We’re cigar nerds.Co-Owner of Cubariqueño Cigar Company, Juan Cancel.

Juan Cancel and his fellow nerds owners, Bill Ives, Bill Agathis, and Kevin Keithan, have come a long way since their initial launch in 2015. But, if you ask (or, in some cases, don’t ask), Cancel and Ives will be the first to tell you that every day is a dream come true and their incredible success thus far is, in many ways, unbelievable. Since the company’s launch, Cubariqueño has been heralded in the online media platforms, focusing on a strong social presence in placement of traditional advertising.

Cubariqueño is a company of many principals and humbled themes. If you ask ether Ives or Cancel (Agathis and Keithan aren’t as public with their roles), the credit for their success and their cigars is doled out in dual tandem. First, credit goes to Erik Espinosa and Héctor J. Alfonso, Sr., with Erik’s La Zona factory handling the entirety of Cubariqueño’s production since the company’s inception. The second, is you. No, not you personally, but yes, you personally… Cubariqueño frequently tags their swag, social media posts, references in interviews, and even has it adorned at the top of their website. What am I speaking of? The hashtag #powerofthe🅿️. One could infer that they are referring to—among other, less savory connotations—the power of “Protocol,” their most success line of cigars; but no, “P” is actually representative of the people.

Cancel and Ives do a lot of things different. They hire friends and fans for positions in their company, they turn events into dance parties, they make outlandish claims, like preferring to be ranked on online media’s year-end lists (as opposed to published magazines such as Cigar Aficionado), and they even buy White Castle for Joe Average guys like yours truly (a story for another time).

Cubariqueño doesn’t do normal. They aren’t traditional. Perhaps they’re just… nerds.

Protocol Official Misconduct Breakdown

  • Wrapper: Ecuadorian Habano
  • Binder: Nicaragua
  • Filler: Nicaragua
  • Factory: La Zona (Nicaragua)
  • Production: Regular Production
  • Vitola: 6″ × 50 (Toro)
  • Price: $9.89 (MSRP)

All this said, one may think that, after three successful cigar lines, it may be an odd time to introduce a new cigar with the same blend (at least in terms of wrapper varietal and countries of origin) as a prior release. Clearly, they do not share that sentiment. Nerds—they like what they like.

Introducing the Official Misconduct, the company’s fourth cigar line under the Protocol name. Ecuadorian Habano is the wrapper, enveloping binder and filler tobaccos from the Jalapa and Estelí regions of Nicaragua. When compared to the company’s other offerings, the Official Misconduct is billed as being their second most mild, with the full series being ranked from most to least full in body below:

Protocol Official Misconduct Toro cigars open box

Appearance

The first thing you’ll notice on the cigar’s label is the company’s signature Penrose-inspired “P,” printed in silver and black ink. The title “PROTOCOL” is spelled out vertically within the “P,” with a secondary band featuring the name “OFFICIAL MISCONDUCT.” There is also an added accent of a silver foot band, as well as the word “GUITLY” on the cigar’s backside (playing into the law enforcement theme of Protocol cigars).

The wrapper has a lot of noticeable oil and a good amount of texture to it, without being overly toothy or veiny, The hue reminds me of dirt that was recently rained on (sincerely, the visual is in my head from this afternoon’s run). The aroma coming from the cigar and the unlit foot has some pretty strong coffee notes, along with pepper and raisin. I cut the cap with a guillotine cutter and bring in a dry draw that is E.A.R.T.H.Y.! A slight note of pepper and coffee lingers from the pre-light aroma, but the earth note is strong and definitive.

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Smoking Experience

Toasting and lighting unleashes a velvety smoke that has sweet pepper notes. I officially smoked two cigars for this review, but have had several since the 2018 IPCPR trade show (where Cancel treated me to the aforementioned White Castle). So, here’s the first noticeable thing about this cigar’s smoking performance: dominance. On the palate there are loads of earth and, within the first inch, heavy doses of pepper. Black Pepper. It’s there and it is spicy. The earthiness is in the background, but subtle. The finish on the retrohale does have a noticeable return of the raisin sweetness (as seen in the pre-light aroma), which adds just a touch of complexity to this cigar.

Protocol Official Misconduct Toro cigar smoking

As the toro progresses, it becomes apparent that it is not a full-bodied cigar, but the spice is heavy and persistent. The ash holds well and the draw is loose, with abundant smoke. The pepper notes begin to give way back to earthy and coffee flavors, backed by a creamy subtlety. What this cigar lacks in complexity, it makes up for in craftiness. That craftiness lies in its ability to truly hold my attention, while not changing flavor notes overtly. That is not meant to sound disingenuous or obtuse—it’s perfectly accurate. Through the halfway point and beyond, Official Misconduct has solid flavor and aroma, but is not overly complex or transformative.

The finish brings to my attention just how consistent this cigar has performed. With a long, lingering and spicy finish on the retrohale, my palate has truly been punched with pepper and earth over the course of this cigar. The end of this experience does end with a final punctuation of sweetness, as the raisin note returns as if to say, “You’re welcome.” The perfect timing of this final, sweet note does not go unnoticed… or unappreciated.

Protocol Official Misconduct Toro review

Would I Smoke This Cigar Again?

I would. Every now and then, you need a little (or a lot) of spice in your life.

Additional Info:

  • All four of Cubariqueño’s core-line releases have been reviewed by Cigar Dojo, with each cigar being reviewed by a different author.

Profile
  • Flavor: Medium-plus
  • Strength: Medium
  • Body: Medium-plus
Core Flavors
  • Pepper
  • Earth
  • Raisin
Tips
  • Smoke Time: 1 hour, 20 minutes
  • Pairing Recommendation: Stout ale, Añejo rum, Ginger bread, Carrot cake
  • Purchase Recommendation: Grab a handful

Protocol Official Misconduct Toro cigar nubbed

Protocol Official Misconduct Toro
Ok, I think I’m enough reviews in, where I can say this. I like this cigar, I do. Ecuadorian Habano is a solid wrapper and has been used in many incredible blends. With Nicaraguan tobacco for your binder and filler, you can expect a lot of spice (along with a nice amount of sweetness, thanks to the Jalapa region) and this cigar proved no different. Do you feel the but coming? Here it is—Protocol (and the entire La Zona factory, for that matter) has much more complex blends in their collective stables; cigars that offer similar profiles but with added levels of oomph, nuance, uniqueness, and whatever else that amounts to any given cigar's "it factor" ingredient. There's simply not enough here compelling me to choose this cigar over any of its three predecessors. That being said, complexity isn’t the only factor when determining favoritism of a cigar; the Official Misconduct will deliver easy-going and pleasing flavors without much attention required.
Appearance87%
Burn/Construction90%
Draw89%
Flavor89%
Complexity83%
Price/Value88%
Pros
  • Never-dulling spice
  • Solid construction
  • Unique, subtle retrohale
Cons
  • Lacking Complexity
  • Similar to another blend within same portfolio
88%Well-Behaved
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