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La Hacienda First Growth | halfwheel


While people will debate whether or not wine and cigars are a good pairing, there is no doubt that the cigar industry has borrowed from the world of wine on multiple occasions.

One of the more recent companies to do so was Warped, which borrowed the wine term first growth for an offshoot of its La Hacienda line. The La Hacienda First Growth was announced in March 2020, and it would be notable for using higher priming tobaccos of the original La Hacienda to add “more body, spice, and a unique darker sweetness.”

In terms of specifics, that means Nicaraguan corojo 99 for the wrapper, binder and filler, with criollo 98 joining the filler as well, and all of the tobacco comes from AGANORSA Leaf.

While it was announced in March 2020, a specific release date wasn’t disclosed at the time, just that it would come out in Fall 2020. That timeline would come and go, and it would end up being some 18 months after the announcement that the cigar would be released, in late September 2021.

During the delay, the cigar’s vitola changed from a 4 1/2 x 48 to a 4 x 50, both essentially petit robustos but a not-insignificant difference. While the size changed, the MSRP did not, remaining at $8.95 per cigar, and the cigars are still packaged in 25-count boxes

First Growth refers to the Bordeaux Wine Official Classification of 1855, which categorized Bourdeaux wineries by quality. First growth vineyards were considered the top tier according to the classification.

  • Cigar Reviewed: La Hacienda First Growth
  • Country of Origin: Nicaragua
  • Factory: Tabacos Valle de Jalapa S.A.
  • Wrapper: Nicaragua (Corojo 99)
  • Binder: Nicaragua (Corojo 99)
  • Filler: Nicaragua (Corojo 99 & Criollo 98)
  • Length: 4 Inches
  • Ring Gauge: 50
  • Vitola: Petit Robusto
  • MSRP: $8.95 (Box of 25, $223.75)
  • Release Date: September 2021
  • Number of Cigars Released: Regular Production
  • Number of Cigars Smoked For Review: 3

As I’ve said with other cigars in vitolas such as this, the La Hacienda First Growth feels a bit more like a chopped off robusto than a cigar made to be in this size, though that’s just my visual impression of it. It appears to be rolled well; it’s on the firm end of the spectrum with flat, almost invisible seams and a very cleanly applied cap. It’s a remarkably even shade of dark brown, offering a network of small, slightly visible veins and a finish that doesn’t show much in the way of oils in two of the three cigars. There’s not a lot of aromas coming off the foot of the cigar, with some more intense sniffs resulting in a nose-tingling and sneeze-inducing aroma of dry, processed tobacco, almost as if I was in a rolling gallery and picked up a pile of filler leaves at random. Behind that though is a bit of blackberry jam sweetness and a soft bread aroma. The cold draw has just a bit of creamy sweetness, along with some mixed nuts and more of the dry tobacco sensation which tickles the throat. Air moves well, with a bit of thickness to its body and how it comes through the cylinder.

The La Hacienda First Growth starts with a decent amount of pepper in the smoke, a sensation I don’t pick up immediately on my palate but which arrives with the first retrohale as well as when a bit of smoke hits my eye. It’s a full, mouth-tingling and mouth-drying flavor that has dry earth, a bit of woodiness, and salty mixed nuts. Pepper continues to build through the nose as the burn line progresses, and when the first clump of as drops, it leaves a significant and lingering tingle on the senses. Thankfully there is a bit of creaminess that begins to balance things out and give the cigar some impressive complexity, and in one cigar it’s present from the start which only improves those first puffs. The burn line gets a bit wavy but the combustion is good with plenty of smoke and a draw that is just slightly thick in how it feels the air moves. Flavor is medium-full, body is medium-plus and strength is medium-plus.

