Cigar Review: West Tampa Tobacco Co. Black Toro

My most recent podcast episode features Rick and Sara Rodriguez of West Tampa Tobacco Co. During our conversation, Rick discussed what it was like going from a “corporate kitchen” (CAO) full of “ingredients” (almost any tobacco he wanted to work with), to a “home kitchen” (WTTC) with few ingredients (limited access to tobacco) to work with. He compared West Tampa’s initial releases, the White and Black, to creating a dish using only three ingredients. How did he do that? By using the same blend in both the White and the Black. The only difference between the two cigars is that the Ecuadorian Habano wrapper was allowed to ferment longer for the Black.  The WTTC White was a medium experience that was creamy and smooth. The Black, on the other hand, was meant to be a more robust and full-bodied experience. 

OVERVIEW

VITOLA:   Toro
SIZE:   6″ x 52

ORIGIN:   Nicaragua
FACTORY:   Garmendia Cigars Co.

WRAPPER:   Ecuadorian Habano
BINDER:   Nicaragua
FILLER:   Nicaragua

STRENGTH:   Full

SOURCE:   
Oxford Cigar Company

ENVIRONMENT

WHERE:   
The Garage

WHEN:   
September 6 @ 12:50pm

DRINKS:   
Ice Mountain bottled spring water

WEATHER:   
71° & 82% humidity

HOW MANY CIGARS SMOKED:   
4

PRODUCTION

RELEASE TYPE  Regular Production

ORIGINALLY RELEASE DATE  June 2022

TOTAL PRODUCTION
Typical Box Size:     Boxes of 20
Production Totals:  Unknown

VITOLA BREAKDOWN
o  Toro  (6″ x 52)
Robusto  (5″ x 50)

BAND DESIGN

If a band could be sexy, the West Tampa Tobacco Co. Black band is the epitome of a sexy band. It is white and gray with gold accents. It’s beautiful in color and design. The band is larger than most bands but not so large that it covers up the majority of the cigar, which seems to be a thing for some cigar manufacturers. Instead, it’s an interesting design that catches the eye in a humidor full of cigars.

PRE-LIGHT OBSERVATIONS

CONSTRUCTION

The wrapper is is a shade of brown somewhere between milk and chocolate. It possesses an oily sheen that shimmers when the light hits it just right. It is a bit on the rustic side with its mottling and rough texture, but that just adds to its charm.

AROMA

The Black’s wrapper gives off a strong scent of barnyard, just as the White did. There is more of a Cedar note, though, with this wrapper. The foot has a fruity sweetness along with hay and tobacco.

COLD DRAW

There is a mustiness to the cold draw. It mingles with a faint sweetness and a subtle note of hey. The draw has just the right amount of resistance.

SMOKING EXPERIENCE

LIGHT & DRAW
Cut: Les Fines Lames LE PETITE cigar knife
Fire: ST Dupont Hooked

Initially the black is a wonderful mix of fruit and pepper. There’s a woody note followed by a sweet coffee note. Hints of earth and chocolate round out the initial light.

SMOKE

Smoke output for the WTTC Black is robust and satisfying. The smoke is creamy and coats my palate in a very pleasing way.

FIRST THIRD
>> Baking Spices, Leather, Coffee, Black Pepper

Once the initial light is over, the WTTC Black doesn’t let up. Big notes of baking spices, earth, and leather take center stage. Black pepper on the retrohale. The WTTC Black is a full body experience to start. Coffee and chocolate begin to add a creamy sweetness and help to balance out the flavors. The smoke is so thick I could chew it. The burn line is razor sharp and the ash compact. I’m starting to detect a subtle fruitiness that hangs around on my palate. The coffee note takes front and center, with a hint of sweetness. Earth, hay, and black pepper play supporting roles. Spicy cedar tingles my tongue, but only for a moment. The ash is beautiful and highlights just how well constructed this cigar is.

SECOND THIRD
>> Citrus, Avocado Oil, Leather, Black Pepper

The fruity sweetness from the first third has morphed into an almost lemon zest citrus note. Avocado oil, mushroom, leather, and baking spices help kick off thie middle third. White pepper rules the retrohale. There is still a coffee note that ties everything together. The ash is still holding on, and not a flake to be had. The burn line is even. There is nothing more satisfying than a stellar burn on a cigar that you’re truly enjoying. The ash finally falls unprompted, into the tray. Black pepper and baking spices return to the retrohale. The middle third really highlights the nuance of the WTTC Black. It’s creamy and buttery smooth with just the right amount of spice and pepper, and hints of cocoa and citrus.

FINAL THIRD
>> Charred Wood, Espresso, Dark Chocolate, Black Pepper

The final third begins with notes of charred wood, roasted nuts, espresso, and a hint of dark chocolate. Black pepper remains constant on the retrohale. The ash does not hold on like it did for the first few inches, but it is still compact and beautiful; it looks like a stack of nickels. The burn has been even throughout, and the final third is no different. The dark chocolate note is sublime. Is that vanilla? Whatever it is, is quickly overpowered by the charred wood and chocolate. The burn begins to go a bit wonky, but it hardly matters at this point. The WTTC Black has been a full bodied, full flavored treat.

RATING & FINAL THOUGHTS

FLAVOR PROGRESSION

The West Tampa Tobacco Co. Black is a full bodied experience from the initial light to the last. Each third masterfully flows into the next, held up by the black pepper on the retrohale and a subtle sweetness throughout. Each flavor morphs, almost seamlessly, into the next. Nothing was too off-putting or overpowering, which is rather surprising as the WTTC Black is full of pepper and spice notes at every turn. I will point out, however, that it can be a bit harsh at times.

BURN EXPERIENCE

The WTTC Black burned pretty well for the first two-thirds of the cigar. The end of the middle third and most of the final third saw the burn go from razor sharp to wavy. However, it never required a touch-up or a re-light. It’s always a great smoking experience when you don’t have to babysit the cigar’s burn.

RATING BREAKDOWN
0.76 / 0.80 … Craft & Aesthetic
0.48 / 0.50 … Pre-Light Characteristics
0.50 / 0.50 … Lighting Process
7.02 / 7.70 … Smoking Experience
0.45 / 0.50 … Personal Enjoyment

COMPLIMENTS & CRITIQUES

CHEF’S KISS.

Very rarely do I find myself enjoying a full-bodied cigar more than I do the milder version. Yet, here we are. The WTTC Black certainly has some harshness/overwhelming flavors at time. The charred wood in the final third tends to bury some of the complexities and nuance and just overpower the third; even more so than the initial light. What’s most impressive about the WTTC Black is, as stated at the beginning of this review, it is the same blend as the WTTC White…wrapper and all. The only difference is the time that the wrapper on the Black was allowed to ferment. There can be no doubt that Rick Rodriguez can cook with any ingredients given to him.

SIMPLY STOGIES RATING:  9.21 / 10.0

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