Bite Size Review: HVC Cerro Maduro
The up and comers in the boutique cigar market just keep on comin’. At the risk of sounding like a broken record, the various social media platforms continue to be a target-rich environment for discovering new products, and HVC Cigars is but one of countless beneficiaries. Launched in 2011 by former Casa Fernandez employee, Reiner Lorenzo, HVC like other small boutiques continues to remain relevant thanks to the use of high quality tobaccos. In fact, thanks to his ties with Casa Fernandez, Lorenzo astutely uses tobacco from Aganorsa Leaf. Lorenzo, who does most of his own blending, created HVC out of inspiration for Cuban traditions and pays further homage to these customs through the name “HVC” which is an acronym of sorts for Havana City, Cuba where Lorenzo grew up. HVC’s lines include First Selection, Pan Caliente, Cerro, Edición Especial 2015, San Isidro and 4 exclusive extensions under the Limited Edition line. The Cerro line was launched in 2013 with the Corojo ‘99, followed by the maduro version in 2017.
I tried the Corojo ’99-wrapped Cerro earlier this year and was impressed. The robusto gordo vitola, while shorter and a tad skinnier than a true gordo, I found to be quite nice. The roll of the maduro was tight and the surface was quite hard. With lots of tooth and lightly veiny, our oily Cerro featured a lovely triple seam cap to top off the fudge brownie-colored San Andrés skin. Complementing the excellent draw, aromas of cocoa, caramel and green tea were muted, but pleasant. Initial smoking impressions were solid, highlighted by a medium spice, cocoa, leather and toast. As the spiciness settles, there are hints of cinnamon on the retro and graham cracker on the inhale. Transitions feature more earthy and woodier profiles with an uptick in strength and body. Balance is ok with occasional notes of oats, more graham cracker and a light sweetness. Not terribly rich nor complex, it makes up for it in a velvety smoothness. The maduro tends to burn hot, but combustion is excellent throughout with a mostly even char. Unfortunately, a mineral aftertaste lingers from about the halfway point to the end, and the Cerro becomes harsh in the last 2”. At just under $10, the Cerro is a 3rd stringer outgunned by top picks like Rocky Patel’s Sun Grown Maduro ($8.50) or PDR’s El Trovador ($7.95) which offer top-shelf decadence in a sub-$9 smoke. – In Fumo Pax!
Did you Know: Cerro, or “hill”, pays tribute to El Cerro, the oldest municipality in Havana.
- Profile: Med – Full
- Vitola: Robusto Gordo
- Length/ Ring Gauge: 5.5″ X 58
- Purchased: B&M
- Origin: Nicaragua
- Wrapper: Mexican San Andrés
- Binder: Nicaragua
- Filler: Nicaragua
- Cutter: Colibri V
- Lighter: Colibri Firebird
- Price: $9.85
- Humidor Age: 6 mo.
- Box: 20
- Other Vitolas: Toro [6″x54], Robusto [5″x50], Corona [4.5″x46]
Build: Tight roll; uniform firmness; oily; toothy; semi-visible seams; lightly veiny; excellent triple cap.
- Shaft – Chocolate, caramel and light tea
- Foot – Fudge and baked bread
- Cold Draw – Anise and green tea
- Initial: Spice, cocoa, leather, toasted nuts; toasty finish; hints of cinnamon on retro and graham cracker on inhale; earthy notes late and finish becomes woody.
- Transition: Earthy profile with wood and graham cracker on retro; light sweetness; mineral aftertaste comes and goes; uptick in cedar notes with smoky finish; hints of oats.
- Transition: Woody profile with espresso on finish; light spice returns; mineral after taste still lingers; becomes harsh with 2″ left.
Touch ups: None
Weaknesses: Lingering mineral aftertaste; harshness; non-competitive price point
Recommend: 3. 3rd stringer
- Go-to (boxworthy)
- 3rd stringer (keep 1 on hand)
- Smoke a banana instead