It’s not long into the second third that I get a very subtle yet distinct taste of banana, a flavor I don’t find often in cigar but one that I think can work incredibly well. It is fleeting and often gets wrapped up in the underlying cream flavor that returns, but if there’s a moment where this cigar hits a high point, it’s right around the start of the second third. From there, the cigar gets back into the same kind of profile offered in the first third, though a bit mellower on all fronts. There’s a dry earth that has picked up a bit of clay, a component that lingers on the palate and creeps towards the back of the throat, thankfully just more of a sensation than something that causes irritation. From there, the earthiness falls away and the creaminess picks up a flavor that has me thinking of oatmeal. The second third closes out with a mouth-drying, slightly funky wood flavor, reminding me a bit of damp cedar. The burn line issues vary but never get bad enough to have me touch up the cigar, smoke production is still good and the draw remains smooth. Flavor is closer to medium, body is medium-full and strength is just a bit more than medium.

The final third of the La Hacienda First Growth sees the flavors from the first two thirds come together a bit tighter than before; it’s a more dense flavor that has roots in the creaminess, a bit of the clay-laden earth and a fairly tame pepper component. There’s a bit of woody dryness in the flavor and a peanut aroma emerging in the retrohale, which also has some white pepper but which I’d consider on the mellow side in terms of nasal stimulation. While the banana note from earlier is still the high point, this final section is the most harmonious and complex that the flavor has been. The dry, light earthiness moves forward in the profile from there, the white pepper increases its vibrance, and there’s a bit of heat entering the profile as the conclusion approaches, which further intensifies the sharper flavors such as the wood and white pepper. It’s a change that brings the La Hacienda First Growth to a lip-tingling finish, moving most of the stimulation out of the back of the mouth and to the front. Construction and combustion are still both very good if not outright great, with the flavor still in that medium-plus to medium-full range, the body a thick medium-full, and strength in the medium-plus range with just a bit of physical sensation from the cigar.

Final Notes

  • While I’ve consumed wine while smoking a cigar, it’s rarely my first choice of a pairing.
  • I’m an advocate of smoking cigars side-by-side to notice differences, whether it’s a wrapper difference, a vitola difference or really anything. While the vitolas are different, I think it would be a fascinating and beneficial experience to smoke the original La Hacienda side-by-side with the First Growth.
  • The original story about the La Hacienda First Growth indicated that it would wear a secondary band, which it did not as you can see in the photos above.
  • If it was up to me and based solely on size, I’d be in favor of the original 4 1/2 x 48 vitola.
  • Even with the higher primings of tobacco, nicotine strength wasn’t much of an issue for me.
  • The cigars for this review were purchased by halfwheel.
  • Final smoking time was one hour and 35 minutes on average.
  • Site sponsors Atlantic Cigar Co.Corona Cigar Co., Famous Smoke Shop, JR Cigar and STOGIES World Class Cigars carry the La Hacienda First Growth.

88
Overall Score

As I mentioned in the final notes, I think it would be fascinating to smoke the First Growth side-by-side with the original La Hacienda, as I think it would be not only interesting but there would be some merit to see if making a stronger La Hacienda was a good idea. In my experience with First Growth, and without the benefit of a recent experience with La Hacienda, it was a cigar that offered some good flavors but also struggled with forcing me to not focus on getting too much palate and throat stimulation, distracting from the flavor with a physical reaction. There are moments of impressive complexity and harmony, yet they were moments instead of extended periods of time. I’d certainly give this cigar another try, particularly if I can smoke it in direct comparison to its predecessor.

Patrick Lagreid

I strive to capture the essence of a cigar and the people behind them in my work – every cigar you light up is the culmination of the work of countless people and often represents generations of struggle and stories. For me, it’s about so much more than the cigar – it’s about the story behind it, the experience of enjoying the work of artisans and the way that a good cigar can bring people together. In addition to my work with halfwheel, I’m the public address announcer for the Colorado Rockies and Arizona Diamondbacks during spring training, as well as for the Salt River Rafters of the Arizona Fall League, the WNBA’s Phoenix Mercury and the Arizona Rattlers of the Indoor Football League. I also work in a number of roles for MLB.com, plus I’m a voice over artist. I previously covered the Phoenix and national cigar scene for Examiner.com, and was an editor for Cigar Snob magazine.

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