There is no shortage of cigars with stories behind them; in fact, one could make the case that it’s one of the more enjoyable aspects of the cigar industry. Knowing who or what inspired a cigar can give it another dimension, transporting the smoker to a certain place or bringing to mind people or experiences.
In the case of The Conqueror from ADV & McKay Cigars Co. S.R.L., there is a different kind of story behind the cigar, and in fact, one that spans multiple cigars as smokers are encouraged to follow the adventures of ADVentura and his companion, McKay, as they make they way through the world.
First though, a bit about the company behind the cigars. ADV & McKay Cigars Co. S.R.L. was founded in 2016 as a “cooperation” between Henderson Ventura of Tabacalera William Ventura and Marcel Knobel, a Swiss sommelier and coffee producer and retailer. The pair began releasing cigars in the European market in 2017, and while a small amount made their way to the United States, it wasn’t until 2019 that the company would make its debut at the annual IPCPR Convention & Trade Show, which is now known as the PCA Convention & Trade Show.
Headlining the cigars featured in the booth was ADVentura The Conqueror, which likely caught peoples’ eyes due to the boxes in which they are packaged, which are designed to look like boats. It was a design that ended up finishing 8th on halfwheel’s 2019 Packaging Awards.
As for the cigar, it uses an Ecuadorian habano 2000 wrapper, Ecuadorian Sumatran binder and fillers from the Dominican Republic and Nicaragua. It is being released in four sizes, though only two of them—Comandante and El Capitán—were launched in the U.S., while the other two were released to the European market:
- ADVentura The Conqueror Comandante (5 x 50) — $12 (Box of 20, $240)
- ADVentura The Conqueror El Capitán (6 x 60) — $13.80 (Box of 20, $276)
- ADVentura The Conqueror Cañonero (7 x 60) — Not Available in U.S.
- ADVentura The Conqueror Marinero (5 x 52) — Not Available in U.S.
The Conqueror became the third in the ADVentura series, joining The Explorer and The Navigator, which have also been released in the United States. They share the same band design, with The Explorer’s getting red ink, The Navigator getting blue ink, and The Conqueror getting black ink.
Each of them also come with a story about the duo and their adventures, which also appear on the company’s website.
Since the launch of The Conqueror, the company has already added a line extension to it. In December 2019, ADV & McKay Cigars released The Conqueror Emperor’s Edition, a 7 x 40 lancero that tweaked the blend a bit. Gone was the ligero, the stronger leaves that come fro the top third of a tobacco plant, replaced by viso leaves, which come from the middle section and which generally offer the best balance between flavor, combustion and strength. Knobel told halfwheel that the change made it a much more flavorful cigar, adding that all of the tobaccos used for the release had been aged for seven years. The company produced just 250 boxes of 20 cigars, with 190 of them slated for the U.S. and the remaining 60 heading to other markets. While it is limited, the company is planning on making it an annual release.
- Cigar Reviewed: ADVentura The Conqueror Comandante
- Country of Origin: Dominican Republic
- Factory: Tabacalera William Ventura
- Wrapper: Ecuador (Habano 2000)
- Binder: Ecuador (Sumatra)
- Filler: Dominican Republic & Nicaragua
- Length: 5 Inches
- Ring Gauge: 50
- Vitola: Robusto
- MSRP: $12 (Box of 20, $240)
- Release Date: July 2019
- Number of Cigars Released: Regular Production
- Number of Cigars Smoked For Review: 3
While we often praise elaborate packaging designs, the beautiful simplicity of the white and black band worn by The Conqueror does not go unnoticed. The text is crisp and clean, and there’s a bit of flourish via the scalloped edges of part of the band. The cigar is a fairly standard looking robusto, rolled firmly with flat, nearly invisible seams, a well-constructed head and cap, and a network of very small veins. Aroma off the foot is a thick wheat bread, with just a bit of sweetness but no pepper. The cold draw is good, skewing loose with airflow; in terms of flavor it is much sweeter than the aroma, reminding me a bit of a candy cane or similar holiday candy at first taste. From there it evolves to show a bit of a wood and wheat combination that seems to have become very familiar among cigars I’ve been smoking lately.
