In the Cigar Community, the name Island Jim is one that seems to be gathering a lot of attention. Between Leaf and Bean in Pittsburg (which I hear is a great shop) and the Island Jim Cigar from Eddie Ortega’s Wild Bunch release, the man and face are becoming commonplace.
I was recently gifted an Island Jim cigar that I had never seen before. The person that gave it to me was in Pittsburg with his wife while she attended some sort of business conference. While she was at the conference, he spent time hanging out at various cigar shops. Leaf and Bean was one of those shops.
When he returned home from his trip, he was kind enough to hand out a few cigars for the guys at Sir Stogies to try.
The Island Jim cigar by Oscar Valladares (the same Oscar that produces Leaf by Oscar) is a visually striking cigar. The head is shaped in such a way that it looks like a fat number two pencil. There is a taper and straight section, paired with different wrappers, that gives the impression that you could pick it up and start writing with it.
The head is pre-cut which left me a little confused. This isn’t something I normally come across and I wasn’t quite sure what the manufacturer had in mind. Is the smoker supposed to light it as-is or should we cut back a bit to open up the draw? I gave it a gentle puff and found it to be slightly stiff for my liking so I cut it back to the Connecticut wrapper.
The pre-light flavor was earthy and mildly nutty. Once I was satisfied with my initial inspection I set flame to the shaggy foot and got down to business.
It has been a long time since I’ve smoked a cigar and focused on thirds. These days I smoke cigars purely for enjoyment and leave the analytics for someone else. I can’t say for sure when each flavor entered the picture and drifted away but I can say that this was an interesting smoke.
There was one point, as I typed furiously away on my laptop, that I literally stopped what I was doing and looked around in confusion. I was sitting in the Private Lounge of Sir Stogies with the windows open when the aroma of a charcoal grill drifted past my nose. For a minute I was baffled as to why someone was grilling so early in the morning, then it dawned on me. The Island Jim burning away in the ashtray was putting off a wood burning charcoal aroma that literally commanded me to stop and pay attention.
The flavor profile consisted of a smokiness (much less prominent than the resting aroma), leather, earth, pepper, and a salty quality that came and went. No single flavor dominated the others which made for a complex and enjoyable experience.
If I had to stick this cigar into a category, I’d say the Island Jim makes for a nice morning smoke. The body and flavor intensity sit firmly in the medium range. The finish is slightly dry but a steaming cup of coffee takes care of that.
Being that this was my very first Island Jim by Oscar Valladares and I know virtually nothing about it (cost, availability, vitola options, etc) I’d say that it left me with a great first impression. Ball-parking it, I’d say this would be a solid cigar in the $10 price range and I wouldn’t hesitate to pick them up from time to time.