Late last year, Isabela Cigar Co. released a new line specifically designed for fans of larger ring gauge cigars that incorporated both an Ecuadorian desflorada Connecticut leaf and an aged Nicaraguan habano prieto leaf in a barber pole wrapper design. Named The Mammoth, the line debuted with two vitolas—a 7 x 70 and an 8 x 80—both of which were packaged in 25-count boxes.

In May, the company announced the next addition to the series, a smaller 6 x 60 vitola officially known as the Isabela 2022 Ltd Edition Mammoth 660 PepperHead. However, while it does feature a similar barber pole design, the newest cigar in the line has a different blend. It is rolled with a Nicaraguan habano prieto wrapper as the main wrapper with stripes of Ecuadorian Connecticut wrapper accenting the habano leaf. In addition, the cigar includes multiple Nicaraguan tobaccos in the filler.

According to Johnny Piette of Isabela, the Isabela 2022 Ltd Edition Mammoth PepperHead was actually rolled two years ago—one year before the two aforementioned larger sizes—but he felt like the blend was not ready at the end of the last year, so he pushed the release back.

  • Isabela 2022 Ltd Edition Mammoth 660 PepperHead (6 x 60) — 80 Boxes of 25 (2,000 Total Cigars)
  • Isabela 2021 Ltd Edition Mammoth 770 (7 x 70) — 100 Boxes of 25 (2,500 Total Cigars)
  • Isabela 2021 Ltd Edition Mammoth 880 (8 x 80) — 100 Boxes of 25 (2,500 Total Cigars)

The Isabela 2022 Ltd Edition Mammoth 660 PepperHead is limited to 2,000 total cigars packaged in 25-count boxes. Pricing is set at $12.95 per cigar.

  • Cigar Reviewed: Isabela 2022 Ltd Edition Mammoth 660 PepperHead
  • Country of Origin: Nicaragua
  • Factory: Undisclosed
  • Wrapper: Nicaragua (Habano Prieto) & Ecuador (Connecticut Desflorada)
  • Binder: Nicaragua
  • Filler: Nicaragua
  • Length: 6 Inches
  • Ring Gauge: 60
  • Vitola: Gordo
  • MSRP: $12.95 (Box of 10, $129.50)
  • Release Date: May 2022
  • Number of Cigars Released: 80 Boxes of 25 Cigars (2,000 Total Cigars)
  • Number of Cigars Smoked For Review: 3

As with most cigars featuring a barber pole design, the Isabela 2022 Ltd Edition Mammoth 660 PepperHead is visually interesting at first glance, although the somewhat garish band design does not do the overall look any favors. Having said that, there is a nice contrast between the sandpaper rough espresso brown color of the main wrapper and the pale, golden brown color of the accent tobacco, the latter of which also happens to be quite a bit smoother to the touch. Bringing the wrapper to my nose reveals somewhat restrained aromas of generic wood, leather, citrus, hay and earth. However, there is quite a bit more going on when it comes to the foot of the cigar, which includes much stronger notes of cedar, nuts, cloves, baker’s spices, cocoa nibs, black pepper and raisin sweetness. After cutting the cap with a straight cutter, I am surprised by a distinct sweet flavor on my lips that leads me to believe the cap is sweetened—see more on that below in the Final Notes—while the actual cold draw brings flavors of sweet hay, black pepper, leather tack, gritty earth, saltine crackers, cedar and a small vegetal note.

Other than the aforementioned sweetness from the cap, the only things I taste after lighting the foot of the Mammoth 660 PepperHead is a duo of bitter espresso and black pepper. However, both of those flavor notes begin to recede fairly quickly so that after about eight puffs a combination of cedar and earth takes the top spot in the profile. Additional flavors of leather, generic nuts, dark chocolate, toasted bread and slight citrus flit in and out, while the retrohale features a small amount of both black pepper and raisin sweetness. In addition, two of the three samples include a slight astringent note on the finish that clashes with the sweetness from the cap, although it has dissipated by the end of the first third. Flavor is between mild and medium, while both the body and strength end up at mild plus. In terms of construction, the draw is a bit loose on all three cigars—albeit not problematic enough to give me any major issues—and there is no dearth of thick, gray smoke, but one of the samples runs into some minor issues that necessitate a quick touchup with my lighter.

