Isabela Transporter | Cigar Reviews by the Katman

  • Wrapper: Ecuadorian DesFlorada, Nicaraguan Habano Prieto
  • Binder: Nicaraguan
  • Filler: Nicaraguan
  • Size: 5.25 x 54 Double Perfecto
  • Strength: Medium/Full
  • Price: $10.95

Today we take a look at the Transporter from Isabela Cigar Company.


From Johnny Piette of Isabela Cigars:

“The Transporter is very simply…a BIG MISTAKE.

“I spent a year researching super exotic types of cigar formats…scouring history and the internet to find weird shapes and sizes…and I brought them together with some new twists…to develop and craft the most exotic looking craft ever:
-release a new line of super-exotic ltd release in 2 sizes…and…
-make a 3rd size as a LOVE cigar…a special size in this most exotic species that people can only access when I deem necessary.

“So, then I Imagined a flavor profile that could be as exotic as the craft of the cigar…and found various tobaccos…and applied different aging seasons to them, as well as using some pre-aged tobaccos to come up with the blends.
Then, when I set out to have the rollers execute the exotic look and roll of this craft, we took a blend I was working in, and the torcedores produced the Transporter.
When the production was finished, I was stuck here in Milwaukee due to the pandemic. So, they sent me samples of the finished run.

“I received the cigars and I bellowed: “Big MISTAKE!” The cigars were missing all the exotic attributes that would have completed my imagination of what the craft should be. However, the cigars were excellent, the blend was excellent, and I put them in aging.
Now back to the mistake…Their explanation of the mistake from Nicaragua: ”No, Señor…necesitas las mujeres de torcedore.” (‘You need the women torcedores’)…and he kept repeating it. I thought I was going to hang myself.

“I got my butt to Nicaragua quickly and I figured out the problem…the imagined exotic craft I wanted executed can only be crafted by a certain number of level 9+ torcedores. Rollers that specialize in JUST “technique rolling.” In Cuba, the only torcedores that are trained for the “techinique rolling” are women…due to their small hand size!!
While I searched for the “mujere,” I did finally find and blend that exact flavor that would fit that exotic craft I imagined.
But that turned out to be a different cigar than the Transporter…and a story for another day, when we finally start releasing those cigars this year.
My behind the curtains series of mistakes is how the Transporter came to be.

“The binder and filler are comprised of various tobaccos sourced from a small farm and are all Nicaraguan origin tobaccos. Each of the tobacco strains used have been aged a different length of time, depending on the strength and oils of each of the tobaccos to allow a couple results:
1. It allows the panoply of flavors, that are often hidden behind the over-powering notes of pepper (aging mellows the top off the pepper)…and provides the other more subtle flavors to blossom and reveal themselves.
2. Our intent of the Transporter blend was to ‘transport’ you to flavor profiles of tobaccos you haven’t tasted in this combination, ( hence the varied aging seasons)…as well as to transport you through multiple transitions of changing flavor profiles.”


Beautifully articulated cigar. I used my slide rule to calculate the parabolic curves to see if they are equilateral. And they are. A fatty full of tobacco; but not so full as to lose its bit of natural squeeze while snot’s running down my nose and greasy fingers smearing shabby clothes…I’m back.

The wrapper is shiny with oil. The Ecuadorian DesFlorada and the Nicaraguan Habano Prieto are root beer and caramel in the barber pole fashion. The cap is magnificent. Not a single line can be seen.


A smattering of floral notes seems to explode from cigar to nose. Then quickly followed by milk chocolate, malt, creaminess, some ridiculous Starbuck’s coffee drink, lovely caramel, cedar, barnyard, black pepper, and butterscotch snippets.

The cold draw presents flavors of black pepper, maple syrup, dark chocolate, black coffee, malt, cinnamon, cedar, caramel, and now I can actually taste the floral notes.


I’ve had these cigars marinating naked in my humidor for 8 months. The draw is clean so I won’t need my PerfecDraw draw adjustment tool.

Flashy start. Elements of black pepper coat the back of my throat. A multi-lateral commission of flavors storm the beach: creaminess, caramel, cocoa, cinnamon, lemon cake, and assorted roasted nuts…like you guys.

Strength begins at a hefty medium.

Complexity kicks in immediately. Balance runs along side the streetcar asking it to wait so it can catch up.

There is Worcestershire sauce thing going on in the background…bits of barley malt vinegar, molasses, and even a hint of onion. I haven’t eaten today. If this thing anywhere along the way tastes like an onion bialy, I’m stopping to stuff myself.

