In 2015, two cigar enthusiasts named Juan Cancel and Bill Ives were convinced to take the plunge into the world of brand owners and release a cigar under their own Cubariqueño Cigar Company. For several years, Cancel and Ives had promoted the Espinosa Cigars brand on social media, so to produce their cigar, they turned to the La Zona factory, the boutique factory owned by Erik Espinosa. Working with Hector Alfonso Sr, the duo’s first release was called Protocol, a nod to Cancel and Ives’ roots in law enforcement. With a conservative first production, the duo figured a worst case scenario was if the brand didn’t sell, they would have a cigar they would personally smoke for many years to come. It turned out that the duo would go to the 2015 IPCPR Trade Show using a small table at the Espinosa booth and sell out their inventory. Three years later, Cubariqueño has released its fourth line, Protocol Official Misconduct and has become one of the true success stories out of La Zona. Today we take a closer look at the Protocol Official Misconduct.
The original Protocol was a powerful Nicaraguan blend utilizing an Ecuadorian Habano Oscuro wrapper. Since then, Cubariqueño Cigar Company has released Protocol Probable Cause (a San Andres Maduro), Protocol Themis (an Ecuadorian Connecticut offering), and three limited edition releases (all of which have sold out). Now three years into the journey, Cubariqueño had quickly rounded out its portfolio.
The name “Official Misconduct” ( like the other regular production offerings) is a nod to law enforcement. With Official Misconduct the duo releases another Ecuadorian Habano offering, but this time delivers something for the medium/medium plus range as opposed to original Protocol (Blue) line.
Without further ado, let’s break down the Protocol Official Misconduct and see what this cigar brings to the table.
In addition to the Ecuadorian Habano wrapper, the blend to the Protocol Official Misconduct utilizes all-Nicaraguan tobaccos.
Wrapper: Ecuadorian Habano
Country of Origin: Nicaragua (La Zona SA)
With each of its three previous regular production offerings, Cubariqueño has been conservative and has released only two sizes and then has added more sizes as time went on. With Protocol Official Misconduct, the company was even more conservative, releasing only one size – a 6 x 50 Toro. The cigars are presented in ten-count boxes.
The Ecuadorian Habano wrapper of the Protocol official Misconduct had a caramel brown color with a touch of rosado mixed in. There was a light coating of oil on the wrapper. This wrapper had a slight bumpy surface. There were some visible veins and visible wrapper seams.
There are two bands on the Protocol Official Misconduct. Each of the two bands is a variant of the original Protocol banding design, but utilizes a different color scheme. The primary band has a metallic silver-colored background with black trim. Prominently on the band are two interlocking modern-looking “P”s that have a three-dimensional effect (both using a combination of silver and black with a “shadowing effect”). The text “PROTOCOL” is placed on a black section of a “P”. On the far right of the band is the text “GUILTY”in silver font positioned in landscape mode.
As with each of the other Protocol releases, there is a secondary band. This band rests just below the primary band. It is also silver with black trim. On the center of the band is the text “OFFICIAL MISCONDUCT” in thin black font.
Finally, the footer of the band is finished with a silver ribbon.
A straight cut was used to remove the cap of the Protocol Official Misconduct. Once the cap was clipped, it was time for the pre-light draw ritual. The cold draw delivered notes of natural tobacco along with touches of floral and a slight mix of cedar and pepper. Overall I considered the pre-light draw to be satisfactory. At this point it was now time to light up the Protocol Official Misconduct and see what the smoking phase would have in store.
The Protocol Official Misconduct started out with a blast of black pepper and cedar. Once the spices settled down, the flavor profile gave way to notes of natural tobacco, earth, and floral notes. During the early stages, the natural tobacco notes became primary with the earth, floral and pepper secondary. There was a definitely creamy undertone to the primary notes that keep things smooth. Toward the midway point of the first third, some cocoa notes emerged. Meanwhile there was an additional layer of black pepper on the retro-hale, but this pepper wasn’t overwhelming on the palate.
As the Protocol Official Misconduct moved into the second third, the cocoa notes became more pronounced and now were in the forefront with the natural tobacco notes Just past the midway point, the cocoa notes started to diminish and the earth notes made their way into the forefront. Simultaneously there was an increase in the pepper on the tongue. In the more distant background were the floral notes. The creamy texture remained present throughout this stage, keeping things smooth.
During the last third, the natural tobacco and earth remained in the forefront with from time to time the cocoa still occasionally popping in from the background. There was actually a decrease in the pepper during this stage. The creamy texture also stayed intact. This is the way the smoking experience of the Protocol Official Misconduct came to a close. The resulting nub was firm to the touch and cool in temperature.
The Protocol Official Misconduct had no problem maintaining a straight burn path. There was a slight amount of jaggedness and curvature on the actual burn line, but this was more cosmetic than anything. The resulting ash was near white in color. This was an ash that was definitely on the firmer side. Meanwhile, the burn rate and burn temperature were both ideal.
The draw to the Protocol Official Misconduct performed quite well. It had a nice balance between openness and resistance. This was a cigar that produced an ample amount of smoke. It was also a low maintenance cigar to derive flavor from.
Strength and Body
In terms of the strength level, I found the Protocol Official Misconduct to be a solid medium. For the most part I didn’t find much variance in the intensity of the strength from start to finish. As for the body, while it also started out medium, this attribute did have an increase in intensity along the way. By the second half, the body increased just enough to move into medium to full territory where it leveled off.
In terms of strength versus body, I found the body had the edge – particularly in the second half.
One reason why Cubariqueño has been able to develop a strong following so quickly is because it offers excellent products. With Protocol Official Misconduct, this is Cubariqueño’s best release to date in what is a very strong portfolio. It’s a cigar that really excels in the flavors category. It delivers a combination of rich and smooth flavors while providing just enough of a spicy kick that several La Zona releases are known for. The blend seemed tailor-made for the Toro size vitola as well. This is a cigar that I could recommend to an experienced or novice cigar enthusiast. As for myself, this is not only a cigar I would smoke again and buy a box of, but it’s one worthy of a battle with Chuck Norris for it.
Key Flavors: Natural Tobacco, Coffee, Earth, Black Pepper, Floral
Value: Fight Chuck Norris for Them
News: Cigar News: Cubariqueño Cigar Company to Introduce Fourth Line with Protocol Official Misconduct
Source: Cubariqueño Cigar Company
Brand Reference: Cubariqueño Cigar Company
Photo Credits: Cigar Coop