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Last year, Powstanie introduced its most ambitious cigar to date. The brand is  owned by brothers Szczepankewicz—who also own the Deltona, Fla.-based retailer Cigar Hustler and the distribution company Pospiech, Inc.—and has two core lines: Powstanie Broadleaf and Habano. However, in 2016, the company added a limited edition that was unlike anything it had released before.

Whereas the Powstanie Broadleaf and Habano have somewhat normal design from the vitolas to the packaging, SBC 16 is anything but normal. Although the cigar is a barber pole, it is not in the traditional sense where each of the two intertwined wrappers evenly represents the surface area of the cigars. Instead, the SBC 16 has a primary wrapper and a secondary striping similar to the Cromagnon Black Irish, which incidentally, is made at the same factory as SBC 16.

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The primary wrapper is a Pennsylvania broadleaf leaf while Ecuadorian Connecticut tobacco provides the lighter stripe. Underneath is a Nicaraguan binder and Nicaraguan filler.

The cigar features a large black band with a handwritten style text in a metallic color, while the outside packaging is composed of a bright red box with the SBC 16 text in silver and a large black Powstanie logo.

SBC 16 is an acronym for surrounded by champions, a tribute to those who helped the Szczepankewicz brothers establish the Powstanie brand. Inside the box reads:

This truly limited cigar has a production of only 250 boxes. It’s important to recognize that great accomplishments require the team to be successful. Too often we see success only as a face of a single man. Surrounded by Champions 16 is a cigar that pays homage to the people that made Powstanie possible. The main ingredient of greatness is the rest of the team.

The cigar was made in a single 5 1/2 x 46 size which began shipping in March.

  • Cigar Reviewed: Powstanie SBC 16
  • Country of Origin: Nicaragua
  • Factory: Fabrica de Tabacos NicaSueño S.A.
  • Wrapper: Pennsylvania Broadleaf & Ecuadorian Connecticut
  • Binder: Nicaragua
  • Filler: Nicaragua
  • Length: 5 1/2 Inches
  • Ring Gauge: 46
  • Vitola: Corona
  • MSRP: $16 (Boxes of 20, $320)
  • Release Date: March 14, 2017
  • Number of Cigars Released: 250 Boxes of 20 Cigars (5,000 Total Cigars)
  • Number of Cigars Smoked For Review: 3

One thing that’s interesting is that the cigar has Ecuadorian Connecticut on the cap, which is an interesting and artful touch that most people will probably overlook. It’s July here in Dallas, and while the cigars were smoked in late April, they had already been sitting out of the cellophane for quite some time, so there isn’t a ton of aroma coming from the outside of the cigar. The foot is a different story, with a semisweet profile noted by raspberry ice cream flavors breaking through along with some white pepper. The cold draw has a rich mixture of earthiness and chocolate chip and oatmeal cookies. One cigar had a particularly odd gasoline-like flavor, which isn’t as pleasant as I had hoped for.

It starts rich with woodiness, peanuts and a buttermilk cream while oatmeal cookie and woody flavors find their way into the finish. Once it settles, the SBC 16 has some interesting and complex flavors: sunflower seeds, cedar, grapefruit, unripe strawberries and a multigrain bread which reminds me of a particular loaf that a local bakery used to make and I enjoyed as a child. The draw is a bit tight, within my level of comfort, but tightening a bit.

The second third of the Powstanie really sees an earthiness takeover the profile ahead of a white pepper, Life cereal, red woods, a mild barbecue sweetness, dried out oak and a mild vanilla sweetness. As interesting as the profile is, my attention has largely turned to construction, which is not going well. One cigar needs a touch-up, the others have draws that are still a bit tight. It’s not plugged, or really closed to plugged, but I can never get consistent smoke production which leads to an awkward smoking experience. Flavor and body are both full, while strength is medium-plus.

There’s still an interesting buffet of flavors in the final third, once again taking a pretty big change, a deep meatiness, some rye whiskey, creamed coffee, hot cocoa, Lay’s potato chips, earthiness and some bitter cilantro. The profile is much drier, though the creaminess help to provide some contrast. Unfortunately, the draw issues are now real issues and all three samples finish quite tight.

Final Notes

  • These cigars were smoked three months ago, why this review has taken this long is one of the great mysteries of 2017.
  • From a design prospective, trying to argue that this cigar came from the same company that made Powstanie is challenging to believe.
  • On that same note, this cigar also breaks Pospiech’s theme of not so easy to pronounce names.
  • Even if the 2016 version comes out in 2017, whenever you put -16, or any other year, in the name, my first question is “When does the 2017 version come out?”
  • Cigar Hustler is an advertiser on halfwheel. The Szczepankiewicz brothers also own the retail store.
  • Cigars for this review were purchased by halfwheel.
  • Final smoking time was one hour and 50 minutes on average.
85 Overall Score

Time doesn’t heal a bad draw. For scheduling reasons, the final sample was smoked almost two months after the first two, and unfortunately, the tight draws that I found in my first SBC 16s were also present in my final one. The cigar showed signs that it could be better than the score indicated, but for about half of my time with the SBC 16, I found myself battling the draw, something that is never particularly fun. There’s a lot I want to like about this cigar, but bad draws are bad draws.

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Charlie Minato
About the author

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.

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