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!

Cigar Review | Emperor’s Cut: Natural Pleasurer

I became aware of the Emperor’s Cut brand after seeing them frequent my Instagram timeline and stories. Then I became intrigued with the look of both the cigar itself, and the simplistic elegance of the band. Later, I had the pleasure of speaking with Greg Willis, who handles Sales, Advertising & Marketing, Social Media and Business Development. He is also one of the founding Members.

Emperor's Cut

Our Story, Our Brand

This is a labor of love! Seeing people receive our product so well, has been a true Honor.” – Greg  Willis 

Greg explains how there were many obstacles while trying to get things going early on. FDA rules, finding the key people to work with, paired with all the stigma that comes with being a newcomer in the cigar game, were a few of the challenges faced. After some time, a Dream, some strategic planning and partnering along with plenty of financial investing, the Emperors Cut place in the game is being well established.

“Finding the best cigar is a never ending story. We’re focused on consistency at a great price point. we want to be a stable with our customers, not a fly by night cigar brand.” – Greg Willis

“The Players”

  • Darnell Streat – Is the Managing Partner and “Our Leader.” His background is in Business and Supply Chain.
  • Maurice Holland – Handles the Customer Outreach and Concierge Program.
  • Gregg Hurt – Handles Sales and Logistics and has an extensive background in international Logistics.
  • Robert Howard, MD, JD – Handles the Legal Affairs.
  • Greg Willis – Handles Sales, Advertising & Marketing, Social Media and Business Development with an extensive background in these fields.
  • Themille Bush – Handles Business Development and is a significant driver to the strategic partnerships and sales.

All are founding members with the exclusion of Themille Bush who joined the team later on.

“The Beauty of having so many experienced palates is that we could articulate clearly what we wanted to accomplish in a stick, and got it right with a few iterations.” – M. Holland (The Louisiana Weekly Newspaper, Aug 6, 2018)

“Natural Pleasures”

This 6.5″ x 52mm cigar is a finely rolled work of art with tiny veins and a leathery Snickers bar colored wrapper. It looks like a double cap and is firmly rolled with the slightest give to it. The foot is packed, while still showing some airflow.

This Nicaraguan puro is emitting an aged tobacco aroma from the wrapper with light soil, tobacco and cocoa powder on the foot.

The cold draw with a woody pencil shaving and a slight brown sugar on the palate.

The Emperors Cut is a dark brown leathery work of art, with seamless construction and a solid burn.

1st Third- Hello Emperor

The light medium draw creates ample opportunity to capture plenty of tasteful clouds. I am greeted with a delicate mix of brown sugar and black pepper anchored by an earthy, woodsy component.

The retrohale is generous with a prominent cedar followed by vanilla and a cinnamon/brown sugar nuance. (Note- At the 1in. mark, the spices of the cinnamon and pepper are slightly muted but still enjoyable.) The burn is perfect with a firm white ash showing off the craftsmanship.

2nd Third- Look at that Ashhh!

The Emperors Cut has a perfect burn with a solid white ash. Impressive construction.

A little roasted coffee and leather began to join the party but the original flavors are still at play. The cedar and brown sugar are trading places as if they were playing a game of leap frog. They take turns owning the spotlight while the earthy, mineral like flavors began to increase their presence as well.

While all these notes are doing their thing, a cream flavor is holding it down in the background. As far as the retrohale, some white pepper is noted as opposed to the white pepper and the leather is present in the nose as well. The finish is lasting longer and the strength is getting into the heavier side of medium.

Final Third- The Emperor Shows His Power

The Emperors cut has performed with grace. You can't help but to gaze at the simple yet elegant band as you take this smokey journey.

We’re getting to the muscle now, as the strength hits that med+ to full realm. A bitter espresso and what I’m gonna call a licorice note have stormed the party, demanding their respect. The minerally earth and cedar wood are still present. There are hints of molasses and a strong white pepper on the retrohale.

A common practice for me when smoking stronger cigars, is to clip the cap a 2nd time. Especially with Nicaraguan cigars, this removes the tar build up from the head. Doing this alleviates the bitterness and opens the cigar back up to it’s intended flavors.

And WOW! After clipping the cap, the bitterness was alleviated in a good way. I started getting a zesty citrus, followed by the cream and white pepper which aslo translated well on the retrohale. The leather at this point, comes and goes with various puffs. What a pleasurable surprise this cigar has been!

The Emperor's Cut Finale

“Emperors Cut is a lifestyle brand, synonymous with good times. The smoker defines the good time; we just want to be the stick that they know augments their fun!” -Maurice Holland (The Louisiana Weekly Newspaper, Aug 6, 2018)

I truly enjoyed this cigar from beginning to end. I was impressed with not only the taste, but the design of the cigar itself. This company also stands as a shining example of Elite African American owned boutique brands making waves in the extremely insular cigar business. I highly recommend giving this cigar a look. I’m certainly glad my curious nature led me to this experience.

Cheers to you all and thank you for sharing this cigar smoking experience with me. I’ll see you all again real soon.