Bite Size Review: HVC 500th Anniversary Limited Edition Tesoros
Clearly it’s not unusual for non-Cuban cigar makers to pay homage to their roots by blending and branding many of their wares with cues to Cuba. Today though, it’s seems more and more I’m either reading or otherwise hearing about some non-Cuban cigar maker who alludes to the fact they’ve crafted a cigar that doesn’t just capture the essence of Cuban tobacco flavors, but one that actually feels, smells and tastes like a Cuban cigar. While I see nothing at all wrong with aspiring to this goal, the fact is the feat is almost naturally impossible. One (of many) simple but important reasons is terroir differences.
Differences in soil, topography, and climate play a big part in the tobacco’s flavor. From the sultry Vuelta Abajo region of Cuba’s PDR province to the rich soils of Nicaragua, the Dominican Republic, the US, Honduras, etc. yes, these attributes are incredibly similar, but I don’t know that I would characterize them equal even if the seeds used are indeed Cuban. Perhaps one reason for these fanciful claims is the recent resurgence of Cuban tobacco quality. Cigar Aficionado reported in late 2019 that the Cuban tobacco in current production is the best in nearly five years after poor weather conditions and torrential rains wrecked many of the harvests. So, perhaps some bravado – and savvy marketing – can be attributed to Cuban tobacco’s return to prominence.
HVC Cigars’ Reinier Lorenzo hails from Havana, Cuba and while he is not one of those who asserts his cigars are of Cuban class, he is known to incorporate tributes to his home town and country into his cigars and his latest creation, 500th Anniversary LE, is no different. His limited edition 500th Anniversary is a celebration of Havana City’s founding 500 years ago (2019) and the line began shipping in late 2019. Like many of his brands, this new cigar is a Nicaraguan puro employing choice Aganorsa Leaf tobaccos. Available in boxes of 15, the limited run of just under 20,000 cigars will comprise up to 1333 boxes for global distribution.
Our last HVC review was in late 2018 when we test drove Lorenzo’s Cerro Maduro, a cigar which was frankly disappointing only because of an acute mineral aftertaste for much of the smoke. But, our new 500th Anni. provides some initial vindication as the aesthetically-pleasing toro features a firm, oily, bourbon-hued Corojo skin with invisible seams that is fragrant with worn leather and milk chocolate. More chocolate essence can be found at the foot too as a familiar fudge brownie aroma caresses the nose. The cold draw is mostly open, a subjective call, and offers a hint of figs on the palate.
Our toro kicks things off with a rich, semi-sweet breadcrust draw followed by a super smooth mix of cream, candied nuts and just a hint of chili pepper. The long finish of espresso rounds things out. The bready/toasty core is also accompanied by a light spice and late hints of allspice on the retro. Transitions feature more hardy and robust woody profiles highlighted by nutty and grassy intonations balanced with nuances of red pepper, leather and cocoa. Finishes are spicy and flavorful with notes of charred wood and baked fig.
Unlike our first outing, the 500th Anni. demonstrated well-rounded complexity and flavor without any bitterness and, in fact, excelled in every department. The palettes are well-balanced, combustion is near flawless, smoke production is excellent and the strong ash is never a problem. It does become harsh at the very end, but it’s a nothing burger compared to the delicious 5-course meal enjoyed over the last hour. Lorenzo nailed this medium-full bodied puppy and by all accounts did his hometown of Havana and the good folks of Nicaragua proud. I would definitely buy a box, but I just might be hesitant to share. – In Fumo Pax!
Did you Know: The Cuban-born Reinier Lorenzo is a former employee of Casa Fernandez, the growers and purveyors of Aganorsa Leaf.
- Profile: Med-Full
- Vitola: Tesoros [Toro]
- Length / Ring: 5 7/8″ X 52
- Purchased: Online
- Origin: Nicaragua
- Wrapper: Nicaraguan (Jalapa Corojo ’99)
- Binder: Nicaraguan (Jalapa)
- Filler: Nicaraguan (Estelí & Jalapa Criollo ’98 & Corojo ’99)
- Production: TABSA
- Blade: Xikar Xi1
- Fire: Colibri Firebird
- Price:$10.10 [Box $151.50]
- Humidor Age: 4.5 mo.
- Box: 15
- Other Vitolas: N/A
N O T E S
Smoke Time: 1:27
Draw: Open, somewhat restricted
Construction: Bourbon hue; nice triple cap; seamless’ evenly firm; oily; toothy; minimal veins; good smoke production; holds strong 1″+ ash.
- Wrapper – Leather, milk chocolate
- Foot – Fudge brownie
- Cold Draw – Figs
- Initial: Semi-sweet, breadcrust draw; bready, toasty core; melange of candied nuts, cream and chili pepper; long finish with notes of espresso; light spice on tongue; hints of allspice and pinewood on retro; very smooth and medium bodied.
- Transition: Nucleus is more woody; more of a pie crust essence to draw; crusty finish with notes of oily leather; nutty and grassy intonations on retro; abundance of charred on retro and comprises finish; robust and hardy with some rough edges.
- Transition: Cedar, red pepper and cocoa notes; charred wood character; slight uptick in spice; chewy, baked finish smacks of figs and wood; becomes a little harsh with 1.5″ remaining.
Touch ups: N/A
Weaknesses: Restrictive draw, but manageable
- 5 packer
- Yard ‘gar
- NR [No Recommendation]