Isabela Cigars PepperHead 2019 Ltd. Edition | Cigar Reviews by the Katman

Wrapper: Undisclosed
Binder: Undisclosed
Filler: Undisclosed
Size: 5.5 x 42 Corona
Strength: Medium/Full
Price: $9.00 by the 5 pack/$7.56 by the 25-count box

Today we take a look at the new Isabela PepperHead 2019 Ltd. Edition.
Samples were provided by Isabela Cigars Co.
2019 Limited Edition Isabela PepperHead. Hand numbered signed Collectors Box of 25:

I asked Johnny Piette to elucidate a bit on the blend:
“We are kind of keeping the leaf stats a bit of a mystery due to the FDA cloud over our heads…etc.
We used 13 strains of High priming tobaccos, all of NICA origin.
Each of the tobaccos was sourced from SMALL farm origins.

“Each of the tobaccos we used were aged at different lengths before blending…some were purchased aged…some, we aged…and we then blended with the intent to let the final production marry.
We figured a “marriage aging season” of a year in post-production due to the many powerful…OILY, rich tobaccos that we used….
That was 3 years ago.

“This was another production that went way past our projected aging season. We kept checking it after a year, and it just wasn’t friggin’ ready….so much not ready, that I almost thought it would never get there….but the Bloom of multiple flavor reveals came thru at the 34 month mark…and we then scheduled a release date ..!!

“100 Boxes of 25 were produced.
Most went to allocations; to our Official Isabela Retailers…a list of which is on our website:“The rest are made available at our website as well, but in smaller quantities.

“MSRP is
“$8.95 per cigar.
“$45.00 for a Five-Pack.
“$189.00 for a signed hand numbered box of 25.”

From Isabela Cigars Co. web site:
“The latest ltd release from the Isabela Creative Magic Studio, the Pepperhead takes you on an exotic journey of the senses to faraway lands, and their many different flavors of peppercorns and spices. To affect the multiple reveals of this release, we utilized 13 strains of high-priming tobaccos, each of which was aged at different lengths, and an additional 3 years of post-production aging to reveal a harmonious blend of multiple transitions of ever-changing flavors!”

As is the norm for Isabela sticks, the cigar has a near flawless appearance.
It is a barber pole configuration with the darker tobacco dominating the wrapper with light stripes of golden/tan wrapper underneath. In addition, the cap is the golden leaf as is the foot.

There is minimal veinage. Seams are hidden. The triple cap is nearly seamless. There is a small amount of tooth but the wrapper feels mostly smooth to the touch. And the oiliness of both wrappers glimmer.

The stick is solidly constructed with no hard or soft spots. Evenly distributed tobacco.
And no skulls on the cigar band. Huzzah!

Holy crap, there is a lot to fascinate the nares…Caramel, chocolate, malt, peppermint, floral notes, cedar, dried fruit, barnyard, peat, café au lait, creamy vanilla, licorice, Brazil nuts, banana, and coconut. Yikes.

The cold draw presents flavors of the entire list above…Wow.

As in all Isabela blends, the cigar’s cap gets a hint of sweetness ala the best Cubans. It is mild and unobtrusive and adds to the experience. It does not overwhelm and disappears in a few minutes. I like it and I don’t like anything.

The nice thing about Isabela blends is that they need virtually no humi time. Due to the extensive aging and blending process, you can smoke one ROTT. Of course, they get better with time but the fact that they are ready to go is pretty damn nice.

The draw is spot on so I put my PerfecDraw draw adjustment tool away for the next cigar.

Piette’s limited editions are known for their intense transitional stages. Let’s see if this one matches up.
The sweetness of the cap is my first impression; followed by creaminess, chocolate, raisins, malt, cedar, mild black pepper, cinnamon graham cracker, allspice, blackberries, and roasted coffee beans.
Strength is hovering at medium.

Intense complexity comes to rest on my palate. Wham Bam.
Strength jumps to medium/full.

