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Any given Friday, you can find my father and I standing under the oven hood sharing a cigar and perhaps a few whiskeys. Blowing clouds of smoke into the exhaust, refilling our whiskey glasses here and there, and recommending each other whatever smokes the other hasn't sampled yet. Recently he handed me an HC Series Criollo and told me that he could not believe how well-crafted and flavorful it was. Now my father and I normally find ourselves enjoying fuller bodied cigar but this medium-bodied smoke has a very pleasant nutty, woody taste with soft, lingering spice, right up my alley. This is definitely one of those cigars that just get better as you smoke it. The initial match up of this cigar may throw you with its subtle, tea-like aroma into thinking it's more of a mellow to medium smoke but as the cigar progresses, the woody and leathery flavors develop quite nicely. I did find that the second half of this cigar developed some creamy and toasted notes. The HC Series was created by the ever-growing Xikar accessory maker back in 2008 when it was originally named 'Defiance'. Xikar teamed up with the very talented Jesus Fuego to produce what is now known as the HC Series Criollo. Although the cigar originates from Nicaragua, my all-time favorite tobacco country, it shares both Nicaraguan and Honduran fillers. One of my favorite attributes of this cigar is the oily and smooth wrapper. The Criollo wrapper is a 5 year aged shade grown wrapper from Nicaragua. When I first heard this, I expected a hefty price tag for the work and time they put into this particular cigar. Much to my surprise, I found these beauties ranged between $6-$8 apiece. We all have that one friend, you know, the guy who takes a $15 cigar out of your humidor and leaves most of it un-smoked in the ashtray. Next time, hand him one of these. Not only will you find yourself not having to lock your humidor and hide the key but you may see that guy actually finish a cigar for once. All in all, the HC Series Criollo is truly a bang for your buck.
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