Cubanacan HR Sublime

The Cubanacan HR is a new brand that has been launched by Nicaraguan cigar manufacturer Cubanacan Cigars. 2014 has been a year of transformation for Cubanacan cigars.  Earlier this year the company also streamlined its portfolio to focus on their existing Cubanacan, Soneros, and Mederos brands.  The new HR brand was announced shortly before the 2014 IPCPR.  The HR brand is a collaboration between Cubanacan Cigars and acclaimed Cuban cigar grower / cigar maker Hirochi Robaina. This alliance has just released its first cigar, the Cubanacan HR. Recently this cigar has started to hit retailers. Recently, I’ve had an opportunity to smoke the Cubanacan HR in Sublime size.  While the collaboration is historic, I consider the end product to be equally historic. Not only is this an outstanding cigar, but its a landmark cigar. It will not only be talked about as one of the best cigars for 2015, but a cigar I believe many will be talking about for years to come.

Hirochi comes to the Cubanacan team was a result of the relationship the company’s master blender, on Omar González Alemán had to the Robaina family, including both Hirochi and his grandfather, the late Don Alejandro Robaina.  When it comes to Cuban heritage in the cigar industry, the Robaina family is the real deal. The family has been growing tobacco since 1845. Don Alejandro was one of the most acclaimed growers in the history of the Cuban cigar business as Robaina tobacco has been used on some of the great Cuban brands. The family name was put on the Vegas Robaina cigar – released back in 1997.   During the mid 2000s, Alejandro passed over the day to day operations to Hirochi.

Hirochi Robaina (Left), Omar González Alemán (Right) (Cigar Coop Photo)

As we learned from our discussion with Cubanacan owner Robert Mederos at the 2014 IPCPR, getting Hirochi was no trivial undertaking.  Many logistical hurdles had to be cleared to allow Hirochi to leave Cuba, come to Nicaragua, and gain a visa to the United States.  Once these hurdles were cleared and the HR project went full steam ahead.

The HR cigar line is intended to be an ultra-premium offering in the Cubanacan portfolio.  It will only be released to select retailers.  It will also be priced in the $18.99 to $21.99 range – depending on the size.

Without further ado, let’s take a look at the final HR product line the Sublime vitola and see what this cigar brings to the table.

Blend Profile

The Cubanacan HR features an Ecuadorian Habano 2000 seed Hybrid over Nicaraguan tobaccos from Esteli and Jalapa.

Wrapper: Ecuador Habano 2000 seed Hybrid
Binder : Nicaraguan, Jalapa
Filler: Nicaraguan, Esteli and Jalapa
Country of Origin: Nicaragua (Cubanacan Cigars Factory S.A.)

Vitolas Available

The Cubanacan HR has been launched in four sizes.

Hermoso: 5 1/8 x 48
Belicoso: 5 1/2 x 52
Toro: 6 x 52
Sublime: 6 1/2 x 54

Appearance

When I talked to Hirochi at the 2014 IPCPR Trade Show, he told us the Ecuadorian Habano was a wrapper he especially liked.  Hirochi told me, “It’s got a variety of qualities.  It’s an oily wrapper leaf. It’s got a variety of color.”  This is especially true with the wrapper on the HR.   This is definitely an oily wrapper.  It is medium brown in color.  Depending how the light shines on it, it almost has a cherry-wood look to it.  There are some visible veins and some visible wrapper seams, but overall this was a smooth wrapper.  The cap is a Cuban style triple cap and the foot is covered.

The covered footer is something that was an innovation Hirochi introduced into the Cuban market. Hirochi told us of a cigar made at the Robaina farm that has wrapper over the footer that protects the cigar from cracking during transport. This was unique to the Cuban market. The covered foot is something that has carried over to the HR brand.

The band to the HR is reminiscent to the the Cuban Vegas Robaina brand produced by the Robaina family.  The band has a mahogany colored shield.  On the shield is the text “HR” in gold metallic font.  Below that text is the text “1845” (the year the Robaina family started growing tobacco in Cuba) in a brighter gold font.  Surrounding each side of the shield is some ivory coloring.  To the left and right side of the shield is more mahogany colored background with gold adornments.  Sitting on the mahogany background  to the left and right is the text “HAND MADE” and “ESTELI NICARAGUA” in dull yellow font to the left and right respectively.