Caramel, creaminess, malt, and coffee are in perfect balance.
I can taste the passion in this tobacco sausage. This is going to be an event.

Savory factors co-mingle aggressively. Elements of smokiness, cumin, black walnuts, and black beans. Making me hungry.

A big transition occurs around the 1-1/4” burned mark…the black pepper becomes jalapeno. A big dollop of various salted nuts appears. The black licorice juts its chin out. Red grapes attend without an RSVP…giving the profile a distinct and unique attitude. Oats and raisins and maple syrup take a bow. Shit…my puny brain really needs to be on point for this blend. Blink and you’ve missed something influential and important.

Salted caramel and malt bring it on home. Café au lait becomes espresso. The creaminess goes dark…turning the flavor profile on a dime.

And then, my palate is slammed by a Nestles Crunch bar. Transitions from savory to sweet and then a balanced mixture of both are twirling like a ballerina.

This is a very intense cigar experience. Definitely a cigar you want to try in the quiet of your favorite place to smoke and do so alone so there are no distractions…at least the first time you smoke this cigar.

The flavors are in such constant flux that I can’t keep up with it. If I were only bi-polar.
Jalapeno meets red pepper. The black pepper is gone.

Creaminess returns…holy cow. It’s like being on Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride at Disneyland.

The previous limited-edition blends: Shape Shifter, Mash-Up, and Time Traveler were all very distinct and completely different from each other. Each stick received the same attention and masterful blending as this cigar. Piette doesn’t participate in do-overs. He brings something incredible to each limited edition; as well as his stock blends.

The flavor profile explodes. It is officially a bona fide flavor bomb now.
The Isabela PepperHead is one of the most unique blends on the market. So much is happening at once that it takes laser focus to stay on track.

I’ve had some prototypes since December of last year. Johnny sent me a couple of the newly released sticks and while he says the blend has remained the same as my prototypes, I decided to review the newer one as I wanted to see how it would behave after 3 days of humi time. It does not disappoint but I do look forward to smoking the aged ones in my humidor.

Man, this blend is firing on all 12 cylinders. You don’t have to guess where this rating will go. Another perfect blend for this old man’s palate. That would make two in a row in just one week. Alert the media…wait…I am the media…sort of, well, not really.

Transitions are now as fast as an F-35. The finish is so big that I find myself constantly taking sips of water to indulge in the nasty pleasure of self-gratification…each sip brings new flavors to the forefront.

Goddam the Pusherman. It is now obvious to me…Johnny Piette made a pact with the devil in the blue dress…high heel sneakers and all.

I will finish this review and head to the Isabela Cigars web site and snag a box. With only 100 boxes available, word of mouth will spread quickly and they’ll be gone in a week. This is a cigar to treasure. And it is a mere $9.00 ($7.56 by the box). Not $12 or higher as most boutique brands sell their wares for and don’t come close to the best of Isabela. I have no idea how he keeps the price reasonable. Especially, as he is hyper actively involved with all aspects of the blending process that includes countless trips to Nicaragua.

Strength remains at medium/full.

I’ve listed a laundry list of flavors. I don’t believe there are any flavor elements left. It’s the Heinz 57 of cigar blends.

Because the rolling is impeccable, this little corona just keeps on chooglin’. It will be a 45-60 minute smoke.
Intensity rises to a new level. Now can this be?

This proves my point. Perfection doesn’t mean that a blend is better than all the cigars on the planet. Remember, our palate is subjective for each smoker. I say tomato and you say tomahto. Just as the Stolen Throne Crook of the Crown was perfect for my palate in a totally different way doesn’t mean I can even begin to compare the blends. Perfect is perfect regardless of the flavor profile. And I’m willing to go bare knuckles with anyone that disagrees…remember, I’m old and frail. Not in the face.

Don’t forget the promo code Johnny gave me for my readers: Katman Free Katpack. Johnny will do a little extra for you because he loves me. I want to adopt him.

