When I got the first press release for a new company called ACE Prime, which at that point was getting stylized as A.C.E. Prime, it seemed like yet another factory who was making cigars for other people wanted to get in the business of selling its own cigars through its own distribution channels. It’s a transition many factories have made, albeit with very mixed results.

The one notable exception to ACE Prime was that it was going to launch cigars in partnership with former NBA players Dominique Wilkins and Tiago Splitter. That was a very different debut than any other company I could think of and there was a chance that the company could get defined as “that company that makes cigars for Dominique Wilkins.”

That certainly hasn’t happened. Through its distribution agreement with Crowned Heads, the company has an established footprint in the U.S. market that isn’t defined by partnerships with former athletes. It’s also continuing to sign new distribution agreements for international markets that are expanding its global presence.

That’s not to say it isn’t making cigars for retired athletes.

Last year, it announced the third release for the M.X.S. line—the name given to these partnerships—a new cigar being made with Adrián González, a retired baseball player.

González, a first baseman, was the first overall pick of the 2000 MLB draft. During his 15-year career he was named an All-Star five times, and he won four Gold Glove and two Silver Slugger awards, notably winning both in 2011 and 2014. His career included stints with the Texas Rangers, San Diego Padres, Boston Red Sox, Los Angeles Dodgers and New York Mets.


The process of creating this cigar began in 2019 and ACE Prime and González worked on the blend for six months. They settled on a 6 1/2 x 50 toro that uses a Mexican San Andrés wrapper over a Nicaraguan binder and fillers from Nicaragua and Peru. It is priced at $12.50 and is considered a seasonal release, with the first shipment consisting of 1,500 boxes of 20 cigars. It is produced at the Tabacalera Pichardo factory in Estelí, Nicaragua.

It uses the El Titán name, a reference to one of González’s nicknames as a player.

  • Cigar Reviewed: M.X.S. Adrián González El Titan
  • Country of Origin: Nicaragua
  • Factory: Tabacalera Pichardo
  • Wrapper: Mexico (San Andrés)
  • Binder: Nicaragua
  • Filler: Nicaragua & Peru
  • Length: 6 1/2 Inches
  • Ring Gauge: 50
  • Vitola: Toro Extra
  • MSRP: $12.50 (Box of 20, $250)
  • Release Date: November 2020
  • Number of Cigars Released: Regular Production
  • Number of Cigars Smoked For Review: 3

I was a bit surprised to see the promotional photos for this release because the cigars I pulled out of the box for this review appear quite a bit darker. One of them has the almost purple color that I see only on the darkest of cigars, though it’s not dark enough that I would think of the word oscuro. Of note, the texture of the wrapper is super soft, like a well-cared-for leather. The aroma from the wrapper is medium-full with a lot of barnyard and hay, and there’s a bit of a tobacco sweating sensation, but it’s a distant tertiary flavor. The foot is full and quite unique thanks to some sugar sweetness, milk chocolate, candied licorice and some spearmint. Once the cigar gets cut, the cold draws produce flavors that are somewhat similar, albeit not as vibrant as the foot. There’s a concentrated sweetness with spearmint over cocoa, behind those are licorice and barnyard.

While I never had issues with the tightness of the cold draw, I’m surprised by the tightness found with two of the cigars once they are lit. Flavor-wise, the M.X.S. Adrián González El Titán starts with meatiness followed quickly by sourdough bread, some black pepper and barnyard. It then leads into a pretty strong finish with lots of earthiness, which foreshadows the first third’s flavor in general. There’s a lot of earthiness over straw and some white bread. Not surprisingly, it finishes with lots of earth on top of a meatloaf-like meatiness, straw, minerals and a mild amount of black pepper. Retrohaling also produces earthiness, though it sits on top of a more unique mixture of raspberry, sugar and white bread. That white bread flavor ends up sticking around for the finish of the retrohale, joined by earthiness and white pepper. Flavor is medium-full, body is medium-full and strength is medium-plus. Two cigars make it through the first third without any need for a touch-up, but one cigar has some mild amounts of tunneling and a dying smoke production. The draw improves on the two problematic cigars but it’s still not excellent.

