Today, we review the West Tampa Tobacco Co. Red in the Toro size. West Tampa Tobacco Co. is a venture that Rick Rodriguez and Gus Martinez founded. Both Rodriguez and Martinez are known for their time at General Cigar Company. 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 company name pays homage to the area of West Tampa in Tampa, Florida, and is known for its Cuban heritage. Many Cuban immigrants settled in West Tampa, including Rodriguez’s grandparents. The company launched in 2022. As for the West Tampa Tobacco Co Red, it was introduced in 2023, and it became the company’s third regular production line and fourth release overall.
West Tampa Tobacco Co. debuted in 2022 with the regular production of White and Black lines. Following the release of White and Black, the company released a limited edition cigar known as Attic. The Attic featured a San Andrés Maduro wrapper. Rodriguez, who develops the blends for West Tampa, was inspired to work with that wrapper for the West Tampa Tobacco Co. Red. While they use the same wrapper, Rodriguez has said that is where the similarities end.
Let’s break down the West Tampa Tobacco Co. Red Toro without further ado and see what the cigar brings to the table.
West Tampa Red Tobacco Co. Toro Cigar Review
Blend and Origin
The remainder of the blend for the West Tampa Tobacco Co. Red uses Nicaraguan tobaccos for the binder and filler. Like the White, Black, and Attic cigars, the West Tampa Tobacco Red is produced at Garmendia Cigars in Estelí, Nicaragua.
Wrapper: San Andres Mexican
Country of Origin: Nicaragua
Factory: Garmendia Cigars
The West Tampa Tobacco Co. Red is offered in three sizes. Each of the three sizes is available in 20-count boxes.
The San Andres wrapper of the West Tampa Tobacco Co. Red Toro had a milk chocolate color to it. There was a light sheen of oil on the surface of the wrapper. The surface of this wrapper had a bumpy complexion to it. There were some visible veins on the surface of the wrapper. In addition, there were some visible wrapper seams.
Before lighting up the West Tampa Tobacco Co. Red Toro, a straight cut was used to remove the cap. Once the cap was removed, it was time to proceed with the pre-light draw ritual. The cold draw delivered a mix of cocoa, damp earth, and cedar. Overall, this was a satisfactory pre-light draw. At this time it was time to toast up the footer of the West Tampa Tobacco Co. Red Toro and proceed with the smoking phase.
The Red Toro opened up with notes of red pepper, damp earth, cocoa, wood, and berry sweetness. There was no dominant note early on, but the damp earth finally surfaced as the primary note. The pepper, cocoa, wood, and berry notes settled into the background. There was an additional layer of red pepper on the retro-hale, but this was not overpowering.
At the start of the second third of the Red Toro, the damp earth notes remained grounded in the forefront. During the phase, there was an increase in the cocoa and berry notes. As the cigar progressed through this phase, there were times when both the cocoa and berry notes surfaced in the forefront. There still were some wood notes present in the background.
By the final third, the damp earth notes remained in the forefront. The cocoa and berry notes returned to the background, joining the wood notes. There was an increase in the red pepper notes, and they became the most prominent of the secondary notes. This is how the West Tampa Tobacco Co. Red Toro came to a close. The resulting nub was soft to the touch and cool in temperature.
During the early stages of the smoking experience of each cigar, the West Tampa Tobacco Red Toro developed a meandering burn. As the cigar experience progressed, the meandering burn became more of a nuisance. Touch-ups were frequently applied and did the trick, but more were required than preferred. The resulting ash was on the firm side. This was an ash that had a very light gray color. Meanwhile, the burn rate and burn temperature maintained ideal levels.
The draw was quite open on each of the samples smoked of the Red Toro. It almost bordered on a loose draw. Ultimately, this was a higher maintenance draw than I prefer. But in the end, there were no combustion issues, and I was able to derive flavor from the cigar.
Strength and Body
The West Tampa Tobacco Red blend was positioned as a fuller-bodied offering, but I did not find this to be true. This cigar started out mild to medium in terms of strength and body. The strength and body slowly increased, and by the second third, the cigar was in medium strength, medium-bodied territory. The strength and body continued to increase gradually, but both attributes remained in the medium range of the spectrum.
In terms of strength versus body, both attributes balanced each other nicely, with neither attribute overshadowing the other.
BANDING AND PACKAGING NOTES
In the past, I have commented how I liked the West Tampa Tobacco Co. White and Black band design. This also applies to the Red. The Red played very well with the band design. I also like the West Tampa “WT” insignia logo. The prominent guitar pick design on the logo reminds me of a Rick Rodriguez project from 2012, the CAO Concert.
I have seen several reviews and year-end rankings the West Tampa Tobacco Red has garnered. Regarding my experience with the Toro size, this cigar fell short for me. The flavors were good but not great. The open draw also didn’t play well with this cigar. Every time I smoked this, I felt one puff away from having a combustion issue with the cigar. This cigar is reasonably priced at just under $10.00, making it a viable candidate to try a sample. But in my book, there are competitive cigars that will perform better at this price.
Key Flavors: Damp Earth, Berry, Cocoa, Wood, Red Pepper
Burn: Very Good
Strength: Mild to Medium (1st Third), Medium (Remainder)
Body: Mild to Medium (1st Third), Medium (Remainder)
Finish: Very Good
Value: Try a Sample
Photo Credits: Cigar Coop