Isabela Cigar Co. has released what it is calling its most aggressive blend to date, the Shape-Shifter.

The cigar is a 6 1/2 x 42 barber pole that uses a dual wrapper Ecuadorian Connecticut and Nicaraguan habano prieto, the latter of which gives the cigar its darker stripes. The binder and filler both come from Nicaragua, with “a sliver” of Pennsylvania ligero added to the latter. The company says that in addition to each component getting a specific amount of aging prior to rolling, the finished cigars are aged for two-and-a-half years, though the blend wasn’t originally destined to merit so much time at rest.

“Our intent was to use powerful tobaccos” said John Piette, founder of Isabela, comparing crafting the Shape-Shifter to cooking with habanero chiles. “You cook with the chiles, and cook down or age down the overwhelming flavor of pepper, revealing wonderful flavors behind the powerful pepper,” he told halfwheel. Once the cigars had been rolled, samples were smoked at three-month intervals to find when the power and pepper had settled down enough to reveal the broad spectrum of flavors hidden behind, Piette added.

The Isabela Shape-Shifter is a limited production release, with 50 bundles of 25 cigars and 50 dress boxes of 12 cigars produced. While the single stick MSRP is $8.95, the 12-count dress boxes sell for $120, or $10 per cigar, a premium due to the inclusion of a painted Giclee interior and hand-numbering of each box. Piette said that there are no plans to produce additional cigars due to a lack of additional tobacco, though he did note that another batch of Shape-Shifters is currently in the aging process at the company’s factory in Condega, Nicaragua, but those cigars use different primings of tobaccos to “punch it up.”

Images courtesy of Isabela Cigar Co.

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Patrick Lagreid

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 previously the Arizona Rattlers of the Indoor Football League. I also work in a number of roles for Major League Baseball, plus I'm a voice over artist. Prior to joining halfwheel, I covered the Phoenix and national cigar scene for, and was an editor for Cigar Snob magazine.