Monthly Archives: August 2017

Mi Querida SakaKhan

When I met Steve Saka at the Intertabac Trade show he gave me two cigars, the Sobremesa Short Churchill, which I reviewed back in January and rated 93, and this 7×50 Mi Querida Churchill nicknamed SakaKhan. Now I’m looking forward to smoke this beautiful looking cigar with the Connecticut River Valley broadleaf wrapper over Nicaraguan binder and filler tobaccos but for this review I decided to google some background information and I glad I did otherwise I would have been writing some wrong information here, for example naming the wrong manufacturer.

 


I know Steve has tight connections with the guys at Joya de Nicaragua, I know Juan Martinez pretty well and he always praised working with Steve. When Steve Saka was CEO at Drew Estate they started working together with a distribution deal in the USA where Drew Estate up till today is distributing Joya as well and Joya producing some cigars for Drew Estate at their facilities, and once he started his Dunbarton Tobacco & Trust he went to Joya for the Sobremesa. So I was surprised to find out that the Mi Querida isn’t produced by Joya but by NACSA, a manufacturer that produces for more companies, for example they also produce Asylum for Christian Eiroa & Tom Lazuka’s Asylum Cigars. I asked Steve why and he explained that he picks the factory that suits the best for that specific blend, and in this case it was NACSA.

 


The cigar looks majestic, the combination of the length, the dark smooth wrapper with the flattened veins, the beautiful triple cap and the simple yet tasteful ring just scream elegance yet power. This is a cigar I would pick at the cigar shop if I didn’t know anything about cigars and just shopped on appearance. The ring is dark blue with thick golden outline and a swirly font saying Mi Querida in gold as well. The ring has gear wheel like edges that set it apart from all other simple bands and can only be done on thick paper. The construction feels great, evenly filled, not too soft or too hard. The cigar has a mild ammonia and forest aroma. I punched the cigar and get a good cold draw with a peppery flavor. My trusted Ronson varaflame lit the cigar.

 


Right from the start i taste a very pleasant coffee flavor with sweetness, like espresso with a sugar cube. After a centimeter the flavor is woody, with some caramel and some pepper. Slowly i start to taste spices too. After a third the cigar gets sweeter. The flavors are not strong but so beautifully balanced, it’s amazing. Halfway I taste chocolate with a little cayenne pepper. There is also a honey like sweetness along with the other flavors. The sweet chocolate is getting stronger. After two thirds I taste some dark wood again, mild spicy, honey and a very mild citrus. Near the end the flavors all grow in strength with a nice, balanced dose of pepper. The last centimeter is pepper and nuts.

 


The smoke is medium thick at the start but is slowly gets thicker. The draw is great. The white ash is beautifully layered with some black smears. The burn is slow and just a little bit off. This medium full bodied and full flavored, extremely well balanced cigar gave me two and a half hours of cigar enjoyment.

Would I buy this cigar again? Without a doubt, I thought there wasn’t much room for improvement at the Sobremesa but this Mi Querido is even better.

Score: 94

94
edit: Steve Saka responded to the review on Facebook: “The manufacturer is NACSA – a very well known factory in our industry for producing value priced cigars. About 2 years ago they decided they really wanted to step up their game which included a total retrofit of their facility, a wholesale change over of their top and key personnel and the decision to work with a total pain in the a$$ – me. Many people in the industry said I was crazy, but imo they are just lazy and do not understand potential or what is needed to push a factory into being its best. I got the wacky-tabacy factory to make Liga Privada, while JDN has been a great factory on their own merits I was able to get them to expand their horizons flavor and blending wise, so working to improve an economy factory into becoming a factory that could craft true premiums was a walk-in-the-park particularly since they wanted to change, to do more and they took aggressive action to do so… many people forget that master cigar makers like Fuente and Padron originally started out as bundle cigar operations. And through hard work and dedication to the craft they have become two of the very best in the world. IMO, Mi Querida is the finest cigar every produced at NACSA, but it will not be their last – they have the right people and practices in place now to make exceptional handmade premiums in addition to maintaining their value priced production cigars.”

Categories: 94, Mi Querida, Nicaragua American Cigars S.A., Nicaraguan cigars | Tags: , , , , , , ,

Juan Clemente Classic & Club Selection Small Robusto

I found two almost similar looking cigars in my humidor, the only difference is a little bit of a color difference on the rings and the wrapper so I thought it might just be discoloration of the ring due to aging, but who googling I found out that they are actually two different blends, the Juan Clemente Club Selection and the Juan Clemente Classic, both in a small robusto size of 4 1/2×48.

Juan Clemente is the brain child of the Frenchman Jean Clement who started his brand in 1975 at the state owned La Tabacalera factory. His focus was mainly on the European market back in the day but even though Jean Clemente passed away a few years ago, his cigars are still available worldwide, including the United States.

Juan Clemente Club Selection Small Robusto


The cigar looks good, a beautiful medium brown, smooth wrapper with one noticeable vein and a silky feel. The construction feels good but the head has two pimples like a teenager. The aroma is quite grassy and fresh to my surprise but it fits the white greenish ring. I say white greenish because the ring looks like it was white once but has a discoloration problem. The top ring is small, curvy and says Juan Clemente in golden letters while the foot ring says the same, but not in a curly font, with two golden lines, one above and one below the text.


I cut the cigar, the cold draw is great and has a fresh taste of raw tobacco. After lighting I taste nutmeg, cloves, cinnamon, vanilla and lemon all in a well balanced mix. I taste some pepper in the aftertaste. After a third I taste a harsh wood, nutmeg and pepper mixture. Halfway I taste a creamy, mild vanilla flavored wood with a little lime, though with a harshness that I don’t like. Near the end the harshness grows with sweet cinnamon.


