Originally founded in 1999 by cigar enthusiast Raffi Sepetjian, Via Havana was launched with five different sub-brands of Connecticut, Connecticut Dulce, Corojo, Maduro and Maduro Dulce manufactured at Vegas De Santiago/Tabacos de Costa Rica factory in Costa Rica under the supervision of the maestro, Don Olman. Looking for expansion and growth, Raffi sought the expertise of Stephen ‘Stefano’ Adib, who arrived with an extensive background in the cigar industry that spanned over two decades in areas of retail, wholesale/distribution, manufacturing, territory sales representation and brand launching for internationally acclaimed brands among other things.
Soon thereafter in February 2011, Stephen & Raffi co-founded Cuba Rica Tabacalera, a distribution arm and trade name targeting exclusive retailers who specialize in selling boutique brands. Providing his expertise not only on the business side, in 2012 Stephen aided Raffi in co-creating and personally blending Testarosso (“Our Red Head”), accompanying the flagship brand Via Havana under the umbrella of Cuba Rica.
In 2013, Stephen went on to create and blend Cuba Rica’s ultra-exclusive brands-Spirit of Art, Barabbas & Cuba Rica Limitada. However, in October of that year, Raffi decided to sell his complete interest in Cuba Rica to Stephen to focus his time on another venture he and his spouse had been working on for some time. So, in March 2014, Stephen enlisted the help of Bo Mouissat, a long-time friend and customer as well as a veteran and respected cigar retailer in the greater Los Angeles area. The team expanded with cigar enthusiasts and marketing gurus Michael Vargas-Machuca and Phillip Dominguez. Throughout this endeavor, the cornerstone and mantra remains the same, “Consistency in flavor and production… let the cigar speak for itself”.
This cigar has a hearty reddish-brown wrapper with an even color from the cap to the foot. The pre-light smell was unique and lightly spicy. It was slightly oily and smooth to the touch, offering a silky, leathery feel. Hints of floral, cocoa and a nutty aroma were also on the wrapper.
1st quarter: Once lit, some nuttiness and hints of sweetness were quickly detectable. A smooth draw produced a beautiful aroma that filled the air. Small hints of spice were introduced along with plenty of white floral clouds of smoke. 2nd quarter: While the cigar was smoked, a super rich aroma developed and was filled with cocoa, cedar notes and a peppery spice. The cigar had a slow and even burn that produced a dense amount of smoke. Some earthiness and some sweet undertones also began to play a role. The nutty texture continued to stay consistent throughout. 3rd quarter: The draw stayed very smooth and delivered full, dense smoke to the palate. Spices came through the nose along with lingering peppery characters. At this point, its light leather texture and sweetness seemed to reduce somewhat; however, some cocoa texture remained noticeable on the palate. 4th quarter: The cigar took a smooth approach toward a full body but just did not quite get there. Instead, a nuttier texture and molasses flavor was introduced to the palate with some cocoa and tobacco texture.
The Cuba Rica Viva Havana is an effortless cigar to enjoy and it boasts full and rich characters. It is a medium body cigar with plenty of flavors and a good amount of spice. A well-made cigar with complexity, it offers a rich and pleasurable smoking experience to the nub.
Myron Gooch Sr.
Reviewed at: Bo’s Bellflowers Cigar Lounge.
Time Smoked: 1 hour 50 minutes.
Wrapper: Ecuadorian wrapper.
Binder: Costa Rican.
Filler: Costa Rican.
Size: 5 1/2” x 52