Cigar Details: Isabela Serpentine
- Vitola: Torpedo
- Length: 6″
- Ring Gauge: 54
- Country of Origin: Nicaragua
- Wrapper: Ecuadorian DeFlorada Connecticut and Ecuadorian Habano Maduro
- Binder: Nicaraguan Tiempo
- Filler: Nicaragua
- Factory: Isabela
- Blender: Vicente Ortiz
- Price: $8.95
- Release Date: March 2017
- Source: Isabela
A well executed, albeit rustic looking, barber pole wrappers adorn this stout torpedo. A fair number of visible and slightly raised veins are present, but the seam work is excellent. The torpedo head is finished off with a thick triple cap. The brands band is fairly simplistic in the paper and look. The aroma from the wrapper is primarily hay with a slight cocoa in the background. The foot gives a mix of hay and slight stone fruit sweetness. The pre-light draw reveals a slightly sweetened head for the cigar along with flavors from the cigar of hay and leather. There is also a decent spicy tingle on my lips which is a unique combination with the sweetness.
The Isabela Serpentine has no doubt one of the more unique looks given it’s barber pole wrapper contrasts. Wrappers are well applied, seams tight, bunch and roll uniform and the torpedo style head is finished off with a roughly applied triple cap. Nosing the wrapper gives cedar, hay, barnyard and light white pepper. Nosing the foot tells dry cedar, white pepper and dry earth. Cold draw tells synthetic cane sugar on the lips, hay and cedar.
The cigar begins with a mellow mix of oak and cinnamon. The mild sweetness from the head plays well with the cinnamon note. At a quarter inch in, the cinnamon is now very faint as the oak builds up some more. The retrohale is also carrying the oak note. At three quarters of an inch, the cinnamon is completely gone while the oak has gained a slight smoky component. There is still faint traces of the sweetness from the head every few draws. At an inch and a half, a little cinnamon returns along with some cream to mix with the smoky oak. As the third comes to a close, smoky oak along with some mellow cinnamon and cream are in play. The strength in this third was slightly above medium.
The first third creates generic notes of cardboard, dry wood, minerals and mixed nuts. Retrohaling brings forth increased levels of mixed nuts and introduces just the right amount of white pepper spice. The finish is slightly bitter, cardboard and lingering soft white pepper. Strength and body is medium.
As the second third begins, the profile becomes a bit drying as the cream has left the profile. At a half inch in, the cinnamon is gone and the oak has moved from smoky to slightly charred. At an inch in, some bitterness joins the charred oak while the retrohale gives a slightly creamy oak note. As the third comes to a close, some cream joins back in knocking out the bitterness as the charred oak remains up front. The strength in this third remains at slightly above medium.
The second third still shows the same set of medium body medium strength flavor experience as the first third. The profile is still fairly mundane with cardboard, dry wood, now sharper minerals and mixed nuts. I find it interesting that for the mild sweetened tip, not much is actually carried forward to the smoking experience, just when I lick my lips.
As the final third begins, the bitterness comes back to the profile even though there is still a slight cream presence. At a half inch in, things are remaining pretty consistent with the charred oak upfront and the cream and bitterness in the background. The cigar wraps up with this same flavor profile. The strength remained at the slightly above medium level.
The last third is the same as the second third. Still medium/medium profile with cardboard, dry wood, sharper minerals and mixed nuts. The finish does alter slightly such that there is a greater sense of the lingering cardboard and bitterness.
The burn was quite good, especially for a barber pole. At first light, the burn took off on one of the wrap lines, but quickly straightened out and was slightly wavy the rest of the way. The ash held on in about inch and a half increments.
Burn performance was overall good. The downside was a fairly major touch up required within the first third, uneven burn and flaky split ashes. The cigar did burn slow and cool the entire time.
The draw was quite snug. Even cutting the head a couple of additional times and using a draw tool, it only provided slight relief.
I was a little caught off guard by the sweetened head, but it was very subtle and only really detectable in the first third. The cinnamon was a nice touch in the first third but didn’t last much past that. The profile was pretty standard and then some bitterness dropped things down in the final third, likely caused by the tight draw. I enjoyed it enough to want to try some other Isabela lines, hoping for some that provide a more robust flavor profile. It’s worth trying one to see if it fits in your wheelhouse. It had a really slow smoke time of about 3 hours and with a good price point provides some good value.
The perfect air flow to this torpedo head. No complaints here.
The Isabela Serpentine was eye pleasing (like all barber poles), but the flavors didn’t capture much given its humdrum notes. The flavors did not transition much at all and was quite boring. I expected changes to be tasted given its two wrapper contrast, but that never happened. I also expected more influence from the sweetened tip, but that also didn’t happen unless I gave my lips a lick. All in all, an average experience for me.
Team Cigar Review: Isabela Serpentine
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