Protocol John Doe by Cubariqueno Cigar Company

Protocol John Doe Series by Cubariqueño Cigar Company

Back in January Cubariqueño Cigar Company released a limited small batch release known as the Protocol John Doe Series. Protocol John Doe keeps to Cubariqueño’s theme of law enforcement and is appropriate for the project. John Doe is the name given to an unidentified male body until identification can be made by next of kin. In a way, this was a fitting name because the story behind Protocol John Doe is that Cubariqueño has said they came into these unidentified and unknown blends. While Cubariqueño has worked exclusively with Erik Espinosa’s La Zona factory, the company has not officially disclosed the origin of these cigars. Protocol John Doe was distributed as a shop exclusive to Berkeley Humidor in New Jersey. At the time the cigars were announced, with only the size (Robusto) and packaging disclosed of this unknown blend, Cubariqueño sold through 300 ten-count bundles in less than a day. Today we take a closer look at the Protocol John Doe.

What Cubariqueño has done has been a trend in the cigar industry that is nothing new, but in the past couple of years has steamrolled. This involves brands procuring unreleased or excess inventory blends from factories. Rather than invest heavily in marketing, the cigars are bundled (often unbanded like the John Doe), given a somewhat catchy name, and then marketed to consumers. It was a trend made popular by Robert Caldwell’s Lost & Found cigars. While it’s not a trend that I think is good for the cigar industry, one cannot argue the impact these cigars have made on the marketplace.

Cubariqueño has continued the trend with another similar project known as Protocol Jane Doe (referring to an unidentified female body), although that cigar was officially disclosed as coming out of La Zona.

In the end, it’s going to come down to how the cigar performs, so let’s break down this cigar and see what it brings to the table.


Blend and Origin

Everything about this cigar is pretty much “unknown” and not disclosed:

Wrapper: Not Disclosed
Binder: Not Disclosed
Filler: Not Disclosed
Country of Origin: Not Disclosed
Factory: Not Disclosed

Vitolas Offered

Protocol John Doe was released in one size – a 5 x 50 Robusto. It was packaged in ten-count bundles and a total allocation of 300 bundles were made.

Protocol John Doe Series Packaging (Photo Credit: Cubariqueño Cigar Company)


The wrapper of the Protocol John Doe has a darker, oscuro color with a slight reddish tint to it. Upon closer examination, some darker mottling can be seen on the wrapper. There is a light sheen of oil on the surface. Overall this is a smooth wrapper with minimally visible veins and well-hidden wrapper seams.

As mentioned, Protocol John Doe comes unbanded.


Pre-Light Draw

A straight cut was used to commence the smoking experience of the Protocol John Doe. Once the cap was removed, it was on to the pre-light draw ritual. The cold draw delivered a mix of earth, cedar, and black pepper. While it wasn’t the most exciting pre-light draw, it still was one that was satisfactory. Now I proceeded to light up the Protocol John Doe to see what the smoking experience would deliver.

Tasting Notes

Protocol John Doe kicked off with notes of earth, oak, cedar, black pepper, and cocoa. The oak and earth notes moved into the forefront early on. The cedar, black pepper, and cocoa notes settled into the background and rounded out the profile with some spice and sweetness. As the cigar moved through the first half, a black cherry note also emerged in the background and added a touch more sweetness. Meanwhile, the retro-hale produced a sharp black pepper note.

As the Protocol John Doe moved into the second third, the oak and earth notes continued to be the primary notes. The black pepper and cedar notes remained in the background. There was a slight decrease in the cocoa and black cherry notes. In fact, the black cherry took on more natural tobacco qualities. Toward the end of the second third, the earth notes would take over as the sole primary note.

The last third of the Protocol John Doe did not see much of a change. The earth notes remained in the forefront. The pepper and cedar notes delivered more in spice than the cocoa and black cherry notes delivered sweetness. This is the way the Protocol John Doe finished up. The resulting ash was firm to the touch and cool in temperature.


The Protocol John Doe is a well-constructed cigar and this was reflected in the burn and draw. While there was a slight curvature to the burn line, the cigar maintained a relatively straight burn path. There was no point when the Protocol John Doe was in danger of meandering and smoking it required what I would consider a normal amount of touch-ups. The resulting ash was a very light gray skewed toward the firmer side. The burn rate and burn temperature were both ideal.

Protocol John Doe-Burn

Burn of the Protocol John Doe


The draw to the Protocol John Doe was excellent. This had a touch of resistance – which is something that I like. At the same time, deriving flavors from the Protocol John Doe was still very much a low maintenance task.

Strength and Body

Without a doubt, the Protocol John Doe is the boldest smoke I have had from Cubariqueño. This is a cigar that started out full strength and full-bodied right out of the gate. While midway through the first third the John Doe will shed a bit of the strength and body, it still very much remains in the full strength, full-bodied area of the spectrum right until the end of the smoking experience.

In terms of strength versus body, both attributes balanced each other very nicely. Neither the strength nor the body overshadowed the other.


Final Thoughts

As I stated up front, I am not liking the trend of the unbanded cigars getting packaged up in decorative bundles and being released. Call me old-fashioned, but I like intricate box and band artwork (whether it’s classic or contemporary).  I’ve also seen mixed results with the actual quality of these smokes. Some have performed well, but more often they have underwhelmed me. That being said, this assessment is based on the performance of this cigar and nothing more.

Protocol John Doe actually is a very good cigar, and one that performed quite well. And while I’ve been critical of some of the gimmicks used on many of these unbanded bundles, I like how Cubariqueño fit the theme into its brand message around law enforcement.  As mentioned, this is the boldest cigar I’ve had from Cubariqueño to date. I found this cigar to be very much in the wheelhouse of the original Protocol Blue. I didn’t get any radical, unique flavors from this cigar, but just one that had bold and satisfying flavors. It’s a cigar I’d recommend to an experienced cigar enthusiast desiring a fuller smoke. While this might be a cigar that is hard to find, if you can find a bundle at the MSRP, it’s worth considering picking up a bundle of these.


Key Flavors: Oak, Cedar, Cocoa, Black Cherry, Black Pepper, Natural Tobacco
Burn: Excellent
Draw: Excellent
Complexity: Medium Plus
Strength: Full
Body: Full
Finish:  Excellent


Value: Box Worthy Consideration
Score: 90


News: Cubariqueño Cigar Co Announces Protocol John Doe Series
Price: $7.50
Source: Cubariqueño Cigar Company
Brand Reference: Cubariqueño Cigar Company

Photo Credits: Cigar Coop, except where noted