Earlier this year, at TPE 2022, Jake Wyatt Cigar Co. announced that they would be adding a lancero vitola to their Lithium brand. Via a press release, Nick Garcia (co-owner) said, “The Lithium Lancero demonstrates true innovation while remaining true to our brand.” I was pretty excited about the news. I loved the Lithium toro and belicoso sizes. As Gerard Abajian told me at the PCA Trade Show 2021, it was all about the retrohale. The lancero format should allow me to really taste the Ecuadorian Habano wrapper. Unfortunately, not all cigars are created equal. The lancero vitola has gained in popularity the past few years, but it is one of the most challenging to roll correctly.
SIZE: 7″ x 38
ORIGIN: Dominican Republic
FACTORY: Tabacalera JVM
WRAPPER: Ecuadorian Habano
Oxford Cigar Company
The garage & the deck
April 20 @1:00pm
Ice Mountain bottled water
46° & 86% humidity
HOW MANY CIGARS SMOKED:
RELEASE TYPE Regular Production
ORIGINALLY RELEASE DATE February 2022
Typical Box Size: Boxes of 22
Production Totals: Unknown
o Lancero (7″ x 38)
o Robusto (5″ x 50)
o Corona (5-1/2″ x 44)
o Belicoso (6″ x 452)
o Toro (6″ x 54)
The band is a carbon copy of the band from the toro size that I reviewed in September last year. Here’s what I said about the band there: The Lithium is double banded, a departure from it’s pre-release version that only had a single band, and is sharp and sophisticated in black with gold accents. The elemental symbol for Lithium (Li) is along with Lithium’s atomic number (3) are prominently displayed on the front of the main band. The rest of the band is adorned with the chemical model for Lithium Orotate, the over-the-counter low dose lithium health supplement. The second band is simple and elegant with the word “LITHIUM” printed in gold against the black background.
This might be the ugliest lancero that I’ve ever seen. The wrapper is rough to the touch but more than that, it’s bumpy. Really bumpy. Overly bumpy. There’s a super long vein that runs most of the way up the cigar. The cigar is…lopsided? It’s just not rolled straight. There are a few soft spots and hard spots up and down the first cigar. The second and third don’t have that issue, except for right below the cap, where it seems terribly underfilled on the second cigar smoked for this review. The pigtail cap looks almost haphazardly done and adds to the rustic character of the Lithium lancero. The rustic look to the Lithium lancero is different than the look on the other vitolas. I wonder if this was intentional or if these are just poorly rolled? I’m about to get my answer.
The wrapper gives off notes barnyard and fruit and a little bit of hay. The foot gives off more of the same. While I’m used to cigars having similar profiles on the wrapper and foot, I think this is the first time that there is no distinction between the aroma between the wrapper and the foot.
Sweet tarts on the cold draw. It’s a very sweet and sour experience that is intriguing, to say the least. The Lithium lancero has a very open draw on the first cigar. Imagine sucking through an oversized novelty straw…that’s the Lithium lancero. The second and third cigars were a bit more tight, but still open for a lancero.
Salty and spicy to start things off. Cayenne pepper lingers on the finish. The Lithium goes out. That’s disappointing. Notes of caramel and nuts with a hint of coffee. Again, the Lithium tries to go out. I have to puff and puff on the first cigar to keep it lit. It’s not wet. This is a struggle. Not the straightest of burns. Black pepper on the retrohale with a nice blast of baking spice.
First Cigar: The smoke is creamy and plentiful…when It’s lit. The smoke starts to be a bit on the dry side, but plentiful and pleasing to the senses.
Other Cigars: The smoke is creamy and satisfying.
>> Caramel, Cocoa, Baking Spices
First Cigar: The first third begins with the Lithium going out…again. The relight is harsh. Super harsh. Salt and spice overwhelm my palate. One side of the cigar refuses to burn now. There’s a fruit note that finally starts coming through, but I am disappointed. I thoroughly enjoyed the Lithium toro I smoked. The Lithium goes out yet again. The ash is just a mess. The first third is the single worst cigar experience that I’ve ever had. And again, a relight. And again, it refuses to stay lit. I put the cigar down and will try another from my stash.
