In 2020, a change happened at Protocol Cigars where Kevin Keithan, who was serving as the company’s national sales manager, became an owner in the company. At the same time, Protocol Cigars co-founder Bill Ives would depart the company. Both Ives and Juan Cancel, who were the two founders, had built a career in law enforcement. Keithan’s background is with internet security. When it came to releasing a new extension to the core Protocol line, a decision was made to pay homage to Keithan while at the same time keeping to the theme of law enforcement. The result was the Protocol Cyber Crimes Unit. Today we take a closer look at this cigar which made its debut early in 2021 in a box-pressed Churchill format.
In terms of a formal definition of what a Cyber Crimes Unit (CCU) is, Protocol cigars outlined this at the time the Protocol Cyber Crimes Unit cigar was announced.
The mission of CCU Investigation squads are to conduct and assist in investigations where computers, networks, telecommunication devices, and other technological instruments are the vehicle or target for the commission of criminal acts against network resources critical to the function of corporate or government entities.
Meanwhile, the Protocol Cyber Crimes Unit is the fifth installment under the company’s Protocol line. This includes Protocol Blue, Protocol Probable Cause, Protocol Themis, and Protocol Official Misconduct, The company also has its Protocol Lawman Series line and a host of limited cigar projects.
Without further ado, let’s break down the Protocol Cyber Crimes Unit Box Pressed Churchill and see what the smoking experience brings to the table.
Blend and Origin
The Cyber Crimes Unit is a Nicaraguan puro highlighted by a rosado shade of the Nicaraguan Habano wrapper. While Protocol is known to release a lot of Habano-wrapped cigars, the prior releases had been Ecuadorian Habano. This is the first regular production line from Protocol to use Nicaraguan Habano. Production is handled at Protocol Cigars’ longtime manufacturing partner, Erik Espinosa’s La Zona factory. The cigar was blended by Hector Alfonso Sr.
Wrapper: Nicaraguan Rosado Habano
Country of Origin: Nicaragua
Factory: La Zona SA
The Protocol Cyber Crimes Unit is currently offered in one size – a Box-Pressed Churchill measuring 6 1/2 x 48. The cigars are presented in ten-count boxes.
The Nicaraguan Habano wrapper of the Protocol Cyber Crimes Unit Box Pressed Churchill had a medium brown color to it. Upon closer examination, some mottling could be seen on the surface of the wrapper There was some oil present on the wrapper. While the wrapper seams were well hidden, there were some visible veins. The box press to this cigar had a slight Cuban soft-press style to it.
There are two bands on the Protocol Cyber Crimes Unit. 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 charcoal trim. Prominently on the band are two interlocking modern-looking “P”s that have a three-dimensional effect (both using a combination of green and charcoal with a “shadowing effect”). The text “PROTOCOL” is placed on a charcoal section of a “P” in silver font. The left side of the band has the text “HANDMADE” and the right side has the text “LA ZONA” in a small charcoal-colored techno-font. On the far right of the band is the text “K.K.” 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 green with silver and black trim. On the center of the band is the text “CYBER CRIMES UNIT” in a thin silver-colored font.
A green colored ribbon surrounds the footer.
Prior to lighting up the Protocol Cyber Crimes Unit Box Pressed Churchill, a straight cut was used to remove the cap. Once the cap was removed, it was on to the pre-light draw experience. The cold draw delivered notes of sweet natural tobacco and earth with very subtle hints of pepper. Overall this was a satisfactory pre-light draw. At this point, it was time to remove the ribbon from the Protocol Cyber Crimes Unit Box Pressed Churchill, toast up the foot, and move on to the smoking phase.
The Protocol Cyber Crimes Unit Box Pressed Churchill started out with notes of natural tobacco, wood, earth, and mixed pepper. The natural tobacco notes quickly moved into the forefront. There was a slight creaminess to the flavor profile that kept things on the smoother side. The natural tobacco also exhibited both sweet and savory qualities. Meanwhile, there was an additional layer of red pepper on the retro-hale.
During the second third of the Protocol Cyber Crimes Unit Box Pressed Churchill, the natural tobacco started to shed some of the savory and sweet qualities as well as the creaminess that was present in the first third. As the cigar reached near the midway point the earth notes displaced the natural tobacco note as the primary note. Concurrently there was an increase in the pepper notes. Further grounded in the background were the wood notes.
The final third saw the earth notes remain in the forefront. The pepper notes had closed in but didn’t quite move into the forefront. In the background were still notes of natural tobacco and wood. This is the way the Protocol Cyber Crimes Unit Box Pressed Churchill came to a close. The resulting nub was lukewarm to the touch and cool in temperature.
The Protocol Cyber Crimes Unit Box Pressed Churchill maintained a straight burn line and straight burn path. This was a cigar that required minimal touch-ups. The resulting ash was medium gray in color. This wasn’t an overly firm ash, but it wasn’t loose nor flakey either. The burn rate was ideal. As for the burn temperature, it remained ideal until the middle of the last third when the cigar started to burn warm. This happened on each sample. While the cigar burned warm at the end, the cigar didn’t get aggressively harsh, yet it was still time to end the smoking experience when this happened.
The Protocol Cyber Crimes Unit Box Pressed Churchill had an open draw. It was definitely more open than I prefer. I’ll infer that this is what resulted in the warm burn at the end of the cigar experience.
Strength and Body
Overall the Protocol Cyber Crimes Unit Box Pressed Churchill delivered a medium strength, medium to full-bodied experience from start to finish. There was a nominal increase in the intensity levels of both attributes, but in the end, this stayed medium strength, medium to full-bodied.
Throughout the smoking experience of the Protocol Cyber Crimes Unit Box Pressed Churchill, the body maintained a slight edge over the strength.
I’ve said it many times, when it comes to a regular production portfolio of its core cigar offerings, Protocol Cigars has as good a lineup as any. The Protocol Cyber Crimes Unit Box-Pressed Churchill joins that club of impressive Protocol core line offerings. It’s not a cigar that is going to deliver a radically different flavor profile, but it’s the traditional flavors that make this cigar shine. The only downside was the warm burn toward the final stages of the cigar experience. In the end, the pluses far outweighed the minuses here. This is a cigar I’d recommend to an experienced cigar enthusiast, but it’s also a great cigar for the novice to “graduate” to medium/medium-plus. As for myself, this is a cigar I would smoke again and buy multiples of again. At 90 points it earns the Cigar Coop Standard of Excellence designation.
Key Flavors: Earth, Natural Tobacco, Wood, Pepper, Cream
Burn: Very Good
Body: Medium to Full
Value: Buy Multiples
Cigar Coop Standard of Excellence
Photo Credits: Cigar Coop