much retrohaling I’m doing. Flavor and body remain full, while strength picks up to medium-full.
- This is why we prefer to review three cigars. I’m not sure which cigar is more representative of the experience: the first cigar, which was better or the second cigar which is worse.
- The draw was a bit loose across the board, though it only really seemed to cause an issue in the first third of one sample.
- That said, both cigars had burn issues, the only difference being the second sample had a lot more and the problems started much earlier.
- VegaFina is part of the Altadis/Tabacalera family which is owned by Imperial Brands, plc. Imperial also owns 50 percent of Habanos S.A. and stakes in a variety of Cuban cigar distributors around the world. However, VegaFina is one of the few non-Cuban brands in the company’s portfolio that isn’t related to a Cuban brand.
- Pricing estimates are based off the €7 per cigar, which is the price in Spain, and the conversion rate at the time. It’s likely to be a bit more expensive outside of Spain due to higher tobacco taxes.
- While there’s nothing remarkable about the packaging, I think it works well, though as I’ve remarked before, I’d prefer not to have a foot band.
- For those wondering about other anniversaries: Joya de Nicaragua and Macanudo are both celebrating their 50th anniversary. Davidoff is celebrating the 50th anniversary of its own brand, as well as the 30th anniversary of AVO. Villiger is celebrating 130 years, Toscano is celebrating 200 years, while My Father and Tatuaje are both at 15 years.
- Altadis U.S.A., as well as JR Cigar, advertises on halfwheel.
- Cigars for this review were sent to halfwheel by Tabacalera S.L.U.
- Final smoking time was one hour and 45 minutes on average.
I'm still not sure what to make of the VegaFina Gran Reserva 20 Aniversario, at least when it comes to construction. One cigar burned fairly well from start to finish—albeit not perfectly—the other one had issues from the start. Flavor-wise, it's an enjoyable cigar, but not overly complex. If there's one area where this cigar shines it's value. We don't factor pricing into scores, but at less than $9 for a fairly large robusto, the Gran Reserva—like many other VegaFinas of late—is a great value.