The VegaFina Year of the Ox is the fourth installment of VegaFina’s limited-edition cigar series to pay homage to the Chinese New Year. The past few years have seen the Chinese New Year become a theme of many limited releases. Davidoff is best known for its Chinese New Year Series that launched in 2012 and has become an annual release. Since then companies such as Tabacalera SLU (VegaFina), General Cigar (Punch), and Maya Selva Cigars have now launched their own annual Chinese New Year series. Today we take a closer look at the VegaFina Year of the Ox.
VegaFina is a brand that is under Imperial Tobacco’s Tabacalera SLU. group. The VegaFina’s Year of the Ox is a release that is sold in the European market. At the same time, there have been several VegaFina releases sold in the U.S. market (most recently the VegaFina 1998). While VegaFina might not be as well known as Montecristo or Romeo y Julieta in the U.S., it is a brand that has maintained popularity in the European market – particularly Spain.
The VegaFina Chinese New Year series made its debut in 2017. The following are the four annual releases in the VegaFina series (each listed by release year).
Without further ado, let’s break down the VegaFina Year of the Ox and see what this cigar brings to the table.
Blend and Origin
The cigar features a Habana 2000 wrapper over a blend of Dominican and Nicaraguan tobaccos. The cigar measures 56 x 159 mm (56 x 6 1/4)
Wrapper: Habana 2000
Filler: Dominican, Nicaraguan
Country of Origin: Dominican Republic
Factory: Tabacalera de Garcia
The VegaFina Year of the Rat is available in one size – a 56 x 159 mm (56 x 6 1/4) cigar. The cigars are shipped in 16-count boxes consisting of two layers of 8 cigars (8 is considered a Chinese lucky number).
The Habana 2000 wrapper of the VegaFina Year of the Ox had a dark cinnamon color to it. Upon closer examination, there was some mottling present on the surface. This was a wrapper that did not have much in the way of oil on it. There were some visible veins, and most of the wrapper seams were on the thinner side.
There are two bands on the VegaFina Year of the Ox. The primary band has a white background with silver trim. On the center of the band is a red “VF” surrounded by a silver wreath which in turn is surrounded by a series of silver concentric circles. The left side of the band has the text “VEGAFINA” in red font while the right side has the text “HECHO A MANO” in red font.
There is a secondary band that is red with gold font. On the center of the band is an image of an ox. Below the ox are two Chinese symbols. To the left of the image is the text “YEAR OF” and to the right is the text “THE OX.”
Prior to lighting up the VegaFina Year of the Ox, a straight cut was used to remove the cap. Once the cap was removed, it was on to the pre-light draw. The dry draw delivered a mix of earth, natural tobacco, and some black pepper. Flavorwise this was a straight-forward pre-light draw. Overall this was a satisfying pre-light draw experience. At this point, it was time to light up the VegaFina Year of the Ox and see what the smoking experience would have in store.
The start of the VegaFina Year of the Ox picked up where the pre-light draw left off. There were notes of earth, natural tobacco, and black pepper. During the opening stages, some mixed fruit sweetness and baker’s spice entered the equation. As the smoking experience of the Year of the Ox progressed the earth and natural tobacco notes moved into the forefront with the fruit, black pepper, and baker’s spice secondary. Meanwhile, there was an additional layer of black pepper on the retro-hale.
As the VegaFina Year of the Ox moved into the second third, the natural tobacco notes would take over as the primary note. The earth notes diminished, settling into the background with the fruit, black pepper, and baker’s spice notes.
The final third of the VegaFina Year of the Ox didn’t see much in the way of change. The natural tobacco remained grounded in the forefront. As for the background notes, there was a slight increase in intensity in the black pepper. Rounding out the flavor profile were notes of earth, fruit, and baker’s spice. This is the way the smoking experience o the VegaFina Year of the Ox came to a close. The resulting nub was slightly soft to the touch and cool in temperature.
The burn of the VegaFina Year of the Ox required several touch-ups to maintain a straight burn path and straight burn line. The touch-ups applied did the trick to keep the burn on track, but there were slightly more touch-ups required than I preferred. The resulting ash wasn’t overly firm and there was some minor flaking. This was an ash that was light gray in color. The burn rate and burn temperature were both ideal.
The draw to the VegaFina Year of the Ox performed extremely well. This was a draw that had a touch of resistance -which is something that I like. At the same time, the VegaFina Year of the Ox was a low-maintenance cigar to derive flavor from.
Strength and Body
Overall this was a cigar that was on the bolder side for a VegaFina. The VegaFina Year of the Ox started out with medium strength and medium body. Both the strength and the body increased slowly. By the 3/5 point both the intensity of the strength and body were in medium to full territory. The increase in intensity leveled off by the final third.
In terms of strength versus body, both attributes balanced each other nicely with neither attribute overshadowing the other.
The VegaFina Year of the Ox delivered a very nice smoking experience from start to finish. This isn’t going to be a cigar loaded with a lot of flavor transitions, but there still is enough in the way of flavor nuances to keep one satisfied from start to finish. While it’s slightly bolder than most VegaFina releases, it is still an approachable cigar that I would recommend to any enthusiast. At €13.75 (~$16.66 ), it’s a pricier VegaFina, but one that is still worth it. It’s one I would definitely buy and smoke again. At 90 points, it comes in reaching the threshold to earn the Cigar Coop Standard of Excellence.
Key Flavors: Natural Tobacco, Earth, Fruit, Baker’s Spice, Black Pepper
Burn: Very Good
Complexity: Medium Minus
Strength: Medium (1st 3/5), Medium to Full (Remainder)
Body: Medium (1st 3/5), Medium to Full (Remainder)
Finish: Very Good
Value: Buy One
Cigar Coop Standard of Excellence
Photo Credits: Cigar Coop, except where noted