In February 2022, German Engineered Cigars launched a series of limited edition line extensions that would be coming out under the name Autonom, the German word for autonomous. It would debut with four cigars, and would be left open-ended so as to include future unique sizes, experimental blends and other projects from the company.

Two of those first four Autonom releases would be for the company’s RVGN Rauchvergnügen line: one would be a 6 3/4 x 40 lancero, with the other a 4 x 60 vitola it is calling Defused Torpedo, due to its resemblance to a torpedo but without the pointed and “weaponized” tip. The line uses a Ecuadorian wrapper, Dominican criollo 98 binder, and a filler mix that includes Dominican piloto cubano along with leaves from Nicaragua and Pennsylvania.

The other two would be for the company’s Raumzeit blend, which uses a Nicaraguan-grown Connecticut seed wrapper, an Indonesian Sumatra binder, and a filler that contains tobacco from Nicaragua’s Jalapa region as well as Dominican-grown piloto. Raumzeit would also get a lancero, though it would be slightly longer at 7 inches but with the same 40 ring gauge, along with a 4 x 50 short robusto, that the company calls Petit Edmundo, and which comes with a shaggy foot.

All four of the Autonom releases has an MSRP of $10 and are limited to just 1,000 cigars.

“Autonom is meant as an experimental playground for the brand,” said Oliver Nickels, co-founder and chief cigar engineer of German Engineered Cigars. “With Autonom, we test the acceptance of new formats, play with the blends and offer new, delightful experiences for the fans of German Engineered Cigars.

In addition to the cigars, the company has added an Autonom section to its website, which the company says will feature not only background information about cigars, but will also raise questions and create awareness for latest scientific and societal developments. “Following the founders’ weltanschauung, German for worldview, or philosophy of life, the channel will provide news and links about science and technology, and ample food for curiosity,” the company said. The first issue was all about the future of the automobile; the second edition focussed on cryptocurrencies.

  • Cigar Reviewed: RVGN Rauchvergnügen Autonom Lancero
  • Country of Origin: Dominican Republic
  • Factory: InterCigar S.A.
  • Wrapper: Ecuador
  • Binder: Dominican Republic (Criollo 98)
  • Filler: Dominican Republic (Piloto), Nicaragua and U.S.A. (Pennsylvania)
  • Length: 6 3/4 Inches
  • Ring Gauge: 40
  • Vitola: Lancero
  • MSRP: $10 (Bundles of 10, $100)
  • Release Date: February 2022
  • Number of Cigars Released: 100 Bundles of 10 Cigars (1,000 Total Cigars)
  • Number of Cigars Smoked For Review: 3

The RVGN Rauchvergnügen Autonom Lancero feels a bit softer than average, and while it’s not squishy from head to foot, I can feel some give, and there are definitely some spots that would have had me pull this out if I was doing quality control. Not wanting to damage the wrapper, I’m not inclined to see how much I can squeeze it, but this makes me think back to the density I’d find from certain vintages of Cuban cigars. The cigar looks good for the most part, with a wrapper having a nutty brown color and a bit more of a vein structure than average. The seam lines are quite visible, both because of color and because of the occasional spot not being pressed flat, and most notably around the tightly constructed cap as those lines are just millimeters apart. Aroma off the foot is fairly mild, reminding me a bit of a bowl of cereal with a cool creaminess and undertones of cereal. The ratio of creaminess to cereal varies from sample to sample, and with less creaminess I’m more inclined to describe the aroma as toast with a bit of dry tobacco. Airflow on the cold draw is smooth and easy, as well as about as mild in intensity as the aroma. There’s a bit of creaminess here as well though it is more textural than contributing to the flavor. I could make the case for a bit of melted vanilla ice cream, though some samples really lack that, instead heading down a path where it takes a few draws to get something that compares to the cereal flavor, or in this case, more like a waffle cone.

The cigar starts out by reversing the flavors and aromas from the cold draw, leading with a bright, toasty and somewhat peppery flavor that is backed with a bit of creaminess. That creaminess builds with each puff, giving the RVGN Rauchvergnügen Autonom Lancero a fairly full body right out of the gate, while its increase softens the drier aspects of the profile. One sample is quite dry on the taste buds, which elicits a more pronounced tingling sensation on my taste buds. It is also the one that has a slightly funky finish emerging, one that has me immediately inspecting the head and finding some dark brown tar emerging; thankfully another clip of the head remedies the problem. Retrohales are where the majority of pepper is to be found in the early goings, and what is found is noticeable and bright but not overpowering as it gets enveloped in some of that soft creaminess. After I knock the first clump of ash off, the profile shifts gears and becomes much more wood-forward, making me think of a thick, fresh block of lumber, something like a fence post. There’s a bit of black pepper making its way to the palate as the first third comes to a close, giving the flavor a bit more texture as the wood tastes just slightly burnt now. Flavor is medium-plus with spots where it goes a bit stronger than that, body is medium-full, and strength is medium. Combustion and construction are both good, though as with many lanceros, a good part of this section is spent trying to find the ideal pace of puffing.

