It’s St. Patrick’s Day, which of course means there’s a few candela cigars that are on the market just for the occasion.
This year, MoyaRuiz threw its name onto the list of manufacturers that produce green cigars as special editions for the mid-March holiday.
Its entry is known as Pickle Juice, a 6 x 50 toro that is packaged to look like a jar of pickles. As for the blend, it’s a Nicaraguan puro made at Erik Espinosa’s La Zona Cigar Factory, the same factory that has produced the company’s other releases.
(Images via MoyaRuiz)
As the back of the jar notes, the blend is 40 percent ligero, 30 percent viso and 30 percent seco.
The cigars began shipping last week with 50 retailers receiving 10 numbered jars of 13 cigars.
- Cigar Reviewed: MoyaRuiz Pickle Juice
- Country of Origin: Nicaragua
- Factory: La Zona Cigar Factory
- Wrapper: Nicaragua
- Binder: Nicaragua
- Filler: Nicaragua
- Length: 6 Inches
- Ring Gauge: 50
- Vitola: Toro
- MSRP: $7.69 (Jar of 13, $99.97)
- Release Date: March 11, 2016
- Number of Cigars Released: 500 Boxes of 13 Cigars (6,500 Total Cigars)
- Number of Cigars Smoked For Review: 2
It takes me a second, but after taking the cigar out of cellophane, I realize that the band is designed to look like a pickle. The band is also not straight, which I think is a nice touch. The color of the candela is similar to Illusione’s green wrapper, a deeper and slightly darker swamp green compared to the candela cigars from Arturo Fuente and La Flor Dominicana. Of note, the cap is not actually candela, a trait it shares with yesterday’s review, the Alec Bradley Filthy Hooligan. Aroma-wise, it’s got the classic candela flavor—a sweet and creamy but dry flavor—there’s also some roasted coffee and sawdust. The wrapper has a ton of grit to it, reminding me of really fine sandpaper. As for the foot, the candela aroma is even stronger. That being said, it doesn’t overshadow what is otherwise a very full foot aroma. There’s more green licorice, rotting wood and lots of pepper. The cold draw has some green licorice, another flavor that reminds me of spray paint, cedar, some saltiness, breads and Dr. Pepper. What’s particularly interesting is just how spicy my lips are, something almost certainly caused by the fact the cap is not candela.
Pickle Juice starts out with some saltiness, get it? It’s joined by cedar, green licorice, some vegetal flavors and a spice on the tongue. I’m only able to pick up a sweet creaminess on one of the two samples, but otherwise the flavors are pretty consistent. It takes a few puffs for smoke production to really get going, but once it does the MoyaRuiz is blasting me with a ton of flavor. Or at least one sample is. The reality is the two cigars have very similar flavors, but one of them is probably double the intensity of the other, which is struggling to burn evenly. There’s some spiciness, mainly some spicy herbs, creaminess and a very refined dry sweetness I find on candela. Through the nose there’s cinnamon and lots of black pepper. The finish really shows of the candela sweetness with some creaminess coming in towards the end of the first third. On one sample construction is great through the first third with smoke production solid on both cigars, though one burn is not even at all. Strength is medium-full on one sample, medium on another. Flavor intensity is medium-full on one sample and medium on the second cigar.
The second third loses some of the sweetness, particularly the dry candela-centric flavors that I picked up in the first third. There’s still some creaminess and peanut shells, which contrast nicely against a developing sharp harshness in the middle of the tongue. The retrohale has some dry fruits along with a burnt thyme and creamy flavor. Eventually the harshness develops into a black pepper in the back of the torah. On one sample, the flavor is beyond full, while the body is medium and the strength is medium-plus. The other Pickle Juice has a medium flavor profile, which is somewhat remarkable considering the first sample is almost overwhelming in intensity. I have construction issues with both cigars in the latter half of the second third: one cigar gets way too open while another has a noticeable knot. A few touch-ups keep both cigars going, but the difference is quite odd.
The dry sweetness returns in spades for the final portion of the cigar and it’s joined by some saltiness that I haven’t tasted since the initial puffs. Unfortunately, the Pickle Juice gets physically hot pretty quickly and it starts to degrade the flavor quickly. While the harshness is pretty strong, it pairs nicely with the aforementioned sweeter flavors. Unfortunately, the intensity has continued to increase and my palate is simply being overwhelmed. Smoke production slows down a lot and I need to touch-up the first sample again, while the second third is requiring near constant attention. Strength on both cigars seems to retreat to below medium levels.
