In 2022, the launch of West Tampa Tobacco Co. caught the attention of many people. The company was started by Rick Rodriguez and Gus Martinez, both formerly of General Cigar Company. Rodriguez had spent the better part of the last decade as the blender and brand ambassador for CAO Cigars. Shortly after a (very) brief “retirement,” Rodriguez announced he was launching West Tampa Tobacco Co. with Martinez. At the same time, West Tampa announced its first core lines – West Tampa Tobacco White and West Tampa Tobacco Black. A few months later came the next announcement from West Tampa, the launch of a micro-batch limited edition series known as the Attic Series. The first installment of the Attic Series is called “Attic,” and it’s the cigar we are looking at today.
While at General, Rodriguez garnered a reputation for being a great storyteller about life in the cigar industry and his personal life. The idea of the Attic Series is to take the cigar enthusiast into the mind of Rick Rodriguez. Through these cigars, Rodriguez can share many of his personal stories and family upbringing through these blends. The idea is many of these stories and blends have been locked away in Rodriguez’s “Attic.” When we look at the packaging later in this assessment, we will talk about how the packaging is a delivery mechanism for some of these stories.
Let’s break down the West Tampa Tobacco Attic Series Attic and see what this cigar brings to the table.
Blend and Origin
West Tampa Tobacco Attic Series Attic features a San Andres wrapper over all Nicaraguan binder and fillers. This was the first West Tampa Tobacco cigar to use the San Andres wrapper. A few months later, West Tampa would announce the West Tampa Tobacco Red, a regular production line utilizing the same San Andres wrapper as the Attic Series Attic.
Like the other West Tampa Tobacco cigars, the Attic Series Attic is produced at the Garmendia Cigar Co. factory in Estelí, Nicaragua.
Wrapper: San Andres Maduro
Binder: Nicaraguan (Condega)
Filler: Nicaraguan (Condego Viso, Estelí Viso, Estelí Ligero)
Country of Origin: Nicaragua
Factory: Garmendia Cigar Co.
The West Tampa Tobacco Attic Series Attic was made available in one size – a 6 x 54 Toro. The cigars were presented in 14-count boxes, with a total of 2,000 boxes made available for the U.S. market.
The San Andres wrapper of the West Tampa Tobacco Attic Series Attic had a dark chocolate color. There was a slight amount of oil on the surface. There was a slight amount of toothiness present on this wrapper. The surface of the wrapper had some visible veins. In addition, there were a few visible wrapper seams.
Before lighting up the West Tampa Tobacco Attic Series Attic, a straight cut was used to remove the cap. Once the cap was removed, it was on to the pre-light draw stage. The cold draw delivered notes of dark chocolate, leather, and cedar. Overall, this cigar gave a satisfactory pre-light draw experience. Now was the time to remove the footer band of the West Tampa Tobacco Attic Series Attic and see what the smoking phase would have in store.
The West Tampa Tobacco Attic Series Attic opened up with notes of earth, natural tobacco, cedar, red pepper, and a chocolate note. Early on, the earth notes became primary. The natural tobacco, cedar, and red pepper settled into the background while the chocolate note dissipated. As the cigar moved through the first third, a berry note emerged with the earth notes in the forefront. Meanwhile, the retro-hale delivered an additional layer of cedar.
During the second third of the West Tampa Tobacco Attic Series Attic, the earth notes remained at the forefront. The berry notes diminished and moved into the background, joining the natural tobacco, cedar, and red pepper notes. As the berry notes decreased, the cedar and pepper notes increased.
By the last third, the earth notes remained grounded in the forefront. The cedar and pepper notes were the closest secondary. notes. There also were still touches of berry and natural tobacco. There was a slight underlying harshness across the whole flavor profile. As the West Tampa Tobacco Attic Series Attic ended, the cigar finished with a soft, cool nub.
The burn of the West Tampa Tobacco Attic Series Attic performed exceptionally well. The cigar maintained a straight burn line and straight burn path – requiring minimal touch-ups. The resulting ash was light gray. The ash skewed toward the firmer side. Meanwhile, the burn rate and burn temperature had ideal levels.
At times, the draw of the West Tampa Tobacco Attic Series Attic was on the tighter side. I do prefer a little resistance on the draw, but in this case, the resistance level was higher than I like.
Strength and Body
The West Tampa Tobacco Attic Series Attic started out with medium strength and medium to full-bodied flavors. There was a gradual increase in the intensity levels from start to finish. The increase was pretty much linear and consistent. By the second half, both the strength and the body moved into the medium to full spectrum range.
BANDING AND PACKAGING NOTES
Regarding the bands, the Attic Series Attic features a very different look than the core look. The primary band is gray and gold. The prominent “guitar pick” logo of West Tampa Tobacco Co. that is present on the White, Black, and Red lines is only present as a small band fastener on the right side. This cigar also has a footer band with gray, gold, and sepia colors.
One way the stories will be delivered is through Easter eggs found on the boxes and landings. On the Attic release, the box features the West Tampa Tobacco Co logo on the way and an image of a chaveta resting against a chair used by Rodriguez’s grandfather in both Cuba and Tampa. The chaveta is also present on the footer band. The footer band also contains a QR code that will take you to a YouTube video where Rodriguez tells the story of the Attic Series.
I think West Tampa has some of the nicest packaging I’ve seen from a cigar company in quite some time. This goes for the core line and now for the Attic Series. The use of the “Easter eggs” makes this packaging even more intriguing.
One thing that comes to mind is that this is probably the boldest cigar I have smoked from West Tampa Tobacco Co. The first third of this cigar started with some nice, sweet flavors. As the cigar experience progressed, the spices were sometimes pungent, and by the final third, that pungency turned a bit harsh. While the Attic Series has great packaging, it is not factored into the score, and unfortunately, the score of this cigar didn’t measure up. Given this is more expensive than the core line, this is a case where I would recommend trying a sample first (if that is possible) before deciding whether to purchase or not.
Key Flavors: Earth, Natural Tobacco, Cedar, Berry, Pepper
Draw: Very Good
Strength: Medium (1st Half), Medium to Full (2nd Half)
Body: Medium (1st Half), Medium to Full (2nd Half)
Finish: Very Good
Value: Try a Sample
Photo Credits: Cigar Coop, except where noted
Originally posted on October 18, 2023 @ 1:18 pm