The Conqueror starts out with a profile that is driven by black pepper but far from dominated by it; it’s medium-plus to medium-full and isn’t shy about making a solid first impression. Retrohales in the first inch have a good bit of pepper as well, but they, too, stop short of being overpowering. I find myself taking a bit slower and more measured draw on one cigar and find myself rewarded with a thicker, more fulfilling smoke, now creamy with just a bit of chalk on the fringes, leading me to wonder if I should really slow down my puffs or if this was just an aberration. There’s also some flirting with woods and chalk in before the first clump of ash drops, though those aren’t consistent flavors across the three samples. After I knock off the first clump of ash just shy of an inch in length, the profile gets a bit sharper, as the black pepper feels a bit more pointed towards the senses, though it’s not irritating or rough. If anything, it feels like the ash might have been softening the profile, and now without it, it shows its true profile. It’s here where I find myself reaching for a bit of water as while the profile isn’t bad, I find it needs something to cool off the palate. The draw, burn and smoke production have all been very good so far, with the cigar sitting at medium-plus or a bit above in flavor, while body and strength are a bit below that.
The second third of The Conqueror Comandante sees the profile get a little bit more robust than it had been earlier, picking up a bit of rockiness to go along with the pepper but staying away from what I’d describe as a true earthy flavor. While black pepper had become more pointed not that long ago, it suddenly folds itself back into the mix, not completely disappearing but no longer standing out. It continues that trend through the midway point, and as it does there’s a bit of creaminess beginning to emerge, and with it comes a bit of wood and nuts. It’s here where the profile finds a very enjoyable spot, getting the scales to even out between the more robust flavor it had developed and the newfound creaminess that offers just a bit of sweetness but also some soft texture to the smoke that eases how it hits the palate. It’s a bit too fleeting, as white pepper returns to the forefront via the retrohale, and it’s not long before it hits my tongue and I can feel the cigar becoming a bit more pointed in its presence. The draw is still a touch loose though it’s not problematic, and each puff generates plenty of smoke. The burn line and combustion are both very good, while the cigar finishes this section heading up the scale from medium in terms of flavor, while body and strength are hanging closer to the medium mark.
Much like the seafaring backstory of The Conqueror, the cigar offers a journey of flavor, as the profile has left the smoother seas of the second third in favor of a bit rougher waters at the start of the final third. Pepper is back at the helm of the profile, not quite as assertively as earlier, which opens the door for a bit of a fresh marshmallow flavor to enter, as well as just a bit of creaminess, but there is no appreciable sweetness with either. There are a few puffs in the final third where the flavor gets a bit rougher than I would like, though they never cross into the territory where they’d merit being called harsh or aggressive, more just needing a sip of water to wash off the palate. The technical performance is very good, never needing a touch up or other maintenance, while smoke production is very good and the burn line is near razor sharp. The cigar finishes between the medium-plus to medium-full marks in terms of flavor, while strength and body are both medium-plus.
- For as much as I like the design of the bands, they are not the easiest to remove. The adhesive seems to soak into the paper, and they are placed on the cigars fairly snugly, making it nearly impossible to slide them off.
- In addition to the ADVentura trio of cigars, the company offers two more lines that are only available in select European countries. El Loco uses a Mexican wrapper and binder over Mexican and Nicaraguan fillers and is made by the Turrent family in Mexico, while La Bucanera is made by Mombacho Cigars S.A. at Casa Favili in Granada, Nicaragua.
- The company also released a charitable project called Piece of Heart, a cigar that debuted Switzerland in October 2019, with plans to expand it to Germany as well. Proceeds from the project benefit a Dominican charity called El Aposento that provides social services to the Tamboril area, which is home to a number of cigar manufacturers. In particular, El Aposento is focusing on providing vision services to the children of cigar factory workers.
- I didn’t get a lot of nicotine strength from the cigar. What does last is some of the pepper on the palate, as the finish can be fairly lingering at points.
- The cigars for this review were purchased by halfwheel.
- Final smoking time was one hour and 25 minutes on average.
Sometimes a cigar comes out with so much of a backstory that the smoking experience can't keep up with it; thankfully that is not the case with The Conqueror. From the first puff to the last, there are no lulls in the flavor, which starts with a balanced amount of pepper, moves towards a smoother profile and then finishes with a more pointed yet still balanced profile. While depth and complexity of flavors might have been a bit lacking, there was certainly no shortage of engagement with the senses, as seemingly every puff and retrohale delivered something enjoyable and worthy of consideration. Even with a slightly loose draw, the cigar burned remarkably well, never needing any sort of touch up or attention, other than the occasional tap of the ash to make sure it ended up in the ashtray and not elsewhere. The Conqueror is a very pleasant surprise and introduction to the ADVentura line and the company as a whole, and one worth giving a shot should you see the boat-shaped box in your local humidor.