Size: 6 x 54 Belicoso
Today we take a look at the Isabela Cigars Belicoso X.
I bought a pair that came in the March Madness sampler of 10 Isabela cigars.
From Johnny Piette, owner, of Isabela Cigars:
”I went to the Abacos (Bahamas) for a wedding,. a week in the 90s, and 2 things happened
The only cigars available, and in abundance, were Cuban Montecristo #2s…..
“Which was awesome for a while, but then it was overkill…kind of like eating at a steakhouse, the best steak in the world, every day and nite !
“I was dying for a different cigar, any cigar, after the heavy flavor of the #2 was overpowering me….and too linear.
“Years later, I set out to blend a cigar…a great blend….that would be heavily reminiscent…and incorporate similar flavors as the 90s version of the Cuban Montecristo #2; and also match the beautiful exotic looking craftsmanship of the Cuban Master crafted Belicoso vitola, which just by looks , set itself apart from all other torpedos with a beautiful stunning tres capa pointed head and exotic sheen in general.
“I also wanted to “modernize” or “Isabela-ize” the flavor a bit by adding to the base some Cuban flavor; a touch of modern generation sizzle and spices…and also I wanted it to transition more in flavor so that if I was stuck on an island again, with only the Isabela Belicoso X, the blend would give me enough transitions and changes to maintain interest and enthusiasm….waking up each day excited to enjoy the Belicoso X again, let it take me on a journey of flavors, and keep my palate tantalized yet off balance, always wanting more…..”
The oily, light hued wrapper reminds me of the 1952 Ford Woodie. Growing up in SoCal, I saw my share of these as they were the coolest car a surfer could own. I had a Schwinn 10 speed.
The stick seems to be filled perfectly with a very consistent amount of tobacco distribution. The plethora of veins are nearly subliminal as they barely show except by klieg light. The seams are invisible. The triple cap is beautifully constructed.
SMELL THE GLOVE:
Massive quantities of floral notes. From roses to lilac to lavender incense. In addition, I detect aromas of creaminess, cinnamon bun with icing, mixed nuts (This is what happens when your underwear gets tangled while sleeping), milk chocolate, malt, cedar, black pepper at the foot, sassafras, cured wood, and a dot of red pepper…makes me sneeze.
The cold draw presents flavors of cream, milk chocolate, malt, cedar, vanilla bean, marzipan, espresso, and floral notes.
The draw has the perfect amount of resistance, so I put away my PerfecDraw cigar poker and tool.
The draw is splendid as smoke upchucks into the room.
Strength is already meandering toward medium/full. The light-colored wrapper belies the true evil nature of the blend; like a wolf in gerbil’s clothing. This ain’t no RP Connecticut.
Immediately flavors begin to fill the vomitorium. I wanted to use that term because I hadn’t thought of it in decades. The first time I saw it was on some architectural design drawings for a theater. Vomitorium: “Each of a series of entrance or exit passages in an ancient Roman amphitheater or theater.” It made me laugh as I showed it around to my betters in the project management office to which they snickered at my naivete and plain ol’ dumb shit ignorance.
Here we go: Black and red pepper, creaminess, malt balls, blue balls, nutty, testicular, and full of mild milk chocolate, café au lait, cedar, and a fruity jell candy…something like raspberry.
The complexity wastes no time. But then that’s the way it is with all of the Isabela blend family. Piette ages the sticks for years to get the desired effect he sees in his head and then we benefit by being able to rip them out of their cellos and light ‘em up.
A bit of citrus emerges making me think of the old ice cream bar; the 50/50. Orange popsicle covering vanilla ice cream on a stick.
The burn is doing fine, thank you.
Strength is definitely making itself home at medium/full.
So, how’s the weather where you are? Here in Wisconsin, its -6400 Celsius with plenty of sun and 90mph winds. I can’t think of anywhere I’d rather be…sigh.
A light banana element joins the fun. Now we have a banana split. Only thing missing is the gloppy pineapple goop and a cherry.
Transitions are bold. The finish is chock full of monosyllabic touches.
Balance would be a touch better if the black pepper backed off a touch. Other than that, so far, so good.
And then we have blastoff. The complexity swings for the fences for a home run. The entire blend is elevated to a new dimension where cigars never cost more than $4 and the sun is moments away from imploding…quick, fuck someone.
Did I forget smooth? I did. The spiciness begins to calm down allowing for a more uniform spreading of the goodies.
