There is no shortage of naming conventions that tie in, one way or another, to the origin of cigars. From the country’s calling code to the island’s stature as the flower of the Caribbean archipelago, Cuba is often the starting point. Tobacco was first discovered (at least by the Old World) in Cuba when Christopher Columbus first sent a scout onto the island in 1492. While the story from there has many ups and downs, there is no doubt that the city of Havana will forever be tied to the deep and rich history of tobacco.

When Reinier Lorenzo was first introduced to Eduardo Fernández and the team at Aganorsa Leaf, and given the opportunity to start his own brand using their premium Nicaraguan tobacco and factory, he went all in on paying homage to the city of his birth, using Havana’s city code, HVC, as the name of his own boutique cigar brand.

It shouldn’t be a surprise that Lorenzo then chooses to blend his HVC cigars to exhibit what he refers to as a “Cuban profile.”

Our goal is to keep the Cuban tradition of hand-made cigars alive and well. I want to create cigars that everybody can smoke.Reinier Lorenzo, founder and president, HVC Cigars

Following on this course, Lorenzo chose to use 100 percent Aganorsa Leaf tobacco for the 2019 limited-release 500 Years Anniversary as a way to honor the 500-year anniversary of the founding of Havana City in 1519.

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HVC 500 Years Anniversary Breakdown

  • Wrapper: Nicaraguan Corojo ’99 (Jalapa)
  • Binder: Nicaragua (Jalapa)
  • Filler: Nicaragua (Criollo ’98 | Corojo ’99)
  • Factory: Aganorsa Leaf (Nicaragua)
  • Production: Limited Edition (1,333 Boxes of 15 Cigars)
  • Vitola: 5⅞″ × 52 “Tesoros”
  • Price: $10.60 (MSRP)

The HVC 500 Years Anniversary was announced in September of 2019 and began to ship immediately afterwards, with the company noting, “this blend will allow you to experience Havana through your senses.”

The release was extremely limited, with only 1,333 boxes of 15 cigars produced.

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Appearance

HVC 500 Years Anniversary comes in a striking yet simple rectangular box. The box is black with a gold outline of the Havana skyline along the bottom third of the lid, with the lettering “500 Years Anniversary.” The box lid also denotes “1519” and “2019,” with the HVC logo placed above.

The cigar dons a light, milk chocolate brown wrapper hue. There are some primary veins that are slightly raised, while the wrapper seams are invisible. The cigar has a perfectly placed triple cap in true Cuban tradition. The primary band is simple and yet regal, incorporating a vibrant red with gold embossing, stating the name of the cigar with a gold crown atop the center circle of the band. HVC also incorporated the classic Cuban-style “Limited Edition” secondary gold and black band.

The Jalapa Corojo ‘99 wrapper exhibits aromas of a city-roast coffee, chocolate, and chamomile. Meanwhile, the foot has an intense peanut butter and chocolate combination. I also perceived a dried peach fruit character in the cold draw that was very pleasant with the chocolate and roasted peanut notes. There is a salty-sweet flavor on the tongue from the cut head of the cigar.

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Smoking Experience

Upon the initial light of the HVC 500, earthy, woody bread crust notes are the predominant flavors, along with dried fruits, herbs, and spice notes adding to the overall profile. A salty, roasted peanut flavor resonates with wood characteristics of oak and cedar. The draw was slightly snug on one of the samples that I smoked, although every other sample was virtually perfect. The cigar shows a good and even burn, with a thin black burn line that tends to be just slightly wavy, not requiring touchups of any kind. The early portion of the experience is rounded out with a very mild white pepper note in the retrohale.

As I get closer to the middle of the cigar, there is some black pepper on the palate that is emphasizing the wood and salty roasted nut character, making them more pronounced. The ash is dense and lasts an inch and a half before falling. Lorenzo talks about valuing a “clean finish” in his HVC cigars and he has clearly achieved that with this release. While the sweet tobacco taste is apparent as you smoke, there is a dry baking spice note that lingers on the palate with no harsh or heavy flavors.

HVC 500 Years Anniversary cigar smoking

The cigar has good smoke production and is medium to medium-plus in body, which really lends to a rich creaminess in the mouthfeel. As I get into the second half of the cigar, the flavor continues to ramp up. As with the body, the flavor intensity is medium-plus, making me think that pairing with a dark beer or bourbon would be no problem for this hearty yet approachable cigar. The strength of the cigar is medium-minus, which allows for a great morning experience, while having plenty of mouthfeel and flavor to promote this as an evening smoke as well.

The back half of the 500 Years Anniversary continues to express more of the black pepper and nutty qualities, while the wood notes are softening into a bread crust-like flavor. The sweetness of the tobacco also becomes more present in the final third of the cigar.

HVC 500 Years Anniversary cigar ash

Would I Smoke This Cigar Again?

With frequency until they are gone. With only 1,333 boxes made, this limited release will surely become a unicorn that will be referenced with highly favorable praise. Given the opportunity, I would recommend a couple of boxes so that you can pull one out in another year to revisit this exceptional release.

While the $10.60 price point is on the higher end for a daily smoke, it is a more than reasonable price for a limited release of this caliber.

Additional Info
  • This cigar was named Cigar Dojo’s No. 1 Limited Edition Cigar of the Year 2019.
  • This Nicaraguan puro uses all-AGANORSA tobacco.
  • A sheet of paper rests atop the cigars in the box, reading:
    “The city of Havana was founded by the Spanish on November 16th, 1519.To celebrate its 500th Anniversary, HVC (Havana City) Cigars has created a unique blend using the finest tobacco from Aganorsa Leaf. Sporting a Corojo ’99 wrapper and binder from Jalapa and a filler mix of Criollo ’98 and Corojo ’99 grown in Jalapa and Esteli; the essence of this Tesoros will allow you to experience a bit of Havana through your senses.Only 1,33 boxes of 15 count cigars measuring 52 x 5 7/8 (tersoros) were produced, exhibiting the highest degree of quality in the selection process.”

Profile
  • Flavor: Medium / Full
  • Strength: Medium-light
  • Body: Medium
Core Flavors
  • Roasted nuts
  • Bread crust
  • Baking spices
  • White and black pepper
Tips
  • Smoke Time: 1 hour, 55 minutes
  • Pairing Recommendation: Bourbon | Coffee with cream | Robust porter
  • Purchase Recommendation: Box Purchase (as many as possible)

HVC 500 Years Anniversary cigar nub finished

HVC 500 Years Anniversary
Another stellar release from this small, up-and-coming brand. HVC has been able to give their own spin on the Cuban flavor profile, delivering flavors of old in an experience that has a more flavor-forward and robust mouthfeel. This cigar exemplifies complexity as it continues to develop and strengthen in flavor as it smokes.
Appearance93%
Burn/Construction91%
Draw89%
Flavor93%
Complexity95%
Price/Value95%
Pros
  • Complex and bright flavors
  • Creamy and rich mouthfeel
  • Very approachable in terms of strength and intensity
Cons
  • One of the samples drew more snug than I would have preferred
  • There is a limited supply of an excellent cigar
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