Preparation for the Cigar Experience

Prior to lighting up the Cubanacan HR Sublime, I went with a straight cut to remove the cap.  Once the cap was removed, I moved on to the pre-light draw.  The dry draw delivered a mix of floral and cedar spices as well as a slight sugar cane sweetness.  Overall, I considered this to be an outstanding pre-light draw.  At this point I was ready to light up the HR Sublime and see what the smoking phase would have in store.

Flavor Profile

The start to the Cubanacan HR Sublime delivered notes of wood, natural tobacco sweetness, and white pepper. As the flavor profile evolved during the first half, the natural tobacco moved into the forefront and developed some of the sugar cane notes I got on the forefront. The wood notes transitioned to cedar notes and became a secondary flavor.  There was a slight pepper sweetness that was more distant in the background. On the retro-hale, the pepper was more of a black pepper variety.

As the HR Sublime moved through the first third, some chocolate notes surfaced. By the end of the first third, the chocolate notes joined the natural tobacco flavors in the forefront. The sugar cane notes diminished while the cedar and pepper were more distant. There was also a nice creamy undertone that surfaced as well.

During the second third, the natural tobacco and chocolate notes alternated as to which was the more prominent note. While it was still a secondary note, the pepper slowly increased and now I began to detect it on the after-draw. I also detected a slight almond note in the background while the cedar was pretty much gone.

For the last third, the spice moved into the forefront and joined the chocolate and natural tobacco. The cedar notes also came back into the equation. This is the way the HR Sublime finished up. The resulting nub was firm to the touch and cool in temperature.

Burn and Draw

The Cubanacan HR Sublime is a very well constructed cigar and this was reflected on the burn and draw. While the burn remained relatively straight from start to finish, there was a slight amount of jaggedness along the way. The cigar required some touch-ups, but nothing out of the ordinary. The resulting ash was not overly firm, but was not a loose one either. The ash had a charcoal gray color to it with some darker speckling.  The burn rate and burn temperature were ideal.

The draw was not too loose and not too tight. There was a nice amount of smokee production from the HR Sublime.  I found this to be a low maintenance cigar to puff on to derive flavor from.

Strength and Body

The Cubanacan HR Sublime is not going to be a nicotine bomb.  Overall I found this cigar to be a medium strength cigar from start to finish.  As for the flavors, I found the HR Sublime started out medium-bodied. The body did increase and by the last third, the cigar became a medium to full-bodied cigar.  I felt the weight of the flavors on the pallet could have been more on target with this flavor profile.  On a footnote, I did find the smaller sizes (most notably the Belicoso) did have a little more in the way of strength and body.

As for strength versus body, the Cubanacan HR is going to be a cigar where the body will have the edge.

Final Thoughts

The Cubanacan-Robaina collaboration was a huge story before the IPCPR Trade Show and at the trade show.  Following the trade show, there has been almost four months of anticipation and build up leading to the release of the Cubanacan HR.  In a nutshell, this cigar is nothing short of a home run and lived up to all of the build-up.  I had smoked the pre-release and I knew this cigar had potential.  What I didn’t expect is to see is the high level this cigar has reached.   This cigar has some incredible flavor.  It has those Cubanesque qualities, but with a real smoothness throughout the smoke. It will be interesting what happens next in terms of aging as 2015 progresses.

This cigar gets awarded one of our few Oasis ratings. It is only the third one this author has issued in the calendar year 2014, and actually is the first one for the Cigar Coop Cigar Year of 2015 (which began in late November). It does carry a steep price point, but it’s worth every cent. I’d recommend this cigar to any novice or experienced cigar enthusiast.

Summary

Burn: Excellent
Draw: Excellent
Complexity: High
Strength: Medium
Body: Medium, Medium to Full (last third)
Finish: Excellent
Assessment: 5.0 – The Oasis
Score: 95

References

News: Cubanacan Cigars Adds HR Blend by Hirochi Robaina
Feature Story: Hirochi Robaina and Cubanacan Cigars at the 2014 IPCPR Trade Show
Price: $21.95
Source: Cigars Provided by Manufacturer
Stogie Geeks Episode: n/a
Stogie Feed: HR Cigars – Cubanacan (IPCPR 2014)