Origin : Nicaragua
Format : Robusto
Size : 5 x 50
Wrapper : Ecuadorian Habano 2000
Filler : Honduran, Nicaraguan, Ecuadorian
Binder : Honduran, Nicaraguan, Ecuadorian
Price : $6.75
Seasoned aficionados are well aware of the fact that Xikar, a world-famous producer of cigar accessories (especially their easily recognizable cutters), is also behind a line of cigars dubbed HC Series. Launched in 2008, the line consisted of three blends (Connecticut, Criollo and Habano Colorado) until the recent IPCPR 2012 show which saw an addition to the family, the HC Series Habano Squared (=Habano²).
According to the press-release, this blend was "unearthed" by Kurt Van Keppel and Scott Almsberger, co-founders of Xikar, on one of their recent travels. According to rumors, it is made in Nicaragua at A.J. Fernandez's factory and the blend is a mix of Nicaraguan, Honduran and Ecuadorian tobacco pulled together with an Ecuadorian Habano 2000 wrapper.
Kaitlyn from Xikar was very kind to send me a sampler of the new cigars; here is my review.
The appearance is pretty solid with an almost veinless wrapper leaf holding together a box-pressed 5x50 vitola that looks regularly filled. The band has an interesting design (the front looks quite simple, but the rest of it is rather elaborate) and the cap seems to be skillfully applied.
I've smoked three cigars for this review, out of which two were enjoyed in a fairly windy environment. On all three samples both the draw and the burn were as close to perfection as you can get. Impressive.
As usual, before cutting the Habano Squared I quickly taste the head and wow! I can hardly remember such a spicy wrapper, it's a little bomb. The pre-draw is complex and, surprisingly, doesn't feature that much spice - instead, it concentrates on woody and floral nuances. Time to light the H²! Within a few seconds the cigar is perfectly lit and I can enjoy clouds of white, aromatic smoke. The beginning is mostly woody (oak) with a spicy background. White pepper, ginger? Medium-bodied, it goes on deploying even more flavors in the second third. For instance, I occasionally detect some dried fruits and hazelnut although it doesn't drift much from the initial combination of oak and white pepper. It's one of those cigars that you can easily nub because there's no harshness at all however close the burn line gets to your fingers. In terms of flavors, the addition of heavy earthy flavors is noticeable in the last third. A smooth and satisfying smoke.
The MSRP for the robusto is $6.75 and, from my point of view, it's a solid deal. With such a slow and regular burn, you get well over 1 hour of smoking pleasure.
Overall Rating :
Well, as you can see I was pretty impressed with this cigar. Kurt and Scott say that the blend "knocked their socks off" and I think I can see why. I haven't tasted all the offerings within the Xikar's HC line, but I guess it must be their most interesting release so far. Even though there are cigars on the market that present a more refined flavors bouquet, finding one with such a great construction at such a low price is a hard task. Kudos!