If you were a fan of the first release of the Protocol, then, ladies and gentlemen, get ready for ROUND 2! The second iteration of the Protocol series is dubbed Protocol Probable Cause, launching as the sophomore release from Cubariqueño Cigar Company. Cubariqueño is a three-part creation from Bill Ives (aka “The Cuban Assassin”), Juan Cancel, and Bill Agathis. The trio has teamed up once again with Erik Espinosa and his Estelí-based La Zona factory for the follow-up to 2015’s cult hit Protocol cigar. The meanings behind both the company name (Cubariqueño) and cigar have special significance to both Bill Ives and Juan Cancel. Cubariqueño stems from the Cuban heritage of Bill Ives and the Puerto Rican heritage of Juan Cancel—à la Cuba-riqueño (“Puerta Rican” translates to “Puertorriqueño” in Spanish). And Protocol pays tribute to the law enforcement backgrounds of both Bill Ives and Juan Cancel.

Knowing that they teamed up with Erik Espinosa on this release has me instantaneously optimistic. Erik Espinosa is one of the most renowned cigar personalities in the business and his La Zona factory is quickly becoming one of the most sought-after in the industry. With Juan and Bill quickly making a name for themselves as well, this partnership has all the ingredients of a promising cigar.

Protocol Probable Cause Breakdown

  • Wrapper: Mexican San Andrés maduro
  • Binder: Nicaraguan
  • Filler: Nicaraguan
  • Factory: La Zona (Nicaragua)
  • Production: Regular Production
  • Vitola: 6½″ × 48 Churchill
  • Price: $9.89 (MSRP)

Look/Feel

For this review, I had the Churchill (one two sizes in the lineup), which had a nice, dark brown San Andrés Maduro wrapper. There was a semi-oily sheen to the wrapper that encompassed the 6.5×48 box-pressed vitola. The feel of the wrapper was slightly gritty, with plenty of “tooth”—and having no give when testing its construction. The scents emitted from the cigar were as if they’d been stored in vintage oak barrels. Many notes of hay, barn, and a slight metallic note. The silver, black and red band—using the same design as the original Protocol cigar but with a new color scheme and added sub-band—really stands out and is very eye catching.

Smoking Experience

First Third: After taking a sharp cut to the end of the cigar, I took my pre-light draw. The air flow was perfect and brought with it notes of coffee/espresso and aged wood. Upon lighting, the air flow maintained without any struggle. The flavors evolved and refined to take on additional notes of chocolate, seasoned meat, and those of red wine. The cigar is well constructed, but had a burn that kept trying to fix itself.

  • Flavors: Barn wood | baker’s chocolate | coffee | meat (lightly seasoned flank steak) | red wine (Cabernet/Port wine)
  • Retro: Touch of white pepper | dried fruit

Cubariqueño Protocol Probable Cause Churchill cigar smoking

Second Third: Throughout the second third there wasn’t many hopes for the burn line, but the ash liked to hold on and a great draw maintained. Flavors were still consistent, which were fantastic. This part of the cigar reminded me mainly of the scents and feelings you have at an upscale steak house.



  • Flavors: Aged barn wood | red-pepper-seasoned flank steak | fermented fruits
  • Retro: Sweet, ripe blackberry and dried fruit

Last Third: The last third ramps up in strength in the very beginning. The great draw stayed strong and maintained the flavor/aura of being in a steakhouse. The retrohale is an area to note that even if you don’t retro, this cigar tastes fantastic. If you do retro (which you should), then get ready for the full experience.

  • Flavors: Savory steak | fermented fruit (unforgettable) | earthy/musky raisin
  • Retro: White pepper | dried fruit

Protocol Probable Cause Churchill cigar review

Would I Smoke This Cigar Again?

Absolutely! I paired this cigar with a bottle of water, but it definitely had me wanting to upgrade to a more deserved pairing of steak and red wine. This won’t be one of those “after-dinner” cigars following your juicy steak—this is one that you would want to smoke before, during, and after that meal… Pairing it with a nice scotch or some deep, oaky, red wine I feel would enhance the myriad of flavors. This is one of those occasions when you’re glad they introduced the cigar as “regular production”. I also feel that aging these out could potentially make some of the flavors “marry” together quite nicely. I had one of these gifted to me for the review and all I can say is that having at least two boxes on hand is a good call—one to smoke and one to age.

  • Smoke Time: 1 hour, 55 minutes
  • Pairing Recommendation: steak | full-bodied red wine
  • Purchase Recommendation: 1 – 2 boxes

Cubariqueño Protocol Probable Cause Churchill cigar review and rating

Protocol Probable Cause
While smoking the Protocol Probable Cause, the flavors brought and kept me hooked since the beginning. If you're a stickler for even burn lines, mine didn't fare the best. However, to its defense, it fought the whole way to stay as even as possible. Great choice for the price point, for what it delivers. I would classify Protocol Probable Cause as a solid, medium-full smoke and one you'll want to keep a few of in your humidor.
Appearance93%
Burn/Construction87%
Draw97%
Flavor95%
Complexity93%
Price/Value89%
Pros
  • Full & interesting flavors
  • Great Draw
  • Fun pairing options
Cons
  • Sporadic burn line
  • Can be difficult to find
92%Dinner Smoke