“Dirty White Boy” by Foreigner. I love that song.

Strength hits full tilt.
The flavor profile goes into hyperdrive.
Surprisingly, almost no nicotine poisoning. (Jinx).
Well, I’m ruined for the day.

My PerfecDraw tool is great to use as a roach clip or as the PR describes it: Nubber. I plan to milk every last bit of this delicacy.

Flavor elements change so quickly and uniquely, I think that constantly naming the flavors will cause a sense of redundancy. Everything I’ve described is active but comes and goes on its own recognizance.

Again, this is a blend whose sum is so complex that you need to “Turn off your mind, relax and float downstream…It is not dying, it is not dying…
“Lay down all thoughts, surrender to the void.
“It is shining, it is shining.”
What’s a cigar review without Beatles’ lyrics?

You have to, at least, try a fiver. Tell your wife you snagged some $20 cigars for half price. I’m sure she will understand. All wives understand our need for the best.

My wife is a pretty decent sort. I have my little mini man cave and I’m allowed to smoke my brains out. 90% of my friends aren’t allowed to even wear the same clothes they smoked a cigar in when entering the house from the cold garage. I’m a lucky boy…which reminds me…I need to change out her heavy chains I use to keep her on the couch watching Dr. Phil.

You ever get a venereal wart on your penis? Me neither.

Balance. Right on. Smoothness. Poifect. Complexity. Off the grid. Transitions. Too many to count. Finish. They should bottle this.

I’m so relaxed that I don’t feel like writing anymore. Or any less. Forget which.

The only mortal sin being perpetrated on us hominids by Piette is that these limited editions are not regular production cigars. That would be wonderful but probably send Piette to an early grave.

And I’m spent…


And now for something completely different:

I’ve re-published this story so many times; but I love it…You can’t make up shit like this. I first wrote about this in a review in 2012.
So here it is again because I am lucky enough to see the addition of more manic depressive, self-loathing, readers to the long list of masochists who read me. I apologize to long time readers. Your Quorum bundle is in the mail.

A Bizarre Night w/Andy Kaufman (Latka of “TAXI”) True Story

Yes. Bizarre is the only way to describe it.
I was smack dab in the middle of my professional musical career. I had attained some peer cred and therefore got to do and see things.
I had just come off playing bass with the English band Curved Air. Claim to fame: “The Police” drummer Stewart Copeland was my band mate.

I came back to Long Beach, CA after my stint in jolly old England, and opened a recording studio, production company and management company. I took a project to the charts…a novelty single called “Whatever Happened to Eddie?” starring Butch (Eddie Munster) Patrick. We took the theme from “The Munsters” and added our own lyrics and re-recorded the music for the times….1983.

I was also playing in a band (The Attitude) making the local charts with our kick ass version of Elvis’ “Hound Dog.” Little Richard played piano on the cut in the studio. In the video, our keys player mimicked what LR played. You can watch it on YouTube by clicking HERE. Remember this was during the birth of MTV.

Life was good. The early 80’s were the years made famous by the Beverly Hills Diet of cocaine and champagne. And I had dough. You can take it from there.

I had a friend named Marshall Thomas. Marshall was a bona fide, big time, radio disc jockey. He became a fan of my band and then became friends, to this day, with little Eddie Munster. He played the sax player in the music video. Marshall was a scene stealer as he had zero musical ability on the sax but pulled it off. Watch “Whatever Happened to Eddie?”

In December of 1981, he got VIP tickets to the release of Hanukkah Rocks by Gefilte Joe & The Fish on RHINO Records.

The release was at the famous Improv in Hollywood. Marshall asked me to go with him because he knew I’d have coke…He chose me rather than take his girlfriend because he didn’t want to have to buy his own coke. Mooching was better.

That’s where I met him. Andy Kaufman. Latka of the sit/com “TAXI.” The party was a blast and the Improv was full of celebrities.

