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.