I bought a March Madness sampler from Isabela Cigars. For $100, you get 10 sticks made up of: 2 Sparkle Robusto, 2 True Cuban-Sized Corona, 2 Belicoso X, 2 ltd Edition Time-Travelers (Gave it a rating of 98. Flavors change every ¾”), and 2 Guerrillas.
Great cigar. The Isabela Cigars Belicoso X is another blend that doesn’t disappoint. In fact, none of the Isabela line shows any signs of not being short of sheer blending passion.
I got behind Isabela back in 2015. I had no idea who Johnny Piette was. But I loved the way he walked. The man doesn’t buy his cigars from every fakakta Nicaraguan farm and warehouse and rename them with his label. He toils and sweats over every blend; re-tweaking and re-blending for years before the final product is released. He is a rarity in this business. He does his own blending. Lots of passion with ambition in check.
If you want to read my other seven reviews…click here.
The burn line is impeccable.
The chorus line does a series of double kicks and flavors go into flavor bomb mode. Black pepper becomes white pepper. Cream and orange go together like your teen wallet and the embedded circle indentation.
The strength is tempered by the effervescent clean taste of individual elements shining under the umbrella of strong complexity. The blend continues to become smoother with each puff; even as the strength increases.
I take my first sip of water and my Groucho glasses magically appear on my face. “That’s the most ridiculous thing I ever hoid.”
The orange-ness slips into lemon peel mode. The cream does an about face and lingers like meringue on crème pie.
The blend is based on creaminess with ancillary flavors complementing its host.
Chocolate covered raspberry jells start cooking. The maltiness is nearly ale-like. No foam to scrape off.
This is a damn fine cigar. Piette doesn’t go in for showboating like most boutique brands. He feels his product sells itself along with word of mouth. No skulls on the cigar bands. No big bribes to Cigar Aficionado. No begging the big reviewers to please, please, review my cigars…He is content to allow his products to flourish organically. I really like that about Johnny. He is a very low-key fella. But boy does he know how to make cigars.
I’m now wondering if the strength will hit full tilt by the last third. I grab my aluminum foil helmet with the accompanying horse’s feed bag just in case there is an “Attack of the Nicotine Living Dead. There is a story line for a new Netflix movie. Normal people are kidnapped by an evil scientist who subjects them to really bad strong cigars to see if their DNA can be manipulated and be turned into lesbian super heroes.
What a friggin’ blast this has been. I am baring my soul here…the man is a bloody force of nature. His palate must be as big as a Tyrannosaurus Rex lounging on a blanket on the sandy beaches of Uzbekistan. Or he’s had it surgically enhanced using no anesthetic.
I discover I’m smacking my lips like a dog waiting for you to drop a piece of steak underneath the dinner table. Or Gene Simmons accidentally biting his tongue because he had to play an Eb minor run on the bass.
The strength doesn’t spill full tilt power like I thought it might. It hovers in the medium/full range comfortably.
Pecan pie. That was a surprise. I taste this gooey concoction as it lingers on my palate. It takes over the finish by a nose.
The balance and impudent smoothness of the blend are impressive. Like all of Isabela’s blends, it lives in the realm of masterpiece.
Johnny is a friend so you might be thinking I’m shilling for him. Wrong.
Because he is a friend, if the cigar was a clunker, I wouldn’t have bothered to review it. That’s the extent of my hypocrisy.
While the stick doesn’t magically change every ¾” like his Shape Shifter or Time-Traveler, it does find itself constantly in roaming mode; experimenting with different aspects of the tobacco used in the blend. I’ve not been bored for a moment.
My readers get a little surprise if they use the promo code: Katman Free Katpack. John sends you photos of himself as a baby on a bearskin rug…and ones of him on his 40th birthday on a linoleum floor passed out drunk.
This is an exciting, exceptional cigar. You reviewers that pretend not to read me, review this cigar.
And is it another $12 magic stick? Nope. $9.20. Ask yourself…do you want another mystery meat blend that is the self-appointed best blend ever made…or a cigar that has been carefully crafted by a master?
The last inch becomes full tilt. The flavor profile surprisingly explodes one last time. Damn.
I could smoke these all day long.
And lastly, Isabela Cigar blends can be smoked ROTT. They’ve been aged to perfection and you can be patient or rip into it like a chimp on a cupcake. Either way works.
Trust your Uncle Katman.
Categories: CIGAR REVIEWS