Vitola Battle: Despot Cigars Series J

Despot Cigars were launched in 2019 by a pair of Serbian brothers who are the second generation in the cigar industry. Their father has been in the business since 2004 and, according to their website, “launched the cigar scene in Serbia”. Their portfolio consists of the Series J (Green Band), and Series U (Black Band). My understanding is that both will be offered in 4 vitolas, and both are made in Esteli, Nicaragua.

Despot Cigars caught my attention a little before their introduction to the American market. I’m always intrigued by new companies, but I was also very intrigued by the presentation of the cigars. The blend of these Series J caught my attention as well, as I always seem to enjoy some Pennsylvania Broadleaf as a filler component in a cigar. I quickly picked up a sampler to give these cigars a go, and thought it fitting to do a vitola battle for the Series J. 

Country of Origin: Nicaragua

Factory: Caribbean Cigar Factory

Wrapper: Ecuadorian Habano

Binder: Ecuadorian Habano

Filler: Esteli Ligero, Jalapa Seco (Nicaragua) & Pennsylvania Broadleaf Seco (USA)

Vitolas: 7 ½ x 38 Lancero, 5 x 50 Robusto, 6 x 52 Pyramide 

Price: $12.00 MSRP, $11.00 MSRP, $12.00 MSRP

Release Date: April 2022

Company Website: 


I am excited to try these as I really like the blend details here. I expect all of them to be full in body and flavor with medium-full strength. I think that the Pyramide will be the most dynamic and possibly a bit softer than the Robusto and Lancero. I look for all of them to bring in baking spices, pepper, earth, some tannic wood, cream, and maybe some meatiness and dark fruits. 

Prelight Characteristics 

Lancero - This Lancero is quite firm and evenly rolled, but has a bit of a bow to it. The wrapper is very clean and has a satin feel. The cigar has a slight ammonia scent, but is mainly damp pine and earth. The cold draw is pretty much just baking spices. 

Robusto - This cigar has a soft box press and is quite firm. The wrapper is medium brown and slightly lumpy and veiny. It smells like earth and cracked black pepper. The cold draw is like a cherry flavored gummy.

Pryamide - The wrapper on this cigar is very clean with menial veins, no seams, and a leather feel to it. It is a rich, medium brown with a slight amber hue. It smells of musty wood, rich tobacco, and sweet berries. The cold draw is exactly like Red Man chewing tobacco - raisins, syrup, and general tobacco earthiness. 

First Third

Lancero- First light is medium in body and mild-medium in flavor. There’s some subtle baking spice and earth. The retrohale adds a touch of leather to the profile. About an inch in its coming up to medium to medium-full in flavor. There’s some oak and black pepper notes coming in. The end of the first third shows no changes except the flavor is up to medium-full. The performance has been perfect. 

Flavor -2/4

Performance - 3/3

Experience - 1.25/3

Robusto - At first light the smoke is medium-full in body and medium in flavor. It starts off with light earth, some subtle baking spice, and wood. The retrohale is earthy pepper and a cherry Twizzler like sweetness. About a half inch in there's a creamy fruit sweetness joining the draw flavors. Nearing the end of the first third the flavor and body are both up to full. There’s a little toast joining the draw flavors. I have to perform a slight touchup to a run at the end of this third. Besides that, the performance has been perfect.

Flavor - 2.25/4

Performance - 2.5/3

Experience - 2.25/3

Pyramide - First light is full bodied smoke with medium-full flavors of slightly tannic wood, damp earth, some toast, and the slightest blackberry-esque tart sweetness. About a half inch in the wood is a bit more distinctly oak. The retrohale is deep and dark with a lot of sweet earth and leather. I’m about midway into the first third and it is performing pretty well but is needing some frequent puffing to ensure that. The primary flavors right now are oily oak, some leather, damp earth, and a little cinnamon heat with cherry sweetness. Coming to the end of the first third the flavors hold consistent. Once the ash dropped, the frequent puffing became unnecessary.

Flavor - 1.75/4

Performance - 2.23/3

Experience - 1.5/3

Second Third

Lancero- The second third is staying fairly consistent in terms of flavor with the only notable change being that the oak is now more of a general woodiness. The retrohale is a bit more robust with some spice and earth, and a subtle dark sweetness. Passing halfway the draw flavors have become predominantly a jalapeno pepper flavor without any heat. The second third closes with no updates to flavor or performance. 