Transitions start their journey. Slow moving initially; but alert and at attention. The balance begins to form. The spicy black pepper and cinnamon take a back seat so that the more nuanced flavor bits can get some love and respect. In fact, most of the flavors hunker down and find a neutral plane. All complementing each other and none rising high above the crowd. Balance.

A nice sweet v. savory event. The creaminess might be the matriarch. It coats other flavors such as chocolate, coffee, caramel, citrus, and a newly added nougat component. Very much like a Three Musketeers bar. There is a melt in your mouth aspect to it now.

Strength is not fooling around. Medium/full has landed and successfully taken the beach.

Tobacco is stuffed into the wrappers like a sausage…making this a very enjoyable slow roll.

Dried fruit gives it a go. Apricot, prune, and raisins. It gives the cigar a very nice tart aspect to counterbalance with the straight-ahead savory sweetness. Yeah, I’m hungry. But they are transitory as the cigar is in constant motion now. Transitions pick up speed. The finish of spiciness, creaminess, and an olive oil element coat my teeth.

The burn line is exemplary and takes a bow.


Clearly, #9 rollers were used. Laying down a small cigar like this while I take my interim photos usually means I must relight the cigar again. Nope. This baby is burning as if no time interrupted the flow.

I do notice a crack in the wrapper near the foot. I have such a hard time with my sticks during winter in Wisconsin. Lovely state if you like Mayberry on acid. I am super vigilant about humidity in my humidors, but you can’t beat mother nature. I use my PerfecRepair glue and schmear. Good as new.

Very tasty blend. Complexity builds at a 60-degree angle. Flavors are twirling and doing the Hokey Pokey.

A good example of a fine cigar is not that you are bombarded with a phalanx of flavors that overwhelm each other, but rather, work in unison to create something whose whole experience is in sync with your palate. The Transporter does this. No specific flavor holds the other elements hostage, relegating them to the dungeon. We have a rolling ball of nuances and subtleties rowing like crazy to beat Harvard.

I smoked my share of Transporters since they were released. But none of them had 8 months of humi time. I know these cigars got a lot of aging after being rolled, but the extended time in my humidor makes the blend even more magical. I’m really digging this. I am so glad I waited. Patience is not a virtue for me.

“One Way Out.” 1971. Allman Bros. Timeless. My last blues band played a lot of the Brothers and I never tired of it.

Wham. The surge begins. The Transporter steps up. A quantum leap in character and depth are at hand.

Ooh…the Transporter is shaking my peaches. Holy shit. Not expecting this jump. Flavors explode like a 13-year-old with his first Playboy. “Ma! I was reading the articles!”

The blend goes from subtle to Hello Dolly! Maybe even some Ethel Merman. Got some grape jelly going on. Doesn’t happen often in cigars but when it does, I love it. Takes me into the Way Back Machine when I was a kid and Welch’s grape jelly came in Flintstone glasses that could be used for drink ware when the jelly was gone.

The burn is surgical. I use triangles and a plumb bob.

“Son of A Preacher Man.” Dusty Springfield. 1968. We all had boners for Dusty. I was devastated to learn later she was a lesbian. Not that I had a chance, but still…I was young.

Again, so many flavors…not enough brain power to identify them quickly as they zoom by. Everything I’ve already mentioned is in play. The complexity level is so high that I find it difficult to identify everything shooting its way to my palate.

Johnny Piette told me that there are transitions with different flavor elements. That might be but with the extra aging I gave it, the flavors aren’t compartmentalized and harder to see in the sunlight. The transitions apply mostly to the depth of character and the level of its complexity. Flavors are trying to hang on like a commuter holding on to an English double decker bus’s handle while climbing aboard while it is moving. Whew. During my time in England, I saw so many guys face plant on the street doing that. At some point, it was disallowed, and a guardrail replaced the vertical grab pipe.

The Transporter keeps on chooglin’ in the right direction.


The Transporter is another fine blend in the Isabela Cigars tradition.

Construction is awesome. Just perfect. I smoked past the minor crack and all is well with the world.

I had to re-check the price. $10.95. Wow. I have no idea how Isabela manages to keep their prices smoker friendly for this level of quality. Everyone else in the boutique world is charging, what I consider, pandemic pricing…too much for a meh blend.

