Cigars have been named after many different people, animals and even inanimate objects, but to my knowledge a new release from Powstanie is the first cigar named after a bear trained to assist soldiers in war.

That 5 x 50 perfecto carries the name Wojtek, named after a famous Syrian brown bear that was purchased as a young cub by Polish soldiers who were evacuating from the Soviet Union during World War II. The bear grew to weigh around 490 pounds and after being enlisted with the rank of private, was eventually promoted to corporal due to his actions helping move ammunition during the Battle of Monte Cassino. After the war, he was donated to the Edinburgh Zoo where he died at the age of 21 in 1963.

In terms of cigar, the Powstanie Wojtek is a “tweaked” version of the Habano Perfecto version that already exists in the company’s portfolio, which is made up of an Ecuadorian habano wrapper covering an Indonesian binder as well as Dominican criollo and Nicaraguan tobaccos in the filler. The newest incarnation also features a stripe of Mexican San Andrés tobacco running down the length of the wrapper that is not found in the regular version.

The Wojtek is priced at $12 each and is packaged in boxes of 21, with 500 boxes—or 10,500 cigars total —to be released every year. As with the rest of the Powstanie cigars, the Wojtek is being rolled at the Fabrica de Tabacos NicaSueño S.A. factory in Nicaragua, which is the home of RoMa Craft Tobac.

  • Cigar Reviewed: Powstanie Wojtek
  • Country of Origin: Nicaragua
  • Factory: Fabrica de Tabacos NicaSueño S.A.
  • Wrapper: Ecuador (Habano) & Mexico (San Andrés)
  • Binder: Indonesia
  • Filler: Nicaragua
  • Length: 5 Inches
  • Ring Gauge: 50
  • Vitola: Perfecto
  • MSRP: $12 (Box of 21, $252)
  • Release Date: July 2019
  • Number of Cigars Released: 500 Boxes of 21 Cigars Annually (10,500 Total Cigars)
  • Number of Cigars Smoked For Review: 3

Visually, the Powstanie Wojtek is covered in an espresso brown wrapper that features a nice amount of oil and is quite smooth to the touch, albeit with a large soft spot just under the main band.. The cigar has a great amount of give when squeezed and the line of darker tobacco is quite obvious as well as quite attractive. Aroma from the wrapper is strong manure, barnyard, leather, peanuts, sawdust and vanilla, while the cold draw is full of sweet oak, leather, dark chocolate, creamy nuts, earth and milk chocolate sweetness.

Just after lighting the foot, the Powstanie Wojtek starts off with very obvious and dominant notes of creamy oak and gritty earth, interspersed with other flavors of anise, leather tack, cinnamon, peanut shells, cocoa nibs and espresso beans. There is also a very noticeable chocolate nougat sweetness that is present on the retrohale, where it combines nicely with a bit of black pepper—which seems to be getting stronger as the first third burns down—as well as a touch of spice on my tongue. Construction-wise, the draw is excellent after a v-cut while the burn is giving me no issues whatsoever yet. Smoke production off of the foot is both copious and thick in body, while the overall strength is noticeable without being annoying, hitting a point closer to medium than mild by the time the first third comes to an end.

While the profile stays very creamy on the palate during the second third, the dominant flavors shift a bit, with oak and gritty earth replaced by a creamy peanut note, followed by other notes of earth, oak, coffee grounds, earth, leather and citrus. There is just a touch more black pepper on the retrohale compared to the first third and the chocolate nougat sweetness has also increased in strength to match, but the spice on my tongue from the first third is long gone. Unfortunately, the burn wavers enough that force me to correct it a couple of times, but the draw continues down its excellent path, as does the smoke production. Strength-wise, the Powstanie is still increasing, but still just a bit shy of the medium mark by the end of the second third.

The final third of the Wojtek features a number of similarities with the preceding third: including the same creamy peanut flavor dominant on the palate, the same chocolate nougat sweetness on the retrohale and the same black pepper to round things off. However, one big change are the supporting flavors, which included new flavors like salted potato chips, anise and cedar, all of which join the more familiar notes of espresso beans, cocoa nibs and leather while the nougat sweetness and black pepper on the retrohale continue to add a nice extra dimension to the profile. Thankfully, the burn evens up nicely and the draw continues to impress, while the overall strength increases enough just before I put the nub down to easily cross the medium mark.

Final Notes

  • For those wondering, Powstanie is the Polish word for “uprising” and is pronounced poh-shan-yah.
  • I really have come to love the pre-cut feet in vitolas like this, as I find them to give me the same general look and feel of a nipple foot—which is typically closed—without having to fight through 15 minutes of problematic draw.
  • While I find the logo a bit aggressive and in your face, the bands are high quality and extremely well done.
  • Although the burn wandered a bit at certain points, it never came close to being bad enough to give me any major issues, and the draw was perfect for my tastes on each sample.
  • Brian Burt covered the Powstanie booth during the 2019 IPCPR Convention & Trade Show, you can see that coverage here.
  • The cigars smoked for this review were purchased by halfwheel.
  • Final smoking time averaged one hour and 11 minutes for all three samples.
  • If you would like to purchase any of the Powstanie Wojtek, site sponsor Cigar Hustler has them in stock here.
89 Overall Score

Powstanie is one of those brands that whenever I enjoy one, I wonder why I don’t smoke them more often, and the Wojtek is a perfect example as to why that is the case. Flavorful, complex and well-constructed, with just enough strength to add to the profile without overwhelming any part, the new release shines when smoked slow and steady. It also helps that I adore this vitola, as it is small enough to finish fairly quickly—even considering how slow I smoke—but not so small and short that there are issues with it getting hot in the final third. In the end, the Wojtek is a great addition to the Powstanie portfolio, track it down before it gets too difficult.

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.