The Others: A rich and creamy caramel note carries through from the initial light. There’s a subtle note of hay lurking in the background, along with a bitter wood note and baking spices. There’s a nice cocoa flavor there, too. The ash is flakey and not very compact. The burn line is uneven, but that may be due to the slight breeze. So far, the Lithium is a salty/savory experience. White pepper on the retrohale. The blast of initial spice is nowhere to be found. What’s left in it’s wake is an almost vegetable note with an earthy quality. Baking spices are mot nearly as pronounced as they were. The coacoa note slowly morphs into milk chocolate, adding a much needed sweetness. The vegetal and mineral notes are gone. What is the Lithium doing? I have no idea. It’s all over the map. Much like the ash, which refuses to keep its shape. The sweetness is a welcome change and begins playing hide and seek with notes of hay and baking spices.
>> Coffee, Avocado Oil, Baking Spices
The middle third picks up right where the first third started. You read that right. Notes of salted caramel, hay, and a mineral note remain. The milk chocolate is gone, but the spice and black pepper have returned to the retrohale. The retrohale is magnificent. Perhaps the Lithium is just now hitting its stride? The burn line has corrected itself. The ash, however, is still flakey. Avocado oil lingers on the finish now. The retrohale is where it’s at. That’s the star of the middle third. Where it felt underwhelming and lost in the first third, it’s making its mark in the middle third. Every draw ends with a retrohale. Even the ash is holding on better. Coffee, salted caramel, butter, and baking spices are giving the Lithium new life.
>> Wood, Coffee, Pepper
The pepper on the retrohale is gone to start the final third. Chocolate, butter, and baking spices remain. The vegetal and mineral motes are gone, all that remains is creamy goodness. A hint of citrus mingles with the slightly salted nuts that linger on the finish. The Lithium has turned into something that is quite enjoyable. The burn starts to become uneven again. A touchup is needed as it starts to canoe. The ash is more compact in this final third. The pepper on the retrohale returns and is amazing. The burn line is atrocious and it’s not because of the slight breeze. One side is now refusing to burn. Coffee, nuts, and baking spices. Wood forward now. The Lithium goes out and honestly, it’s not worth the effort of relighting.
RATING & FINAL THOUGHTS
When I could get the Lithium lancero to burn correctly, the flavors were pretty much the same throughout: Caramel, Chocolate, Baking Spices, Pepper. It was only in the last third where notes of wood and citrus added some much needed complexity and a change of pace.
This is not hyperbole or exaggeration: The Lithium lancero had the most atrocious burn of any cigar that I have ever smoked. The first cigar refused to stay lit and I had to dump it before getting through the first third. The second cigar needed multiple touchups and went out early. Only the third Lithium lancero burned correctly. The last cigar I smoked for this review needed multiple touchups and went out right at the beginning of the final third.
0.40 / 0.80 … Craft & Aesthetic
0.15 / 0.50 … Pre-Light Characteristics
0.30 / 0.50 … Lighting Process
5.00 / 7.70 … Smoking Experience
0.00 / 0.50 … Personal Enjoyment
COMPLIMENTS & CRITIQUES
LITHIUM LANCERO IS A HARD PASS.
I’m a bit disappointed with Lithium lancero. I enjoyed the toro so much, that I was expecting a similar experience. Instead, I got a sub-par experience with each lancero smoked for this review. Burn issues plagued each one, except for the third one, the ash was overly flakey, and the first third seems directionless. All of these issues caused by 3 of the 4 being underfilled. The first cigar refused to stay lit and was unsmokable. The others I smoked for this review, while smokable, had burn issue after burn issue: uneven burns, conoeing, and needed multiple touchups. The only exception to this was the third one. The ash was never anything close to compact. The first third was overly salty and couldn’t really keep a flavor profile compared to the other thirds. That’s the bad. The good is that the flavors found in the final two-thirds is amazing. Creamy, salty, sweet, and savory. The retrohale is the star of the show. When the Lithium is good, it’s really good. When it’s bad, it’s very bad and very underfilled.
*NOTE: I realize that this is a very low score. I also realize that these are handmade products. Not everything is going to be perfect each time. However, the lancero vitola is notoriously hard to roll. It isn’t shocking that a newer cigar company may have issues rolling a lancero vitola. I would imagine that underfilled cigars is an easy fix at the factory level. I look forward to re-reviewing the Lithium lancero at a later date.