|Xikar HC Habano Colorado|
The name Xikar is synonymous with the cigar accessories market – most notably cutters and lighters. About four years ago, Xikar turned their attention to getting into the premium cigar market. In 2007, this was first realized with launch of Defiance Cigars. In 2009 followed the Xikar HC Series. For both cases Xikar collaborated with Jesus Fuego to blend the cigars. Jesus Fuego is becoming a rising star in the cigar industry – and I believe the best is yet to come. With the Xikar HC Habano Colorado – one of the three HC blends launched in 2009, Fuego delivers a very solid smoking experience – one that was so good that it was awarded our #17 Cigar for 2009.
A little background on Jesus Fuego: Fuego was born and raised in Cuba. He comes from a Cuban tobacco growers and cigar makers. He earned a Master’s Degree in Post-Harvest Agronomy . He also was a former instructor of post-harvest tobacco at the University of Pinar Del Rio. While living and working in Cuba, he worked beside some of Cuba’s best known tobacco growers. Fuego left Cuba in the 1990s and took his talents are now being recognized on a more worldwide basis.
The Xikar HC Habano Colorado is a terrific example of Fuego’s work. Let’s take a closer look at it.
The Xikar HC Habano Colorado features tobaccos from three countries:
Wrapper: Habano Colorado – Jalapa Valley
Binder: Esteli, Nicaragua
Filler: Costa Rica, Jalapa (Nicaragua), Honduras
Robusto: 5 x 50
Belicoso: 6 x 54
Toro: 6.5 x 52
Churchill: 7 x 48
Grande: 6 x 60
Salomon: 7 x 58 (*)
(*) The Salomon was introduced at the 2011 IPCPR Trade Show. This was intended to be a limited production release with only 1000 boxes produced.
For this cigar assessment I went with the Churchill vitola. The HC Habano Colorado has a wrapper true to its name – namely one with that classic reddish colorado color. The wrapper itself is somewhat oily in texture, but also toothy with some veins showing. The HC Colorado features two bands. The first band is close to the cap and features “HC” in red font on a yellow background. There is a mosaic that goes around the rest of the band. The second band is around the foot of the cigar. This also features a mosaic with “Habano Colorado” in white text on a black background.
Preparation for the Cigar Experience
As I usually do, I put a straight cut into the cap of the HC Habano Colorado. On the pre-light draw, I was a bit disappointed as it was very woody. Since this web-site does not factor the pre-light experience into the final score, this did not play a role in the assessment. At this point, it was on to fire up my Xikar HC Habano Colorado and to enjoy the smoking experience it would deliver.
The wood notes that were on the pre-light draw continued on the start of the Xikar HC Habano Colorado. There were also some secondary notes of pepper present on the tongue. The pepper could also be detected through the nostrils. The wood and pepper were the primary notes in these early stages. I also detected a very interesting sweetness up front. I could not put my finger on this sweetness, but it seemed to be in the cocoa profile. The sweetness did not have an overwhelming chocolatey taste. There also were some secondary notes of natural tobacco present.
Around five percent into the cigar experience, the pepper notes moved toward the background and became more noticeable on the after-draw. Around 15 percent point the wood notes dissipated and a combination of coffee and chicory flavors emerged. At this point the coffee/chicory/sweetness combination was in the forefront with the pepper spice and natural tobacco in the background.
Around the one third point of the Xikar HC Habano Colorado, the sweetness finally was recognizable to me as a raisin sweetness. It was at this point where the sweetness began to diminish. The coffee/chicory combination remained in the forefront. At the same time, the pepper spice, natural tobacco, and raisin flavors played a secondary role.
Around the midway point of the Xikar HC Habano Colorado, the sweetness has dissipated. The second half of this cigar definitely has less body than the first half. The wood notes return and with the natural tobacco notes they would form the dominant notes of the second half. The pepper spice remains and is present right until the end. The finish has some spice on it and is a little rough. The cigar consistently finishes with an outstanding nub – cool in temperature and firm to the touch.
Burn and Draw
The burn of the Xikar HC Habano Colorado does require multiple touch-ups. For the most part, my lighter did the trick in keeping the burn straight. No issues with the burn temperature or burn rate as these were ideal. As for the draw, while normally I have felt it was a solid draw – with the Churchills I have found the draw to be a little tighter. Overall, the draw is still good in my book.
Strength and Body
The Xikar HC Habano Colorado does provide a little pop to it as far as a nicotine profile goes. I definitely assess this cigar as medium to full in terms of strength. As for the depth of the flavor notes, the flavors in the first half are going to have more depth than the second half. I assessed the Xikar HC Habano Colorado to be medium to full-bodied in the first half and medium-bodied in the second half. There is good balance between strength and body in the first half, but in the second half the strength is going to have a slight edge over the flavors in the second half of the cigar.
In the end, I found the Xikar HC Habano Colorado to be a very good cigar experience. While I ranked this as a Top 20 cigar for 2009, if the second half had some more body, this most likely would have been a Top 20 cigar. Still I don’t want to paint a picture that the second half of this cigar was a dud – because it wasn’t. It just had a more simplistic profile. This is a cigar I’d probably recommend to a more experienced cigar enthusiast. As for myself, I can see myself smoking this again.
Strength: Medium to Full
Body: Medium to Full (1st Half), Medium (2nd Half)
Assessment: Nice to Have
Source: The cigars for this assessment were purchased from Outland Cigars in Charlotte, North Carolina.