One of the many widely-expected predictions for the 2013 IPCPR trade show and convention was that there would be many retailers with their own cigar brands. There was of course Sindicato, on a smaller-scale Viva Republica and Emilio both had booths that were not present in Orlando last year and then there were others, like Dissident Cigars.
The brand’s official stance is that its principals are “gweedo c” and “red_ryan.” Legally, the brand is owned in some part by Gorden Crippen of The Humidor Cigars & Lounge in Wichita, Kan., although Dissident was very clear that they are two completely separate businesses. While there was no booth, Dissident Cigars effectively launched at the 2013 IPCPR trade show.
According to the company’s website, the name was chosen for a very specific reason:
We wanted to create a brand that kind of stood against the way the industry is currently, while maintaining quality in flavor, construction, and industry standards. We kind of felt like everything out there today is a copy of a copy of a copy, and we felt a responsibility to put something different out there. Something that represents our generation in this industry. Not necessarily in the traditional sense of creating a new style or shape, but taking it all the way through to the message, the soul and essence of the cigar. A punchy, strong message that our brand is defiant, rowdy, and not afraid to stay against the grain.
There were two different cigars handed out: Soapbox and Bloc. The former will has begun shipping to accounts and should be arriving early next week, while Bloc is being slated for a potential October release. The actual descriptions of the blend components of the two are very similar, but Bloc uses a higher priming, which creates a different taste.
The cigars look like this:
As for Soapbox, there are three sizes, they are:
- Rant (4 3/4 x 46) x 46 — $7.49 (Boxes of 20, $149.80)
- Rave (5 1/2 x 52) — $8.49 (Boxes of 20, $169.80)
- Tirade (6 3/4 x 56) — $9.99 (Boxes of 20, $199.80)
Crippen—presumably “gweedo c”—told halfwheel the reason behind the name “Soapbox” was that it was the place dissidents would go to rant, rave and tirade, the “starting point for any good person that’s trying to fight for something.”
There will be around 200 boxes of each size made in 2013, meaning a little over 10,000 total cigars. The company is shipping to five stores now with a goal of about 30 accounts by the end of the year.
The 20-count boxes look like this:
(Image via Dissident Cigars.)
- Cigar Reviewed: Dissident Soapbox Rave
- Country of Origin: Nicaragua
- Factory: n/a
- Wrapper: Nicaragua (Jalapa)
- Binder: Nicaragua (Estelí)
- Filler: Nicaragua (Condega, Estelí & Jalapa)
- Size: 5 1/2 Inches
- Ring Gauge: 52
- Vitola: Robusto Extra
- MSRP: $8.49 (Boxes of 20, $169.80)
- Release Date: August 2013
- Number of Cigars to be Released: Regular Production
- Number of Cigars Smoked For Review: 3
You can tell the wrapper is Nicaraguan just by smelling it: sweet leather, red pepper and then roasted cocoa and red pepper notes from the foot. The Soapbox is average in appearance other than the abnormal band. A clean roll with no concerning tobacco features, but not a whole lot on the cigar itself standing out. The Jalapa wrapper is incredibly soft to the touch, something a bit unexpected. From the cold draw there are dominant cookie dough notes with some slightly grassy notes underneath. There’s actually very little chocolate and only a touch of pepper, which was a bit odd given their presence in the aroma.
The Soapbox starts the first third with some toasted notes, red pepper up front and a rotting cedar note. It’s defined, but elementary. One interesting note from the start is the density of the smoke, which is quite heavy. A few puffs in and the pepper makes itself known becoming almost toxic through the nose, but eventually the Dissident balances itself out. It develops a core of caramelized sweetness, a more pleasant cedar, quiet pepper notes and a bit of creaminess on the retrohale. While the burn is not perfect, the smoke production is plentiful, the draw is fine and the smoke stays cool.
By the beginning of the second third, I’ve come to grips with how slow this Nicaraguan puro is smoking. The cigar itself is slightly sweeter with a candied chocolate note and dashes of red wine on the finish. It’s really a progression, more than shift, but it does change the profile quite a bit. Elsewhere, the Soapbox continues to provide a full smoking experience in all three categories and construction remains fine, sans the burn which needs touch-ups.
There is a pretty dramatic shift in the final third with the cedar note giving way to a dry bitter cocoa, upfront creaminess and the toasted notes from the earlier third. The flavors are definitely the least developed at this point of the cigar, but given how crisp and defined they were for the first two thirds, it’s not a major problem.
- While you might thinking making 10,000 or so cigars would be easy compared to making 100,000 cigars. There upsides and downsides to both, but getting factories to take an order this small seriously can be difficult. It’s a small sample size, but the three I had were quite consistent.
- There are two knocks on construction for me: the burn could be better (no tunneling, just a bit of unevenness throughout) and the amount of glue on the caps could be lightened.
- For the record, the company lists the binder as a double binder. Given how liberally the term is being used today, who knows what this means.
- Dissident says they aren’t disclosing the name of the factory because of any preconceived notions people might have about the factory. Given the tobacco used, you can make a few assumptions about who is not making this cigar.
- Few cigars would let you give it this kind of beating and still perform. Even at absurdly quick puff rates the Soapbox remained cool and intact.
- This will be amongst the more divisive names, concepts and packaging we’ve seen.
- The Soapbox is on the south end of full. This the strongest debut release a company has had since RoMa Craft Tobac’s CroMagnon.
- That being said, don’t think this is a nicotine bomb. The first one caught me off guard with a more than empty stomach, a decision I wouldn’t repeat.
- I smoked Bloc, I definitely like it better, but my feelings on the two cigars aren’t that far apart.
- Pricing is neither problematic, nor great. Given the amount of cigars and the goals the company has, I’m not sure it will be a huge issue.
- Cigars for this review were given to halfwheel by Dissident Cigars at IPCPR 2013.
- The Soapbox was a near painfully slow-burning cigar. Final smoking time was one hour and 50 minutes on average.
This was not the best cigar I smoked at IPCPR 2013, but this is a solid cigar and a good freshman release, a really good freshman release. For the first two thirds, the flavors were rather developed, bold and enjoyable for me to not mind the slow burn rate as much. Construction could be a tad better, pricing could be slightly more reasonable and the Soapbox could burn a bit quicker—all for my tastes—but if you are looking for a cigar with strength that tastes quite a bit different from the typical Nicaraguan powerhouses, the Soapbox does this really well. The packaging is not for everyone, the cigar itself is not for everyone, but for me, Soapbox is a solid cigar.