There are just not that many changes in the profile of the cigar during the second third: gritty earth and cedar easily retain their place as the main flavors in the profile, followed by notes of cocoa nibs, leather, espresso beans, hay and leather. Having said that, the astringent note on the finish from the first third—as well as the sweetness from the cap—is long gone, while the amount of both raisin sweetness and black pepper on the retrohale remains about the same. Flavor increases slightly to a mild plus, but the body and strength continue to march in tandem, ending the second third just under medium. One change that does become noticeable is in the construction, as all three samples need minor attention from my lighter to stay on track, although the draw and smoke production continue to be fine.

Consistency continues to be the name of the game for the Isabela in the final third, as cedar and earth continue to top the profile until the end of the cigar. Secondary flavors of toasted bread, leather tack, coffee beans, toast, hay and oatmeal make themselves known at various points, but none come close to overtaking the main flavors at any point. There is a small change on the retrohale, as the amount of black pepper has waned noticeably and the raison sweetness has increased slightly, but both notes remain too small to have any major impact on the profile as a whole. Flavor hits a point just under medium but stalls there, while the body and strength end the cigar at a solid medium. Finally, although one cigar features no issues when it comes to burn, two others need a couple of corrections each to avoid larger problems, and the smoke production and draw are non-problematic on all three samples.

Final Notes

  • This release is a bit confusing to me, since Isabela also has an entirely different line using the “PepperHead” moniker that is—at least on paper—blended with the same two tobaccos for its barber pole wrapper. Having said that, the other PepperHead line supposedly incorporates 13 different tobaccos, a fact not mentioned anywhere when it comes to The Mammoth blend.
  • I was a bit surprised by the sweetened cap, as I had not read about it being the case anywhere. My college Patrick Lagreid mentioned that he was undecided on whether the cap of the Isabela Ltd Edition PepperHead Gordo 2021 was sweetened,  but after doing the lick test on the final two samples before I actually cut and lit them, there is no doubt in my mind that the cap on this cigar’s cap was sweetened, albeit only slightly.
  • Having said the above, that sweetness on the cap is never very strong and is only noticeable for about 10 puffs before disappearing almost completely.
  • To me, the combination of vibrant colors and metallic silver  on the band is a bit overwhelming from a visual standpoint, but I have to admit that it is certainly memorable.
  • On two of my samples, the detail line of tobacco located near the cap started to flake off around the time the burn line reached the halfway point. Since that tobacco leaf was placed on top of the main wrapper, it did not affect the construction of the actual cigar in any way, but it was mildly annoying.
  • The cigars for this review were purchased by halfwheel.
  • Final smoking time for all three cigars averaged out to one hour and 54 minutes.
83 Overall Score

Let’s get one thing out of the way up front: the “PepperHead” in the name of this cigar seems to be a misnomer, as there is relatively little pepper in the blend after the first few puffs. With that said, the profile of the Isabela 2022 Ltd Edition Mammoth 660 PepperHead starts out mildly interesting, with a profile that includes a constant combination of earth and cedar along with some fairly mild raisin sweetness on the retrohale. Unfortunately, the profile does not change in any major way during the entire cigar, leading to a smoking experience that becomes quite monotonous during the final third. This might make a decent morning cigar for some people, but if you are looking for any sort of complexity or flavor transitions, Isabela has better options.

Brooks Whittington

I have been smoking cigars for over eight years. A documentary wedding photographer by trade, I spent seven years as a photojournalist for the Dallas Morning News and the Fort Worth Star Telegram. I started the cigar blog SmokingStogie in 2008 after realizing that there was a need for a cigar blog with better photographs and more in-depth information about each release. SmokingStogie quickly became one of the more influential cigar blogs on the internet, known for reviewing preproduction, prerelease, rare, extremely hard-to-find and expensive cigars. I am a co-founder of halfwheel and now serve as an editor for halfwheel.