In 2023, HVC Cigars made a bold move. After over a decade of producing some highly acclaimed cigars at the Aganorsa Leaf factory, HVC Cigars’ owner Reinier Lorenzo made the decision to open his own factory, Fabrica de Tabaco, and start shifting production to come from there. While Lorenzo still maintains some production at Aganorsa Leaf and uses Aganorsa tobacco, it’s clear the future is at his new factory. Around the same time the HVC factory opened, Lorenzo announced a new additional line that would be produced at his factory. Since it was the first new line to come out of the HVC Factory, Lorenzo would name the cigar HVC Selección No. 1. It was originally released in a Maduro (San Andres) in 2022, and early this year a Natural (Habano) counterpart was released. Today we take a closer look at the HVC Selección No. 1 in the Esenciales (Corona Gorda) vitola.
Lorenzo founded HVC Cigars in 2011. The name HVC stands for Havana City. It pays homage to Havana, Cuba where Lorenzo grew up in post-revolution Cuba. Over the years, Lorenzo has created some very classic-style cigars in terms of blends and packaging. But he also has not been afraid to venture and try different things. The HVS Selección No. 1 Maduro is an example of that. While its packaging looks very classical and has some Cubanesque qualities, this is a cigar that was intended to provide a bolder offering (and does) to the HVC line.
Without further ado, let’s break down the HVC Selección No. 1 Maduro Esenciales and see what this cigar brings to the table.
Blend and Origin
In addition to the San Andres Maduro wrapper, the HVC Selección No. 1 Maduro utilizes a Nicaraguan binder and filler from the Jalapa and Estelí regions
Wrapper: San Andrés Maduro
Country of Origin: Nicaragua
Factory: Fabrica de Tabacos HVC S.A.
The HVC Selección No. 1 Maduro is available in three sizes with each presented in 20-count old-style Cuban-style boxes. The HVC Selección No. 1 Natural is also offered in the same sizes and box count.
Poderosos: 54 x 6
Short Robustos: 52 x 4 1/2
Esenciales: 46 x 5 5/8
The San Andres wrapper of the HVC Selección No. 1 Maduro Esenciales wasn’t the darkest maduro. If you were comparing it to a coffee bean, I’d categorize it between medium to dark roast. Upon closer examination, there was some mottling present on the surface. There wasn’t much in the way of oil, but the wrapper was on the toothy side. There also were some thin visible veins on the wrapper’s surface. In addition, there were some visible wrapper seams.
A straight cut was used to remove the cap of the HVC Selección No. 1 Maduro Esenciales. Once the cap was successfully detached, it was time to engage in the pre-light draw ritual. The cold draw delivered notes of coffee, earth, and cedar. Overall this was a satisfactory pre-light draw experience. At this point, it was time to light up the HVC Selección No. 1 Maduro Esenciales and await what the smoking phase would have in store.
The HVC Selección No. 1 Maduro Esenciales opened up with notes of black coffee, earth, oak, cedar, black pepper and cocoa. Early on the combination of the black coffee and oak moved into the forefront. The earth, cedar, and cocoa settled in the background. The cocoa provided a touch of sweetness on the palate. Meanwhile, the retro-hale produced mostly another layer of coffee and cedar, but there was some black pepper that was mixed in as well.
As the HVC Selección No. 1 Maduro Esenciales moved into the second third, the coffee and oak remained in the forefront. The difference was the coffee and oak would have varying degrees of intensity. At the same time, there was an increase and pepper and cedar. The cocoa notes remained somewhat distant.
During the final third, the oak notes remained grounded in the forefront while the coffee notes were replaced by the cedar notes. While the oak and cedar could be expected to give this cigar a very woody profile, this was not the case. The coffee, earth, pepper, and cocoa notes helped round things out nicely. As the cigar came to a close, it finished with a soft, but cool nub.
The HVC Factory gets some high grades on construction out of the gate. The Selección No. 1 Maduro Esenciales was a low-maintenance burn that maintained a straight burn path and straight burn line. This was a cigar that required minimal touch-ups along the way. The resulting ash was firm and silver-gray in color. The burn rate and burn temperature were both ideal.
The excellent construction of the Selección No.1 Esenciales was also reflected in the draw. This is a cigar that had a touch of resistance to it – which is something that I like. At the same time, this was a low-maintenance cigar to derive flavor from.
Strength and Body
As mentioned above, this was positioned as one of the bolder cigars from HVC, and that’s exactly how it delivers. The cigar started out with medium to full strength, but then both attributes increased in intensity. By the midway point, the strength was in full territory. The body reached the full range of the spectrum by the final third. Overall when comparing strength to body, the strength had an edge.
A short story on this cigar: Normally I don’t comment when I smoke a cigar with an owner, but felt this was appropriate here – and something that fits into this assessment (that specific smoking experience was not incorporated into the assessment) When I was in Las Vegas for PCA 2022, Lorenzo handed me a pre-release of Selección No.1 Esenciales. We sat down at Bar Luca at the Venetian and I smoked this. Lorenzo asked me about the strength level and it was very strong. I told him initially I didn’t feel it. However, when I got to the second half, it kicked up and I felt it. This story is very appropriate as there definitely is a kick in the second half.
BANDING AND PACKAGING NOTES
The bands are very classic-style. This is indicated by the red, gold, and white bands. The boxes, while classical looking, are given a contemporary spin by the bright green color.
My only critique here is I think the banding needed to have some way to distinguish the natural from the maduro. In some cases, the shades of brown are pretty close. Unless they are packaged in a box (the natural has a yellow box), it was a little difficult to distinguish. If you are buying singles and have both blends, be sure to find a way to delineate them in your personal humidor.
Overall this was a nice debut for Reinier Lorenzo and his factory. The cigars had good flavor and excellent construction. The one drawback I found was I felt at times this cigar emphasized strength over body/flavor. While I get the cigar was meant to be bolder, I felt it was more strength forward. While the flavors are enjoyable, I think they could have been more enjoyable. Still at under $9.00, this cigar is a good value in today’s market. At the same time, given this is a stronger cigar, this is one I would steer toward a more experienced cigar enthusiast. As for myself, this is certainly a cigar I would pick up and smoke again. particularly if I want a little punch during my smoking experience.
Key Flavors: Black Coffee, Earth, Oak, Cedar, Cocoa, Pepper
Strength: Medium to Full (1st Half), Full (2nd Half)
Body: Medium to Full (1st 2/3), Full (Final third)
Finish: Very Good
Value: Buy One
News: HVC Cigars Opens Factory and Announces HVC Selección No. 1
Brand Reference: HVC
Photo Credits: Cigar Coop
Originally posted on June 8, 2023 @ 2:17 pm