Isabela Cigar Time-Traveler 2019 | 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 of Nicaraguan unripe Ligero…a sliver of Nicaraguan Corojo
Size: 6.5 x 42
Strength: Medium/Full
Price: $9.95

Today we take a look at the Isabela Cigar Time-Traveler 2019.
This is only the second release of the blend since 2017. But tweaked some…
Only 100 boxes are available and at this writing; half are already gone according to John Piette.
I’m seemingly rushing this review in order to allow you to purchase this cigar should you choose. But as in every limited-edition Isabela cigar, the extended aging of 3-4 years will allow you to omit the humi aging we normally do with less aged blends. The cigar is ready to go on receipt.

The Isabela Cigar Co. Press Release:
“Isabela Cigar Company is ecstatic, as our long-awaited and by far most sought after Ltd Release, the ISABELA Time-Traveler, is dropping December 13th 2019!! The Time-Traveler is the truest “Journey” of a cigar, blended to take you on a trip back in time, to the flavor profiles of the most popular Cuban Cigars of the early 90s, with an added “Isabela Sizzle!

“This journey is reflected by the eight distinct seamless transitions of changing flavor profiles that the Time-Traveler reveals. To create this one of a kind experience, we sourced multiple high priming varietals of small farm tobaccos, each of which was aged at different seasons before rolling, as well as 32 months of post-production aging, to fully effect the intention of the blend.

“Due to the scarcity of the multitude of different tobaccos used, as well as the extensive aging, this release is limited to 100 Collectors Boxes of 12, hand numbered and signed, and 50 bundles of 25. The Time-Traveler will be available at all Official Isabela retailers, as well as small amounts for direct purchase, at
All wholesale/ new retailer inquiries contact IRV CigarBroker at (224)-558-9712.
Size: 6.5 x 42
Cigar Price: $9.95
‘Collectors Luxury Box’ of 12: $120.00″

NOTE: The Collectors Luxury Box of 12 sticks is on Page 1 of the Isabela web site. If you want one or more fivers, go to Page 2 where the cigars are sold in 5 packs at the same $10 price point.

From Johnny Piette:
“I just sent you, the only…pre-release samples of our upcoming LONG-AWAITED release of the once every 3 years Time-Travelers!! HA HA!! Finally….!! I dialed up the blend with a sliver of spicy unripe ligero, and a “tad” of Corojo…just to give it a push toward 9 transitions…instead of 8….which pushed the aging cycle to almost 3 years…but the result was worth it!!

“At the same blending and production sessions, we also produced”
StarDust…a corona vitola
Mash-Up…a Robusto vitola
Both blended with the same tobaccos as Time Traveler but in different combinations.
Those two are not scheduled for release as the Stardust had a bit more ligero, and the mash-up has more tobaccos, so they are not ready,,,and I’m not really sure when they will be…so, we therefore have no projected release date at this time.”

*Don’t forget to use promo code: Katman Free Katpack for some extra Holiday cheer from Johnny.

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

From the shaft, I can smell milk chocolate, powerful floral notes, vanilla, cedar, caramel, steak sauce, black pepper, cream, malt, dried fruit, cedar, and very earthy aged tobacco.

The cold draw presents flavors of cherry ice cream, black pepper, milk chocolate, vanilla, espresso, malt, salted nuts, honey, cedar, and barnyard.
The draw is spot on so I put away my PerfecDraw draw adjustment tool for another time.

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 8-9 distinct flavor sections. So, I will break it down into 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.

Instead of the original Time-Traveler’s 8 sections, the new 2019 version has 9. But that means I would have to change gears every .722”. I can’t do that. I can’t smoke a cigar and review it with a pair of calipers in one hand…so, I’m sticking with just the 8 sections as 3/4” is easier to work with.
There are overlaps of flavors in some cases. But then subsections would be too confusing.

So here we go…

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:
White pepper
Sweet coconut
Barley Malt
Salted, smoky meat
A touch of steak sauce
Rich tobacco

Complexity wastes no time in kicking into gear. It’s already a great smoke. Transitions begin and the finish is forming on my teeth. 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.

White pepper
Salted caramel
Milk chocolate
Black cherry

Flavors kick into high gear in the second section. The pepper is a tad stronger than the start. The creaminess tames the savory qualities. And some added fruitiness is a nice changeup. Transitions are in full swing. A very chewy coating on my teeth.
It is taking approximately 8 minutes per each section.

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. I now remember how intense reviewing the 2017 version was…trying to keep up.

Cinnamon rice pudding
Green apple
White pepper
Charred Oak
Honey sweetened tea
Graham cracker
Smoky malt
Strength: Medium/Full

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 burn is flawless.

