The Nick & Jim P.B.E. is a project that is a collaborative effort between Nick Syris of LH Premium Cigars and “Island” Jim Robinson, best known for his Leaf by Oscar and Island Jim brands. With Leaf by Oscar, Robinson had success working with Oscar Valladares bringing a cigar that originally started as a house blend for his Leaf and Bean retail shops to the national stage. Syris and Robinson had met in Cuba where Robinson became a fan Syris’ LH Cigars. Shortly after, Robinson asked Syris to blend a cigar to suit his personal profile that could also be used as a house cigar. After that cigar became a favorite of Robinson’s and received positive feedback, the duo made the decision to take that cigar national. The cigar would become known as Nick & Jim’s P.B.E. and would have a national launch this past January. Today, we take a closer look at the Nick & Jim P.B.E.
Back at the 2017 IPCPR Trade Show, the cigar was introduced as “Lavida Isla”. The name was essentially a mashup between Lavida Habana (This is what the “LH” stands for and is named for Syris’ cigar lounges in the Middle East) and Robinson’s nickname “Island Jim”. As the duo prepared to release Lavida Isla into the market, they encountered some hurdles in terms of using the name. Rather than delay the release, the cigar was re-branded as Nick & Jim P.B.E. (with P.B.E. standing for Pre Band Edition). As Syris explained when the cigar was announced:
“We decided to take a challenge put in front of us and turn it into a positive. The packaging has a simple, yet rustic look. At the same time, cigar enthusiasts will be getting the same great cigar that was slated to be called Lavida Isla.”
In a way, the cigar is a true mashup. The packaging is a departure from the classic style Syris uses on the LH brand. On the other hand, it’s a more classic release for Robinson – known for the pencil-shaped Island Jim cigar and the tobacco-covered Leaf by Oscar line. Sales for the cigar are being handled by the same team that handles sales for Robinson’s Leaf by Oscar and Island Jim lines.
Without further ado, let’s break down the Nick & Jim P.B.E. and see what this cigar brings to the table.
Syris produces his cigars out of the Tobaccos de Costa Rica factory in Costa Rica. This same factory is handling the production for the Nick & Jim P.B.E. For Robinson, it’s his first national release outside the country of Honduras. As for the blend, it features Vuelta Abajo Seed tobacco from Ecuador for the wrapper and binder – and a combination of Nicaraguan and Peruvian tobaccos for the filler.
Wrapper: Vuelta Abajo Seed, Ecuador
Binder: Vuelta Abajo Seed, Ecuador
Filler: Nicaragua, Peru
Country of Origin: Costa Rica (Tabacos de Costa Rica S.A.)
The Nick & Jim P.B.E. is available in one size – a 6 x 54 Toro. The cigars are packaged in 20-count boxes.
The Ecuadorian wrapper of the Nick & Jim P.B.E. Toro had a chocolate brown color to it. There was a light sheen of oil on the wrapper’s surface. This was a wrapper that was on the smoother side. There were some thin visible veins, but the darker color of the wrapper did a good job at hiding the wrapper seams. The cigar is finished with a covered footer – a signature characteristic from Syris’ LH brand.
The box features a rustic “pre-release” look and so does the band. It’s a simple white band with black font. There is a pinstripe near the upper and lower portion of the brand. In an off-aligned typewriter font (meant to reflect the rustic nature of this release) is the text “Nick & Jim P.B.E.”
Preparation for the Cigar Experience
I kicked off the cigar experience with the Nick & Jim P.B.E. with a straight cut to remove the cap. Once the cap was removed, I moved on to the pre-light draw ritual. The cold draw delivered a mix of cocoa powder, cedar, and a slight floral note. I considered this to be an excellent pre-light draw. At this point, I was ready to light up the Nick & Jim P.B.E. and see what the smoking phase would have in store.
The Nick & Jim P.B.E. started out with a mix of cedar, natural tobacco, and some cocoa powder. The cedar notes had a slight herbal component to it that was present throughout the smoking experience. As the cigar moved through the early phases the cocoa powder morphed into more of a mocha note (a cross of coffee and chocolate). There was also a slight green pepper note in the background. Overall, there was an underlying creamy texture to the flavors making the cigar quite smooth. Toward the middle of the first third, the mocha note became the primary note with the cedar, natural tobacco, and green pepper secondary. On the retro-hale, there was an additional layer of red pepper present.
During the second third, some earth notes entered the equation and joined the mocha notes up front. The cedar notes also began to increase in intensity. By the start of the second half. the cedar started to make its way to the forefront. In the further background, the green pepper and natural tobacco notes were very much present on the tongue.
The last third of the Nick & Jim P.B.E. saw the cedar notes take control. At the same time, the mocha notes provided some additional sweetness and a touch of bitterness. By this point, the creamy texture had dissipated and there were still touches of green pepper and natural tobacco. This is the way the Nick & Jim P.B.E. came to a close. The resulting nub was firm to the touch and cool in temperature.
Burn and Draw
When it came to the burn, the Nick & Jim P.B.E. had little trouble maintaining a straight burn path and straight burn line. The resulting ash was a salt and pepper color. This wasn’t the firmest ash, but it didn’t prove to be a loose or flaky ash. The burn temperature was ideal. I did find this cigar to be a little bit of a slow burner, but this didn’t have any other impacts other than a longer smoking time.
The draw to the Nick & Jim P.B.E. was ideal. It had a touch of resistance to it – which is something that I like. At the same time, this cigar had some significant smoke production – something that I also like, but something that surprised me because the draw was not loose.
Strength and Body
The Nick & Jim P.B.E. was positioned as a “medium” cigar and that is what it delivered. This is a cigar that started out medium strength and medium bodied. Both attributes increased slightly in intensity, but at the close of the smoking experience, I still found the Nick & Jim P.B.E. to be medium. Along the way both the strength and body balanced each other nicely with neither attribute overshadowing the other.
Syris has done an excellent job in building a solid foundation for LH Cigars with his LH Claro, LH Maduro, and LH Colorado lines. With the Nick & Jim P.B.E., Syris knocks this one out of the park. This is a classic case of what I call a “cigar firing on all cylinders” – construction, flavor, and enough complexity to satisfy me. It’s a cigar that is ready for prime time now, and has some fantastic aging potential. It’s a different cigar than anything LH or Jim Robinson has come out with before, but that is another reason why it’s so intriguing. It’s also a cigar I could recommend to any cigar enthusiast any time of the day. As for myself, it’s not only a cigar that gets box worthy consideration, but it’s one for which I’d recommend a box purchase.
Key Flavors: Mocha, Cedar, Natural Tobacco, Pepper
Complexity: Medium Plus
Value: Box Purchase
News: Nick Syris & Jim Robinson to Ship Nick & Jim P.B.E.
Source: LH Premium Cigars
Brand Reference: LH Cigars
Disclaimer: Nick Syris was a co-host with this author on the Smooth Draws Radio Show from February 2017 through January 2018.
Photo Credits: Cigar Coop, except where noted.