Hirochi Robaina Blends Nicaraguan Cigar

Andrew Nagy
Posted: July 8, 2014

Hirochi Robaina, best known for growing the tobacco used in some of the most famous Cuban cigar brands in the world, has collaborated on a cigar that will be released this summer in the United States.

The cigar, called simply HR for Robaina's initials, contains no Cuban tobacco, and was rolled in Estelí, Nicaragua at the Cubanacan Cigars Factory S.A. It's the result of a project that started three years ago when Omar González Alemán, the master blender at Cubanacan who migrated to Costa Rica from Cuba in 2004, approached Robaina with an idea.

Alemán, 66, wanted to create a new cigar brand to honor Robaina's family legacy in the cigar industry, namely his grandfather, legendary Cuban tobacco farmer Alejandro Robaina. Alemán worked in the Cuban tobacco industry since he was nine years old, spending many of those years overseeing the La Corona Cigar Factory, one of the largest factories in Havana where Cuban brands such as Romeo y Julieta, Hoyo de Monterrey, Cuaba, Por Larrañaga, Saint Luis Rey, and San Cristóbal de la Habana are rolled. During this time, Alemán developed a lasting friendship with the elder Robaina.

Robaina headed the tobacco plantation called Cuchillas de Barbacoa in Pinar del Río, which had been in the family since the mid-1800s, for decades until four years ago, when he died after a long battle with cancer. It was then that Hirochi, who had worked at Alejandro's side for 14 years, took over as jefe of the farm.

Hirochi Robaina liked Alemán's idea and the two started collaborating on a blend that uses filler from Nicaragua's Jalapa Valley and Estelí regions, binder from Jalapa, and maduro wrapper grown in Ecuador from Habano 2000 seed. Cubanacan says HR is powerful.

"I can't smoke light cigars," said Hirochi Robaina, during an interview at the Cigar Aficionado offices. "I need it to be strong, and flavorful, but definitely strong."

HR, which has already been rolled, will be available in 20-count boxes in four sizes: Belicoso, 5 1/2 inches by 52 ring gauge; Hermoso, 5 1/8 inches by 48; Toro, 6 inches by 52; Sublime, 6 1/2 inches by 54. Prices for the cigars have not yet been set. Robaina himself will be at the IPCPR trade show to promote the new line. Additionally, Robaina will be going on tour after the trade show, visiting the top retailers of HR during in-store events.

Christian July 8, 2014 4:55pm ET
Very cool news. I can't wait to see a resident Cubans take on blending non Cuban tobaccos.
Guy Buscema Calvisson, Gard, France, July 9, 2014 2:30pm ET
Hi all,
Robaina does what he want, If he wants to blend some ,"N.C." tobaccos,fine, good for him. BUT It goes to show what money can do for some,good thing he still has his farm In Cuba.
Guy Buscema,
Fred Hills July 11, 2014 2:56am ET
Good God Guy Buscema, you've made it loud and clear all over the internet for years how much you hate NCs. We get it but guess what, nobody cares. Take it easy or you will have another heart attack, this one may be fatal.
Guy Buscema Calvisson, Gard, France, July 11, 2014 12:11pm ET
Dear Fred Hills,
I don't HATE N.C.'s, What I don't like Is the
way that the N.C.makers use to describe a cigar useing the Cubans as a reference all the time,and also copying them all the time.Cuban way, Cuban rolled, Cuban style ,Cuban this and Cuban that.
And just for the heck,I do smoke N.C.'s ,once In a while.
dcs@sernalaw.com August 20, 2014 8:53pm ET
I'm about to light up a pre-release of one of these right now. Thanks for the article!
Michael Mastro Mobile, Alabama, United States, February 10, 2015 4:24pm ET
Without any exceptions, this is the most interesting cigar I have ever smoked. Where most cigars change flavors once or twice, this cigar seemed to change flavor every half inch. I will treasure the box I have and smoke them on special occasions.
Allen Keme Hernando, Fl, Usa, April 18, 2015 10:39am ET
Picked up some here in Florida. A first class stick by far.

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