Rick Rodriguez, the previous brand ambassador for CAO cigars left the company in 2021 and formed a new cigar company named West Tampa Cigars.
According to the company’s website:
“The seed for West Tampa Tobacco Company was planted in 1953, when Rick Rodriguez’s grandparents, both highly respected master cigar rollers, heeded the call of the U.S. They left behind the glamour of Havana for U.S. shores, seeking to capitalize on the booming cigar business of West Tampa, Florida.
The Rodríguezes made the U.S. their home and worked hard to provide for their family, never giving up on their craft, even when times were tough.
Their love of tobacco skipped a generation, gathering momentum when it was awakened in their beloved grandson Rick. Growing up in West Tampa, in the shadow of the once-bustling cigar factories, taught Rick the value of hard work and instilled in him grit and determination.
His grandparent’s stories of Havana and Cuban cigars in their heyday were never far from Rick’s mind. So, when the opportunity to work in the cigar business knocked, Rick was quick to answer. He soon found himself studying at the right hand of industry legends, most notably Benji Menendez who freely transferred his knowledge to Rick. Decades later, Rick has been recognized as a cigar master in his own right.
Always striving for more, Rick has taken a bold step to establish West Tampa Tobacco Company, to simply offer the finest handcrafted cigars, created with hard work, gratitude and a profound respect for tradition.“
The first blends from the company are called the black and the white, identified by the color of the band and. The Black is a dark habano and the White is a light habano. Today I will focus on the West Tampa Cigars Black Label.
The full blend of the West Tampa Cigars Black is described as:
- Wrapper: Habano Dark
- Binder: Ometepe Habano
- Filler: Condega Viso, Esteli Ligero
They are expressed in 3 different vitolas and come packaged in 20-count boxes:
- Robusto (5 x 50) – MSRP $8.99
- Toro (6 x 52) – MSRP $9.99
- Grande (6 x 60) – MSRP $10.99
For this review, I sampled two of the West Tampa Cigars Black toros, which I received from the company for the purpose of reviewing on Stogie Press.
The West Tampa Cigars Black is a slightly rugged dark brown cigar that has a slight oily sheen. The wrapper has some marbling running through it. There are some noticeable veins running through the barrel and a few bumps. The cigar is well packed and solid to the touch. A well applied triple cap finished the presentation.
A single band adorns the West Tampa Cigars Black. It uses a black, grey white and gold motif and proudly displays the company’s logo in the center, noting that the company was established in 2022.
Running the cigar along the nose, I detected a fruity floral aroma on both the barrel and foot.
I opened the cap perfectly with my Baller cutter from CigarMedics and moved on to give it some cold draw puffs that I found to be a little tighter than I prefer and offering pre-light notes of mild pepper and earth.
Using my single flame torch, I warmed the foot to an even orange glow and draw in the first puffs of earth and pepper. Follow along as burn this one to ash.
Cigar Review Notes
- Earth and pepper with a background of toasted cracker to start the journey
- Light grey ash forms on top of thin char line
- Excellent smoke production as the draw opened up perfectly
- Sweet cream notes join the early profile offering a fine balance
- Solid ash fell revealing a well-formed burn cone
- Mouthwatering citrus enters moving into the second third
- The early sweetness morphs into a tasty caramel note
- Complexity really shines midway with notes of earth, peppery spice, and sweetness
- Spice begins to evolve into a sweet cinnamon note along with increased citrus notes
- Spice grows into the final with a slight bitter, sour fruit note
- Medium plus in strength
- Total Smoking Time was 1 hour and 40 minutes
Wow! The West Tampa Cigars Black is a terrific blend from cigar industry veteran – Rick Rodriguez. t had a complex and balanced profile of flavors and aromas that kept the palate interested throughout the journey. I especially enjoyed the sweet cinnamon notes just after the midway point and the early toasted cracker and sweet cream. It did get a tad bitter/sour deep in the final. The burn was awesome with a solid ash and clean burn line with just a mild jag. Overall, this is another cigar I would say is a box buy. I rate this a 95.
Point Deductions: (-1) Bitter/Sour deep in final; (-1) Mild Jag in Burn
Bonus Points: (+1) Complex and Balanced; (+1) Buy A Box; (+1) Positive experience in multiple samples