Cigar Review | Protocol Nightstick

” We wanted to follow up the extraordinarily successful Protocol K9 with something special for the Cigar Dojo community! We wanted the Dojo Nation to have a very memorable cigar experience, so we blended this beauty especially with them in mind! I hope you guys enjoy the Night Stick as much as we do; We actually love it and am sad that it will not be a regular-production cigar. I made myself a few extra because I know they are going to sell out fast!

– Juan Cancel, co-owner of Cubariqueno Cigar Co
A  med dark brown wrapper with a slight sheen on this  6 1/2 x 54 Toro Gordo. A show band with a hand seemingly waiving a nightstick towards you.

Cigar Dojo enthusiasts and stick connoisseurs alike swarmed and claimed all 500 Limited Edition bundles of 10 from Famous Smoke Shop. Both online and at an in -store release party.

Priced at $89.99 per 10ct bundle, the Protocol Nightstcick is comprised of an Ecuadorian Habano Rosado Oscuro wrapper. The 6 1/2 x 54 Toro Gordo boasts both binder and fillers fron Nicaragua, including fillers from Condega and Jalapa. The Nightstick was manufactured at the La Zona factory in Nicaragua.

The Pre-Light

On Point is exactly how this cigar hits the eye. It is very inviting and makes you want to smoke it immediately. My patience was certainly tested early on, as I really wanted to see what the hype was all about. I tend to let any newer cigar rest awhile before lighting up as a rule. But, I had also heard from a few folks that the cigar needed a little time. Needless to say, I also had a few people rave about it. The quintessential yet cliche, “One person’s trash” ideal was ultra present in this case. The good part of course, is that I get to find out for my damn self!

Packed well and firm with a slight spring to it, this officer’s club is triple capped with tiny veinage along the wrapper. Is veinage an actual word? If not, you gon learn today! on the wrapper I’m getting an almost sour musk and faint leather. the foot is blessing me with chocolate, a raisin or fig like nuance and cardboard. Honestly, the cold draw is lack luster and not providing any real previews to the ProDojo Show. A generic baccy and that same cardboard from the aroma test are all that I can detect.

Packed well and firm with a slight spring to it, this officer's club is triple capped with tiny veinage along the wrapper.

First Third | Walking The Beat

Initial puffs from the Protocol NightStick were earthy and mineral driven with a hint of bitter cocoa. Already, I’m getting the impression that this cigar is carrying youth but has potential if the contents are allowed time to blend and marry. However, we are only a few puffs in so before I jump on the bandwagon, let’s see what comes.

It started slow but midway thru the first third, the spice picked up bringing the flavor along with it. There was a nice combination of caramel and raisin, parallel to a generic leather (pleather). The potent spice was a cinnamon and black pepper tandem coated with a touch of brown sugar.

This 6 1/2 x 54 Toro Gordo , boasting it's original band with a hand holding a nightstick is burning seamlessly for the first few puffs.

“Damn, Damn, Damn!” My 5 to 7 minute flavor explosion was short lived by burn and draw issues. The cigar kept dying on me and the burn/mascara line suffered right along with it. As I sit and pray for a revival, the room is filling with aromas of charred oak and leather.

Second Third | Ping Pong Smoke

Starting off with the coining of a new phrase: “Ping Pong Smoke”, the flavors of the Nightstick are going back and forth. Although this isn’t a new occurrence, this is the first time I named it. LOL! Basically, on one puff, I want to throw the cigar across the room into a wall. On other puffs, I want to rub the cigar against my chest and talk dirty to it. Actual flavors are consistent with the 1st third when they are on the good side of the ping pong table. At this point, it’s less of me talking dirty to it and more of the cigar just doing me dirty.

Ther burnline and flavors took a major hit as the cigar progressed. The ash was flaky from constant re-lighting.

I’m reassured of my original assessment and in agreement with a few of my fellow smokers that this collab definitely needs a moment to get right. It might even be really good by my next birthday. Ughh! It went out completely by the half way point after fighting with it and numerous re-lights.

Final Third | Go With Your Gut

Ther burnline and flavors took a major hit as the cigar progressed. The ash was flaky from constant re-lighting.

Lesson of the day is to trust your instincts. It got you this far in life. I literally re-lit this Nightstick at least 8 times. In any other case I would have tossed this cigar along time ago, but for the sake of this review, I kept fighting. Of course, the constant relighting, puffing and correcting destroyed any chance of getting back to the tasteful yet brief moment in the first third. And although the cigar isn’t getting ample time to heat up it is a complete sponge at this point. So soft to be exact that my fingers are imprinted in the cigar itself.

 Although the cigar isn't getting ample time to heat up it is a complete sponge at this point.  So soft to be exact that my fingers are imprinted in the cigar itself.

The closing flavors are wood and pepper balanced out by sheer frustration and disappointment. For the record this was my first experience with protocol and I have 2 more of these for later review, which I’m hoping and assuming will be better experiences. I try not to judge cigars on the first attempt but I also like to share my initial experiences with the Family.

