Time Traveler by Isabela Cigar Co. | Cigar Reviews by the Katman

Wrapper: Ecuadorian Des Florada, Aged Nicaraguan Habano (Double aged Nicaraguan Habano picked “Prieto”…”Extra Dark and Powerful and aged down”)
Binder: Nicaraguan Aged Media Tiempo
Filler: Nicaraguan Aged Media Tiempo – a sliver, Nicaraguan Triple aged Ligero…a sliver
Size: 6.25 x 42
Strength: Medium/Full
Price: $8.95

Today we take a look at the new Isabela Time Traveler.

BACKGROUND:
From Johnny Piette, owner of Isabela Cigars:
“The blend took us 3 long years to attain our version of perfection.
“When we set out with the idea of the “Time Traveler”, we wanted to make a cigar that harkened back to the flavors of the popular Cuban cigars of the 90s…the Romeo, The Cohiba, the spicy Por Larrañaga, etc…but they no longer taste the same; in part due to the wrappers were changed to a bug proof, disease resistant leaf.

“We also thought it would be cool if we could blend the TT to not only take you back in time and re-visit those different Cuban brands; but also taste the different regions.

“So, we started blending with many different tobaccos, many different primings, and we produced many different samples…we aged them, and NONE of them satisfied us.

“Then, while working on the Isabela Guerrilla, which is the largest ring gauge we ever produced, we had to figure out how to attain our unique Isabela personality as well as power into a cigar with such a large amount of filler. So, we came up with the idea of aging each of the different tobaccos using various time frames that accentuated the flavor and character.

“The result was very positive with the Guerrillas so we went back to the Time Traveler and took the idea to the next level….and the results were mind blowing.

“The blend goes through 8 transitions of flavor. While we didn’t intend for the blend to go through 8 distinct transitions, the results went way past what we could have ever dreamed up. We were honestly surprised and ecstatic about the end results…I can honestly say I have never had a cigar that tastes like the TT

“Medio Tiempo has 3 grades depending on the height it is procured from.

“Importantly, we get most of our tobaccos from smaller farms based on relationships, pricing, and quality.
The smaller farms yield smaller production compromising large companies that can’t get enough tobacco for large releases. This left a “hole” for guys like us.

“For example, we were only able to produce 1000 Time Traveler because we used aged down Medio Tiempo in the binder; which didn’t require a lot of our tobacco. Plus, our farmers had some aged MT that we needed to perfect the blend…just like in a scotch bonnet pepper. If you can get past the overwhelming spice, there is just an incredible flavor behind it, so it is with the MT; it is a step away from the spice of the ligero leaf.

“The aged MT that we procured took some of the spice off the top revealing the most incredible flavors that were hidden behind the spice.
In regards to the supposed “scarcity” of Medio Tiempo; it was used in abundance until guys like us and Kyle at Warped; et al, started using it.

“While MT might be considered “flavor of the month” and is proving harder to find in quantity, we discovered that our excellent relationships paid off with small farmers. So we have maintained a good supply line for our production needs.

“The Time Traveler is blend specific to the format and size.
It will always be just one size: 6.25 x 42

“We are readying the release of the “Shape-Shifter”, which shares similar innards, but different wrapper leaves. We see it as a sister to the TT vitola.
We are in the midst of aging the Isabela “Stardust”, which is a 51/2 x 42 Corona, with, again, some similarities in tobaccos but different aging principles.

“Another blend in the aging process is the Isabela “Mash-Up” which is a 5 x 52. So far, these new blends do not have release dates yet.

“We are shipping the Time Travelers to some of our 25 Special Retailers this week.

“The Time-Travelers are also available on our website http://www.isabelacigarcompany.com, as part of our “Isabela March Madness Sampler Luxury Box” which consists of 10 Isabela Craft Cigars. It includes:
2 Sparkle Robustos
2 Belicoso X
2 Time-Travelers
2 Serpentines
2 Guerrillas
The price is $89.00 per box with Free Shipping. The promo ends March 30, 2017.

