AR Cigar Collective Bullet With A Name Volume 1 Robusto

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Like any industry, the cigar industry goes through its share of trends. A lot of times they seem to have to do with a certain varietal of leaf, other times it’s a theme for cigars and packaging, other times it’s sizes or some other aspect. But one that has become a bit more prevalent in recent years is the idea of found cigars, that is, cigars that have been forgotten or otherwise unclaimed and have sat in factories, sometimes for years.

The origins of these cigars vary; some were contracted to be produced and never paid for by the brand owners, some were overruns of projects, some were likely created for projects that never got off the ground. Regardless of their genesis, the story seems to unify in that they have sat on shelves for upwards of years waiting for some sort of purpose to find them.

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While Robert Caldwell, Tony Bellatto and Jaclyn Sears are most likely the best known purveyors of such cigars under the Lost&Found brand, having traveled throughout the cigar producing countries in search of such cigars, then rebirthing them with a new name and imagery. However, they are not the only players in the game. At the end of the year, PDR Cigars announced that it was getting into the mix with a new project called the AR Cigar Collective.

Richie “Riot” Otero, PDR Cigars’ director of sales, explained to halfwheel that over the course of several visits to the factory, he and Abe Flores, owner of PDR Cigars, had come across and sampled a number of cigars that were essentially unclaimed and unaccounted for. The pair found two cigars that stood out, and as such, they decided to bring them to the market, the first one under the name Bullet With A Name Volume 1.

“It’s edgier than our normal stuff,” Otero told halfwheel, adding that there should be more releases to come under the AR Cigar Collective header, which gets its name as an abbreviation for Abe & Riot. Volume 2 has already been confirmed, though a release date remains to be set. In the meantime, a second release called The Four Star Society has been released as an exclusive to Binny’s Beverage Depot in and around Chicago.

Little is said about the blend, other than that it uses a desflorado wrapper. What is known is that it’s available in two sizes, a 5 x 54 robusto ($6.50) and a 6 x 54 gran toro ($6.70), both of which are packaged in 10-count paper-wrapped bundles. A total of 285 bundles were made available between the two sizes, sent to 19 PDR retailers across the country.

  • Cigar Reviewed: AR Cigar Collective Bullet With A Name Volume 1 Robusto
  • Country of Origin: Dominican Republic
  • Factory: PDR Cigars
  • Wrapper: n/a
  • Binder: n/a
  • Filler: n/a
  • Length: 5 Inches
  • Ring Gauge: 54
  • Vitola: Robusto Extra
  • MSRP: $6.50 (Bundles of 10)
  • Release Date: Dec. 17, 2018
  • Number of Cigars Released: n/a
  • Number of Cigars Smoked For Review: 3

Given that there is no band on the Bullet With a Name Volume 1, I’m left to analyze the wrapper, which is a fairly typical looking leaf with a light tan, some small veins, very uniform coloration, and just a bit of spotting near the top where the cap was created. It’s a fairly firm cigar, even in terms of fill and with invisible seams and no visual imperfections. While it doesn’t glisten, there is a good amount of oil to be found in the wrapper by simply sliding your fingers along the top leaf, making me think that if I could inspect it on its own, it would show a good bit of elasticity and suppleness. The wrapper itself is fairly neutral in terms of aroma, but the foot of the cigar offers a combination of cold butter and room temperature Cheerios, two distinct flavors that meet up well in the middle, even if they don’t completely intertwine. One sample adds a bit of fresh-cut berries to further whatever thoughts of breakfast I’m having as a result. The cold draw is a bit tight and offers a buttery oiliness that is now melted and just above room temperature, with the cereal grain coming along at the very end of the finish. There’s little if any outright sweetness or pepper to be found either here or from the aroma.

I’m hesitant to say that it’s possible to taste some age on the Bullet With a Name Volume 1, but the start shows the kind of restraint and temperament that indicates this cigar has been on the shelf for a while. There’s some pepper to be found—more than I would have expected given what the cigar offered before lighting—as well as a good bit of lumberyard wood and a sprinkling of cedar. There is a bit of creaminess emerges just past the one-inch mark, a very welcomed addition to the profile that softens it while adding complexity and just a touch of sweetness. The draw on the first sample is a bit tight but is not problematic, with decent smoke production and a very even burn line. Otherwise, each of the samples burn quite well if a bit quickly; I’m surprised to find myself done with the first third in just about 25 minutes.

