Hackers watch out! The expansion of Protocol’s core line brings the Cyber Crimes Unit (CCU). This is the first addition to the core lineup (aka “P” series) of Protocol since 2018’s Protocol Official Misconduct. Keeping with Protocol’s theme of respect and homage to law enforcement, this line extension looks to honor the computer whizzes that have risen up to help protect against crimes committed in/through the digital realm. As previous releases have tied into the backgrounds of the company’s owners, CCU nods at co-owner Kevin Keithan and his career in internet security.

In a press release, Kevin Keithan noted:

“This is a great size. We released the Protocol Probable Cause in this size and it was absolutely phenomenal! We wanted to revisit this extraordinary vitola on a very special release which I hold dear to my heart.”

As with all other core-line “P” Protocol cigars, CCU is made at the famed La Zona Factory in Estelí, Nicaragua. As has become common practice for such a release, the cigar debuted in a single format (which often expands to additional sizes as the brand gains recognition), taking a cue from the company’s sophomore Probable Cause line and rolling the blend in a box-pressed “Short Churchill” format.

Protocol Cyber Crimes Unit Churchill cigar box closed

Protocol Cyber Crimes Unit Breakdown

  • Wrapper: Nicaraguan Habano Rosado
  • Binder: Nicaragua
  • Filler: Nicaragua
  • Factory: La Zona (Nicaragua)
  • Production: Regular Production
  • Vitola: 6½” x 48 “Churchill BP”
  • Price: $10.50 (MSRP)

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Appearance

In picking up this CCU, I do have to say, it feels good in the hand for its size. The color is a dark golden brown. The wrapper has a bit of a rough feel to it, but nothing too significant. There is the standard Protocol “P” band, now altered with the radiance of a computer’s glowing green hue. There is a smaller secondary band just below that reads “CYBER CRIMES UNIT,” displaying the same neon green color. Additionally, there is a bright foot ribbon as well, matching the green theme.

The box is a 10-count flat layout and comes in the classic wood-grained display that Protocol has used for other main lines. However, upon opening the lid, the underside has a holographic vista, complete with 1s, 0s, and Ps that run vertically on a black background, referencing computer binary code. Of course, the symbols run vertically down in a nod to a certain 1999 movie—which I am sure is every computer science major’s favorite.

Cyber Crimes Unit has a nice Habano wrapper that is well made in its appearance. The foot band came off easily, with no damage to the cigar. The smell from foot to cap has a sweet fruitwood to it. The cold draw has black pepper notes and some spicy red pepper to the tongue and lips. The feel of the unlit CCU is very firm when squeezed.

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Smoking Experience

Like an upgrade to your computer processor, the Cyber Crimes Unit comes in fast and hot. As soon as you start puffing on the CCU, you get intense flavor. Strong black pepper and red pepper lead the charge. I also get faint hints of black tea and some mild, creamy sweetness that is noticed on the tongue.

The draw was a little loose during the smoking experience, differing from the firmer feel during pre-light. This did not take away from the overall smoking experience, but was more of a surprise. Based on the pre-light feel and draw, I expected it would have stood up more with a better resistance. Smoke output is pretty good, however, bringing out enough to linger around for a couple seconds. The CCU profile is medium-plus in strength, medium to full in flavor, and medium-full in body.

Protocol Cyber Crimes Unit Churchill cigar smoking

As I continue, the progress of flavors starts to change, and the red pepper has faded. The black pepper is still strong on retrohale, with a very mild mouthfeel at this point. Some of the transitions add notes of oak/hickory wood, with just a mild hint of creamy sweetness through the finish.

Coming to the end of the Cyber Crime Unit, both the red and black pepper have faded, as well as the spiciness through retrohale. A salty mineral flavor has picked up in place of the former pepper components. The wood flavors of oak and hickory remain—mild but still present.

Protocol Cyber Crimes Unit Churchill cigar ash

Would I Smoke This Cigar Again?

The overall flavors of the Cyber Crimes Unit were pretty lively and tasty. I would smoke this cigar again. I would likely not make it into my regular rotation, but having one every two to three months would keep this cigar interesting and enjoyable every time. This is a pretty peppery smoke, so you most definitely want to be in the mood for that before lighting up. The additional hints of black tea, oak/hickory/creamy sweetness, and the salty finish really elevated the experience.

Additional Info
  • Cyber Crimes Unit is a Habano rosado over all-Nicaraguan binder/fillers; this is an interesting choice, making for three cigars in the core lineup using near-identical recipes (at least on paper).
  • Cyber Crimes Unit became the fifth core-line release from Protocol Cigars: Protocol (Blue Label), Probable Cause (Red Label), Themis (Gold Label), Official Misconduct (Silver Label), and Cyber Crimes Unit (Green Label).
  • I will note of the three Cyber Crime Units that I smoked for this review, some were more spicy and peppery, while others were milder. This does disappoint some, because the peppery ones are really good, while the milder ones are a little more average, but still flavorful.
  • Phenomenal in binary is “01010000 01101000 01100101 01101110 01101111 01101101 01100101 01101110 01100001 01101100 00100000.”

Profile
  • Flavor: Medium-Full
  • Strength: Medium-Plus
  • Body: Medium-Full
Core Flavors
  • Black pepper
  • Red pepper
  • Black tea
  • Wood (oak/hickory)
  • Salty (only at the end)
Tips
  • Smoke Time: 1 hour, 20 minutes
  • Pairing Recommendation: Rye whiskey (if you want to match the spiciness) | Brown ale (if you want to tame it some) | Cappuccino would be a good n/a drink
  • Purchase Recommendation: 5-pack

Protocol Cyber Crimes Unit Churchill cigar nub finished

Protocol Cyber Crimes Unit Churchill BP
Cyber Crimes Unit is a green-themed expansion of the Protocol core collection. The box-pressed Short Churchill size has a good feel and seems to be a fun addition to the core lineup for Protocol. The strong red and black pepper flavors pack a punch, but the underlying flavors of creamy sweetness, black tea, oak/hickory, and ending with a salty finish made for an overall good experience. This cigar is for the more advanced smoker who likes spice and intensity.
Appearance88%
Burn/Construction88%
Draw88%
Flavor90%
Complexity86%
Price/Value89%
Pros
  • Very spicy but well-flavored cigar
  • Honors the computer nerds of law enforcement out there doing important work for the technology sector
  • Underlying flavors elevated this smoke as it evolved
Cons
  • Price is a little high, would have expected it to be under $10
  • Softness that is felt physically and experienced on the draw after the cigar is lit was odd
  • Some inconsistency between samples in spice and pepper
88%Phenomenal Unit
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