The creaminess that was such a part of the first third of the RVGN Rauchvergnügen Autonom Lancero is steadily fading away as the second third gets underway, but it departs by handing the lead of the profile off to the flavors of wheat toast and cereal, along with a bit of mixed nuts and hints of black pepper. It’s an impressively seamless transition, almost like someone looking to dip out of a conversation bringing someone else into it, and before long you realize that not only has that first person left the conversation, they have left the room. Thankfully the creaminess returns ahead of the midway point, and it’s there where the cigar settles into a well-balanced profile. While the components had been jockeying for position up to this point, they now are much more harmonious on the palate and through the nose. At their best, they reach a very high mark, delivering the woods, nuttiness, toast and pepper with a creamy mid-note and some new earthiness setting the base. The creaminess almost serves as a parachute; it’s the most recognizable part of the puff but then fades away to let the rest of the flavors shine. A shift to a much nuttier profile with a peppery-driven finish wraps up this section, with flavor that is a bit more mellow, now just a bit over medium, while body has filed back a bit towards medium as well. Strength holds a steady at medium, with just a very slight amount of nicotine being felt. The burn line and smoke production are both good, but combustion begins to struggle during this section, as I find myself having to relight the first two cigars, leading me to wonder if they might be a bit overhumidified and if the third would benefit from some dry-boxing.

As the combustion continues to struggle at the start of the final third, I find the samples becoming a bit squishier in my fingers, something that happens with nearly ever cigar as it burns, but it seems particularly pronounced here. While not flavor-related, it does impact the experience of smoking the cigar a bit. In terms of the cigar’s flavor, the creaminess has once again exited the profile, and instead of the toast and nuts flavors, the RVGN Rauchvergnügen Autonom Lancero is hitting the taste buds with more earthiness, with the black pepper a well-paired accent. The nuttiness is still part of the profile, and depending on the sample, the nuttiness and earth take the lead in the profile. Even within this portion, the two do a bit of back-and-forth, with the black pepper remaining a constant accent, which makes for not only some enjoyable combinations but interesting progressions. The one thing that the varied profiles have in common is that they would all seem to be helped out with a beverage and could make as the basis for some good spirit pairings. Final puffs get a good bit sharper, possibly tied into heat, but it makes for a descent to the cigar’s completion that is rougher than I would have liked. Flavor finishes medium-full, body is medium-plus, and strength is right around medium. Outside of the combustion issues, the cigar performs very well with plenty of smoke, an even burn line and an easy draw.

Final Notes

  • I’m known to spend a bullet point or two on bands, and the RVGN Rauchvergnügen Autonom Lancero’s bands are no exception. They look like paper, they are paper, but they certainly don’t feel like paper. Oliver Nickels told me that all the Rauchvergnügen and NN bands use a German-made paper, with the printing done in Germany on Heidelberg printing machines that date back to the 1960s.
  • In terms of texture, I was thinking that the bands had to be made of some kind of plastic, or at least had some kind of plastic coating to them. They almost feel close to the kind of paper used for some currency around the world. It’s quite unique and something worth taking a closer look at the next time you smoke a cigar from German Engineered Cigars.
  • I ended up not dryboxing the final sample, mainly due to some schedule challenges that made it tougher for me to time out when it would make sense to do so. Thankfully that third sample burned pretty well on its own, not perfectly, but decently.
  • In 2019, the company unveiled one of the more interesting ashtrays I can recall seeing: the Kentron #42K. The company called it a “cigar hub” and was 3D-printed in aluminum, based on biological system structures found in nature.
  • The RVGN Rauchvergnügen Autonom Lancero offers a bit of nicotine strength, with one cigar a bit stronger than the other two, though none had me reeling.
  • Final smoking time was somewhat surprisingly lengthy, averaging right around two hours.
  • The cigars for this review were purchased by halfwheel.
88 Overall Score

Were it not for some issues with combustion and tar, the RVGN Rauchvergnügen Autonom Lancero would have a cigar that is a few points higher than the one above. As you might know, the reviewer does not know the score that the cigar will get prior to the review being published, but I do know that in terms of flavor, this cigar delivers more than the number might suggest. The first third of each cigar is an interesting assembling of the flavor components, while the second third sees them come into an impressive harmony that hits a number of spots on the flavor wheel. The final third sees the flavor make another shift to introduce earthiness, and looking at the blend notes after smoking the cigars, the contribution of the Pennsylvania-grown filler is now clearer and more appreciated. This is an impressive addition to the company's profile and a cigar I enjoyed enough to recommend with only minimal reservation about its combustion issues.

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Patrick Lagreid

I strive to capture the essence of a cigar and the people behind them in my work – every cigar you light up is the culmination of the work of countless people and often represents generations of struggle and stories. For me, it’s about so much more than the cigar – it’s about the story behind it, the experience of enjoying the work of artisans and the way that a good cigar can bring people together. In addition to my work with halfwheel, I’m the public address announcer for the Colorado Rockies and Arizona Diamondbacks during spring training, as well as for the Salt River Rafters of the Arizona Fall League, the WNBA's Phoenix Mercury and previously the Arizona Rattlers of the Indoor Football League. I also work in a number of roles for Major League Baseball, plus I'm a voice over artist. Prior to joining halfwheel, I covered the Phoenix and national cigar scene for, and was an editor for Cigar Snob magazine.