HVC Cerro – HVC Cigars
The HVC Cerro doesn’t have a lot of information out there so I will do the best that I can to dig up every bit of it out there as well as give you a warm introduction to the company as I am sure not many of you have heard about this cigar before. What I can tell you is that the hands behind it are not strangers to the cigar community and the world of cigar manufacturing.
The Good Stuff:
HVC is short for Havana City, the city in which the brand owner Reinier Lorenzo grew up in. Cerro, meaning “Hill” is the neighborhood in which he grew up in. Not only is Lorenzo the owner of HVC but he is also the an employee at Casa Fernandez which explains this joint collaboration between the two. The Cerro is actually the second of three different releases under the HVC name. The first was amply title the “First Selection” and it debuted alongside the Cerro at last year’s IPCPR show in Vegas. Both showcase Nicaraguan tobaccos and carry the famed Aganorsa leaf that are buried in some of my favorite Casa Fernandez blends. The third blend called Vieja Cosecha No.1 is the first blend that doesn’t carry Aganorsa leaf. It made it’s debut last month at this year’s IPCPR show in Vegas. While the First Selection and the Cerro are regular production lines the Vieja Cosecha no.1 will be limited to a 200 box run and should start hitting retailers later this month.
Now, back the Cerro. The Cerro comes in 3 sizes: Corona (4.5 x 46), Robusto (5 x 50), and the Toro (6 x 54). The cigars are packaged in boxes of 20 and range between $7.80 and $8.60 a stick. I actually got these sent to me from HVC as a random contest I won for being their 200th follower on twitter. I had no idea that I even entered, but big thanks goes out to them for sending these my way. You can follow HVC Cigars on Twitter and on Facebook to keep up with the latest.
Size: 5 x 50
Pairing: New Belgium / 3 Floyds Gratzer (Gratzer Ale 4.5% ABV)
The HVC Cerro is a rustic looking cigar. It all starts with a beautiful, medium brown wrapper with lots of orange and darker brown splotches throughout which really help showcase the natural characteristics in the leaf. There is a bit of webbing, some slight tooth, and a few larger veins running through the body of the cigar. The Cerro is very firm with a few softer spots around the foot of the cigar. The wrapper feels pretty tough but is shockingly dense. The Cerro is capped off with a beautifully round triple cap. The HVC Cerro carries a simple, yet elegant band layout. The first, main band is deep read with the words “HVC” spread across the crest and “Hecho a Mano” (Made by Hand) in the back. The secondary band is the same color red simply stating “Cerro” (Hill) in white with some nice silver trim added.
The wrapper of the HVC Cerro smells of strong cinnamon, spice, and cedar while the foot of the cigar has some strong pepper, spice, and grain aromas. The cap cut clean and easily using my double bladed Palio cutter. The cold draw on the HVC Cerro actually lead with a strong licorice flavor which was backed by some nice cedar and a bit of spice.
The HVC Cerro leads with some very strong pepper which took some time to mellow out. Once it did the Cerro showed off some great strong spice with some cinnamon sweetness, some sharp espresso, a deep earthy flavor, and a bit of that licorice I picked up on the cold draw. The draw on the Cerro was impeccable. Each puff kicked out a desired amount of dense smoke. The burnline was a bit whacky during the first third, but it started to correct itself as I head into the second third so I just left it alone. The ash is a medium gray with darker lining which held on for an inch before giving way.
Moving into the second third of the HVC Cerro the pepper has finally dropped out of the equation. The spice and sweetness are still pretty strong and the licorice and espresso are still there was well. What is commanding the most attention at this point is actually the cedar as it has ramped up immensely and I am loving the way it blends in and dances around with the sweetness and spice. This is something that I often expect with any cigars carrying Aganorsa leaf. The retrohale on the Cerro is a bit too bold for me as it coats my nasal passage with very strong spice and cedar. I don’t find myself retrohaling this cigar too often. The burnline is still a bit wavy but now under control without the use of my butane torch. I close out the second third without feeling anything at all in terms of nicotine.
The cedar, spice and cinnamon are dominating the experience in the HVC Cerro and I am loving every minute of it. This is a very full-bodied, bold cigar. The licorice and espresso are still in the mix but the other flavors are really taking control of the flavor profile in the final inch. While the pepper creeps back in a bit, the cigar actually becomes more and more bold as I close into the final inch with a very strong finish, with very little harshness. While the burnline was a bit wild at times I never once had to reach for my torch to relight, or touch up the cigar. It took me a total of an hour and fifteen minutes to take down the Cerro and it left me with only a slight nicotine kick, and a craving for another one.
I’ve been a long time fan of both Casa Fernandez and Aganorsa leaf. The two are even better when they are combined together. The HVC Cerro is a great stick, at a great price and the perfect introduction to the HVC blend. While there isn’t much information on this company available, I think this experience does all the talking for them. Full-Bodied with a ton of great flavors wrapper in a medium strength experience. It doesn’t get much better than that. While the brand could use some more recognition I think only great things are in store for HVC and can’t wait to try the other two blends. That is, if I can find them.
On a side note, I decided to give many of these cigars out to some of my friends. Every single person who smoked it enjoyed it (Jeremy and our pal Jeff being among those). The response I got was great and I am glad to hear it since I admired this smoke so much. Do yourself a favor and don’t pass these up if you see them. You will not regret it.
New Belgium is always trying new things when it comes to their Lips of Faith series. This time, they teamed up with the famous 3Floyds brewery to create a style of beer that we don’t see very often. Gratzer, is a 4.5% Polish Gratzer style old ale brewed with Polish Lublin hops. The beer pours black in color with some light sour fruit aromas. The mouthfeel is very light and the first tastes are that of fruit, smoked malt, and raisin as it transitions into a very light, wheaty finish with some very soft spice. The Gratzer reminded me a lot of a thinner Dunkel with a much softer/lighter mouthfeel. The fruit and spice married up perfectly with the licorice and spice the Cerro brought to the table while the smoked malt transitions well with any type of cigar. I think the Cerro would also pair very well with a strong Marzen, a sour, or even a chili beer.