While most cigar companies continued to release new brands after the U.S. Food & Drug Administration began regulating cigars in August 2016, Paul Stulac stopped.

Earlier this year, Stulac changed his approach and sent two new cigars to Privada Cigar Club, an online cigar monthly subscription program and retailer. The idea was that the club would be able to pick which blend would become an exclusive to Privada while the other would be sold through Privada’s wholesale distribution arm, the Limited Cigar Association.

Both cigars are called El Nuevo Comienzo, Spanish for the new beginning. Both share similar packaging, though the blends are different.

The blend chosen by Privada is now known as the El Nuevo Comienzo Privada Limitada by Paul Stulac, a 5 x 54 that uses a Mexican San Andrés wrapper over a habano 2000 binder and Nicaraguan fillers.

A slightly larger cigar, 5 1/2 x 54, is known as the El Nuevo Comienzo Paul Stulac Exclusiva, with no use of the word Privada. It uses a Connecticut broadleaf wrapper over a corojo 99 binder from Jalapa, Nicaragua, and fillers from Nicaragua.

  • El Nuevo Comienzo Privada Limitada by Paul Stulac (5 x 54)
  • El Nuevo Comienzo Paul Stulac Exclusiva (5 1/2 x 54)

It’s expected that there will be other sizes for both blends in the future. The El Nuevo Comienzo Paul Stulac Exclusiva—the one that I’m reviewing—is expected to get at least a torpedo and toro vitola next year.

Both cigars are made at Tabacalera La Perla in Nicaragua.

  • Cigar Reviewed: El Nuevo Comienzo Paul Stulac Exclusiva
  • Country of Origin: Nicaragua
  • Factory: Tabacalera La Perla
  • Wrapper: U.S.A. (Connecticut Broadleaf)
  • Binder: Nicaragua (Jalapa)
  • Filler: Nicaragua
  • Length: 5 1/2 Inches
  • Ring Gauge: 54
  • Vitola: Robusto Extra
  • MSRP: $12 (Box of 20, $240)
  • Release Date: August 2020
  • Number of Cigars Released: Regular Production
  • Number of Cigars Smoked For Review: 3

While there’s writing on the cellophane of one of the most popular cigars, the OpusX, it’s still a bit odd to see it outside of some sort of wedding cigar. That being said, it’s nice to have the writing on it so you can tell the two versions of the El Nuevo Comienzo apart. There’s a lot going on with the band, my personal favorite is a maple leaf medallion, a nod to Stulac’s home of Canada. The wrapper is very dark, though there is a bit of deformity here and there. One sample has a few missing specs of wrapper, another has a small divot and the seams could be better on two cigars. The aroma from the wrapper has barnyard, a bit of a merlot sensation, a fair amount of acidity, and chocolate. Smelling the foot leads to a much fuller aroma with sweet chocolate, soy sauce, raisins and a bit of caramel. The cold draws are varying degrees of open across the three samples. The flavors are pretty consistent with hay, leather, pinewood and a bit of acidity.

The El Nuevo Comienzo Paul Stulac Exclusiva starts with wheat, red pepper and leather. It’s obvious from the first puff that the draw is too open and I wish there was more smoke. Four puffs in, the cigar comes alive and I’m able to get more smoke in the mouth. There’s charred earth, leather, lots of red pepper and some deep cedar. The cedar flavor is a bit odd, sometimes it’s the most dominant flavor while in other puffs it’s not present. The cigar finishes with red pepper, chalkiness, pine and a bit of harshness. Retrohales have red pepper on top of orange peel. They are fuller and more aggressive than the mouth flavor, but the orange peel helps to offset some of the red pepper’s intensity. Flavor is medium-full, body is full and strength is medium. The draw is open, which leads to lots of smoke and quicker smoke times. Fortunately the cigar stays lit, despite meaning I’m forced to smoke quicker.

Right around the halfway point of each cigar, the smoke production begins to suffer. Unfortunately, two samples go out completely, while another one stays lit with the help of a lighter. Flavor-wise, all three cigars are more restrained than the first third, though similar. The one cigar that says lit has a regular earth note, less toasty than before, and the red pepper. On the samples that need relighting, that combination is jointed by some creaminess. There’s a bourbon-like finish with toasty flavors, irritation from the red pepper and some of the earthiness. Retrohales have red pepper, cedar and leather. It finishes with red pepper, leather and harshness. Flavor is full, body is medium-full and strength is medium-plus.

I’d like to tell you about all the changes I found in the final third of the El Nuevo Comienzo Paul Stulac Exclusiva, but there aren’t many of them. The one thing that adds itself to the profile is hay, which joins the earthiness and red pepper. It continues to smooth out slowly, though I wouldn’t go as far to say that the profile is ever smooth. The red pepper that has been present from the start continues to be a part of the cigar and nearly every puff leads to some sort of pepper-like burn on my palate. Retrohales have a bit of that merlot flavor, which is some attempt at sweetness though I prefer the orange peel that was once present. Keeping the cigar lit continues to be an issue on all three samples, though it only takes one use of the lighter to get to the one-inch mark.

Final Notes

  • For whatever reason, I really struggled to cut these cigars flat.
  • On the final sample, I made a concerted effort to take off as little as possible. That wasn’t going to fix the draw issues, but I certainly didn’t want to make things worse.
  • Two samples felt fine, one was a bit squishy. It wasn’t egregious, but it highlights the thin line between the range of what isn’t going to cause problems and the area where it’s going to really detract.
  • Cigars have burn issues of all kinds, this is my second to least favorite. Everything seems to be going fine and then I pick up the cigar and there’s no more smoke. It’s almost like a thud.
  • My least favorite burn issues are the cigars that just can’t stay lit. This was quite the opposite of that. Once I used my lighter, the cigar came back to life and stayed lit for another 30 minutes.

  • I could have done without the text on the band itself. It takes away from the image and there’s so much going on. Plus, it’s on the cellophane which makes it a bit repetitive.
  • Privada and Paul Stulac also worked together last year to bring the Red Screaming Sun Lancero back to the U.S.
  • Cigars for this review were purchased by halfwheel. The day before this review was published, some of the Privada versions of these cigars arrived but I wasn’t able to smoke them for a comparison.
  • Final smoking time was one hour and 45 minutes on average.
  • I know that site sponsor STOGIES World Class Cigars carries the cigars because that’s where we bought them from. But it seems like they aren’t listed on the website anymore, so I’d call 713.783.5100 to place an order.
80 Overall Score

As is the case when there are draw issues, I really don’t feel like I got to taste all of this cigar. I suspect that some of my parting thoughts, namely that the red pepper was pretty aggressive, would probably be the same. But I’m curious to know if there would have been more transitions had the draws been in an acceptable range. For me, the broadleaf seemed to overwhelm the rest of what was going on here, and as such, it was a relatively linear profile. That’s all secondary to the bunching issues as it doesn’t matter how good the tobacco or the blend is, if the tobacco is not put together properly.

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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 have written about the cigar industry for more than a decade, covering everything from product launches to regulation to M&A. In addition, I handle a lot of the behind-the-scenes stuff here at halfwheel. I enjoy playing tennis, watching boxing, falling asleep to the Le Mans 24, wearing sweatshirts year-round and eating gyros. echte liebe.