Bite Size Review: Isabela Sparkle
~ EDITORS NOTE & CORRECTION ~
In this review, we unintentionally mischaracterized the Isabela Sparkle as “sweet-tipped” and incorrectly referenced an intent to artificially sweeten or otherwise enhance the cigar. Per Isabela Cigars, any sweetness is both naturally inherent in the Desflorada tobacco used for the wrapper and also attributed to a unique, natural sealant used to seal the triple cap, a method used in pre-Castro Cuba. Our apologies to Isabela Cigars and our readers for any confusion. Ed.
Alright, full disclosure: we’re not big fans of flavored cigars or cigars that have been artificially “enhanced”. A la natural is how we typically roll, but we’ve been known to keep an open mind. So, when Isabela Cigars’ Johnny Piette pinged us to tell us about the “sweet-tipped” Sparkle, we were both curious and skeptical. A good start was learning that tobaccos for the Sparkle were sourced from multiple, small farms with filler and binder leaves both hailing from Nicaragua and the wrapper, a lush Ecuadorian Desflorada leaf. In addition, all Sparkle cigars are aged 8 months, post production. What is not shared is how the “sweet tip” is achieved, but apparently, it is unique.
Of course, the most obvious characteristic is that every single puff is artificially sweetened. Not flavored, sweetened. This takes some acclimating as it provides challenges in teasing out complexity. Nonetheless, Sparkle dazzles in the complexity department with rich intonations of caramel, toasted almonds and a light spice, whirling around a white pepper core. Transitions also “sparkle” offering up notes of sweet oats, leather and earth with a nice finish of coffee throughout.
Profiles evolve with more woody underpinnings, but Sparkle remains smooth and well-balanced. Combustion is spot on and there’s never a dull moment. Personally, I think there’s enough interesting aspects about Sparkle without the “sweet tip”, that it would do well even without the sugary draw. It’s certainly a different take and while Sparkle might probably appeal to a more niche clientele, it’s definitely worth a try. – In Fumo Pax!
Did you Know: Isabela cigars are rolled by one of six pairs of level 9 + Cuban Master rollers, each with over 30 years of experience.
- Profile: Med
- Vitola: Robusto
- Length / Ring Gauge: 5″ x 52
- Purchased: Direct**
- Origin: US
- Wrapper: Ecuadorian Des Florada
- Binder: Nicaraguan
- Filler: Nicaraguan
- Cutter: Colibri V
- Lighter: Colibri Firebird
- Price: $7.95
- Humidor Age: 9 Mo.
- Box: 25
- Other Vitolas: Belicoso [6″x54], Churchill [7.25’x50], Corona [5.5″x42]
** 99 Cigars typically pays for all cigars; however cigars were provided by Isabela in exchange for complimentary advertising.
Construction: Solid; uniformly firm; triple seam cap; veiny; tawny-hued wrapper; lumpy oily; ‘sweet tipped’; almost seamless; holds 1″ ash.
- Wrapper – Prunes, floral essence
- Foot – Chocolate
- Cold Draw – Raisins
- Initial: Very complex; acute sweetness throughout due to tip ; woody core; notes of white pepper, caramel, toasted almonds; light spice; long finish of coffee bean; hints of charred wood, leather and brown sugar on retro.
- Transition: Woody core continues with caramel and almond intonations; hints of oats on draw; sweet cedar notes on retro.
- Transition: Cedar profile with notes of earth; rich coffee bean finish returns; hints of leather on retro.
Complexity: Very good
Touch ups: N/A
Recommendation: 2. 5-packer
- Go-to (boxworthy)
- Yard ‘gar
- Smoke a banana instead