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Stallone The Pony | halfwheel

While there aren’t as many new cigar brands these days, there are still plenty of cigar companies I’ve never heard of, let alone purchased their products. Last year, I got introduced to one of those companies: Stallone Cigars.

First, the company is neither owned or endorsed by Sylvester Stallone.

Second, the company isn’t new.

Tony Barrios, a cutting horse competitor, founded the company in 2014, though its cigars didn’t enter the U.S. market until Aug. 1, 2020. I found out about the company because it hired industry veteran Todd Vance as its new North American vice-president in July 2020.

While there are many companies that use horses for various parts of their branding, I don’t think any cigar company has leaned into the theme quite like Stallone. It has six different blends sold under the Cowboy Series name, each of which features Stallone’s horse-themed logo and are named after horses.

At the Tobacco Plus Expo 2021, it introduced a new series called The Pony. It’s offered in a single 4 x 58 size that uses an Ecuadorian Sumatra wrapper over a Nicaraguan binder and Connecticut broadleaf and Nicaraguan fillers. The MSRP is set at $4.85 per cigar and it is packaged in boxes of 25 cigars.

Like the rest of the Stallone portfolio, it is made at Las Villas Cigars, formerly known as Tabacalera La Perla, in Nicaragua.

  • Cigar Reviewed: Stallone The Pony
  • Country of Origin: Nicaragua
  • Factory: Las Villas Cigars
  • Wrapper: Ecuador (Sumatra)
  • Binder: Nicaragua
  • Filler: Nicaragua & U.S.A. (Connecticut Broadleaf)
  • Length: 4 Inches
  • Ring Gauge: 58
  • Vitola: Short Gordo
  • MSRP: $4.85 (Box of 25, $121.25)
  • Release Date: May 12, 2021
  • Number of Cigars Released: Regular Production
  • Number of Cigars Smoked For Review: 3

The first thing I notice about The Pony is that it’s a thick cigar, much thicker than the handful of Stallone cigars I’ve seen up until this point. I also spend some time staring at the band, realizing that it’s a bit more heart-shaped than what I typically find on cigars. I don’t really know all that much about horses, but it seems to have a shape and border that are made to mimic a saddle. As for the Ecuadorian wrapper, it has great texture and plenty of red hues breaking through. The aroma from the wrapper has barnyard, raisin, some chocolate, and the slightest bit of nuttiness. Aroma-wise, the foot is pretty potent with scents of creaminess, raisin, milk chocolate and molasses. The cold draw is medium-full with barbecue sunflower seeds, mustiness and raisin.

Things start a lot drier than I was expecting with flavors of nuttiness, leather, creaminess and white pepper. Everything is a bit jumbled up and I’m still taken aback by the dryness, which is getting worse as the finish builds. After just a few minutes, I’m not thrilled with what I’m tasting. It’s very dry, it’s very bitter, and it’s quite pungent. For one sample, my notes read, “15 minutes in and my mouth feels like I ate a bunch of carpet.” It doesn’t taste like how new carpet smells and I can’t say I’ve ever tried eating carpet, but I imagine this is what it tastes like. The individual flavors read like a list of things that I would generally be okay with: lots of grains over mustiness, earthiness, black pepper, white pepper and hints of lime. The problem is that everything is either dry or sharp. And if it’s not one of those two things, it’s the mild lime flavor. The finish has even more of the dry grainy flavor over leather and white pepper. Retrohales deliver a weird sensation I can’t quite place—it’s sort of like oregano—with grains, leather and key limes. There’s a bit of a reprieve where it seems to add brightness to the profile, but pretty quickly it gets bitter and then seemingly doesn’t stop. Flavor is full, while body and strength are medium-full. While I’m not fond of the flavor profile, the cigar’s construction is impressive: the ash looks like a stack of dimes and there is tons of smoke production.