As the hours burned, there were 5 of us left in the club sitting at the same booth. Me. Marshall. Andy. Some guy and his girlfriend.

We sat at a large half circle booth with Andy in the middle. The “other” guy asked Andy about the wrestling thing he was doing.
Andy, for some reason, decided his next campaign in the world of improvisational art, would be the world of wrestling. It quickly went from wrestling men to wrestling women. The men were kicking his ass because he made fun of the “sport.”

So, he would challenge any woman in the audience. Sometimes, he won. Sometimes, he didn’t. It became a nationwide joke.

We all sat there in the booth, hugging our Hanukkah gifts. Including a record called Hanukkah Rocks shaped like a Star of David, in blue, with 2 songs on each side. It was a very cool trophy.

Andy began to weave the history of wrestling to us. Unless you knew him, you really didn’t know what his voice sounded like. Obviously, it wasn’t that of Foreign Man or Latka. And it didn’t sound like Elvis. He had a milque toast voice, a little high, but quiet, when he spoke. You had to lean in.

We listened and contributed and had a very normal conversation with one of the craziest entertainers in the world. Then Marshall asked Andy if he would wrestle the girl sitting with us. He agreed without thought. Same with the chick.

There was a small dance floor, about 10 feet square, in the middle of the club. Marshall stayed in the booth. The girl’s boyfriend moved to a chair at the corner of the dance floor. I moved to the opposite corner….and then we waited……and waited…while Andy seemed to be meditating with eyes closed.

Then in a rush of energy, he jumped to the top of the booth’s table and leaped off it like a crazed man. We all yelled, thinking he would fall, but he landed like a cat on the dance floor.

The X rated epithets started coming from his mouth as he hunkered into a wrestling hunch and circled the girl. He was a foul mouthed S.O.B. But the complete opposite at the table.

The chick made her move and threw Andy to the floor. It stunned him. He got up screaming at the girl, “You fucking bitch! You Cunt!” And so on. They got into a stranglehold with each other with neither giving in. Neither falling to their knees.

Then something vicious…Andy did a sweep with his leg, knocking the pins out from under the girl. Really nasty, because she hit the floor HARD! He then leaped into the air and dropped right on top of her to pin her. She was screaming for help. I looked over to her boyfriend and he was laughing.

In only moments, Andy counted, “1-2-3” and jumped off her. He walked the perimeter of the dance floor with both hands in the air showing domination and accomplishment. His head was bobbing up and down, enjoying the win.

The girl could not get up. She was hurt. Andy played too rough. We all shook our heads and Marshall asked Andy why did he have to play so rough? Andy ignored him.

I helped the chick up while she dusted herself off. She was pissed…obviously expecting something a little less violent.

We gathered our things at the table. Andy asked us all up to his place, not far from the club, to hang out the rest of the night. We all declined. We were disgusted. This guy was nuts.

Never thought in my wildest imagination I’d ever have a story like this.

One after thought…I am a very gullible person. I believe the best in people and that we are all basically good. Wrong. I had my own framed copy of the record and hung it on my office wall at my recording studio and someone stole it. In fact, all my personal music memorabilia at my studio was all eventually stolen by skanky musicians and their friends. I should have worn a visible side arm at all times.
Andrew Geoffrey Kaufmann
January 17, 1949 – May 16, 1984


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3 replies

  1. You’re making me buy too many cigars. No more 100 reviews in June!

  2. Isabela is now the brand I smoke while waiting for other cigars to age, hopeful that those cigars will, in time, be half as good as the Isabelas were right off the truck.

    Blind bought a box before your review. The Shapeshifters were gone before I was willing to commit to more than a fiver. Regrettable…

  3. Dead on rating for this little cigar! I’ve smoked a few of them now. I easily get a flawless hour out of these sticks. These things beat out even the best $30 to $40 cigars I’ve had. Isabela Cigars, Piette, keep doing what you’re doing.