The second third begins with a more pronounced white pepper punch in the nose, showing that while this cigar may have some age on it, it isn’t relaxing in a rocking chair. That same sensation makes its way to the tongue but the results are not quite as good, seemingly more chalk-forward then pepper, and this particular expression is not one of which I am a fan. The cigar is doing a commendable job settling in around the medium strength and body level; there isn’t much weight to the smoke so it can feel a bit thin at times, though don’t take that as the cigar being lacking in mouthfeel. At its fullest, the cigar picks up a bit of harshness that tags along with the pepper, taking it from enjoyable when a bit milder to aggressive at its most vibrant. What’s interesting is that the cigar picks up some creaminess between the midway point and the tail end of the second third, a subtle touch that comes in quietly and stays subtle, just enough to nudge the flavor profile in a slightly different direction, but it’s not so subtle as to be overlooked, particularly when comparing one sample to another. It’s a flavor that turns out to be a bridge to a new profile that brings about black pepper and a bit of charred wood, a nod to the first third but with a decidedly new spin. The draw continues to be outstanding, and again my only note is that the cigar is burning fairly quickly and seems to be headed for a final smoking time of just over an hour at this pace, what I would consider quick for a cigar of this size. 

This new flavor seems to be calling for a slower smoking rate, though even with spacing out my puffs at the start of the final third, the Bullet With a Name Volume 1 Robusto isn’t letting go of the less palate-friendly aspects of its new flavor. Thankfully, the intensity of this new sensation varies from sample to sample, with the final cigar smoked the mildest of the three and thus by far the most enjoyable. The wood component takes the lead at the point where the band would be coming off, and the lingering finish is longer and more pervasive than it has been to this point, with a bit of black pepper helping extend that sensation. At its fullest, the final inch doubles down on the pepper and char, and makes the last puffs a bit hard to enjoy fully as the palate gets a lingering tingle after each draw, while the one milder sample sees less of an increase, but an increase all the same. The construction remains fantastic, with plenty of smoke production, an even burn line and no touch-ups required across the three samples. My only note in this regard is how quickly the cigar burns, something that suggests some lighter tobaccos are used in the blend.

Final Notes

  • While I’m a bit ambivalent about the whole “lost cigars” projects that are coming out, it would be really interesting to do some digging in cigar factories to see what might be found.
  • That said, if a cigar was made, I do wonder what’s so bad about rebranding it and selling it. If it’s good, better to get it out on the market, smoke it and enjoy it. To borrow from several people’s favorite phrases, “we’re not running a museum here.”
  • Otero said that the cigar is edgier than the company’s normal stuff, which I’d have to assume refers to the packaging more than the cigar itself. The former is certainly a departure, while the latter is certainly in line with the quality and profile I’ve come to expect from PDR Cigars.
  • Nicotine strength was fairly minimal from the AR Cigar Collective Bullet With A Name Volume 1 Robusto. There’s a bit, but it’s barely worth noting unless you have a distinct sensitivity to nicotine.
  • The cigars for this review were provided by PDR Cigars.
  • Final smoking time was a quick one hour and 15 minutes on average.
  • Site sponsor Atlantic Cigar Co. carries the Bullet With a Name Volume 1 Robusto.
86 Overall Score

As I noted above, I'm hesitant to start a review off by saying that I can taste the age in a cigar, but in this case, it certainly seems to be the case, if nothing less than by the admission that these have been sitting in the factory for some longer than normal amount of time. Whatever roughness a typical "new" cigar would be inclined to show is long gone in the Bullet With A Name Volume 1, leaving the blend's core flavors plenty of room to show off what they have to offer. There's still plenty of vibrance from the pepper, which never leaves the profile but gets a few different spins from the woods and creaminess that the cigar offers. It's not the best creation I've had from PDR Cigars, but for a ~$7 robusto gordo, it's a extra enjoyable smoke that doesn't take long to get through and leaves a better than average impression on the senses.

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Patrick Lagreid
About the author

I strive to capture the essence of a cigar and the people behind them in my work – every cigar you light up is the culmination of the work of countless people and often represents generations of struggle and stories. For me, it’s about so much more than the cigar – it’s about the story behind it, the experience of enjoying the work of artisans and the way that a good cigar can bring people together. In addition to my work with halfwheel, I’m the public address announcer for the Colorado Rockies and Arizona Diamondbacks during spring training, as well as for the Salt River Rafters of the Arizona Fall League, the WNBA's Phoenix Mercury and the Arizona Rattlers of the Indoor Football League. I also work in a number of roles for MLB.com, plus I'm a voice over artist. I previously covered the Phoenix and national cigar scene for Examiner.com, and was an editor for Cigar Snob magazine.

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