Wrapper: Ecuadorian DeFlorada Connecticut/ Ecuadorian Habano Maduro
Binder: Nicaraguan Tiempo
Size: 6 X 54 “Belicoso-Serpentine”
Number of Cigars Smoked Prior to Review: 1
Accompanying Libation: Water
Today we take a look at the new Isabela Cigar Company Serpentine.
Isabela cigars are known to a lot of people but they are controversial to serious smokers. Why? Because they have a sweetened tip.
Now I went through my ACID stage between 2000-2004. Back when they were hard to find. One had to scour B & M’s to find them.
But I grew out of that. I prefer the solid taste of tobacco with no additives such as oils and other concoctions.
I also associate a sweetened tip to inexpensive cigars. Mild bodied, cheap cigars.
The tip of the Serpentine is sweet. But it is done with a gentle flair and not overdone; making you cringe…leaving a bad taste in your mouth. Plus, that small nuance of sweetness disappears very quickly. It is because of the non-intrusiveness of the sweetened tip that I agreed to do the review.
This is from Johnny Piette:
“Pre Castro Cubans, and in some cases, post Castro, many of the Cuban cigars and almost all of the extra high level “custom rolled Cuban bundles” that were given to diplomats and VIPs etc, were constructed tre capa, by the best rollers, and most rollers that were at the highest level only rolled one size, their entire career….anyways they often utilized a sugar based sealant when applying the cap. Now in most countries incuding Cuba, the cap is applied and sealed with a tasteless vegetable based sealant, much like the stuff that’s sold to consumers to glue imperfections on their cigars as they pop up etc.
“That being said, the level 9 plus rollers and Isabela Cigar company still employ this old timeless method of utilizing a sugar based sealant to “glue” / seal the tres capa on their craft….
“So the Isabelas are not in any way a sweetened cigar, again, the sweet is the sugar based binding sealant that your tasting, that is used to apply and seal the capas !!
Thanks Again Phil !!
Good ol’ boy Johnny Piette sent me some samples. I tried a few before the review and realized they needed a bit of humi time. It has now been about a month. And I lit one up on Monday and was experiencing shock and awe.
So put your pre-conceptions away and give a listen to your Uncle Katman.
From the Isabela Cigar web site:
“Handcrafted in Miami by legendary Cuban Master Vicente Ortiz, Isabela Cigars are produced in small batches for extremely limited distribution. Vicente Ortiz utilizes tobaccos from several countries, in various grades, to create the blend, flavor and personality that gives Isabela its’ unique identity. All tobaccos are aged for a minimum of one year before they are released.
“From its inception, Isabela has been and continues to be one of the most sought after cigars in the world!”
From Johnny Piette of Prime Cigar Co.:
“I know that production is very limited due in large part to sourcing the perfect DeFlorada wrapper, which in general is hard to find, extremely limited, and also has to be picked carefully by a knowledgeable master blender to find the most perfect pliable leaves that can be used………That being said, much effort is being made sourcing and storing the best DeFlorada for a scheduled ramp up of production towards the end of the year….
“We have SOME left. !! We sell the corona for $7. Serpentine $8.95. Firecracker. $5.85. Robusto $7.95 Churchill $9.95. Pretty limited availability. Only 12 states have them.
“Our FB page is fully operational and takes a fair share of small orders, at Isabela Cigar Company, again on Facebook.
The website to be fully operational and integrated in late September.
We just released the last 100 10 count boxes last week. It is a very hot release for us.”
First, a big change to the cigar band. Everyone is used to seeing the Cohiba-like bands from years ago. That has all changed.
This is a very solid, sturdy stick. It has the right amount of give when gently squeezed. The serpentine, or barber pole, effect varies from cigar to cigar. Some are perfect and others a bit sloppy with exposed seams and lots of wrinkles. Others couldn’t be more on the money. The triple cap is expertly applied.
The double wrapper is very oily and slightly toothy.
AROMA AND COLD DRAW NOTES:
The shaft gives off aromas of sweetness, floral notes, fruit, cedar, and earthy tobacco. At the foot and clipped cap, I can smell strong portions of wood. And subtle fragrances of barnyard, sweetness, espresso, and leather.
The cold draw is very grassy. With touches of leather and wood.
First thing I notice is the barely sweetened tip. It is quickly overpowered by a fruity sweetness, spice, wood, cocoa, coffee, and a meaty element.
The draw is spot on. Plumes of smoke fill the room.
Creaminess joins the fray. The sweetened tip flavor is gone after about two minutes.
I’m impressed with the start of the cigar. The earthiness and meaty component work well together.
The strength hits medium body immediately.
Funny. Johnny sent me some samples a few months ago. They were just OK. There were problems with the sticks. The new batch he sent me is like night and day. While the earlier ones had too airy of a draw and flavors that didn’t come close to what I taste this morning. I also had some burn issues. Not today with the new one. It is dead nuts perfect!
I think I got some mutant sticks the first time around because this newer cigar is pretty damn good.
The sweetened tip was so transitory that it barely requires mentioning.
Here they are: Creaminess, earthiness, chocolate, coffee, sweetness, spice, wood, fruit, nougat, very toasty, caramel, cashews, vanilla, leather, and mesquite.
It’s a damn shopping list for the market.
I’m digging the hell out of this cigar.
The complexity hits hard very early at the 10 minute mark.
Beam me up, Scotty. The star ship Isabela Serpentine has taken off at warp speed.
