HVC Cigars was founded by Reinier Lorenzo in 2011, aiming to pay tribute to Lorenzo’s birthplace of Havana City (HVC), as well as the region’s famed traditions in hand-made cigar craftsmanship. In order to bring such a vision to life, Lorenzo partnered with the Tabacos Valle de Jalapa S.A. (TABSA) factory in Estelí, where such Cuban-inspired practices are strictly maintained.
Through HVC’s partnership with TABSA, the company is able to showcase the famed Nicaraguan AGANORSA tobaccos (with both the factory and farms being owned by the Fernández family) nearly exclusively throughout their portfolio. The latest such example is the HVC Serie A—so named to signify the use of grade-A tobacco contained within every portion of the blend.
Serie A Perlas Breakdown
- Wrapper: Nicaraguan Corojo ’99
- Binder: Nicaragua
- Filler: Nicaragua
- Factory: TABSA (Nicaragua)
- Production: Regular Production
- Vitola: 5⅝″ × 46 “Perlas”
- Price: $8.50 (MSRP)
Following a Hawaiian-exclusive launch of the HVC Serie A (rolled in a robusto format) earlier this spring, the company debuted two nationally available sizes at the 2019 IPCPR trade show. All three sizes are packaged in boxes of 10 cigars, with prices ranging from $8.50 to $9.60 per cigar.
Without knowing the Serie A’s impressive pedigree, the average cigar enthusiast will likely be worried by the cigar’s appearance. This is similar to nearly all of HVC’s cigars, clearly placing an emphasis on the ingredients and construction over the design. While the unopened box has a Cuban aura about it, the cigar’s bands veer more to side of something you’d expect to find in a generic catalogue. This includes basic font selections, low-contrast printing, and virtually no embossing.
The cigar itself is none of the sort. The Perlas size is rolled in a classic corona gorda format, having a nice balance in the hand. There are virtually no seams to the naked eye, leading to a well-placed triple cap. And the vein structure is tight, providing a clean, cylindrical appearance from head to toe. It’s a solid cigar with what feels to be a firm bunch. The wrapper shows a pale complexion and tangy, Cuban-esque, musky aromas. On the foot there is simply a dominating note of chocolate chip cookies.
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Serie A Perlas opens up with some fairly spicy red pepper sensations through the nostrils. It takes only a few puffs for the freshly ignited tobacco to settle, pulling back to reveal cinnamon and lighter, more generic cabinet spices. The open head has a salted butter quality against the tongue. This helps to compliment the cigar’s evolving profile of sweet sugar cookies, dense butter, Italian cannoli, and brown sugar across the finish.
The quickly developing profile is aided by an extremely thick, chalky, almost vaporous smoking texture (comparable to hookah smoke). There are medium-plus volumes of smoke on every draw, pulled through a nearly perfect resistance. The corona gorda offers a minimally wavy burn with slightly flakey chunks of ash building in one-and-a-half inch increments. Still in the cigar’s early portions, it can be pegged at around near-full in flavor, medium in body, and medium-light in strength.
Thick coats of buttery Christmas cookies—waxy in texture—coat the palate as the Perlas continues to progress. As hints of anise and florals creep into the mix, the profile suddenly feels less sugary. It’s still a creamy experience overall, but added notes of black licorice, buttermilk, and a building pumpkin spice help to take the profile—at least momentarily—in a slightly different direction. The cigar reaches a fuller medium strength to go along with its spicier qualities; meanwhile, the anise and licorice transform into Italian pizzelle cookies.
Serie A is decidedly past its sugar-heavy beginnings by the mid-point, with vegetal, red bell pepper qualities coming into play. This is backed by a return of the red pepper spice from the cigar’s start, as well as herbs, mint, and root-like flavors associated with root beer. The cigar’s vaporous, waxy mouthfeel continues, bringing more of the anise, herbs, and clove flavors into its final third. This portion can feel like a combination of the former two at times, with vegetal flavors of pumpkin seeds being joined by buttery Guatemalan coffee beans, leather, hints of cherry, and a return of sugar cookie rounding out the final moments.
Would I Smoke This Cigar Again?
I certainly plan to! I’ve smoked around five of these cigars and, while the final cigar (which the review was largely based on) was the best of the bunch, all performed exceptionally. I strongly recommend smoking this one in solitary confinement—no talking, no television, no music—to best enjoy its many complexities.
- HVC Serie A Perlas can currently be purchased at Famous Smoke Shop and Neptune—both of which are sponsors on Cigar Dojo.
- Flavor: Medium-plus / Full
- Strength: Medium
- Body: Medium
- Sugar cookie
- Red pepper
- Waxy butter
- Pumpkin spice
- Smoke Time: 1 hour, 35 minutes
- Pairing Recommendation: Water | Chardonnay | 90-proof bourbon | Root beer
- Purchase Recommendation: Box (or more)
HVC Serie A Perlas
With HVC being one of the first brands to embrace the winning combination of the TABSA factory and AGANORSA puro blend styles, I find myself shocked and, quite honestly, ashamed at my lack of experience within the company’s portfolio. Serie A makes the bold assertion that it contains strictly grade-A tobaccos throughout the blend. With a sub-ten-dollar price point, this will have some skeptical. But the proof is in the pudding, as the cigar smokes with all the flavor, complexity, and construction of something twice its price point. This is a cigar that makes a world of difference when tuning out all the noise. Smoking it a few times casually, I had the assumption it was an above-average experience. But smoking the Serie A with complete focus opened up flavor combinations on an entirely different level. The profile is loaded with sugary flavors (many revolving around Italian cookies) and, when combined with the “it factor” waxy texture, it becomes an absolute must-buy; especially for those with a bit of a sweet tooth.
- Vaporous, waxy smoking texture
- Satisfying flavors from start until last puff
- Far outperforms price point
- Some inconsistencies between samples
- May approach cloyingly sweet to some palates