While Tabacalera William Ventura is probably best known as the largest source of Caldwell Cigar Co. blends on the market, the factory also has its own brand of sorts in the form of ADV & McKay Cigars Co. S.R.L.

It’s a brand co-owned by Marcel Knobel, a Swiss sommelier and coffee producer and retailer, and Henderson Ventura, who runs Tabacalera William Ventura alongside his father.

The company’s name might seem a bit odd, though it’s based on an elaborate story of ADVENTURA and McKay, two explorers who left Europe for the new world in search of treasures. The fourth chapter in the fictional story is named The Royal Return, in which the explorers find treasures to bring back to the royal family.

That takes the form of gold for the king and pearls for the queen, which are the names of the company’s two newest lines: King’s Gold and Queen’s Pearls.

King’s Gold is supposed to be the stronger of the two lines, capped off by a Connecticut broadleaf wrapper. On the opposite side of the spectrum is The Royal Return Queen’s Pearls, which uses an Ecuadorian Connecticut wrapper and binder over fillers from the Dominican Republic, Ecuador and Nicaragua.

  • ADVentura The Royal Return Queen’s Pearls Corona (6 x 44) — $11.20 (Box of 20, $224)
  • ADVentura The Royal Return Queen’s Pearls Robusto (4 1/2 x 50) — $11.20 (Box of 20, $224)
  • ADVentura The Royal Return Queen’s Pearls Toro (6 x 54) — $13.20 (Box of 20, $264)

According to the company, the tobacco used is four- to five-years-old, while the cigars receive at least four months of aging after being rolled.

  • Cigar Reviewed: ADVentura The Royal Return Queen’s Pearls Corona
  • Country of Origin: Dominican Republic
  • Factory: Tabacalera William Ventura
  • Wrapper: Ecuador (Connecticut)
  • Binder: Ecuador (Connecticut)
  • Filler: Dominican Republic, Ecuador & Nicaragua
  • Length: 6 Inches
  • Ring Gauge: 44
  • Vitola: Lonsdale
  • MSRP: $11.20 (Box of 20, $224)
  • Release Date: August 2020
  • Number of Cigars Released: Regular Production
  • Number of Cigars Smoked For Review: 3

This is one of the prettiest cigars I’ve smoked in a while. The relatively flawless tan wrapper reminds me of a lot of the better-looking cigars from Davidoff’s portfolio. It’s got a very interesting medium-full, sweet aroma, with berries, leather, graham cracker and a bit of sawdust. The foot is fuller with sweet chocolate dominating caramels, creaminess and oranges. It’s no surprise that the cold draw is both sweet and interesting. There’s a mixture of oranges and pineapples over some saltiness and black pepper. The one knock is that the draws are a bit open.

The ADVentura The Royal Return Queen’s Pearls Corona begins with a very sweet butter creaminess over some peanut shells. As the first part burns down, the sweetness slowly withdraws, though the creaminess remains the dominant flavor. It takes on more of an umami-like flavor, sitting on top of some sunflower seeds, cashews and white pepper. The finish is rougher with burnt toast, orange bitters, a more intense pepper, and hints of a grain pasta. Retroahles have more of that grain pasta flavor, sweet leather and some barbecue sauce. Flavor is medium-full, body is close to full and strength is medium. Construction is fine, though the draw could be a bit tighter. One thing to pay attention to is the burn on the first few puffs, as the cigar seems quite prone to going out in the first minute or two if not attended to properly.

Everything is a bit crisper in the second third. It’s not to say that the first third isn’t detailed, but everything tightens up a bit in the second third. The main flavor is led by a mixture of earthiness and freshly fried potato chips over some pepper and burnt rice. The finish has that fresh potato chip flavor over some more generic grains. That’s all fine, but the real story is the retrohale. Not only is the smoke through the nose substantially stronger, but it’s one of the most detailed and flavorful retrohales I’ve had this year. There are grapes, orange peel, lemon, a funky mushroom, cinnamon and breads. It reminds me a bit of those money booths—the game that flings $1 bills in the air—as there’s so much going on and I am just trying to identify as much of it before the sensations leave my taste receptors. Flavor is full, body is medium-full and strength is medium-plus.