Photo courtesy of Isabela Cigar Company:

“Our next promo available on the website starting Thursday March 23 2017
Our “Isabela Sweet Sixteen” Six-Packs for $50.00 and FREE SHIPPING
the six-packs will be available in the following sizes:
1. Six-Pack of Serpentines
2. Six-Pack Of Time-Travelers
3. Six-Pack of Belicoso X
We only do Promo Supersales like the above once a year, and they end April 1, 2017.

“And lastly, the MSRP on this cigar is $8.95.
No Gouging, No Stupid Over pricing…just an abundance of passionate hard work. All the while KEEPING THE CONSUMER IN MIND and PROVIDING A REASONABLE FAIR PRICE IN AN OVER PRICED B.S. BOUTIQUE MARKET!!!”

DESCRIPTION:
The Time Traveler has a near flawless presentation. Only seams visible are due to the barber pole construction. Veins are barely invisible. The triple cap is perfect. Oil shimmers in the sunlight. The cigar feels consistently filled with no hard or soft spots.

AROMAS AND COLD DRAW POINTS:
From the shaft, I can smell milk chocolate, floral notes, vanilla, cedar, caramel, and steak sauce.

From the clipped cap and the foot, I can smell potent black pepper, milk chocolate, vanilla, floral notes, cream, and dried fruit.

The cold draw presents flavors of black pepper, milk chocolate, vanilla, espresso, salted nuts, cedar, and barnyard.

FOREWORD:
I am going to break the mold on how reviewers describe cigars. No halves, no thirds, no bullet point list of flavors only.
Piette makes it very clear that this blend has 8 distinct flavor sections. So I will break it down into eight ¾” segments.

I took the time to smoke 3 sticks and take notes the week before this review. I found the blends very consistent with only slight variations. If I hadn’t smoked 3 sticks, and compared notes, there would be no way I could smoke one in real time and get it right.

When you get done reading this I know you are going to scream to the heavens BULLSHIT!

I do have a great palate…yes, I do….on one hand, it allows me to enjoy the blender’s intent…but on the other hand, it can be a curse when you realize I’ve spent 8 years reviewing a new cigar almost every single day. I’ve smoked cigars since I was 18. But not until I was forced to dissect the blend did my palate really develop.
There are overlaps of flavors in some cases. But then subsections would be too confusing.

So here we go…

6-1/4”-5-1/2”
One thing I noticed on all three prior sticks was perfect construction. Especially, the flawless burn. The char line remained dead nuts perfect throughout the entire smoke.
The cigar starts out with a nuclear blast of black pepper. The first ¾” presents flavors of the following:
Strength: Medium
Barley Malt
Molasses
Salt
Tamarind
Onions
Garlic
Consistency is spot on. Each and every stick is exactly like the last one. All cigars started off with a heavy dose of savory qualities accented nicely with some sweetness.

5-1/2”-4-3/4”
Strength: Medium
White pepper
Salted caramel
Creaminess
Banana
Mincemeat
Flavors kick into high gear in the second section. The pepper is even stronger than the start. The creaminess tames the savory qualities. And some added fruitiness is a nice changeup. Transitions begin. A very chewy coating on my teeth.

I can understand, now smoking my fourth Isabela Time Traveler, why Johnny Piette was beside himself with excitement over this blend. The cigar begins its journey in a most impressive way bombarding my palate and forcing the gustatory cortex in my brain to work overtime trying to keep up with transitions.

4-3/4”-4”
Strength: Medium/Full
Cinnamon rice pudding
Green veggies
Black pepper
Banana
Charred Oak
Honeyed tea
Graham cracker

With each section, the Isabela Time Traveler finds new depths of character. I’ve never smoked a cigar in which this quick transition process is so profound. The blend is fearless.
The strength makes a leap to what will end in a full-on hallucinatory experience. The variety of flavors gets a little tweaking as I smoke and write but stays pretty much the same as the previous 3 cigars.
A bastion of complexity settles in for the first time. This is where it becomes more difficult to dissect individual flavors.
This is truly a great blend. My synapses are flying right and left…snapping like a turtle.