Since my bout with the ProDojo collab, I was blessed with a regular production Protocol and I was very impressed and satisfied. This negative experience will not tarnish the image of either company in my eyes. Hell, I’m not even mad at the cigar because I will certainly be smoking it again once I feel it has had a decent amount of time in the humidor. I’m no expert or Cervantes, but my thought is that this NOT a blend issue but a time thing.

Thank you again for taking the time and sharing this experience with me. As always, I look forward to hearing your thoughts and feedback. Stay smoking and keep trying new things. Don’t be afraid to wander outside of your usual lane and be willing to give cigars that didn’t move you a second chance. There are many variables at play when it comes to what you can and cannot taste. On that note, I say Cheers and Salute to my Family of the Leaf!

Biggest Surprises of the 2015 IPCPR

The IPCPR (International Premium Cigar and Pipe Retailers Association) trade show is by far the biggest and most important cigar trade event each year. It’s like the super bowl on steroids. There are new cigars, accessories, lines, sizes and companies. IPCPR is where you find the cigars that will be flooding your local cigar retailer during the next year. Here is a list of several nice surprises at this year’s IPCPR trade show.

5. Altadis collaborates with Tatuaje to create a modern Henry Clay.

This is a very unlikely pairing. The two companies create cigars in styles which appear to be polar opposites. The Henry Clay Tattoo will be the name of the love child produced by this collaboration. The Henry Clay Tattoo is said to be a cigar that Pete Johnson really enjoys.

Pete’s collaboration with the Altadis team to come up with a 6×52 pigtail cigar was unexpected. The cigar features a 2010 Connecticut broadleaf wrapper, 2010 Dominican Piloto Cubano binder with Dominican and Nicaraguan fillers. It will retail for about $9.00 and will be offered in a single size.

This one is particularly devastating news to iROBUSTO Ambassador, Mark Swanson, who thinks it should have never happened. When asked about this cigar, he shrugged his shoulders and said, “What is the world coming to, a $9.00 Henry Clay, it better be damn good.”

4. MBombay puts cigars in a can

Mel Shah, founder of MBOMBAY Cigar Co., also the owner of the very successful Fame Lounge in Palm Springs, California came up with this insanely creative way to package his cigars. His two house blends, the Mbombay Kesara and Mbombay Mora just took on major expansion with 5 different vitolas. Shah explained that he has “never been a fan of cigar boxes…” and thinks cigars taste differently when smoked in the factory versus when they leave. He says they are more authentic when they are packaged in an airtight manner… Intriguing.

3. Murcielago cigars return, same blend, new branding… maybe

Erik Espinosa debuted the Murcielago in 2009 with his then partner Eddie Ortega. The Murcielago was constructed in Nicaragua by the Garcia family at the Pepin factory. Espinosa and Ortega split from the Garcia family. Espinoso was left with the Murcielago in his portfolio. The only problem was that he didn’t know the exact makeup of the cigar. He had a good idea of what it entailed but not exactly. Espinosa took a few samples and visited Amlicar Perez-Castro. Perez-Castro smoked and dissected each leaf to reverse engineer the blend. The Murcielago is available in 3 sizes with prices starting around $7.00.

2. Steve Saka returns and brings along Dunbarton Tobacco & Trust

Steve Saka, the former CEO of Drew Estate, was a big voice in creating the super popular Liga Privada blend. After a 2 year break from the cigar industry, he’s back with his own company and a brand new cigar called Sobremesa. The company is named after the town in New Hampshire Steve and his wife Cindy call home.

Saka has been a heavy hitter in the cigar industry for almost 30 years at some capacity. He’s done it all from cigar reviewer, consultant for JR cigars, overseer for Liga Privada, Acid, and Herrea Esteli. Dunbarton’s Sobremesa will debut in 5 sizes all under 60 ring gauge. It packs a rosado Ecuadorian Habano wrapper, a Matacapan binder from Mexico, with four Nicaraguan fillers (C-SG seco, Criollo viso, Criollo 98 and a hybrid PA broadleaf).

1. Davidoff rolling out a Brazilian cigar

There has been a lot of talk about Davidoff stepping outside their comfortable cushy box with the production of the “Black Label” series. The new blend called the Escurio is still being rolled in the Dominican Republic and it contains an Ecuadorian Habano wrapper, Brazilian cubra binder and Brazilian Mata Fina and Dominican fillers.

The Black Label series will be offered in 3 sizes available. Each size is intended to be a quick smoke. The petit robusto will retail at $8.50,and the gran toro is priced at $17.90. The cigars will ship in black wooden boxes of 12-14 cigars and also be available in 4 packs.

Can you think of any other shocking news from the IPCPR? With the cigar industry full of surprises this year, can there be more to come? This is what makes the IPCPR the greatest cigar event of the year.

– Contributed to iROBUSTO by Bruce Henry

Image featured in this article is from MBOMBAY Cigar Co website.