A month or so ago I was talking to someone and they were mentioning the effects of caffeine and cigars. They then suggested something along the lines of trying to add caffeine to a cigar, and I thought to myself: someone’s already tried that.
The timing couldn’t be better because today is April Fool’s Day and that means it’s time for a serious review of a not so serious product.
At the 2016 IPCPR Convention & Trade Show a company called Nicaragua Cigar Distributors debuted with the aforementioned concept: food grade energy components like caffeine and taurine were added to a cigar.
Called Double Shot, the company boasted that those components were FDA-approved—mind you, this was right after regulations by the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) were announced—and the company indicated that it was serious.
The cigars never came out, the last update on social media from Nicaragua Cigar Distributors was in late 2016 and the somehow associated Santiago de los Caballeros brand hasn’t been heard from since mid-2017.
It was intended to be offered in four sizes, priced between $7.50 and $9, each packaged in tubos.
- Double Shot Energy Cigar (4 1/2 x 46)
- Double Shot Energy Cigar (5 x 50)
- Double Shot Energy Cigar (5 1/2 x 48)
- Double Shot Energy Cigar (6 x 52)
We have a habit of keeping at least one sample of every cigar we get at the IPCPR Convention & Trade Show and for better or worse, I dug up the Double Shot we had and took the plunge for today’s review.
- Cigar Reviewed: Double Shot Energy Cigar Toro
- Country of Origin: n/a
- Factory: n/a
- Wrapper: Ecuador (Habano)
- Binder: n/a
- Filler: Nicaragua
- Length: 6 Inches
- Ring Gauge: 52
- Vitola: Toro
- Est. Price: $9
- Release Date: n/a
- Number of Cigars Released: n/a
- Number of Cigars Smoked For Review: 1
If you didn’t know any better, it’s challenging to designate this as just anything other than a typical cigar. Unfortunately, our sample hasn’t been stored in cellophane, so the aroma is pretty mild: a bit of leather and not much else. The aroma of the foot is also pretty mild, but it smells like a jar of gumballs, which isn’t that uncommon of a flavor for me to find in the pre-light aroma. That gumball flavor continues in the cold draw, now mixed with some twang along with woodiness, some saltine cracker and a bit of table salt. There’s certainly nothing that screams energy drink.
The Double Shot Energy Cigar starts with a mild-medium cigar, a familiar saltine cracker and a mild touch of underlying sweetness. While this is the part where I normally talk about flavor, I have to talk about the construction first. Every few puffs I find myself relighting the whole cigar. It never goes out, but it never stays entirely lit. As such, the flavor is very toasty. When I am able to take consecutive puffs without picking up my lighter, I get some earthiness joined by a super sweet mango and Japanese mayo. The retrohale has some lemon, but it’s completely overshadowed by some very sharp woods.
I come to the conclusion that the Double Shot is burning so poorly it cannot even tunnel. That doesn’t change in the second third and as such, the flavor is oftentimes pretty bad. When the cigar isn’t being preceded by a touch-up, I get the same lemon and earthy mixture, now joined by some hoisin sauce and a slight creaminess that reminds me of hollandaise sauce, right before it begins to thicken. The flavor is medium-plus, body is medium-full and strength is medium.
The lemon-earth mixture remains, though that’s only when the cigar isn’t being touched up, which is happening more frequently. I pick up some thousand island-like flavor, more like In-N-Out’s special “animal” sauce, but the flavor really isn’t worth talking about. Burn issues continue to be on a level that is amongst the worst of any cigar I’ve smoked in my life and now the draw is getting worse as the tobacco doesn’t burn. I’d say the cigar is similar in intensity levels as the second third, though I’m definitely feeling the nicotine more, which is almost certainly a result of the touch-ups and increased puff rates, not the actual cigar.
- Our other April Fool’s Day reviews have been:
- I am not trying to mock what someone did. There was clearly time and energy—and presumably a fair bit of money—invested in what Double Shot Energy Cigars did at the trade show. However, the deliberate reassurances that the product was FDA-compliant followed up by the radio silence and lack of shipping of the product creates a juxtaposition, that when combined with the concept of the cigar, inspires a smirk on my face.
- While I cannot say I’ve heard a huge demand for energy drink-infused or energy drink-esque cigars, I’m sure the market is a lot larger than what most people reading this website would think. Flavored cigars are a huge and diverse market and I bet if done right, and with enough resources to launch the product properly, this could be extremely successful.
- On that note, the flavored cigar space is the most competitive part of the market. Trying to take on Drew Estate, Rocky Patel and Davidoff’s Baccarat brand is a massive uphill battle. You have extremely developed players in the space and all are massive companies.
- I gave up drinking soda about three years ago and haven’t touched an energy drink in an even longer period of time.
- Around the same time I also began cutting my caffeine intake back dramatically. I certainly haven’t given it up and drink coffee or tea a few times per week, but I no longer get headaches if I go a day or two without it.
- The company wanted to be the “Red Bull of cigars” or “Red Bull in a cigar.” Neither happened.
- I’m curious to know how many retailers placed orders.
- In addition, the company had a short fill cigar that measured 4 3/16 x 32, it was priced at $1.25 and targeted towards convenience stores and gas stations.
- I used a Colibri Boss, the original version, to light this cigar. Had I known I was going to be using a lighter this much, I probably would have grabbed something more powerful.
- Our updated score sheet from a few years ago did a lot of things to scores, one of the unintended consequences—but probably the most severe—is that it made it extremely challenging for a cigar to get below a 50. It’s not impossible, theoretically, a zero is possible, but it’s pretty challenging. If you were asking me to objectively rate this on a 1-10 scale without much guidance, I’d probably say it’s a two. That’s obviously not what the score sheet implied.
- The flavor wasn’t bad, but the cigar couldn’t stay lit. Past the halfway mark it was challenging for me to go more than four or five puffs without relighting the entire thing because it was starting to go out again.
- And that is exactly the sort of problem—or saving grace—with our score sheet: there’s only so many points for construction, so the pure points damage of the 40-50 touch-ups over the course of the cigar aren’t that damaging.
- For those wondering about the Asian-inspired tasting notes, it had been about 10 days since my last Asian meal.
- While not an infused cigar, there was another product that gave a nod to energy drinks. E.P. Carrillo’s E-Stunner line was said to be inspired by the energy drink craze, with Ernesto Perez-Carrillo III saying that the company was striving to create a cigar that serves the same functions as an energy drink.
- Cigars for this review were provided to halfwheel by Nicaragua Cigar Distributors at the 2016 IPCPR Convention & Trade Show.
- Final smoking time was two hours and 20 minutes.
First thing's first: I didn't detect any caffeine or any other energy boosters. If you had told me this was a normal cigar, I certainly wouldn't have thought twice about it. But that's not the real problem; this cigar was bad. If these cigars had come to market anywhere close to the condition of the one that I smoked, there's no way they'd be around today. From a burn perspective, the Double Shot was essentially unsmokeable. The best pun I came up with: it's a novel idea that was a novelty cigar.