In 2013, Sam Leccia returned to the cigar industry with Leccia Tobacco, his new company that released two different lines in the spring. This was Leccia’s second attempt at a comeback since he parted ways with Oliva Cigar Co. in late 2010. The other attempt came in 2011, something most have forgotten about now.

After leaving Oliva, it was largely believed that Leccia would be away from the industry for a few years. That’s why when Leccia announced his return on May 24, 2011, many people were shocked.

The company was called Sam Leccia Cigar Co. and its first release was Debut, a Honduran cigar with an Ecuadorian habano wrapper and fillers from the Dominican Republic, Honduras and Nicaragua.

Debut was to come in boxes of 25 with one cigar in each box being a different collector’s edition cigar. The three sizes were:

  • Debut Double Robusto (5 x 60) — $8.50 (Boxes of 20, $170.00)
  • Debut Double Churchill (7 x 60) — $7.25 (Boxes of 20, $165.20)
  • Debut Figurado (6 1/4 x 52) — $9.25 (Boxes of 20, $185.20)

On June 13, things took a bit of a different turn. Oliva announced that they were pursuing legal action to see that Leccia fulfill an alleged five-year non-compete. The next day, it was announced Toraño would be distributing Leccia’s cigars. 

And then it all came to a literal halt on July 16, two days before the start of the 2011 IPCPR trade show and convention . Leccia announced that a court order would prevent him from attending the trade show. The cigars, were promptly removed from the show floor and have largely not been seen since.

Eventually, Oliva and Leccia settled their matters. Leccia has since returned and Toraño is once again involved.

Sam Leccia Debut Double Churchill 1
  • Cigar Reviewed: Sam Leccia Debut Double Churchill
  • Country of Origin: Honduras
  • Factory: Puros Indios
  • Wrapper: Ecuadorian Habano
  • Binder: n/a
  • Filler: Dominican Republic, Honduras & Nicaragua
  • Size: 7 Inches
  • Ring Gauge: 60
  • Vitola: Double Churchill
  • MSRP: $9.25 (Boxes of 20, $185.20)
  • Release Date: n/a
  • Number of Cigars Released: n/a
  • Number of Cigars Smoked For Review: 1

It’s the largest cigar I’ve smoked in a while. Even after two years, the dark Ecuadorian wrapper still has tons of oil. There are two hard spots in the Debut and there are a lot of classic signs of this being overfilled. There’s definitely some signs of the cigar sitting down for two years with an aged leather. The cold draw shows signs of sweet creamy oranges, leather, a big lemon sherbet-like citrus note and pepper on the finish. 

As so often is the case, the beginning of the Debut does not start like the cold draw. Instead, there’s a relatively plain sweet cedar note, a touch of pepper and a big creamy note. There’s lots of smoke from the Sam Leccia Double Churchill, but the cigar is burning slow. This is not helped by the mundane flavor which is sweet cedar, a bit of vanilla, cedar and a bit of leather through the nose. It’s medium in flavor, medium-plus in body and medium in strength. 

Sam Leccia Debut Double Churchill 2

There’s more pepper, but the reality is the second third is not much different than the first. I can pick up some saltier notes at various points, but the sweet cedar remains at the forefront. Strength has picked up from medium to medium-full, which was a bit surprising. Elsewhere, there’s maybe a bit less smoke production, but it’s not a huge reduction.

Sam Leccia Debut Double Churchill 3

Fortunately, the final third offers more changes. Pepper and cocoa both begin to show themselves in the final third, but it might be too little too late. The smoke continues to thin out, but other than there is little change in construction. As I get towards the final two inches, the flavor of the Debut turns harsh and I decide  to call it a night.

Sam Leccia Debut Double Churchill 4

Final Notes

  • The cigars were originally going to be made by the Reyes family of Puros Indios fame. Multiple sources told halfwheel, Reyes pulled out of the project shortly after learning of the issues with Oliva.
  • I’ve never gotten any concrete number of how many cigars were made by Reyes. I was told that at least 500 cigars were in Las Vegas, Nev. for the trade show.
  • Leccia did in fact take pre-orders for the cigars, those were obviously never fulfilled.
  • I thought the size of the Sam Leccia Debut was large, until I saw someone smoking one of the 70 ring gauge Asylums.
  • It’s interesting to compare the Debut to Leccia’s Black and White lines, it’s a lot different. 
  • This is hardly the first time there have been cigars that were part of legal matters that forced them to be changed, but I cannot think of a company that lasted for as little as Leccia’s did, particularly given how high-profile it was at the time and the fact cigars never got out.
  • Leccia is refusing to disclose who is making his cigars now, other than that he is using a factory in the Dominican Republic and one in Nicaragua.
  • Cigars for this review were given to halfwheel by a reader. 
  • Final smoking time was three hours and 10 minutes. It was a big cigar that burned incredibly slow.
80 Overall Score

This was my first and only Sam Leccia Debut. I’ve never really spoken to anyone about the cigar, because outside of Sam Leccia himself, I am not sure who has smoked it and I imagine there is a good chance this will be its only review. There are definitely some signs of a cigar that has been in my humidor for over 24 months and I imagine it was a bit more lively when fresh. That would be a good thing, because mundane and large is a dangerous combination. There’s zero debate, Leccia’s second attempt at getting back in the cigar business was a lot better than his first.

Avatar photo

Charlie Minato

I am an editor and co-founder of Media, LLC. I previously co-founded and published TheCigarFeed, one of the two predecessors of halfwheel. I have written about the cigar industry for more than a decade, covering everything from product launches to regulation to M&A. In addition, I handle a lot of the behind-the-scenes stuff here at halfwheel. I enjoy playing tennis, watching boxing, falling asleep to the Le Mans 24, wearing sweatshirts year-round and eating gyros. echte liebe.