I assume the strength will make 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. The morphing process has begun. I inject pure adrenaline via needle into my optic nerve to stay aware.
This is truly a great blend. My synapses are flying right and left…snapping like a turtle.

Lemon zest
Salted caramel
White pepper
Smoky malt
White chocolate
Charred oak
Buttered toast
Strength: Medium/Full

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.

Due to its aging, the cigar’s complexity is through the roof. Now I wish I had waited to release my 2019 top 25 cigar list until after I smoked this cigar. The blend is friggin’ perfect. Imagine the best sex you’ve had…then dial it back a bit and you have what I’m experiencing. The finish leaves a huge impression as not only my teeth are covered in multiple flavors, but my lips feel like they’ve been coated by savory and sweet treats.

A first sip of water and my merkin explodes and hair flies into the air.

Black pepper
lemon/Lime citrus elements
Charred oak
Dark chocolate/peppermint
Baking spices
Black cherry
Vegetal elements
Strength: Full

The chocolate intensifies. The new element of mint 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 seaweed gives the blend a strong savory quality that meshes on point with the inclusions of sweetness and citrus.

The unrelenting spiciness ensconced in the background 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.

I say this with every yearly new addition to the Isabela line, but holy shit. While it is impossible to really compare the 2017 edition with the 2019 edition except by my review, I believe the new Time-Traveler is better…although very hard to improve upon a level of excellence this outrageous.

Black pepper that alternates with white pepper
Green apples/cinnamon
Chocolate Nougat
Smoky barley malt
Strong black coffee
Earthy aged tobacco
Strength: Full

We hit the bat shit crazy point in the Isabela Time-Traveler. Flavors that one rarely experiences in just one cigar are just amazing. It is officially a bona fide Flavor Bomb! 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.

The cigar continues to burn in 8-minute sections. So, according to my calculator, this will be a 48+ minute smoke.

As potent as the cigar is, its balance, the dreamy smoothness, and its cavalcade of flavors make this an easy cigar to smoke. No sign of nicotine.

Black pepper/white pepper
Salted Black licorice
Light chocolate
Bitter almond
Black walnuts
Nicotine makes its first appearance…but very mild. I still have my faculties…no slobbering on the keyboard.
Strength: Full

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 a strong presence throughout its entirety…with woody overtones, smoky meat, and that gorgeous aged tobacco.
The black pepper and white pepper take turns from one instant to another.

Less than 1-1/4”
I use my PerfecDraw tool as a nubber at this point
Strength: Full tilt
Black pepper
Brown sugar
Green apple
Barley malts
Very creamy
Black tea

For my palate, the Isabela Time-Traveler is as perfect as they come.
This $10 cigar blows the $12-$25 blends out of the water. It will definitely make my 2020 top 25 cigar list.

Due to the added Ligero and Corojo, this is a stronger blend than the original.
Construction remained true throughout. Not a single burn issue.
And the cigar is as fresh in its last death throes as it did anywhere along the journey.
Final smoke time is 55 minutes.

A stupendous example of superb and passionate cigar blending. You did good, Johnny Piette. You always swing for the fences and you always hit it out of the park.

Go get some at the Isabela Cigar Company web site. BEFORE THEY SELL OUT!

Don’t forget, you can buy a full box of 12 on Page 1 of the site or you can snag fivers on Page 2. Same price per stick whether you buy the box or a fiver.
Promo code: Katman Free Katpack…then stand back.


12-2-2019: Several readers have contacted me saying they don’t know where to put the promo code on the Isabela web site:
Put it in the Additional Information Order Notes box:


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24 replies

  1. where do you put the code?

  2. Katman your reviews are amazing. Don’t tell my wife I just spent 120 on a box of 12. I ought to stop reading you but I cant

    • Hey Leland,
      Sorry, but I had to laugh out loud.
      Thank you for the kind words.
      It is the fate of all married cigar smokers to sustain an eternal stink eye from our wives…the lectures about money…the withholding of the Friday night BJ…and the mere fact that we don’t care about our women…we just care about us.
      I believe that sums it up correctly for most of us. I do this as a business/hobby and my wife does the same thing.
      Don’t stop reading me. I need you, man. I have only 31 readers total. I can’t afford to lose you.
      Tell your wife that I’m your Yogurt. That you must follow because I have the Power of the Schwartz.
      I’m sure she will buy into that.
      All the best,

  3. WAIT…. I’m supposed to be getting Friday night BJ’s?

    Who forgot to tell my wife????

