The Isabela Cigar Company has grown in a few short years since going national, to be known for their creative talent in blending and rolling cigars. They have actually been around since 1997 when Isabela Cigars owner Johnny Piette met Cuban Master Vicente Ortiz in Little Havana, FL. The two bonded instantly and over the years Vicente taught Johnny all about the art, craft, and science of tobacco and cigar blending and rolling.
In 2015, the company went national and now 3 years later the patience and care taken in every cigar produced is evident in the success of the company. According to the company’s website:
“Isabela cigars are rolled by one of six pairs of level 9 + Cuban Master rollers, each with over 30 years of experience. We utilize traditional Cuban methods of artisan custom master rolling, each finished in tres capa and sealed with a sugar-based sealant.”
Today I offer you a review of the latest craft from the company’s Creative Magic Studio. Named the Shape Shifter, the cigar comes in a single 6 1/2 x 42 barber pole vitola. It is an extremely limited production cigar with just 1,850 total cigars being produced (50 bundles of 25 and 50 boxes of 12).
The blend of the Isabela Shape Shifter is described as:
- Wrapper – Ecuadorian Connecticut & Nicaraguan Habano Prieto
- Binder – Nicaraguan
- Filler – Nicaraguan
Isabela Cigars has set the MSRP at follows:
- Per Cigar $8.95
- 5-packs $45.00
- Boxes of 12 $120.00
If your local B&M does not carry these, you can order them direct, while they last, from their website here.
The Isabela Shape Shifter is quite the cigar specimen to look at. Unlike many barber pole style cigars that show an equal amount of leaf winding around the cigar, the Shape Shifter is predominately Ecuadorian Connecticut with a thin strip of the Habano Prieto exposed. The Ecuadorian Connecticut shows some age on it as it is darker than a traditional Connecticut leaf and both wrapper leaves have an gleaming oily look to them. Both the foot and cap are finished with the dark brown Habano leaf.
There are practically no veins along the barrel and it is silky smooth to the touch and solid in the hand. The whole presentation is completed with an expertly applied triple cap.
There is a single band that adorns this creation using the standard Isabela Cigar logo that is bright and tropical looking.
Running the cigar along the nose I picked up a fermented leaf aroma along the barrel and the foot had a pungent aroma with hints of cocoa and baking spices.
I chose a straight cut to open this one up, slicing it just above the second line on the cap. The initial note was that of added sweetness which is characteristic of Isabela Cigars as they use an old Cuban style, sugar-based sealant to apply the cap. Once I got past the sweetness and continued to cold puff, there were developing notes of pepper, vanilla, and cafe mocha. The draw had a perfect restriction.
I would be remiss if I did not say I could cold puff this for another hour before lighting it up but it was time to start doing a little shape shifting.
Cigar Review Notes
- The journey begins with notes of chocolate and pepper off the first light
- Thick creamy smoke fills the palate right off the first puffs
- Light grey ash develops on a thin char line
- Ash drops early exposing a centered but flat burn cone
- Pleasant floral aromas waft off the foot
- I love the volume of smoke coming out of this!
- Gentle spice spikes now and then through the early burn
- Bitter cocoa notes and nut enter midway
- Decent oiling above the burn line
- You do have to puff regular or it will go out and require a relight
- Hint of sweetness and spice start to move in and out and back and forth
- Aroma picks up more of an earthy note
- Touch of coffee enters at the end of second third
- Spice picks up in final third and than a slightly more bitter cocoa note enters
- Aroma shifts once more to an exotic spice near the end
- A slight off burn developed in the final third
- Finished with a buttery note
- Mild to Medium in Strength
- Total Smoking time was 1 hour and 50 minutes!!
Overall, I found the Isabela Shape Shifter to be a terrific blend and smoking experience. The flavors and aromas kept shifting and moving in and out keeping me on edge, like watching a tight scoring baseball game, never knowing what was coming. I rate this a 94. I have smoked 3 of these for the review and the only issues I had with it was the slight off-burn at the end and the fact it did go out and require a relight now and then. There was a consistent flat burn cone also.
Point Deductions: (-1) Flat Burn Cone; (-1) Required Relight; (-1) Slight Off Burn
Bonus Points; (+1) Extreme Oiling in Wrapper