Today we take a look at the second of the inaugural releases by West Tampa Tobacco Company, the West Tampa Tobacco Co. Black. West Tampa Tobacco Company was formed by two former alumni of General Cigar Company, Rick Rodriguez and Gus Martinez. Rodriguez is best known for spending over a decade as the blender/ambassador for the CAO brand, while Martinez worked in product management with brands such as Macanudo. The two formed West Tampa Tobacco Company in 2022. The name pays homage to the area of West Tampa in Tampa, Florida. It’s where Rodriguez’s grandparents settled back in the 1950s after emigrating from Cuba. When the company launched, it released a pair of Ecuadorian Habano-wrapped cigars known as the West Tampa Tobacco Co. Black and the West Tampa Tobacco Co. White. Our focus today will be on the Toro size of the West Tampa Tobacco Co. Black.
Since the debut of West Tampa Tobacco Co. Black and White in 2022, the company has already expanded its portfolio. Late in 2022, the company announced a new limited edition cigar known as The Attic Series. In addition, the company is in the process of adding the West Tampa Tobacco Co. Red, which is a San Andres blend.
Without further ado, let’s break down the West Tampa Tobacco Co. Black Toro and see what this cigar brings to the table.
Blend and Origin
To produce their cigars, West Tampa Tobacco Co has turned to a relatively unknown factory located in Estelí, Nicaragua known as Garmendia Cigar Company. As mentioned, the Black and White each utilize Ecuadorian Habano. According to Rodriguez, both wrappers are pretty much the same. The difference is the wrapper for the White is fermented for six months while the wrapper for the Black is fermented for nine months. The Black wrapper also has a darker color.
The remainder of the blend consists of a Habano binder from the Ometepe region of Nicaragua and all-Nicaraguan fillers from Condega and Estelí.
Wrapper: Ecuadorian Dark Habano
Binder: Ometepe Habano
Filler: Condega Viso, Estelí Viso
Country of Origin: Nicaragua
Factory: Garmendia Cigar Co.
The West Tampa Tobacco Co. Black is offered in three sizes. Each is presented in 20-count boxes. The West Tampa Tobacco Co White and Red lines are also offered in the same sizes with the same box counts.
Robusto: 5 x 50
Toro: 6 x 52
Grande: 6 x 60
The Ecuadorian Habano wrapper of the West Tampa Tobacco Co. Black Toro had a chocolate-bar color to it. This was a wrapper that had somewhat of a silky complexion. Upon closer examination, there was some mottling on the surface of the wrapper. There were some thin visible veins. The wrapper’s darker color did a good job of hiding most of the wrapper seams.
Prior to lighting up the West Tampa Tobacco Co. Black Toro, a straight cut was used to remove the cap. Once the cap was removed, it was time to commence the pre-light draw. The cold draw served up notes of mocha (a fusion of coffee and chocolate sweetness) as well as notes of dark berry. This was a satisfactory pre-light draw experience. At this point, it was time to toast up the footer of the West Tampa Tobacco Co. Black Toro and proceed with the smoking phase.
The West Tampa Tobacco Co. Black Toro started out with more notes of mocha and dark berry – along with some notes of natural tobacco. The mocha notes moved into the forefront early on. The berry and natural tobacco notes settled in the background. Midway through the first third, these background notes were joined by notes of white pepper. In addition to the white pepper notes on the tongue, there was an additional layer of white pepper on the retro-hale.
At the start of the second third of the West Tampa Tobacco Co. Black Toro, the mocha notes split into distinct coffee and chocolate notes. The coffee notes remained grounded in the forefront. The chocolate notes settled in the background with the berry, natural tobacco, and pepper notes. During most of the second third, the berry notes were the most prominent of the background notes. In addition, there was a slow, gradual increase in the pepper on the tongue.
The last third saw the coffee notes remain grounded. The pepper and berry notes were the most prominent secondary notes. The pepper stayed at a constant level during this stage of the smoking experience. There were still notes of chocolate and natural tobacco rounding out the flavor profile. As the West Tampa Tobacco Co. Black Toro came to a close, the cigar had a soft, cool nub.
While the start of the West Tampa Tobacco Co. Black Toro started out with a straight burn, as the cigar progressed it needed more in the way of touch-ups to keep the cigar from meandering and the burn line relatively straight. While the touch-ups did the trick, this cigar needed more touch-ups than I prefer. The resulting ash was silver-gray with a few dark streaks. This was an ash that was on the firm side. As for the burn rate and burn temperature, both were ideal.
The draw of the West Tampa Tobacco Co. Black Toro was on the open side. While it wasn’t loose, I normally do prefer a little more in the way of resistance on the draw. In the end, there were no adverse effects on the smoking experience.
Strength and Body
The West Tampa Tobacco Co. Black Toro started out with mild to medium strength and medium body. Along the way, there was an increase in the intensity levels of the strength and body. The second half saw the strength move into medium territory. The body approached medium to full, but didn’t quite reach that point.
In terms of strength versus body, the body maintained the edge throughout the smoking experience. Overall, I found the strength and body to be slightly greater than the West Tampa Tobacco Co. Black Toro’s counterpart, the West Tampa Tobacco Co. White Toro.
BANDING AND PACKAGING NOTES
As I mentioned in my assessment of the West Tampa Tobacco Co. White Toro, I really like the band design of the West Tampa Tobacco White. I even like the band of the West Tampa Tobacco Co Black better. The thing that stands out is that it isn’t a “black” band, but more of a dark charcoal design – which I think really pops on this cigar.
I also liked the West Tampa “WT” insignia logo. The guitar pick design that is prominent on the logo reminds me of a Rick Rodriguez project from 2012, the CAO Concert.
Overall I found the West Tampa Tobacco Co Black Toro to be a nice smoking experience. The first third of the smoking experience was definitely the best part, but the good news is the cigar remained enjoyable until the end. If one were to ask me to pick between the West Tampa Tobacco Co Black and White Toro sizes, the Black gets the nod. This is also a cigar I could recommend to either the novice or experienced cigar enthusiast. As for myself, it’s a cigar that I would buy and smoke again.
Key Flavors: Natural Tobacco, Cedar, Berry, Earth, Pepper
Burn: Very Good
Draw: Very Good
Strength: Mild to Medium (1st Half), Medium (2nd Half)
Finish: Very Good
Value: Buy One
News: Rick Rodriguez to Launch West Tampa Tobacco Company
Brand Reference: West Tampa Tobacco Co
Photo Credits: Cigar Coop