The second third lasts pretty far into the last two inches of the cigar, but eventually, it appears that the Queen’s Pearls wants to change. On one cigar, it seems like I’ve just finished a bowl of oatmeal. There’s a ton of oatmeal and some creaminess, though not much else. Another sample is dominated by oak though the oatmeal is present as a secondary flavor. Another sample ends with a lot more saltiness over top some earth and creaminess. What’s pretty consistent is the retrohale, it’s got lemon and earthiness along with a flavor that is reminiscent of tonkotsu ramen. One sample has a bit of liquid smoke instead of the more isolated tonkotsu flavor, though it’s similar enough. Flavor finishes medium-full, body is medium-full and strength is medium-plus.

Final Notes

  • While I cannot imagine trying to explain this to a customer in a retail store, the story the company has created is super detailed and admirable. The company’s lines all have tie-ins to that story, one of which have included cigar boxes designed to look like boats.
  • For those wondering about the aging of the cigars for four months, it certainly is longer than most companies want to age most of their cigars. The most common aging period seems to be 30 days, or at least that’s the intent. Obviously, sometimes cigars can age longer because of logistical reasons or because a factory decides the cigars need more time. Some cigars are specifically designed to age for longer, OpusX—for example—is said to get at least one year of age after rolling.
  • On the other end of the spectrum, Padrón doesn’t age its cigars. It’s one of the most fascinating things I’ve learned in the cigar business and just speaks volumes to how well the company works its tobacco.
  • There was a time in which seeing Ecuadorian tobacco listed for the wrapper and binder would have been a very rare occurrence. This cigar uses Ecuadorian tobacco throughout all three parts. That’s different, though I’m seeing a lot more blends using both Ecuadorian wrapper and binder.
  • The bands for this cigar are very interesting as they are more metal than paper. It’s not a solid metal band like some companies have used, instead, it’s flexible with the consistency a bit less firm than a paper clip. It’s similar to the band used for the Chinnock Cellars Terroir.
  • Patrick Lagreid points out that the Terroir has a waxy substance on the inside of the band to make it easier to slide off without damaging the cigar. That’s not present here, though I was able to get the band off without damaging any of the samples.
  • After smoking this blend, I really want to go smoke more of the Connecticut-wrapped cigars coming from Tabacalera William Ventura. It’s that good.
  • In each third, there’s one sort of flavor that just seems to be an added twist that I’m able to pick up in one area. In the first third it’s the barbecue sauce, the second third it’s the funky mushroom flavor and the final third has the tonkatsu ramen broth sensation.
  • One sample was a bit tight and easily the worst of the three I smoked.
  • Final smoking time was one hour and 40 minutes on average. The variance between the two samples with the open draw and the one without it was about 20 minutes.
  • Cigars for this review were sent to halfwheel by ADV & McKay Cigars Co.
91 Overall Score

Two of these cigars—particularly the first two thirds—were the frontrunner for the best cigar I've reviewed all year. It's layered, complex and unique. While the flavors I picked up are a bit off the beaten path, the most remarkable part of the ADVentura The Royal Return Queen’s Pearls might be that it's extremely approachable and a cigar I could smoke any time of the day. The sample with the tight draw was not as good, but I'll put the first two thirds of the other two against any new cigar that's come out this year.

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Charlie Minato

I am an editor and co-founder of halfwheel.com/Rueda Media, LLC. I previously co-founded and published TheCigarFeed, one of the two predecessors of halfwheel. I handle the editing of our written content, the majority of the technical aspects of the site and work with the rest of our staff on content management, business development and more. I’ve lived in most corners of the country and now entering my second stint in Dallas, Texas. I enjoy boxing, headphones, the Le Mans 24-hour, wearing sweatshirts year-round and gyros. echte liebe.