In 2017, Tabacalera SLU launched a limited edition cigar called the VegaFina Year of the Dog to pay homage to the Chinese New Year of 2018 (which was the Year of the Dog). Since then this has become an annual limited edition series under the VegaFina brand. Fast forward to late 2021 and VegaFina would announce its fifth installment of the series, the VegaFina Year of the Tiger. The VegaFina brand is one that is primarily sold in Europe, but there have been some U.S. releases. Prior to the VegaFina Year of the Tiger, the VegaFina Chinese Zodiac cigars were sold only in Europe. The VegaFina Year of the Tiger would become the first of the VegaFina Chinese Zodiac cigars to be sold in the U.S. – albeit in a slightly different size. Today we take a closer look at the international (non-U.S.) edition of the VegaFina Year of the Tiger.
The past few years have seen the Chinese New Year become a theme of many limited releases. Davidoff is best known for its Chinese New Year Series launched in 2012 and has become an annual release. Since then companies such as Tabacalera SLU (VegaFina), General Cigar (Punch), Maya Selva Cigars, and Plasencia Cigars have started their own annual Chinese New Year series.
The VegaFina Chinese New Year series made its debut in 2017. The following are the five annual releases in the VegaFina series (each listed by release year).
Without further ado, let’s break down the VegaFina Year of the Tiger international edition and see what this cigar brings to the table.
Blend and Origin
The origins of the tobaccos in the VegaFina Year of the Tiger are common to what is seen on many VegaFina cigars. This includes tobacco from Ecuador, Nicaragua, and the Dominican Republic. Production for the VegaFina Year of the Tiger comes from Tabacalera de Garcia in the Dominican Republic.
Filler: Dominican, Nicaraguan
Country of Origin: Dominican Republic
Factory: Tabacalera de Garcia
There is a slight difference between the U.S. and International versions. The International version measures 1/2 inch longer than the U.S. version. Both the U.S. and International versions are presented in 16-count boxes.
U.S.: 52 x 156 mm (or 52 x 6 1/8)
International (Non U.S).: 52 x 168 mm (52 x 6 5/8)
The Ecuadorian wrapper of the VegaFina Year of the Tiger had a medium brown color with a cinnamon tint to it. There was a light coating of oil on the surface of the wrapper. The surface of the wrapper also had some visible veins and visible wrapper seams.
There are two bands on the VegaFina Year of the Tiger. The primary band has a white background with silver trim. On the center of the band is a red “VF” surrounded by a silver wreath which in turn is surrounded by a series of silver concentric circles. The left side of the band has the text “VEGAFINA” in red font while the right side has the text “HECHO A MANO” in red font.
There is a large secondary footer band that is red with gold font. On the center of the band is an image of a tiger with some Chinese letters above it. To the left of the image is the text “YEAR OF THE TIGER” and to the right is the text “20? with the text “22” below it. There is gold striping near the upper and lower edges of the band.
After removing the footer band of the VegaFina Year of the Tiger a straight cut was used to remove the cap of the cigar. From that point, it was on to the pre-light draw experience. The cold draw delivered a mix of natural tobacco, nougat, nut, and leather. Overall the VegaFina Year of the Tiger delivered a satisfactory pre-light draw. At this point, it was time to light up the VegaFIna Year of the Tiger and move on to the smoking phase.
The VegaFina Year of the Tiger started off with notes of natural tobacco, fruit, earth, and mixed pepper. The natural tobacco notes moved to the forefront early on. There was an inherent sweetness to the natural tobacco. The fruit, earth, and mixed pepper settled in the background. The retro-hale delivered a combination of mixed pepper and cedar.
Later in the first third of the VegaFina Year of the Tiger, the earth notes joined the natural tobacco in the forefront. The fruit and mixed pepper remained in the background and were now joined by some cedar notes. During the second third, the cedar and pepper notes slowly increased in intensity. The fruit notes slowly diminished and by the end of the final third, these notes dissipated completely. In addition, the sweetness from the natural tobacco diminished.
The final third saw the cedar notes join the earth in the forefront. The natural tobacco notes receded into the background. The pepper notes were also quite prominent. This is the way the VegaFina Year of the Tiger came to a close. The resulting nub was soft to the touch and cool in temperature.
The burn of the VegaFina Year of the Tiger had some waviness on the burn line. There was an occasional meandering that occurred on the burn path. This cigar required touch-ups to rectify these things. While the touch-ups worked, many were needed. The resulting ash was light gray in color. This ash skewed toward the firmer side. The burn rate and burn temperature were ideal.
The draw to the VegaFina Year of the Tiger performed excellently. This was a draw that had a touch of resistance to it – which is something that I prefer.
Strength and Body
With some exceptions, the VegaFina is a cigar that is known for its more dialed-back smokes. I would classify the VegaFina Year of the Tiger as one of those smokes. It started out mild to medium in strength and body in the first half. By the second half, the strength and body intensified and crossed the threshold into medium territory in the second half. Both the strength and body balanced each other nicely during the smoking experience with neither attribute overpowering the other.
The first third of the VegaFina Year of the Tiger international edition really had my attention. While normally I don’t do handstands with a sweet flavor profile, the first third of the Year of the Tiger was quite enjoyable. As some of the sweetness dialed back, this cigar became much more ordinary and average. In the end, this cigar had its moments early on, but more or less finished out as an average smoking experience. Going for €14.00 might be a little pricey – especially for a U.S. customer to chase down the international edition. For this cigar, I recommend trying a sample of the international edition of this cigar first – or maybe checking out the U.S. version.
Key Flavors: Natural Tobacco, Earth, Cedar, Fruit, Mixed Pepper
Burn: Very Good
Strength: Mild to Medium (1st Half), Medium (2nd Half)
Body: Mild to Medium (1st Half), Medium (2nd Half)
Finish: Very Good
Value: Try a Sample
News: VegaFina Year of the Tiger for U.S. Market Introduced at TPE 22
Price: €14.00 (~$14.07 USD)
Source: Tabacalera SLU
Brand Reference: VegaFina
Photo Credit: Cigar Coop