While there are hundreds of different sales representatives for many different cigar companies, few of those sales representatives can boast of having their own brand.
One such person that can is Tim Wong, who is currently a sales representative for Espinosa Premium Cigars and A.J. Fernández, and has previously worked for other companies that include General Cigar Co., Rocky Patel Premium Cigars and Toraño. His brand named Pier 28 debuted at the 2016 IPCPR Convention & Trade Show with a single offering that featured an Ecuadorian habano wrapper, with boxes only available to shops in his territory of California, Washington, Oregon, Arizona, Nevada and New Mexico, as well as at Espinosa Lounges across the country.
Wong followed up that release with a new blend the next year, namely the Pier 28 Maduro, which incorporates a Mexican maduro wrapper over Nicaraguan binder and filler tobaccos. After that came the Pier 28 Oscuro during last year’s trade show, which—as the name suggests—is covered in a Brazilian oscuro wrapper that covers binder and filler tobaccos that are sourced from Nicaragua. The four-line regular production offering are all packaged in 10-count boxes and is being produced at La Zona Cigar Factory.
There were four different vitolas of the Pier 28 Oscuro available at launch:
- Pier 28 Oscuro Rabito (6 1/2 x 46) — $7.99 (Boxes of 10, $79.99)
- Pier 28 Oscuro Robusto (5 x 52) — $$7.99 (Boxes of 10, $79.99)
- Pier 28 Oscuro Toro (6 x 54) — $8.99 (Boxes of 10, $89.90)
- Pier 28 Oscuro Perfecto (5 1/2 x 56) — $9.99 (Boxes of 10, $99.90)
- Cigar Reviewed: Pier 28 Oscuro Perfecto
- Country of Origin: Nicaragua
- Factory: La Zona Cigar Factory
- Wrapper: Brazil (Oscuro)
- Binder: Nicaragua
- Filler: Nicaragua
- Length: 5 1/2 Inches
- Ring Gauge: 56
- Vitola: Perfecto
- MSRP: $9.99 (Boxes of 10, $99.90)
- Release Date: September 2018
- Number of Cigars Released: Regular Production
- Number of Cigars Smoked For Review: 3
Covered in a mocha brown wrapper that has a little noticeable tooth to it, the Pier 28 Oscuro Perfecto features some visible oil as well as some extremely prominent veins running up and down its length. The cigar is noticeably dense when held in my hand considering its size and there is a soft spot right under the main band. The aroma from the wrapper is a combination of soft earth, grass, creamy nuts, leather, manure and cedar, while the cold draw brings flavors of dark chocolate, leather, cocoa nibs, cedar, oatmeal and touch of spice on my lips.
As expected when smoking a perfecto with a nipple cap, the draw is extremely tight for the first 15 minutes or so, but it opens up nicely after that and does not give me any more issues for the rest of the first third. The dominant flavors are a fairly light combination of cloves and dark chocolate, followed by lesser notes of leather, cedar, cinnamon and generic nuts. There is a touch of black pepper on the retrohale as well as a light maple syrup sweetness, but neither are strong enough to be overly impactful as of yet. Both the burn and the draw are excellent—again, after the nipple cap—with the draw the standout after a Dickman cut. The smoke production is both thick and copious off of the foot while the overall strength level seems content to hover somewhere between mild and medium by the end of the first third.
The second third of the Pier 28 is extremely similar to the first third, with most of the same flavors in the same order, including the dominant notes of cloves and dark chocolate. Other flavors of creamy hay, bread, nuts, cedar, bitter espresso, leather and maple sweetness flit in and out as well, with none having much of an impact overall. One major change is the amount of pepper and spice in the profile, as both have receded drastically until they are basically a non-factor by the time the burn reaches the halfway point. Speaking of the burn, it has a few issues just before the end of the third that end up forcing me to touch it up, but the draw continues to give me no problems whatsoever. The strength increases noticeably right before the second third comes to an end, and shows no signs of slowing down in that regard.
Unfortunately, the final third of the Pier 28 Oscuro is where things start to fall apart, starting with the strength, which continues to ramp up in a major way—which in turn destroys most of the nuance I was tasting—and finally stalls out after quickly passing the full mark. Although still one of the stronger notes, the cloves and dark chocolate combination is replaced by a generic hay flavor at the forefront of the profile, while some additional notes of peanuts, cedar, bitter espresso, yeast and leather fill in the gaps. The black pepper on the retrohale that all but disappeared in the second third is back—albeit quite light—while the maple syrup sweetness has decreased noticeably, meaning it is well below the level needed to actually help the profile in any meaningful way. Construction-wise, the draw continues to impress, but the burn has evened up nicely and gives me no issues until the end of the cigar, which turns out to be when I put the nub down with a little more than an inch left.
- For those wondering about the meaning of the name Pier 28, Wong is on record saying it is in reference to one of the piers in San Francisco that sits just below the bay bridge.
- In addition, Wong says that the shape of the band is cut to match the facade of the Pier 28 building, the lines on the band represent the bay bridge and the symbol that is printed above the Pier 28 logo is the character that translates to “Wong” that represents his family.
- The overall construction was fine, although the nipple foot means you are going to run into a tight draw until the burn line passes it, which is not unusual for that type of vitola. The ash was also a bit of an annoyance, as it basically fell whenever it felt like it, meaning I was constantly wiping pieces off of my keyboard, phone, lap and whatever else was within a two-foot radius of the cigar.
- The cigars for this review were purchased by halfwheel.
- Final smoking time averaged one hour and 31 minutes for all three samples.
For the first two thirds, the Pier 28 features a fairly enjoyable—albeit fairly linear—profile, dominated by a nice combination of cloves and dark chocolate. Unfortunately, the final third ran into issues, namely significantly less sweetness as well as a strength level that increases dramatically, which in turn throws off the balance that was one of the best features of the first two thirds. Having said that, other than the ash issues, the overall construction was quite good and while people who enjoy mild to medium smokes should probably proceed with caution, I would be interested to see how this particular vitola changes with a bit of age on it.