|XIKAR HC Habano²|
Lighters and cutters are the first things that come to mind when someone mentions XIKAR, but something that should not be forgotten is that they are the ones behind the great HC Series brand. A brand that encompasses three amazing lines that captures everything you want in terms of flavors. I have been a fan of the HC Series since I first lit one up, and to this day still am surprised when I recommend it to a smoker and they are unsure of the line. Since 2008 XIKAR has been producing the HC Series brand, and in a couple days the fourth installment in the line is going to be showcased at the 20120 IPCPR; that line is the XIKAR HC Series Habano².
For this release, the cigar was blended by the XIKAR Team, and is made in Esteli, Nicaragua. I have also been told by a reliable source that this cigar is being made by A.J. Fernandez, which is a great choice of a manufacturer. The first notable difference to the cigar is the band. There has been some changes to the band, and I think for the better. It is much more clear and overall more entertaining. I am not aware if this will be the new band for all the cigars, but if it is that is for the better. The cigar was conceived off of the travels and experiences XIKAR founders Kurt Van Keppel and Scott Almsberger have had in their times in the cigar industry, and was composed of tobacco from all over, not a single nation. The new line will be available in four sizes, and for this review I was gifted the Robusto vitola which measures 5″ with a 50 ring gauge. (roughly)
The cigar is draped with a Habano 2000 wrapper, and I am wondering with the name Habano², if the binder is also Habano 2000. The cigar is composed of tobacco that is Nicaraguan, Honduran and Sumatran, and I am not aware of the complete breakdown. The cigar is nicely box pressed, and it has a lovely light Colorado coloring to it. There are some nice hints of red present, and it has a definite light brown coloring throughout. There are very few veins present with the cigar, and it has a solid cap to it. The texture is really leathery and slightly bumpy. Holding the foot of the cigar to my nose I get a lovely aroma of herbs, wood, spices and floral notes, and the wrapper is showing a lovely hay and wood flavor profile as well. It is firm in hand, and after cutting the head there is a nice cool draw to it.
As I begin the cigar, it starts off at a solid medium body level, and it is producing tons of smoke. It is very pleasant and cool, and leaving lots of flavors as well with the cigar. It starts off by showing some lovely spice notes, and I am getting some nutmeg, cinnamon, allspice and ginger notes. There is a nice wood flavor profile as well, and it is very dry. I would say the wood notes are between cedar and oak, and very pleasant. There are some herbal notes as well to the cigar, and also some hay aspects. It is a very summery smoke, and because of that I find it to be very Cubanesque. As I said earlier, it is around that medium body level, and the cigar is burning phenomenally from the get go. I am getting a nice light gray ash to the cigar, and it is leaving a razor sharp burn line. In the second third of the cigar there is a lovely increase in terms of flavors, and also in strength. Those wood,spice and floral/herbal notes are very present, and I am picking up some nutmeg, cinnamon and allspice notes with the cigar. It’s really a lovely second third and very smooth in terms of transition from the first third. The cigar has been burning wonderfully throughout, and I am holding on to this lovely white ash that has been building up from the first third. The strength went from a medium to a medium full in this third, and it is smoking as a cigar I would grab any day of the week. As a cigar, it is really showing all the different types of tobacco present in it, and it is very complex and smooth. I am in the final third of the cigar now, and it is smoking as smoothly as it has been throughout. It is incredibly complex and satisfying, and the cigar is burning magnificently. Those flavors of herbs, spices and wood are still dominant, but I am also beginning to pick up some more roasted almonds that I had in the first third. It is really reminiscent of a strong and well aged Cuban, and at the same time show all the wonderful qualities of tobacco throughout the world. That burn line is razor sharp and the ash is this solid white color. The cigar is smoking at a medium full level, and on the finish it is flavorful and cool. This was a terrific cigar from beginning to end, and I am glad I had numerous samples.
This has been the best cigar released under the HC Series name, and by XIKAR. I felt that the company really captured so many great flavors in the cigar, and it had an amazing strength level as well. It really showed a nice balance between the Habano Colorado and Criollo versions of the original HC Series line, and was a cigar that reached out to me. With the box-pressed format you could really pick up the wrapper on the cigar, and I enjoyed seeing the Habano 2000 wrapper being used again. I know a lot of smokers who bash that wrapper, but it is slowly re-entering as a well used wrapper and a great one at that. This is by far one of the best Habano 2000 wrappers I have had to date, along with the San Lotano Oval. I think this release is truly going to elevate the cigar level of XIKAR, and they will be known as a cigar company on equal playing fields with their lighter and cutter departments. I give this smoke a 93, and look forward to the different sizes and purchasing a handful to lie in the humidor.
|Jerry would love this band! (That one goes out to all the Dead Head’s out there)|
* Cigar for this assessment provided to me by XIKAR for review.