There’s some reprieve in the second third of the Stallone The Pony. It’s still a lot of the same flavors as before—grains, earthiness and mustiness—but it’s slightly less bitter than before. That’s not to say it’s suddenly transformed to not being bitter—it still is—but it’s more palatable than it was in the first third. Once the smoke leaves my mouth, it finishes with earthiness, brown mustard, creaminess and some herbal flavors. Retrohales are similar to the first third, though I find more lime and herbal flavors. The one other difference is that the 15 seconds after retrohaling aren’t as intense with the amount of bitterness that takes over the profile. Flavor is full, body is medium-full and strength is full. Construction remains excellent, so at least there’s that going for the cigar.

By the final third, I’m starting to feel the strength. It’s probably a bit amplified by the flavors, which because of the bitterness, leads my brain to be thinking I shouldn’t continue to smoke this cigar. But this is a cigar review and I keep going. The grain flavor returns to the vigor that it had in the first third, though the earthiness and pepper are a bit more amped up as well. I would have had a hard time believing that increasing the intensity of the grains, earthiness and pepper would make for a more enjoyable experience, but it does. The finish sees the brown mustard almost get in line with the level of the earthiness, which helps to make for a less bitter profile, even if the grains are still the dominant flavor. On two samples, there’s some nuttiness that emerges, but everything is playing second fiddle to the bitter grain flavor. Retrohales have dry earthiness over grains—a notable accomplishment that a flavor is now stronger than the grains—though the largest change is the pepper is pretty much gone. There’s something that tingles the palate on the finish, though it seems more cinnamon than pepper. As the cigar gets near the final inch, the brown mustard increases enough to overtake both the earthiness and grains, but it’s far too little too late. Flavor is full—albeit a bit reduced compared to before—while body is medium-full and strength is full.

Final Notes

  • Because I don’t have very many nice things to say about this cigar, I will start off with the positives. First, all three cigars I smoked had excellent construction from start to finish. Second, you don’t see a lot of new cigars offered in boxes with an MSRP of less than $5.
  • There are many great parts of my job, but having to review three cigars like this is not one of them. If you went to a restaurant once and had an unpleasant experience, you almost certainly wouldn’t go back the next night. And I’m not sure who would ever consider going back a third day in a row, but that’s what I did here.
  • I’ve smoked one other Stallone cigar to date. It was not a cigar that I would put in the same league as say our Top 25 candidates, but it was a lot better than this.
  • Because of both the focus of this website and the evolution of cigar-making in the last decade, I rarely review cigars like this, but I know they are out there. In my decade-plus of reviewing cigars, I’ve witnessed the floor for new cigars get a lot better and as such, cigars like this stand out as outliers today. A decade ago that wasn’t as much of the case. Beyond just the idea that tobacco growers and cigar factories have gotten better, the amount of very mild new cigars has been reduced. Those cigars seemed to be the home to the overly bitter and pepper-lade profile I found here.
  • I tried to think of what I would pair this with to make it more palatable, I’m guessing that a cappuccino or some other coffee-based milk drink would bring some of the flavors needed to break through the dryness.
  • Stallone Cigar’s website describes this as “medium” in strength, which I would disagree with. Then again, that image also lists the cigar as 4 1/2 x 50, which is also not the case though because both dimensions are off, which makes me wonder if there’s another size planned.
  • I imagine many people that buy these cigars will think that these are related to Sylvester Stallone and there’s probably little Stallone Cigars could do to really change that fact. That being said, the bands very clearly say “TONY BARRIOS” on them, so it’s not as if the company isn’t doing its part to try to separate the false notion.
  • Cigars for this review were purchased by halfwheel.
  • Final smoking time was two hours and 30 minutes on average. For all the issues I had with how the cigar tasted, it never seemed to mind being smoked quicker so I imagine that time could be cut in half without the profile getting noticeably different if you wanted to power through this.

Overall Score

There’s no point in dragging this out: the three cigars I smoked tasted bad. The dry and bitter profile lasted from start to finish of each cigar I smoked and completely overshadowed everything else, both literally and figuratively. The construction was excellent, but that’s not even a consolation prize given how bad the flavor was.

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