In terms of the individual flavors, the second third of the M.X.S. Adrián González El Titán is quite similar to the first third. Within the main flavor, there is still earthiness, raspberry and a meatiness. The one new addition is cedar, but that’s not really the story. Even if it’s still the dominant flavor, there’s much less earthiness than before. Unfortunately, the improved balance doesn’t apply to the finish, which is a heavy dose of earthiness over some generic bread flavors.  Retrohaling is quite a bit different: minerals and red apples over some white pepper. Ultimately, the earthiness is unable to stay away and once again dominates the finish. Flavor is medium-full, body is full and strength is medium-full. Unfortunately, it seems like once the El Titán’s smoke production decreases, it means it’s going to continue to have issues. All three cigars need a touch up and two of them need multiple touch-ups to help keep smoke production at a solid level. I suspect this is related to the tight draw, though it could be something else.

For a little while into the final third, it seems like this is just going to be an extension of the second third. Then there’s an uptick in terms of the white pepper, which eventually dethrones the earthiness for the top flavor spot. That also allows some walnuts and leather to break through, a welcome change given the dominance of the earthiness. The finish has pizza crust, earthiness, leather and a bit of sweetness. Earthiness remains the most intense flavor on the retorhlae. It’s joined by a great porter-like flavor along with some mild amounts of black pepper. The finish has earthiness over white pepper, cinnamon and some of the porter-like maltiness. Flavor, body and strength all finish full. The M.X.S. Adrián González El Titán can’t escape its construction issues, which continue in the form of tight draws on two cigars and inconsistent burns on all three cigars.

Final Notes

  • The box we got for review shows one of the most overlooked parts of the cigar-making process: color sorting. If you spend some time staring at it, something looks off. That’s because the wrappers on the cigar aren’t all the same shade, nor are they placed in the box in a manner that would help to hide this. I don’t really care about this, but I’m a bit surprised to see it as it’s extremely rare as most factories are very strict about not letting this happen, even with much less expensive products.
  • If you buy 10 boxes of the same exact cigar and open them up, I suspect you will quickly realize that the cigars aren’t all the same color, even if they look the same color in their boxes.
  • This is also a good reminder that your box of cigars oftentimes contains cigars that weren’t all rolled by the same person and sometimes not even on the same day.
  • I am a bit surprised by just how strong this cigar gets. Most cigars with an athlete tie-in tend to be medium at best, presumably so they can be sold to a wider audience.
  • There are other athletes who have cigars made for them: notably Rocky Patel had agreements with Ray Lewis, Bernie Parent and Gary Sheffield; El Artista makes a cigar for David Ortiz; and Karl Malone has an actual cigar company. Malone’s approach is quite a bit different, but I’m not sure any of the athlete cigars have been that successful from a sales perspective. It’s certainly a far cry from Casamigos, the tequila company that was co-founded by George Clooney and then purchased by Diageo in a deal that could be worth as much as $1 billion.
  • In conversations with other cigar companies, it’s also quite clear there are no shortage of celebrities—sports or otherwise—who would like to have cigars made for them, or more specifically, would like to get paid to have their name used on a cigar.
  • I haven’t smoked either of the other M.X.S. cigars, which were made for basketball players Dominique Wilkins and Tiago Splitter, so I can’t speak to which I’d recommend amongst the trio.
  • Cigars for this review were sent to halfwheel by ACE Prime.
  • This cigar took seemingly forever to burn, taking over three hours to smoke each time.
  • Site sponsor Famous Smoke Shop carries the M.X.S. Adrián González El Titán.
82 Overall Score

The M.X.S. Adrián González El Titan isn’t a bad cigar, but this score got hammered by burn and draw issues from two cigars. Looking past the score, this is just too much earthiness for me, particularly given it lacks the more complex terroir flavors that some earth-dominant cigars are able to produce. If the first two thirds had been like the final third—where some of the more interesting pizza crust, white pepper and porter flavors were able to break through—this would a much different story. As it stands, this just doesn’t pass the point where I think it’s worth the price of admission.

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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 handle the editing of our written content, the majority of the technical aspects of the site and work with the rest of our staff on content management, business development and more. I’ve lived in most corners of the country and now entering my second stint in Dallas, Texas. I enjoy boxing, headphones, the Le Mans 24-hour, wearing sweatshirts year-round and gyros. echte liebe.