No new flavors. Doesn’t need any. Once again, a great cigar is the whole being better than its parts. The Transporter does this in spades. Strength maintains medium/full, but I seem oblivious to strength as the character of the blend whisks me away on prison bus to Nicaragua.

I can feel a stirring in my testicles. Wait. Damn cat. In Vegas, a cat licking your nuts would cost $1500. That’s right…I’m getting it for free.

I’m having such a good time that I forgot about trying a sip of water. Thus, I take a swig. The flavor profile spreads out like going warp speed on a Moped.

There is fruitiness. There are savory qualities made up of faux charred steak and German Sauerbraten. Caramel and creaminess hold fast at the backstop. Chocolate and coffee move around in a circular motion. The citrus keeps it tangy. Malt makes me want to blow the foam off the foot. Bits of berry, sourdough bread, marzipan, and root beer. And this is just what I can catch as flavors do the Mashed Potato in double quickstep.

No nicotine. Makes this wuss very happy.

The cigar is so dense right now that the intensity is begging to date Dinah Shore.

As the cigar begins to fade into oblivion, not a hint of harshness or bitterness. Smooth as my tush. In fact, the Transporter has been so smooth that it is the reason for the heightened complexity.

Last sip of water and a new chapter begins with an inch to go. Flavor elements just pop like fireworks on the 4th. Luckily, I have a cigar stretcher.

This cigar has been more fun than having a ménage à trois with two 50-year-olds. OK. I exaggerate.

Great cigar. Get some. Isabela Cigar Company.



30 replies

  1. What? Dusty Springfield was a lesbian? Wow. I was only 6 in 1968 but came to love her singing later in life. I never knew this of her. What you learn from your cigar reviews besides how a cigar tastes and smokes.

  2. Hi Mark,
    I’m here to also serve the lesbian community.
    Straight girls too…

  3. You turned me onto this company and I thank you for it.

    Is the tip sweetened on this one?

  4. Thank you, Keith…
    I tated nothing sweet on the tip. (That sounds wrong).

  5. Even with extensive aging, especially on the yearly limited edition blends, throwing the Isabelas into my humidor without cellos for a few months are demonstrably better than ROTT. In fact, I don’t care how good a cigar is, humidor aging makes the cigar a lot better and more enjoyable.

  6. Katman-BIG FAN! Would this be the same cigar that was included in the Covid-19 first aid kit that you wrote about and provided a link to a year ago. BTW, loved the Jethro Tull reference!

    Kevin Carlson

  7. Thanks Kevin,
    Yeah, that’s the one.
    I try to sneak in some rock lyrics in most reviews. I have no idea what’s wrong with me.
    All the best,

  8. Aloha Phil,

    Love your reviews and this one about the Transporter is spot on! I was lucky to get them early on and been enjoying them since…like all of the Isabelas I’ve tried. Really appreciate your honest reviews and look forward to seeing more from you. Thanks for keeping it REAL!



  9. Hey Conan,
    Thank you so much.
    Glad you enjoy the Isabela blends.
    If you tell me it’s 85 degrees in Hawaii, I’m going to hang myself. It’s a balmy 4 degrees here in Milwaukee.
    All the best,

  10. Phil,

    Great review. Love your site and the updates. Got some Transporters on the way. Along with some free riders that Mr.Piette tossed in for mentioning the “Katman” and his reviews. You and your reviews are definitely value added!

    Shout to my buddy Conan too, he turned me on to Isabela line to start with. Great cigars!

  11. Thank you, Vincent…
    All right on the purchase of the Transporters. Isabela gives me $12 for each cigar sold. I love that deal.
    OK. I made that up. Johnny allows me to sit on his lap. I’d rather have the $12.
    All the best,

  12. Phil,

    Put away the rope. It’s down to 72 this morning and rainy, typical Winter weather here.

    I’ve been to Milwaukee once, November 1993 to watch the Packers play the Lions.

    Go Pack Go!

    Take care,


  13. Also wanted to mention the cool bonus cigars that Johnny P. sends with the “KATMAN” code. Got to try other blends and vitolas as well as give to other BOTL (…like Vince…).


  14. Conan, Conan, Conan…
    72 degrees? Really? Suffer baby, suffer.
    My testicles are stuck to an aluminum light pole outside my home. I have to go back and get them later…I’m waiting for Charlotte to say it’s OK.
    I’m from SoCal. All my friends are sending me pics of their outside thermometers. I called Mossad. Their families will wonder where they are by Monday.
    A hui hou,

  15. Johnny is a good man.
    E Hoomau Maua Kealoha.

  16. Gotta tell you Phil. Love your reviews, my tastes seem to run parallel with yours so this blog is the touchstone. Keep up the good work.

