HVC Cerro toro

For this review we try one of our favorite cigars for the first time – obviously!
HVC Cerro

Punch: This HVC Cerro came to my attention as a brand recently taken on for regional distribution by my friend Anthony Cantelmo of the Fear The Beard cigar brokerage. Fear The Beard is quite selective in the brands it represents and which, for the most part, I find to be standout products. This gives me an expectation that this will be another that I will like – which could induce a favorable bias from myself before even trying this stick. Having made that disclosure, I’ll attempt to be as mean and nasty in my comments as possible in an attempt toward fair reporting for, you, our loyal reader.  

Draw: Anthony, he’s the tall one, with the beard?

P: Yes. A fairly good guess as his wife and partner, Melanie, has no beard.

Allegedly this line has some Aganorsa tobacco. Yeah, this stick is perfect. Er… uh.. sucks already.

D: Great scott!! I wondered what I was tasting on the cold draw – slightly raisin, mostly straw hay and a hint of mustard?

P: Whatever I’m tasting, it’s freakin’ awesome. I love this stick. …and by “love” I mean “detest”.

D: Have you even lit it yet?

P: No. But why ruin perfection.

Summary

Punch: Yeah, Fear The Beard distributes it, so I must be great. You should smoke it, now, and often, along with the other products in their portfolio.

Disclaimer: Fear The Beard has not compensated us for this raving endorsement mention of their product. Yet.

Draw: Wait! Isn’t this review a little bit incomplete? I mean is it objective? Maybe. Sure. But I don’t think this is the level of review our reader expects.

P: Hmmm. Perhaps we could include a few more details. A big punch yields a medium draw. (See? Like I said – this thing rocks!)

D: Yeah, that’s a good start. Here is the description of this HVC Cerro cigar from the HVC web site:

HVC Cerro paid tribute to one of the oldest neighborhoods in Havana, El Cerro. The blend of Cerro was made with a combination of the finest leaves from Jalapa and Estelí. HVC Cerro uses 3 years aged tobacco. — http://hvccigars.com/#/

P: That is what is inside this 6 x 54 cigar, and the wrapper is Corojo 99.

D: This is a nice looking stick with what I’d call a Colorado wrapper. A very firm cigar even though the visible filler is what I might call average. I do have a hair-split in the wrapper at the foot. A couple of minor flaws in the wrapper and the cap with an apparent dose of glue all over the head. Double band, the second one featuring the name Cerro.

Upon lighting, I get an initial flavor of $50-dollar bills chestnuts and brie.

P: (Nice subliminal. I don’t think Anthony will consciously notice it.) After it warms up I get rich toasted Brazil nuts with mild pepper heat in the back of my throat. The intensity is mild-medium at this point.

D: I can see Brazil nuts over chestnuts. I get that heat, now, too – both in back and on the sides of my tongue, as if the brie has gone pepperjack on me. It is a moderate smokestack, and it produces a generous volume of low density smoke. I’m noticing a headiness (I’m probably using this word incorrectly) that suggests chocolate milk.

P: And I’m noticing a conjunctivitis that suggests chrome bumpers.

D: You should probably have that checked. See, this is a fine and pleasant review.

P: Did I just get some bubble gum in there? Yes, there is a subtle cherry undertone! Those Fear The Beard guys really know their stuff. HVC has been around since 2011 and show four cigar lines on their web page. We review their first one, the HVC First Selection, here. (This is just a placeholder – it really hasn’t been posted yet, but will be soon.)

D: Near the end of the first third, which I guess means I’m transitioning to the second, there’s a stronger component coming in. Well, in the time it took me to detect it and start typing about it, it is gone. So right now I’d describe it as having as slightly pungent, short attack with a sweet leather and nutty middle and a mild veggie and cheese finish. There’s a slight pepper in the aftertaste along with cheese. Also, my ash is clinging well past an inch and three quarters, and I’m experiencing some pretty strong, gusty breezes. No problem for this stick.