    May the Schwartz be with you Phil

  4. Hi Phil!

    So….the short term memory is the first to go.

    The short term memory is the first to go.

    I spaced on putting in the promo code. But JOHNNY. P. did me a solid and got it corrected!!

    You and he are both swell guys, and give your wife my number.


  5. Just a note to thank you for all you do for your readers and for the most deserving boutique cigar manufacturers….I put in an order for five (even though Coronas are not my thang–let me know when they put out a belicoso fino and I’m in for a box). Again, thank you, and the small producers thank you. Happy x-Mass, hanukka, kwanzaa. Stay safe and healthy, your friend, Robert

    • Thanks Robert,
      It is gratifying to force great blenders down my readers’ throats…whether they like it or not.
      And at the same time, I try to look out for my readers by calling out unscrupulous manufacturers.
      Basically, the cigar industry stinks. Corrupt as hell. Nearly as bad as the music industry.
      I can’t convey how happy I am that I’ve never had to work in the cigar industry.
      It’s more fun this way…

      • If you gave it 100 rating I’d smoke a Virginia Slim (am i dating myself?)

        You’ve come a long way, baby.

        • My first reaction when I read your comment was to laugh at myself…out loud.
          I don’t know if you mean it but thank you so much. Garnering trust has always been why I do this.
          I enjoy writing reviews and delivering my opinion on a cigar blend. I think it’s harder to convey and do it in writing rather than a video. If I don’t catch your attention and keep it, I’ve fucked up. If you don’t trust my opinion that’s OK. It’s just an opinion…But, I think I have a good palate due to time spent and loving cigars. I like being able to write outside the box.
          Thank you again,

  6. Dear Katman, it’s an impressive review and cigar I’d definitely love to check out. I’ve been following your reviews for some time and they’re great, bravo!
    I’d appreciate if you’d check out the visual reviews that I make because they’re something entirely new to the cigar world. So far no website, they’re on the Instagram account @cigarscape
    I hope you enjoy them and I’d love to get your opinion on the sketches!

  7. Great review. And thanks for the plug. Irv CigarBroker

    • Thanks Irv,
      It was my pleasure and a lot of fun. Just like the little Dutch boy and the dam, it is my job to plug good manufacturers…and keep the village safe from an onslaught of watery doom by the shit manufacturers.
      All the best,

  8. Thanks so much for the heads up. Usually I hear about cigars like this just in time to miss out. Recently, I’ve been buying cigars at a higher price point because …life is too short, you know. I really appreciate the work you do to provide reliable information about which cigars are good, great, and must try. As I get more involved with the sellers of high end cigar vendors, I’m finding that you are well know out there and all think very highly of you, and best of all some are willing to give your readers a break on price 🙂 . (Cash is the sincerest form of flattery). Once again, thanks, I appreciate all the good stuff. Happy hannukkah.

    • Thank you Robert.
      Hey, if you’ve got the dough, flaunt it. Before I retired, I was a spending fool…just ask my wife. The thing is…while I’d like to have the money to buy more expensive cigars to try them out, I’ve found they are rarely worth their price point. Some are. Like all of the Casdagli line. But go look at the new releases on the specialty online cigar stores and it’s all $17+ per cigar. Fucking ridiculous.
      If I’m highly thought of, they are doing a good job in keeping their opinions to themselves. Manufacturers and blenders are so super sensitive. Like big babies. How dare I criticize their work? I don’t know…make a better cigar?
      Happy Hanukkah back atcha’!

  9. This is not the first time I’ve jumped to make a purchase after reading one of your reviews. Your reviews are solid, unpretentious and spot on. You have also saved me from bad purchases. Your reviews tell me right away whether or not a stick’s profile will be in my wheelhouse. Too many cigar companies are just flat-assed greedy with the prices they charge. Not the case here! John could be charging far more than he does for what he has created. Thank you for your awesome reviews and especially this one. Thanks for getting this one out with time to score a box. Thanks to you I’ll be dangling one from my ugly maw tonight!

    • Thank you, Chris…
      Your comments mean a lot to this old fart. Normally, to please a 70 year old man, you need to provide a BJ and a doughnut.
      Your kind words supplant that need…
      I’m happy you could score some of Piette’s newest blend.
      All the best,

  10. HAD to go order this. When you give something a 100 I have to check it out. You didnt lead me wrong on those Stolen Throne. Johnny shot me a message and added on a couple extra to try. Definitely will be purchasing me. Shipped SUPER FAST!!!

  11. I’m afraid this cigar has ruined me. I’m throwing rocks at the others in my humidor. Feeling doomed.

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