The draw is fine, the smoke is thick and good in volume. The ash is white and firm. The burn is beautiful. The cigar is medium bodied and medium flavored. The smoke time is fifty five minutes.


Would I buy this cigar again? No!

Score: 82
number82

Juan Clemente Classic Small Robusto


The ring of this cigar is identical to the Club Selection, only in bright, glossy white instead of the strange color of the latter one. Compare the pictures and you can understand why I wasn’t convinced that it were two blends instead of one blend with a slightly discolored ring. The wrapper is a lighter shade, mild oily with a few minor veins. The construction has some softer spots, not too soft though but a little inconsistent with the rest of the cigar. The medium strong aroma is cocoa with fresh wood.


I cut the cigar, the cold draw is fine but quite tasteless. While removing the foot ring the wrapper cracks as the ring was stuck to the wrapper, I hope that doesn’t influence the burn. I taste toast, nutmeg, chili flakes, vanilla and lime. Now that sounds like a flavor bomb but the flavors are muted. After half an inch the flavors aren’t muted any longer and I taste a sharp birch wood with chili flavor, a little on the harsh side. Halfway I taste toast with some walnut and a slightly harsh peppery birch.


The draw is fine and so is the smoke, which is thick enough, enough in volume and a nice white color. The almost perfect white ash is beautiful. I had to correct the burn a few times. This cigar is medium bodied and medium full flavored. The smoke time is about an hour.


Would I buy this cigar again? No, I’ll pass.

Score: 82
number82

Categories: 82, Dominican cigars, Juan Clemente, La Tabacalera | Tags: , ,

La Gloria Cubana Medaille d’or No.3

When I started smoking cigars I was a fat guy, 400lbs/180kg, and I liked big cigars, robusto or thicker and refused to smoke thin cigars as I didn’t have the skills to truly enjoy them yet and because of the way it looked, I had a bowling ball shaped face and a thin cigar just looked strange I thought. But the owner of the shop that I frequented all the time, Marjolein Hartman from Hartman Cigars & More in Amsterdam, kept saying I needed to try this Cuban slim panetela, the La Gloria Cubana Medaille d’or #3. I said no a few times but because I trusted her judgement and knowledge I finally bought one and lit it. That cigar was a game changer for me, so flavorful, so dynamic and thats when I fell in love with thin cigars. I smoked the cigar in the shop and brought the box home, the box date was June 2002. This review is the last cigar I had left from that specific box.


Now back the bigger vs smaller ring cigars. I keep hearing that the popularity of big ring gauge cigars is because people get more tobacco for their money but I disagree. At Intertabac 2016 I had an interesting conversation with Steve Saka as he disagrees too but we both have a slightly different reason. Steve says its because most of the modern cigars aren’t mild to medium but medium plus to full bodied the bigger ring gauges, that tend to be milder compared to the thinner cigars, are more popular because they are milder and thats still a major part of the consumer base. I say its because a thicker cigar is easier to smoke, the burning temperature is lower so the cigar won’t overheat and won’t turn bitter (exactly the same reason why I always direct novice smokers to a robusto or thicker). On the other hand, why do other people love thin cigars so much? Because the wrapper to filler ratio is much better, wrapper gives the most flavor to a cigar, up to 80% sometimes, and if you have less filler you taste more of the wrapper plus the cigar gets way more dynamic, more evolution but you have to smoke slowly to prevent the cigar from overheating. It takes experience and skill to truly enjoy a thin cigar.


Now the cigar itself, as I said, it is a thin cigar, thinner than my beloved lonsdales and lanceros, much thinner with a ring gauge of 28 while a lancero has a ring gauge of 38. If you don’t know how to measure that, it is measured in 1/64 of an inch, so this cigar is 28/64 of an inch wide which is less than 2/3rd of my pink and I have slim fingers. The length is Lancero size though, close to 7 inch. The wrapper has a bit of a rustic look to it, get the band of, leave it on the grounds in the woods and you might even think it belongs there due to the veins, but I guess thats part of the charm too. The wrapper is mild oily and chocolate milk colored. The cigar feels evenly packed, well constructed and its very hard to roll a cigar this skinny and to apply a triple cap. The ring is cute, a yellow circle with the portrait of a woman in a red cape, black letters La Gloria Cuban with a relatively big golden ring around it with at the bottom black letters Habana. The sides have the golden lining too with a red and white striped pattern and two golden medals on each side. Not a spectacular ring, but the tiny size makes it very cute. The aroma is quite mild and I smell a soapy flavor, some pepper and a little bit of a barnyard.


Due to the skinny size it is impossible to punch the cigar so I grabbed my Xikar cutter to find a tight draw that has a little pepper. I lit the cigar with my soft flame and straight from the start I taste a beautiful mix of leather, coffee and a mild chocolate. After a centimeter I taste mild salty nuts. After a third third I taste some cedar, some bitter herbs and a mild metallic flavors. Halfway I am surprised by the amount of pepper I taste. After two thirds a nutty flavor joins the pepper, I also taste some salt.


Due to the difficult draw the smoke is thin too and not too much either. The ash is quite dark gray, layered and reasonably firm. The burn is straight as a line. There is a lot of evolution, as can be expected from a skinny cigar. The cigar is medium in both body and flavor. The smoke time is an hour and a half.

Would I buy this cigar again? They are discontinued, Habanos is moving more and more into the big ring cigars. And my preferences changed I guess, I’m not liking this as much as I used to and that counts for most Cubans.

Score: 89
89

Categories: 89, Cuban cigars, La Gloria Cubana (Habanos), Partagas Factory | Tags: , , , , , , , ,

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