One thing we see in the cigar industry is many retailers becoming brand owners. Some retailers will carry house brands that they sell in their own stores. Other retailers will go a step further and become full-fledged cigar companies and distribute their product nationwide. Early in 2022 came word that Sanj Patel, owner of Sanj’s Smoke Shop in Bloomfield, New Jersey would launch his own cigar brand, the SP1014. The SP1014 are Patel’s initials and birthdate. The first line under the new brand would be known as Love n’ Passion. Today we take a closer look at the SP1014 Love n’ Passion in the 550 (Robusto) size.
To produce the SP1014, Patel would turn to Francisco “Chico” Rivas, an individual who many consider to be one of the rising stars in terms of cigar products. Rivas was born in Tamboril in Santiago, Dominican Republic. He is a fourth-generation person in the cigar industry who started working at age eight. When he turned 14, he started working in a cigar factory, and at age 16 he started his own cigar factory. In 1993, his father sent him to Cuba to learn more about the cigar industry. He is known for his expertise in planting and fermenting. He also worked at Quesada Cigars from 2009 to 2016, which was a period of great growth for that company.
Without further ado, let’s break down the SP1014 Love n’ Passion 550 and see what this cigar brings to the table.
Blend and Origin
The SP1014 Love n’ Passion is a Dominican puro made in the Dominican Republic. It features all-Corojo tobaccos aged three to five years. The wrapper comes from the Peñuela region and has been aged for three years. The binder is also aged three years and comes from the Navarette region. The fillers consist of Seco tobaccos from Santuario in San Jose de las Matas (aged three years), Viso from La Atravesada in Navarrete (aged four years), and Medio Tiempo Piloto from the Mao region (aged five years). Production comes from Tabacalera Jurarip in the Dominican Republic.
Wrapper: Dominican (Peñuela, Aged Three Years)
Binder: Dominican (Navarette, Aged Three Years)
Fillers: Dominican Seco (Santuario in San José de las Matas, Aged Three Years), Viso (La Atravesada in Navarette, Aged Four Years), Medio Tiempo Piloto (Mao Region, Aged Five Years)
Country of Origin: Dominican Republic
Factory: Tabacalera Jurarip
It will be offered in three sizes, each presented in 25-count cardboard boxes or five-pack cardboard boxes offered in the following sizes. The production of the SP1014 is being capped at 250,000 annually
Love n’ Passion 552: 5 x 52
Love n’ Passion 650: 6 x 50
Love n’ Passion 740: 7 x 40
The Dominican wrapper of the SP1014 Love n’ Passion 552 had a medium color with a rosado tint to it. There was a light coating of oil on the surface. There were some visible veins and some visible wrapper seams. The cigar featured a covered footer and it was finished with a short swirl cap.
As opposed to pulling on the pig-tail cap, a straight cut was used to remove the tail and the cap simultaneously. Once the cap was removed, it was on to the pre-light draw. The cold draw delivered a mix of cedar, earth, and graham cracker. Overall this was a satisfactory pre-light draw. At this point, it was time to toast up the footer of the SP1014 Love n’ Passion 552 and move on to the smoking phase.
The SP1014 Love n’ Passion 552 continued with notes of cedar, earth, and graham cracker. The cedar notes moved to the forefront and were also present on the retro-hale. As the cigar moved through the early part first third some black pepper notes and a slight astringent citrus note surfaced in the background. This was followed up by a natural tobacco note that also surfaced in the background. As the cigar moved toward the end of the first third, the cedar notes were primary, but rounded out by the earth, graham cracker, pepper, citrus, and natural tobacco notes.
The second third of the SP1014 Love n’ Passion 552 saw the natural tobacco and pepper notes increase in intensity. The natural tobacco notes increased more rapidly early on, and at times surfaced in the forefront. Just pat the midway point, the cedar notes took control. During this stage, the graham cracker notes dissipated. By the end of the second third, the cedar notes remained primary, rounded out by the pepper, natural tobacco, earth, and citrus notes. During this stage, some of the black pepper made its way into the retro-hale as well.
The final third didn’t see much change. The cedar notes remained primary. Of the secondary notes, the pepper was the most prominent. There still were some natural tobacco notes, earth, and citrus present. This is the way the SP1014 Love n’ Passion 552 came to a close. The resulting nub was slightly soft to the touch and cool in temperature.
While the SP1014 Love n’ Passion 552 had a straight burn line and straight burn path, it did require frequent touch-ups to maintain it. There were more touch-ups required than I prefer. The resulting ash was firm with a near white-colored. Finally the burn rate and burn temperature were both ideal.
Overall the draw to the SP1014 Love n’ Passion 552 performed excellently. It had a touch of resistance – which is something that I like. At the same time, this was still a low-maintenance cigar to derive flavor from.
Strength and Body
The SP1014 Love n’ Passion 552 started out as a medium-strength, medium-bodied cigar. There was a slight increase in the intensity levels of the strength and body. In the end, the cigar didn’t progress out of the medium range of the spectrum for strength and body. Both the strength and body balanced each other nicely with neither attribute overshadowing the other.
Banding and Packaging Notes
From looking at the banding of the SP1014 Love n’ Passion, there is a resemblance to the Habanos SA Cohiba band. It is worth noting that Sanj Patel’s retail store, Sanj’s Smoke Shop, uses a similar design for that store’s branding.
One thing I thought the cigar bands on the SP1014 Love n’ Passion could have used was the actual name “Love n’ Passion” on it.
Overall I thought the SP1014 Love n’ Passion 552 delivered an enjoyable smoke at a very fair price. In terms of the smoking experience, I found the first half of this cigar to deliver much better flavor than the second half. While it was a unique collection of flavors, the one thing that the cigar didn’t produce was a “wow” factor. In the end, I still felt the pluses outweigh the minuses – and the $8.00 price point won’t break the bank. There is still enough going on for me to recommend this cigar to either a novice or an experienced cigar enthusiast. As for myself, it’s one I will smoke again.
Key Flavors: Cedar, Natural Tobacco, Earth, Citrus, Graham Cracker, Pepper
Burn: Very Good
Complexity: Medium Plus
Finish: Very Good
Value: Buy One
Photo Credits: Cigar Coop