4”-3-1/4”
Strength: Medium/Full
Lime zest
Salted caramel
Creaminess
Black pepper
Various malts
White chocolate
Honey Garlic Balsamic
Buttered Popcorn

At this point in the blend, flavors go hog wild. The variety is crazy. Definitely a kitchen sink list of zest and zip. Creaminess and chocolate make a perfect baseline. The char line remains dead nuts.
I think Isabela Cigars hit the jackpot by deciding to use this size of cigar. As I’ve matured, I find myself more drawn to the Corona Gorda, Robusto, and Corona sizes. They are just so much more flavorful than large ring gauge cigars.

3-1/4”-2-1/2”
Strength: Full
Black pepper
Various citrus elements
Fennel
Unami
Butterscotch sauce
Carob Mint
Creaminess

The chocolate becomes carob. The mintiness is strong and pleasing. Like having a breath mint in your mouth while smoking…yet no sign of it overwhelming other flavors. The addition of fennel gives the blend a smooth light licorice veggie flavor. Nice. And there is a constant transition from caramel to toffee to butterscotch…and back again. The Unami gives the blend a strong savory quality that meshes on point with the inclusions of sweetness and citrus.

The unrelenting spiciness makes this spice junkie happy.

Of the 4 cigars, this is the first one I lit up as my opening cigar of the day; allowing a stronger intensity that my palate didn’t recognize fully with the earlier 3 cigars. I allow a minimum of 2, or more, minutes between puffs to take sips of water that freshens my palate for the next onslaught.
The second half is breathtaking. So complex with a blitz of ever moving transitions. The finish is super long and delectable.
The strength is muy potent but no sign of nicotine.

2-1/2”-2”
Strength: Full
Strong black pepper
Creaminess
Wheat
Green apples
Vanilla
Almonds
Raisins
Nougat

We hit the bat shit crazy point in the Isabela Time Traveler. Flavors that one rarely experiences in one cigar are just amazing. When you read the list of flavors in each section, you should understand why I put so much prep time into getting this right.
The combined flavors end up presenting sort of an apple pie impression. Or maybe something fancier…like an apple Pop Tart…lol.

1-3/4”-1”
Strength: Full
Salted Black licorice
Sweet cedar
Creaminess
Light chocolate
Espresso
Bitter almond
Black walnuts
Pecans
Banana
Maple
Nicotine makes its first appearance.

I have no idea where all these flavor elements came from. I’m somewhat stunned at the variety. This is the highlight portion of the Isabela Time Traveler blend. This transcends the “flavor bomb” description. I don’t even know what to call it. It’s a banana cream pie. It’s marzipan with mocha java frosting. It’s a bear claw with maple frosting. And yet, the savory quality has maintained its presence throughout first 5”.
The black pepper and white pepper take turns from one instant to another.

Less than 1”
Strength: Full
Black pepper
Brown sugar
Nuts
Cedar
Banana
Green apple
Espresso
Various malts
Peppermint
Very creamy

For my palate, the Isabela Time Traveler is as close to perfect as they come.
This $9 cigar blows the $12-$25 blends out of the water. The year is young but it will definitely make my 2017 top 25 cigar list in the top 3.
The nicotine remains mild so no hallucinations.

A stupendous example of superb and passionate cigar blending. You did good, Johnny Piette.
Go get some at the Isabela Cigar Company web site.

RATING: 98

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19 replies

  1. Excellent write up Katman (But that’s nothing new). As a guy with a dull palate, I love to read your reviews with your great flavor identification.

    Is the tip of the cigar sweetened on these? I understand the serpentine’s have a sweetened tip.

  2. You identified white pepper! I hope I had something to do with that.

    • Yes you did. I thought white pepper would be milder than black pepper. Wrong. The stuff you sent is so potent, I need an ice cream after I use it on my food. Love it. Thanks Alex.

  3. Now if I could buy a new palate for under $9.00 I’d be able to enjoy this cigar.

  4. What’s your advice on this cigar for humidor time? Will 6-8 weeks suffice or do these need several months?

    I just ordered six of these off the company website. Thanks for steering many of us to cigars we would have missed out on otherwise.

