At the 2015 IPCPR Convention & Trade Show, the cigar industry got its first look at one of Pura Soul Cigars’ new releases, the Pura Soul Barber Pole.
Other than its rhyming name, the cigar features the traditional barber pole wrapper design, using Honduran corojo and maduro wrappers, with a Honduran binder and filler underneath. It’s a limited production release that is being offered in three sizes, 5 x 50 ($11), 6 x 54 ($11.70) and 7 x 64 ($12), with each size packed in 20-count boxes that feature brand owner Robert Wright’s image in a silhouette with him holding the instrument he is known for, the saxophone. Wright says he is expecting to produce about 50,000 of the cigars in 2016.
The Barber Pole was one of two new releases from Pura Soul this year, joining the Pura Soul Maduro, another Honduran puro. These two new releases bring the company’s portfolio to four lines, as they join the Pura Soul Nicaraguan and Pura Soul Honduran.
While Pura Soul parted ways with Christian Eiroa’s CLE Cigar Co. in August 2014, the two still maintain a working relationship, one that Eiroa told halfwheel is “very friendly” when the departure was announced. The Pura Soul Barber Pole is made by Eiroa’s El Aladino factory in Honduras, and at the 2015 trade show Pura Soul shared space in the CLE booth.
- Cigar Reviewed: Pura Soul Barber Pole 5 x 50
- Country of Origin: Honduras
- Factory: El Aladino
- Wrapper: Honduran Corojo & Honduran Maduro
- Binder: Honduras
- Filler: Honduras
- Length: 5 Inches
- Ring Gauge: 50
- Vitola: Robusto
- MSRP: $11 (Box of 20 Cigars, $220)
- Release Date: October 2015
- Number of Cigars Released: Regular Production
- Number of Cigars Smoked For Review: 2
The Pura Soul Barberpole is an interesting looking cigar, as the barber pole effect seems to get just a bit lost because of the leaves’ matte finish. While you certainly won’t mistake it for any other kind of cigar, it lacks the visual pop that a bit of oil would provide or that some smokers might identify with recent cigars from other companies that use candela leaves. That all said, it is a well-executed roll, and the effect goes all the way to the cap, where it turns from a diagonal line to a horizontal one, with an even and well-applied cap completing the roll near perfectly. It’s a fairly firm cigar, with a bit of a soft spot near the band but nothing that should would indicate a problem awaits. From the foot I get a bit of vegetal skewing barnyard, a touch sweet and not overly pungent. The cold draw has a lead note that reminds me of an Altoids peppermint, both in terms of flavor and texture, which is followed by a bit of matchstick wood and soil. Air flows well, and if anything is just the slightest bit loose.
While it isn’t an explosion of pepper, it only takes the Pura Soul Barberpole a few puffs to start showing its strength, offering a bit of pepper for both the palate and nose with a backing profile of leather and tree bark. The first retrohale quickly builds in strength the longer I try to hold it, again not necessarily loaded with pepper but there’s enough to be potent, while a touch of heat amplifies the effect. Some baking spices also begin to join in and before the first inch has burned the smoke is doing a great job tingling the nose while giving a somewhat dry profile to the palate, trying to go heavier into an earth-driven note but falling just a bit short. The first bit of ash drops off just shy of an inch in length, and with it gone the pepper wants to evolve a bit, not necessarily becoming stronger on the palate but more complex. In the nose, it’s a bit more prominent, and retrohales are more forward than they were earlier. The eyes also get a bit of a sting from the smoke.
Heading into the second third, the Pura Soul Barberpole’s flavor dries out just a touch as the pepper takes an intermission from its previous starring role; I can’t quite pinpoint the exact flavor, but the mouth drying effect becomes more prevalent with each successive puff. Much like I get from San Andrés tobacco, the leaves used in this blend want to show their terroir, but either I’m not getting it cleanly or not enjoying it as much as I’m supposed to, as I find my palate craving for the earth that it does offer to get bolder and more complex, where instead it stays dry and showing a mix of leather, wood and some light coffee, the combination of which makes a big first impact when smoked but then quickly fades off my palate. I must say that the cigar is burning extremely well, with an even burn line, good amounts of smoke, no relights needed and ash that is doing a very impressive job in staying attached. I’m not getting much in the way of flavor transitions, but rather a consistent, medium-bodied profile that dabbles in pepper past the midpoint but seems to have largely abandoned it in order for the same dry notes of leather, wood and earth to dominate.
Much like it performed since crossing the midway point, the Pura Soul Barberpole maintains its core notes heading into the final third, but the smoke takes on a much fuller texture, which seems to soften some of the dryness and pepper, turning it into a slightly different experience than it had been in the first two thirds. In the final inch and change, the cigar picks up a bit of pepper but shines more via the addition of some baking spices; there’s a touch of nutmeg and cinnamon on the palate now and the aroma reflects the change as well. There’s also a slight touch of dry barnyard in the aroma, adding a bit of enjoyable pungency to the smoke as it wafts up from the ashtray. The draw stays near perfect until it is tie to put the cigar down for good, with plenty of air movement and smoke, a sharp burn line and no touches of harshness even with a bit more heat.
- It would seem there’d be a bit of an extra challenge in designing a band that didn’t conflict visually with the lines of a barber pole. For some reason, the Pura Soul band doesn’t quite matchup visually as well as I would think could be done.
- Barber pole wrappers aren’t necessarily about showing alternating flavors of two tobaccos, but rather showing the synergy between them. For me, it can be a tough blending challenge to pull off with exceptional results.
- Final smoking time was two hours on average.
- The cigars for this review were provided by Pura Soul Cigars.
- Site sponsors Atlantic Cigar and STOGIES World Class Cigars are Pura Soul retailers, though neither currently lists the Pura Soul Barber Pole as being in stock.
The barber pole design may be a favorite visually, but from a flavor perspective it can be frustrating. Before lighting it up, it's about both steak and sizzle with the hope it will deliver both once smoked. In the case of the Pura Soul Barber Pole, both fall just a bit flat. There are some good core flavors and a bit of development, but neither are quite clean or bright enough to propel the final product to a higher score.