- Vitola: Large Robusto
- 5.5” x 54 ring gauge
- MSRP ~$8.25
- Purchased at Dana Point Cigar & Wine
If you’ve been reading my reviews faithfully the last couple months, you may have noticed a trend of me reviewing cigars I picked up while in Southern California in October. That trend will be coming to an end soon, as I’ve just about exhausted the supply of “review” cigars I picked up while visiting out there. This one I picked up at a shop I had never visited before: Dana Point Cigar & Wine.
Dana Point Cigar & Wine is owned by Sean Cunningham, who also happens to own Esteban Carreras Cigars. One of my “Quest for the Best” burgers happened to be in Newport Beach, so while I was down there, I decided to zip down PCH to Dana Point and visit this shop. By the way, “zip down” is not something you can do on PCH anymore…pretty much ever…just too many people even in the middle of the day on a Thursday. Still, if you get down to Dana Point in your travels, make a point to stop by this shop and grab a smoke…unsurprisingly, they have the best selection of Esteban Carreras I have ever seen…but they are also a TAA shop and have a good selection of many brands.
The Chupa Cabra Hellcat is an entirely new blend that continues the famed Esteban Carreras Chupa Cabra branding. It uses Nicaraguan filler and binder, along with a Mexican San Andres wrapper that is said to be the “same wrapper” used by some very large Nicaraguan company’s Maduros on one certain blend…you’ll padron…sorry, “pardon”…me if I don’t mention any names. It is said that Cunningham based the Chupa Cabra name on the name of a boat he saw on the water somewhere…I’m wondering if the “Hellcat” part is named after his new car? Also, despite various spellings of both the main and sub-brand that I saw on several websites, the banding I’m looking at indicates two words for the main (“Chupa Cabra”) and one for the sub (“Hellcat”).
I’ve had two of these before the review sample. One was given to me by the company and the other two (including this review sample) I paid for.
The Chupa Cabra Hellcat has a nice look…one that I would consider a bit upscale from the standard release Chupa Cabra. The main and secondary band are the same as the Habano and Maduro versions, but they have added a foot band that declares it to be “Hellcat” as well as a large piece of vellum extending from the secondary band to the foot band. If it seems like a lot of leaf covered up…it is…but it does look good. With so much banding, I would have probably opted for a clean foot, though, instead of the closed foot that is used.
The secondary band/vellum/foot band section was all attached and slid easily off the cigar, leaving the smooth and somewhat papery-feeling wrapper leaf. It was the color of milk chocolate with veins that were easily visible, but that could hardly be felt at all. Taking a deep whiff of the wrapper, I got notes of earth and cocoa powder. The foot had those aromas, plus some cedar.
You can pull the pigtail off without cutting it? Well, some people do, anyway…I clipped the head with my Xikar Xi cutter and got a very good cold draw. The cold flavors were of chocolate and dried berries, overlaying earth and cedar.
Upon lighting, the Chupa Cabra Hellcat immediately delivered notes of leather and dark roast coffee up front, a slightly bitter earthiness following close behind. At the end were some notes of semi-sweet chocolate, dark fruit, and red pepper. The retrohale had notes of medium-roast coffee, roasted nuts, tea and more pepper. As I got into the first third, the flavor profile settled into coffee, earth and baker’s cocoa
The second third had a bit of an increase in sweetness, but at the core it was still very earthy. Espresso bean notes continued high up in the profile as well, but pepper decreased pretty dramatically over the course of the second third.
The last third of the Chupa Cabra Hellcat had more earth and more cocoa powder, more espresso bean and a touch of tea. The pepper was a distant memory at this point.
I had fantastic construction with a great draw, solid ash and a burn line that needed just a couple minor touch-ups.
Esteban Carreras continued its tradition of reasonably priced sticks with the Hellcat, making for very good value for the experience delivered.
The Chupa Cabra Hellcat from Esteban Carreras was a solid smoking experience…good, though I’d have to judge it a long way from “great.” It had a decent amount of complexity in the beginning but that kind of tapered off as I got into the second third and the last third was pretty one-dimensional. As I said, though, it was good and the price is very reasonable, so it’s definitely worth a try.