Cigar Aficionado

Hirochi Robaina Joins La Palina

Cuban tobacco grower turned cigarmaker Hirochi Robaina has parted ways with Cubanacan, the company he partnered with to produce and distribute his debut HR brand. Now, Robaina has joined La Palina Cigars, and according to Robaina, he's taking his HR brand with him.

"I will be leaving Cubanacan," Robaina told Cigar Aficionado. "The HR brand was never a Cubanacan brand, so HR will go where I go."

The relatively new HR brand hit cigar-store shelves in December when it came to market in four sizes. They were made in Nicaragua and consisted of all Nicaraguan tobacco, save for the dark, Ecuadoran wrappers.

The cigars scored quite well in Cigar Insider and Cigar Aficionado taste tests, especially the Toro (92 points, Cigar Aficionado) as well as the Hermoso and Sublime (90 points, Cigar Insider). But they didn't come cheap. The retail price ranges from $18.99 at the least expensive to $21.99 at the most.

Bill Paley, founder of La Palina Cigars and owner of the La Palina brands, is particularly enthusiastic about this new arrangement. "This joining of two third-generation cigarmakers will be a historic event," he said in an email to Cigar Aficionado. "We are both very excited about what the future may bring."

Cigar Aficionado reached out several times to Robert Mederos at Cubanacan for confirmation. Mederos claimed ignorance of the departure and provided no further insight or details.

Robaina said that HR cigars are blended by himself along with Omar González Alemán and they will be produced at the La Corona Factory in Estelí, though he offered no details on the upcoming La Palina projects. The timing of this change in distribution is unclear, though Robaina said he intends on presenting at Bill Paley's booth at the upcoming trade show next week.

"We will be in mutual collaboration and development with Mr. Bill Paley from La Palina, which I feel very confortable with, and will be in their booth this coming IPCPR."

This is a developing story. See cigaraficionado.com for more details as they come to light.