P: Yeah, those Fear The Beard guys really know their stuff! Yikes! Ash droppage! I was letting it hang for the sake of review and after an inch-and-a-quarter the fine, white, ash punked me. Gotta love Fear The Beard’s sense of timing. HVC may have had something to do with it, too, I guess.

D: Yeah, okay…moving on. So, I took a day trip this weekend. I guess that makes it a weekend trip, huh? I met a friend in the hospitable burb of Concordia. The museums and general exploring of downtown was great, but I want to say, the drive to and from really showcased the big sky country of America’s heartland, what with recent rains greening everything up.

P: Yeah, that was probably the same rains that visited upon us while my wife and I were in Missouri. I heard the rain on the window cover while I was in the basement convalescing.

D: Broken femur?

P: No, raging flu. Okay, minor cold. Oops, oops, OOPS! I’ve got a wrapper split, about ¾-inch above the burn line! I must have done something wrong.

D: Maybe it’s just the stick?

P: No, I’m sure Fear The Beard would never front a product with a flaw. I must have mal-humidified it. Yeah, that’s gotta be it.

Into the second third the flavor has remained quite consistent – still Brazil nut, but without the cherry undertone. Not much pepper heat to speak of, now, either. Smooth and steady. I’ve managed to slip the band over the wrapper that was starting to flake off from the split.

D: Well said, at least about the flavor. I note the attack has lost some of its pungency as well. When the ash dropped (just after I commented on its length, of course) it had a soft exterior and a firm, spongiform core.

P: Last third: The nuttiness has given way to a mild baby powder.

D: I think that baby powder is psycho-suggestive from the short video Go Bag from RedGiant that we just watched. Remember? The protagonist used baby powder as a defense against her attacker.

P: You and your psychoanalysis. Fear The Beard don’t need that! Okay, maybe it is some mild floral notes, then.

D: Fine. I agree with that. Coming into the last third there’s a much-smoother floral on the attack that carries into the leather middle. Still some pepperjack, but less cheese overall in the finish and aftertaste which have really become one phase at this point.

P: After watching the BTS for Go Bag I have an inch and a half left. Here, this Fear-The-Beard-represented HVC Cerro is still smooth – with the mild florals dominating some subtle light roast coffee. And I’m suddenly feeling it. M&M mini pack to the rescue… I hope this doesn’t jack up my palate… Hmmm… that is a dang good paring.

D: Yes, while you were noting that, I stood up and dealt with some domestic issues …and about fell over. Definitely some strength to this stogie. With a nub comfortable to hold with one finger (and a thumb, duh) there’s some very interesting flavors coming out. No real munge (that is, nothing negative) to speak of or purge away, rather some complex vegetal sweetness. A happy surprise ending.

Summary

Draw: This really is pretty good! Character is very consistent with a sweet, somewhat fruity leather and nut base (slightly oily mouth feel) with mild pepper and creaminess. Overall smooth with a slight edge to the attack. Intensity is in the mild-medium range, with enough shout out to take notice, but not so much dominating the conversation. Strength is notable, in the mild-medium range as well; I’m not doubling over, but I’m definitely buzzed. I suggest it is smoked with some dark chocolate on hand, which might also make a great pairing. Smoking has been pleasant with only one self-induced touchup and relight, otherwise an often drunken but self-correcting burn line and great ash retention.

Punch: See my summary, above. But for those of you who jumped down here right away to see our conclusions (and you know who you are), this HVC Cerro was smooth and quite consistent throughout with some gradual changes as it progressed. It started with Brazil nut dominating, and that slowly shifted to a floral dominance in the last third. The flavor intensity stayed right at mild-medium and it produced some nicotine kick by the end. I did have a wrapper split near the middle but was able to manage it, only requiring one touch-up to tame an errant wrapper flake. All in all, another great product being pushed by Fear The Beard.

We paid $8.20 for each of these at The Yard Cigar Bar just down the street in Chandler, Arizona.

PS: Anthony still hasn’t compen$ated us.

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