Cigar Review: West Tampa Tobacco Co. Red Toro

Master blender Rick Rodriguez seems to be putting in the time and effort it takes to grow West Tampa Tobacco. With the “Red,” they will bring their third regular production cigar to market. They have also produced their first Limited Edition, the Attic, making four blends in just over a year of operation. The Red will round out the strength profile of their production series. With the White being medium-bodied, Black standing in as the Medium/Full, the Red is, as Ricky puts it, “a full-bodied cigar delivers the full flavor that customers have come to enjoy from West Tampa.”


VITOLA:   Toro
SIZE:   6″ x 52

ORIGIN:   Nicaragua
FACTORY:   Gramendia Cigar Company, Estelí, Nicaragua

WRAPPER:   Mexican San Andres
BINDER:   Nicaraguan Condega
FILLER:   Condega Viso, Estelí Viso, and Estelí Ligero


West Tampa Tobacco


House next to the river.


Black Tea

72° outside, 68° inside



RELEASE TYPE  Regular Production


Typical Box Size:     Boxes of 20
Production Totals:  Unknown

o  Toro  (6″ x 52)
Robusto  (5″ x 50)
o  Gigante  (6″ x 60)


The Red shares the same band as the White and Black, the only difference being the muted red color that the gold West Tampa logo is printed on. That logo is surrounded by scrollwork and line art reminiscent of the artwork found in US currency. The West Tampa band is enormous. There is no getting around it or denying it. It is a beautiful band and well laid out, but just a bit on the large side for me. I’m not fond of a band that covers most of a cigar. One of the cigars had a cap on it with quite a bit more tooth than its wrapper, but all handmade products have tiny imperfections. If we must look that close to find fault, then it is probably a quality product.



Swaddled in a Mexican San Andreas wrapper, the cigar glistens in the light after removing the band covering almost a third of the cigar. Some smaller veins are present, but this is undoubtedly a first-class wrapper. Each cigar smoked for this review was firm to the touch and had a wonderful toothiness to the wrapper. The firmness of the cigar is something I am finding to be constant with West Tampa Tobacco cigars and the Garmendia Cigar Company.


The pre-light aroma centered around the tobacco itself with some mustiness.


The cold draw mirrored the wrapper aroma, tobacco, and mustiness with some additional hints of leather.


Cut: Straight Cut
Fire: ST Dupont soft flame

The first draws produce a light, airy smoke with straight black pepper on the retro-hale.


Just post-light through the first third, a constant stream of smoke came from the cigar while at rest. This calmed down towards the end of the first third to almost no smoke while at rest. This made me concerned several times, thinking I would have to relight. I never did have to relight any of these, even after a good rest in the ashtray. There was a generous enough amount of smoke with each draw throughout. Although I found it almost thin and airy, it lacked the creaminess or thickness that helps carry the flavors to the palette.

>> Pepper, Baking Spice, Floral

I find lots of pepper, not enough to make it a pepper bomb but sufficient to tingle the nose. Aromatic baking spices come in second and adjacent to the pepper, adding a twist. There are also citrusy floral notes mixed in that I am enjoying. Hints of vanilla are present as well, giving us a complex profile. The pepper remained on the retrohale, along with some floral notes. The ash departed the cigar about three-quarters of the way through the third, falling to the floor but remaining intact.

>> Cedar, Leather, Coffee

Cedar has smoothly replaced the Pepper from the first third. Leather came in a close second, with coffee trailing. The cedar is complemented with an almost imperceptible hint of the bitterness of cinnamon, giving it a nice edge. Coffee is present as a sweet dark roast. Usually, we list these notes in order of their boldness, but the cedar, leather, and coffee are so intertwined that they are trading places throughout this third. Leather is most pronounced during retrohale, giving my nose a bit of a break from the pepper and providing an exceptionally smooth retrohale experience. The floral notes from the first third have transitioned into more of a sweet, dried lemon peel. The ash remains compact and well attached to the cigar with an almost white color, speaking to how well the raw tobacco was worked.

>> Charred Wood, Cedar, Leather

Moving into the final third, a charred wood note entered the palette taking center stage. Oddly this charr did not dominate the still present cedar. This gave a nice earthy complexness. Notes of leather were still present and quickly picked out. At the same time, a dried fruit sweetness and a dark chocolate nib flavor danced on the edges of the flavor profile. Coffee and pepper came back into the picture on the retrohale, although not enough to make the retrohale burn. The ash and burn line never waivered with any of the cigars smoked.



The West Tampa Red transitioned well between the thirds. Each note was complementary and added some complexity to the smoking experience.


All the cigars I smoked for this review burned well and retained their ash. The burn line was crisp and well-defined. While not perfectly straight, they were all about as good as a hand-rolled product could be. At no point in time with any of the three cigars did I need to touch up or re-light.

0.70 / 0.80 … Craft & Aesthetic
0.45 / 0.50 … Pre-Light Characteristics
0.50 / 0.50 … Lighting Process
7.50 / 7.70 … Smoking Experience
0.40 / 0.50 … Personal Enjoyment



After I finished smoking the three Reds for this review, I gathered my handwritten notes and sat behind my computer to write them out. I pulled up the last review I had performed and was surprised to find it was the West Tampa Attic. I was even more surprised when I started filling out the review, replacing the old text with new from my notes that the Red and the Attic share the same wrapper, binder, and filler blend. I am sure the blend was somewhat tweaked, but the cauldron ingredients are the same.
I wrote the following in the Attic review. “The West Tampa White and Black cigars, the first two he produced on his own through West Tampa Tobacco, were good solid cigars. The Attic is a giant leap forward for Rick and West Tampa. It showcases all he has learned and is a masterpiece in flavor transition and complexity.” This holds true with the Red.
I am certain adjustments have been made to the recipe, as I find the Red less full than I remember the Attic. Rick told us this was supposed to be the “Full” bodied cigar in the White, Black, Red core line. When I smoked this, I found it to be more on the medium/full side than the full side of the bar. Everyone has their own taste and opinion of what constitutes a mild, medium, or full-bodied cigar. There is also healthy discussion regarding the relationship between body vs. flavor.
I went into this cigar expecting something with a more full body than I got. It’s a good smoke but not something I personally would put a full-bodied label on.


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