    And the good doctor owes you a lap ride as well. My Perfect Draw just got here a couple days ago. Very nice.

    Be well buddy, they’re talking 8 inches of snow here in FIB country tomorrow. 😦

  17. Thank you Vincent,
    I’ve always considered myself to be lucky not to have a hoity toity palate. Based on communications with readers over the years, I’ve come to realize my palate is much like other cigar smokers who are curious. Which is why I probably rate some cigars so high…I don’t feel I’m jaded by an onslaught of outrageous numbers of cigars like the cigar industry reviewers…they get an avalanche of samples. If I were them, I’d have a much more sophisticated palate too. Which I believe explains why they are sometimes so hard on pretty decent cigar blends. If you only drive Cadillacs, you won’t like a Ford Fusion.

    I zoomed Dr. Rod last night and got my lap dance. He kept singing, “Do You think I’m Sexy?” Sorry, but he sounds nothing like Rod Stewart. More like Tiny Tim.

    We got 5″ of snow last night and it’s still coming down. Football. Yea!
    All the best,

  18. Great….another must have cigar that I know I will enjoy thanks to my Katman-like palate. My cigar budget can’t handle this right now Phil….damn you. 🙃I guess I’m going to have to return to working a second job as a Gigolo. Don’t tell my wife on me.

  19. Your wife is right here next to me and read your comment.
    Oops…sorry, man.

  20. 😯 Did I say Gigolo? I meant DiGiorno as in the company that produces those shitty frozen pizza’s. I will be working for DiGiorno baby so don’t listen to anything Phil says….he’s a dirty old man who lies like a rug!

  21. Too late…she hasn’t left my side. Plus, I have excellent hygiene habits so I might be old but never dirty…and I don’t lie.
    Pizza…that sounds good. With chocolate covered strawberries…
    I will send her home soon.

  22. Phil,

    How many days would you say that it takes for Isabela to ship an order? I ordered 10 on Monday, and I’m hoping that I get them next week. But being that they are a small operation, That might be unrealistic.

  23. I will pass on your message to Isabela.

  24. Ah, thanks!

  25. Bryant.we emailed you
    Isabela strives to ship ALL ORDERS within 24 hours of receipt
    We ship ALL Orders Via USPS Priority
    Yes we are a small company, small enough to share the feeling of spending hard earned dollars , and aware of the excitement of receiving Isabelas,…AS SOON AS POSSIBLE !!
    Thank you Bryant !!

  26. And I am way looking forward to mine arriving as well. Can’t wait. Smoked a time traveler Sunday, that was an amazing smoke. Great work Johnny!

  27. Well, my Transporters have taken three months humidor time to impress me, but boy was it worth it. I foolishly smoked three too early, and the draw was just brutal. Even with a Perfect Draw, they would not burn right due to the tight draw.

    Over the last three months they improved. The two most recent months were at 65% RH vs 70% RH in the first month. Today was the first I had with only a minor draw issue, but that was easily addressed with the Perfect Draw. When the draw is right, this cigar is utterly amazing. The flavor is so utterly wonderful, and the burn line is razor sharp.

    I’ll be buying more this year for sure, but the humidor time isn’t merely recommended – it’s required. Buy, buy, buy!

  28. Hey Bryant,
    It’s a bummer reaping the whirlwind of impatience…been there many times before.
    Glad you enjoyed it.
    The cigars are supremely aged but no matter how long, all cigars need some naked space to breath for a couple months.
    I reviewed a 1997 Opus X in its cello the whole time. I still waited a few weeks or longer before I dare reviewed it.
    Have a nice Easter and be cool, Daddy-O…

  29. Yup! Live and learn. It’s the first cigar I’ve had that needed to be naked in a humidor at 65% for 2+ months. That first month at 70% with the cellophane on was not good. Thanks again for another superb recommendation. It’s so crazy that so many stellar cigars only get reviewed on your site!

  30. Thank you, Bryant.
    I’d like to thank my mother and father, my parole officer, my wife, and ashphalt enema specialist.
    (Bows to the waist but cannot get back up)
    It has been pre-ordained that I got in the way of every decent cigar to come out of Denver.
    And Central America.
    And my pleasure to suffer intolerably writing about horrible cigars whose manufacturers think all of you are suckers.
    Whole lotta’ love,

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