- My flavor notes are based off of one sample. The other sample basically needed to be touched-up every five to 10 minutes from the start and never really got going. It was much more medium with similar flavors, just not with the intensity. I scored both cigars and oddly, despite the touch-ups, the balance on the second cigar probably helped the overall score.
- I’m a large fan of the cap being a different tobacco. Candela tends to dry my mouth out; this definitely helps to fight that effort.
- I am not sure what to make regarding the vast differences in the intensity of the cigar, other than to say that the flavor is most certainly impacted by combustion.
- And now for some commentary about the packaging.
If you are going to do packaging that is gimmicky or as some might say cute, you need to nail it. Otherwise, it just doesn’t work.
For me, Pickle Juice fails the packaging done well test in two regards. A. It doesn’t really look like a jar of pickles. B. Outside of the band and ingredient label on the back, none of it I find particularly compelling to the overall sales pitch.
Combine those two facts with the way the cigar sits in retail—i.e. it’s a jar so you cannot actually see the cigars without taking them out—and I think it’s a big miss.
The fact of the matter is the bar for this sort of packaging is too high.
It’s odd for me to even think knocking off… is a good idea, but it is here. A take on the Vlasic pickle jar seems like the right play. You don’t have to come as close as say Lost&Found, but no part of the jar, other than the very obvious “pickle” leads me to believe it’s a jar of pickles and even then, it’s more like a modern art thesis than an actual cognitive recognition.
Yes, the band looks like a pickle. No, it’s not very obvious until you spend about five seconds with the cigar and you cannot see this until the cigar is removed from the jar. Yes, the nutritional facts were executed well. Yes, it’s in a jar. But in the world of (food) product-themed releases from Asylum, La Flor Dominicana, Lost&Found, Tatuaje, Viaje and others—including MoyaRuiz themselves—you have to do better. The evidence below is exactly where the target is for these sorts of projects:
Even then, most of the aforementioned packaging is controversial and there are most certainly retailers that refuse to carry cigars that come in containers made to resemble food.
I get that it’s a holiday edition. I understand that it’s just trying to have fun. And I most certainly will admit that beauty is in the eye of the beholder.
But, this isn’t an eighth grade art class, it’s the cigar business.
Packaging decisions are made largely to help sell products and I’m not convinced that this concept and the way it was executed, is a better idea than simply putting the cigars in a normal box.
My issue is not gimmicky packaging. The Pork Tenderloin and Super Shot are some of my favorite packaging designs of the last decade. Lost&Found does an extremely good job executing its comment. And as noted above, MoyaRuiz themselves did a great job with The Chinese Finger Trap packaging.
My issue is when the packaging fails to meet the bar that’s been set.
If you are going to ask retailers to display the cigars likely off of a shelf, ask potential consumers to have to physically take a cigar out of a jar so they can see the wrapper and presumably charge consumers more money because of the packaging, it needs to be excellent.
- I should note, in this case, I’m not sure how much extra, if at all, the packaging would have cost compared to traditional boxes. The cigars come in at under $8 which is a nice break in today’s market.
- As noted above, the bands are intentionally not applied in an even manner, sort of like a Fratello band without the sharp edges.
- And now for the obligatory: in the early 20th century candela used to be the most popular wrapper in the U.S. according to Carlito Fuente.
- Final smoking time was two hours on average.
- Cigars for this review were sent to halfwheel by MoyaRuiz Cigars.
- Site sponsors Atlantic Cigar Co., Cigar.com (through its Cigars International retail stores) and STOGIES World Class Cigars (713.783.5100) are listed as Pickle Juice retailers.
Just about every candela review you will read generally goes something like “candela isn’t my favorite thing, but…” I’ll try to avoid that narrative. I think this offers a different take on candela, another favorite line from cigar reviewers. But this is really different. Rather than being candela infused with other tobaccos, this is candela on steroids. Or at least in one cigar. That cigar was the most intense candela flavor I've ever experienced, and even without it the profile was simply too intense to the point where it hurt the cigar. The other cigar wouldn’t stay lit. This is the exact opposite of a cigar for someone who traditionally doesn't like candela. Rather, if you like the candela flavor but want a strong cigar, this is your best bet. For me, the issue with this cigar isn’t the wrapper, it’s just not balanced, particularly after the first third.