Jas Sum Kral might be the most talked about cigar of 2016 on social media. It’s the brand of Riste Riatevski and he uses the social media like nobody else in order to get his brand name out and sell his cigars. His Red Knight is blended together with Noel Rojas and made in Noel’s factory Tabacalera NOA. Riste is from Macedonian decent and the name Jas Sum Kral means “I am king” in his native language. The first release was just a 6×52 toro with an Ecuadorian Habano wrapper over a double binder, one Mexican San Andres and one Nicaraguan Jalapa and undisclosed filler. I’ve been in touch with Riste on Facebook for some time and got my hands on one of this original release Red Knight toros through an account of mine, Hans van de Wittenboer from Piet van Kuyk Cigars in Eindhoven, and it blew me away. So much that I asked my then employer, the largest independent premium cigar importer in The Netherlands to take on this brand, which he initially denied.
When the new vitolas came out, a lancero, lonsdale and robusto, I asked Riste for the international wholesale prices, called a few of my Facebook savvy accounts to see if they were interested, wrote a nice order and got back to my employer with everything worked out, the fixed retail prices and the biggest order Riste had until that moment. With so many boxes pre-sold my employer couldn’t say no any longer and The Netherlands became the first international market where the Jas Sum Kral brand was available. A few months later I parted from that employer and in my last week I used the company discount to buy some Joya Red Half Corona for my wife, her favorite cigar, and Jas Sum Kral Red Knight in all sizes for me. A review of the lancero can be found here (in my old scoring method, maybe I’ll do one in my new 100 point method later this year).
I finally met Riste in person at Intertabac 2016 last september and he gave me a new Jas Sum Kral Maduro toro, a cigar (6×52) that will only be released for international markets since it wasn’t ready for the dreaded august 8 deadline and can’t be introduced to the American market unless the FDA ruling is changed. I smoked one right at the show and decided to keep one for a review, this review. The ring is the same as for the Red Knight and is designed by the Singaporean designer Nuzli Hakiim who makes the most beautiful photos for his Instagram. The design is very detailed with great us of black, burgundy, gold and white letters on a good quality thick paper. The wrapper is beautifully dark, with some even darker spots, and two veins on the side and it’s leathery to the touch. The shape of the cigar is a bit off, it’s not completely round, the sides feel a little flattened but it feels evenly filled. The cigar has a dark aroma, a little bit charred and a wet dog with a hint of ammonia.
I decided to cut the cigar with my xi2 cutter from Xikar instead of punching it. The draw is fine and cold I taste dry raisin with a little spicy and peppery aftertaste. As almost every time when smoking indoor I lit the cigar with a soft flame and straight away I taste coffee, strong, bold and bitter. Soon I taste meaty and peppery flavor. The pepper is becoming really strong, maybe even too strong. Even the smoke smells peppery. After a centimeter I also taste some dark chocolate but with a lot of pepper.
Soon after a cedar flavor shows up as a backdrop for the pepper and after a third I taste a mild metallic flavor. The pepper is still the main flavor although it’s not too overpowering anymore. Halfway the cedar and metal get accompanied by chocolate as support to the jalapeño pepper. The background flavors change to wooden notes towards the ⅔rd mark. The aftertaste has some mint in it. After the ⅔ point I taste more of a salty walnut flavor with that metal and still the pepper. The final puffs are a toasty, nutty flavor with a lot of pepper.
The smoke is great, thick and luscious but I don’t like the gray color. The ash is white and dense. The draw is great. I had to touch up a few times to correct an uneven burn, I blame the thickness of the wrapper for that, but it does effect the score. This cigar is definitely full bodied and full flavored. The smoke time is an hour and a half. Unfortunately I didn’t get to use my awesome Jas Sum Kral nub tool.
Would I buy this cigar again? It’s a pepper bomb, a few years ago I loved pepper bombs but my preferences changed a little. This is a great post barbecue cigar so I’ll buy a few for the summer season. But for other occasions I will grab the red knight.