Flavor -1.75/4

Performance - 3/3

Experience - 1.5/3

Robusto - The second third starts with more creamy fruit - I’ll call it cherry now. There are some baking spices and a bit of char on the back end. The retrohale still has a fruitiness, but it’s a bit brighter. There is less earth and pepper now. Hitting halfway the cigar almost went out on me and I had to touch it up. It had begun requiring more frequent puffs and I didn’t catch on in time. The touch up brought it back around and the flavors are carrying on as they were. Nearing the end of the second third the fruitiness has become darker, like a plum, and some oak is becoming present. There is still some baking spices and a little toast is reappearing. At the end of this third I had to touch up the cigar again as it is wanting to go out again. Fortunately, the touch ups are not impacting the flavors.

Flavor - 2.5/4

Performance - 1.5/3

Experience - 2/3

Pyramide - The second third has quickly become quite chewy and creamy, it actually is reminiscent of eating frozen custard. The toast is working its way back in and most of the sweetness has faded. Some baking spices are becoming present. The oak has become more subtle. The retrohale also carries the chewy, creamy texture. There is some dark fruit sweetness present with earth in the retrohale. Crossing halfway the oak is stepping back up and adding a little char. Coming to the end of the second third there is some dark roast coffee making its first appearance.

Flavor - 2/4

Performance - 3/3

Experience - 2/3

Final Third

Lancero- Right at the start of the final third the cigar got bitter and spontaneously went out. The bitterness didn’t stay after the relight. There’s still pepper flavor, but now there’s some heat joining in. There’s also a sweetness to it, along with earth. Coming to an end there are no flavor updates, but it did go out again at an hour and 20 minutes. 

Flavor - 2/4

Performance - 1/3

Experience - 1.5/3

Robusto - The final third is showing some of the creaminess coming back in and the first appearance of leather. The cigar went out about a half inch into the final third. Nearing the band the leather has stepped up some along with the oak. There’s a deep earthiness and a bit of pepper present in the finish. Into the bandpoint the pepper is stepping up and I need to do another small touch up. At about an inch left, there are no flavor updates, but it needs another touchup to get the smoke going. Coming to an end at two hours and two minutes, the pepper and earth have become predominant. It was still struggling a bit to burn, but did not require any touch ups.

Flavor - 2/4

Performance - .75/3

Experience - 1/3

Pyramide - The final third is opening up with some more toast, some nuts, a general woodiness, and some earth. There’s a little piece of wrapper lagging that required a small touch up. The retrohale, nearing the band, is warm baking spices, some nuttiness, and a dark brown sugar sweetness. The dark roast coffee has been in and out this third. Into the band point there’s a lot of toasted nuts and a slightly dry baking spice. There’s a little oily oak reemerging. Coming to an end at an hour and 31 minutes the cigar has performed perfectly since the small touch up. It is getting a little hot and spongy, but the flavors are not impacted. There is still toasted nuts, spice, and earth, but a little pepper has made an appearance.

Flavor -2.5/4

Performance - 2.75/3

Experience - 2.5/3

Overall Experience

The Pyramide started a little off for my palate, as I am not a huge fan of oak forward blends, however, it really stepped it up in the last two thirds. It brought in some nice toasted nuts, coffee, and baking spices, while holding onto some earth and oak. The Pyramide also had the least performance issues. The Robusto had a great flavor profile throughout. It was a nice balance of earth and wood with some creamy fruit and baking spices. The problem was the performance from about the end of the first third. This was amplified in the final third and created a subpar ending. However, I will be smoking the Robusto again in hopes of better performance. I’m not generally a Lancero fan because I find they’re oftentimes, for me, more one dimensional and less nuanced. That was, for the most part, the case for this Lancero. I will say, I did enjoy the flavors provided, but they were not as dynamic as the other vitolas. The cigar would have rated higher had it not had the final third performance issues. Overall, the score is correct with the Pyramide being my favorite, however, I would easily smoke the Robusto over the Lancero, however, this sample had enough performance issues to knock it down to the bottom. At any rate, I think they all were solid cigars and I don't expect any performance issues to be the norm, so I would comfortably recommend these to people to try.

Lancero - 5.67/10

Robusto - 5.58/10

Pyramide - 6.75/10

Feel free to reach out to me with questions, concerns, criticisms, or just to talk at @guitarsandcigarsfarm on Instagram, or visit my website

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