Out of nowhere, the flavor profile explodes. Everything is just amazing. The sweetness factors are right in the middle where they should be. The meatiness is strong as are the elements of strong black pepper, chocolate, espresso, wood, toastiness, and nutty.
The nougat, fruit, caramel, cashews, vanilla become tertiary flavors.
The strength is nearing medium/full.
The draw remains flawless as does the cigar’s construction.
The Isabela Serpentine is something an experienced palate will enjoy immensely.
I love that the spiciness is a strong element throughout the cigar experience. I know it is a matter of taste on this subject, but I’m a hog for spice.
The balance of the cigar is riding the white line. The finish is long and chewy.
The complexity is so thick that it feels like eating Kobe beef.
It even gives off a wonderful aroma that is generally absent in most cigars.
The sweetness takes on an exotic touch of mango.
Once again, my theory about big cigars not having the oomph I desire in a cigar blend is dashed to the rocks below.
The Isabela Serpentine is a multi-faceted delicious cigar. Something to be savored.
I’ve had the samples that Johnny sent me for about a month. If they taste this good with only a month on them, imagine what long term humidor time will do.
Smoke time has been 45 minutes. And seems to have rushed by.
Flavors are like a whirling dervish. They never bore. The Isabela Serpentine sucks you in with a wink and a smile.
I’ve only had to tap the ash once. The ash is hanging tough at the halfway point.
The lineup changes at this point. Here it is: Caramel, creaminess, spice, meaty, smokiness, fruit, chocolate, coffee, toasty, nutty, leather, and very earthy. The vanilla and nougat are gone.
There is very much of a candy bar element to this blend. It comes and goes alternating with the meatiness of the cigar.
The Isabela Serpentine is now a solid medium/full body.
I suggest you contact Johnny on the Isabela Cigar Company Face Book page and snag some of these. Make sure you tell him the Katman sent you.
I am super impressed with the Isabela Serpentine.
Flavors just keep on chooglin’.
Nicotine creeps in now. Uh-oh.
It is a gorgeous day in Milwaukee this morning. The sun is out early allowing you to see how beautiful the double wrapper is.
Mango pushes its way near the front of the line.
Believe me when I tell you that there isn’t a single sweetened tip cigar on the market like the Isabela Serpentine. I’ve tried them all. They were all mild bodied and lacking in flavor.
There is a depth of quality that can’t help but put a big smile on your puss while smoking it.
Johnny told me this: “They are available at:
“Havana House- 3 locations in Ohio.
“Prime Famous and Havanas in Milwaukee.
“Habana Cigar house in Michigan.
“…as well as several other B&Ms, and the next release has been picked up in limited quantities by internet only Cigar Pimp, Cigar Fed, and Small Batch….all online, upcoming….”
I have to be honest. That first batch that Johnny sent me left me in a quandary. I was disappointed in their quality. Johnny is a good friend and I didn’t want to disappoint him with a negative review so he sent me another bunch of sticks. Thank goodness he did this. A bad batch can happen with any cigar. And since he told me that this cigar was a huge hit at all the places the cigar is available, I thought maybe something is wrong with me. Now I realize what he was talking about.
The Isabela Serpentine is creeping up to full body.
When I finish this review, I am going to eat a bowl of cereal and light up another one.
The complexity changes a bit now. The flavor profile is as smooth as glass. No harshness or heat. And the flavors have all morphed into one creating helluva cigar experience.
Houston, we have full body.
Motor skills have ceased to function properly.
Sort of like a flashback from my Hippie days.
Construction has been flawless.
I love fawning over a cigar blend. It is a great way to start the day. Nothing disappoints more than having to write a negative review.
Johnny also sent me a couple of sticks that won’t be released for a while. Can’t wait to try one.
I saw the old Isabela cigar reviews from 2009 and most were less than kind. This is a total makeover.
The Ecuadorian DeFlorada Connecticut is a difficult leaf to grow. And is known for its deliciousity. Add to that the Ecuadorian Habano Maduro and man, you have a winner blend. Of course, the Nic Tiempo binder and Nic filler are the cherries on top of the sundae.
The Isabela Serpentine finishes beautifully. All those complex flavors intact. Not a hint of heat or harshness.
I don’t give the cigars I review a numbered rating due to its subjectivity. But once again, I am going to make an exception. I rate this cigar at 92.
I’m very discriminating about the cost perspective on new cigars. If the Isabela Serpentine was made by a large manufacturer, you can bet this cigar would cost double digits. Based on the fact that only #9 rollers make the Isabela Serpentine and do a fantastic job; this cigar is worth every dime of the $9.00.
I can think of $14 cigars that never came close to this quality.
What a wonderful cigar experience. From the very start, I was impressed.
Final smoke time was 90 minutes.
I don’t recommend the Isabela Cigar Company Serpentine for newbies. It takes an experienced cigar smoker to really understand the complexity of the blend. But mostly due to the strength of the cigar. This will knock newbies to the floor.
I really liked the transitions that occurred in this blend. It never bored. It keeps your attention the entire time.
It also has one of the most interesting list of flavors I’ve tasted.
I want to thank Johnny Piette of Isabela Cigar Co. and Prime Cigar for the samples. He did me a real solid for gifting them to me.
Categories: CIGAR REVIEWS
Excellent review…Excellent Cigar….excellent flashpoint flashback back to your “Hippie Days ” !!