Monday, May 9, 2016

Lavida Habana - LH Premium Maduro

Country: Costa Rica
Wrapper: Ecuadorian Criollo
Filler / Binder: Brazil, Nicaragua, Peru
Length: 6
Ring: 60
Cost: $8.24

Background: LH (Lavida Habana) Premium Cigars isn’t a name that I, or many cigar smokers for that matter, may actually be intimately acquainted with. So should we be? From the sound of the write-ups on the brand perhaps we should. The goal of the line is to give a traditional Cuban cigar experience via the unique profile of blended tobaccos. This one is a bit peculiar with seeing 4 different origins for the tobacco used (Brazil, Nicaragua, Peru, and Ecuador), but it very well could be something interesting…

Appearance (0-20):  This stick looks delicious. It’s pretty damn big at a 6x60 size, with a nice solid heft to it. Some small veins adorn the stick and the wrap job seems clean. No major blemishes of note, but there are a couple of smaller ones here and there. Much like the previous review for the Acid Progeny, the foot of the cigar is one that I wouldn’t quite call a shaggy foot, but it’s also not the traditional clean cut. It makes for a really interesting look. Now the banding – it’s simple with a black base and matte gold borders and an LH in the center.
Score: 17

Construction (0-20): Everything feels relatively correct about this. It is silky to the touch and it quite smooth. Feeling along the stick reveals no pockets to worry about at all. It’s well packed, well wrapped, etc. There was only a small amount of debris on the cut. Prelit draw was a hair tight, but it opened up to nearly the perfect resistance once lit. The darker grey ash held on for an inch and a half at a time but then flaked off.
Score: 18

Strength (0-20): Medium to full. It’s pretty close to that range. Through the majority of the cigar I believe it was closer to being a straight medium with just the smallest of inclines, eventually reaching close to the full range.
Score: 17

Flavor (0-20): The initial puffs have a nice bittersweet combination going on. The bitterness reminds me of a really rich coffee, whereas the sweetness that it is overlaid upon is chocolate. On the retrohale you’ll find the peppery kick that lingers on the back of your palate. Progressing forward into the second third, and the chocolatey sweetness drops and begins to balance a bit with an earthy flavor. The pepper and coffee flavors still exist but as footnotes to the others. At times I also get some smaller tones, such as vanilla, cream, and a hint of cherry. It’s a nice mixture with complex backing. Entering the final third, the cherry and earth get amped up, while the chocolate and pepper fade back even further. There’s some more deviation here, with the cherry dropping back and letting the pepper come through at times, but nothing consistent.
Score: 19

Value (0-20):  $8.24 is right around the point where people begin to question the prices, but still low enough to be a potential bargain. This one is aptly priced.
Score: 18

Additional Notes: Paired with water. Cigar provided by Cigars

Overall (0-100): I haven’t had much interaction or knowledge of the LH brand at all until this point. I’m really glad that my friends over at Cigars decided to send this one on to me and get me with the acquainted with the brand. Just from an appearance perspective, I don’t know if it’s one I would have picked up. That’s not to say that the appearance is horrible, it just kind of falls into the run of the mill category. The construction was very good, with just some slight debris and perhaps ashing a little earlier than I would have hoped, but still it wasn’t adverse in any way. From a strength perspective, I felt it didn’t quite hit my expectations as it’s listed in the medium to full category. I know technically that this still fits, but it’s more a medium cigar that slowly builds toward full.

Where this stick shines is the flavor. There is a nice balance between bitterness and sweetness that shows between coffee and chocolate. What makes it more interesting is there is a deviation to the chocolate where an earthiness comes in and balances things even further. This is all with a pepper kick that begins heavy but fades, for the most part, over time. Variances in flavor come in to add to the complexity with vanilla, cream, and cherry with the cherry being the most prominent of those.

This one is a really intriguing stick to say the least, so I’m interested in seeing what other offerings they have in the future.

Score: 89

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