      • Five months later, I just smoked my last Time Traveller. Of all your reviews, this one stood out as either too good to be true or a true moment of clarity.
        You nailed it and so did Sr. Piette.
        With a glass of sangria and a great album (Guy Clark’s ‘Songs and Stories’), this cigar completed a beautiful summer night.

        Thank you, sir.

        -Stephen

  5. Great review.. I will give these a try!

  6. Bought some Serps and TT from your recommendation and they were running a promotion. FAST AND IMPECCABLE shipping. Extra items. Amazing. now i can’t wait to try them.. I don’t always see how you come to these conclusions. But usually when i stare at a cigar i am trying and that i like, i come here and you seem to give similarly positive reviews. So i know i can trust ur palate (99% of the time). I don’t like padrons for the money. and there are some in here i loved and checked on ur site and u love. So keep em writing and i will keep reading. Thanks Uncle Phil.

    • Thanks Doeshin….is that Armenian for Baby Moose Foreleg?
      Yeah, Johnny Piette is first class all the way.
      I’ve been a pen pal with John for years and longer than any other reader/friend.
      A true mensch!
      Glad he took care of you but that’s how he rolls.
      Phil

      • Nope. Doe – Gamble, Shin – God. something like that roughly in Korean.. I am not sure if u remember me but i was anonymous care package sender and go fund me donor. i don’t comment much. but if anything else, Your reviews are GOOD reading. i like the extra stories of your rock star days u stud u, and ur gangster stories. And i also know i don’t get 1 10th of any of ur flavors BUT if you like em, i seem to as well. good enough for me.

        Above all else. i am glad that you seem to be doing well uncle phil…

        p.s. do you do any reviews after you ‘smoke’? cause when i do, i get those flavor profiles that you mention of for certain cigars… which is amazing.

        Anyway. continue to do well. Take care.

  7. Got mine today Phil. Thank you for the honesty. They shipped fast and included free swag. I’ll let them sleep for a while and hope I taste half of what you did!!

    All the best to you.

  8. Johnny is the man! Got the six pack Time Travelers and a very nice email from Johnny himself. Nice to know there are still some really good people left in the world.

    They shipped it out same day, March 31st, and got them Monday April 3rd with a couple surprises. Made my day, week and month!

    Thanks to both The Katman & Johnny. Two of the good ones!

    Much aloha from beautiful Honolulu, HI.

    Scruffy the Hawaiian CigarSucker

  9. I’ve spent an hour or two now following your Isabela threads, and all I can say is…more! (I read you generally whenever I think of it, for both your reviewing and your raconteuring chops). It’s a bit late in the day for these Time-Travelers in the flesh, prolly, so I’ll have to start with the Stardust shorter corona coming up in a week or two (& which you also [obviously] reviewed). But maybe a pkg or example of TTs will surface somewhere in my travels…after all, I did manage to find a Lirio Rojo 5-pk on sale last week, using nothing but my searches as database (Hope mine don’t have that flat-flavour spot yours did, but I’m humidifying them until at least New Years, by which time perhaps v2 will be out, or the Maestro Del Tiempo “Selleción de Warped” in a comeback. If I can add an observation after smoking what I can for 6 years: whenever I enjoy a cigar that involves Medio-Tiempo/Corona primings of the leaf (e.g., Partagás Black Label, Bolívar, Ezra Zion Tantrum P.A., &c.), I’m always rewarded with a smoke that feeds my black-licorice bone. And I suspect, based on the flavor-citations of the Goldie & this cigar, that perhaps M-T/Corona is also responsible for those unicorn-farm banana flavour-harvests?
    At any rate, thanks for the reviews; the pleasure I derive from the lot of them together is kinda like a snowy weekend coupled with a lost volume of Nabokov stories, an overcomfy chair, a full box of aged Monte #4, a pitcher of Ginger Beer, & a plate of Peter Griffin Pizza-Bagels.