Posts Tagged With: Steve Saka

Cigarguideblog Top 25 cigars of 2017

On January first of 2017 I switched from the rating system I had been using for 10 years to a 100 point scoring system for three main reasons:

– I could compare scores for myself
– The companies I reviewed cigars from could use the scores to promote their cigars, and that would make my number of visitors grow too
– I could make a top 25 at the end of the year.

The old system I’d been using for so long came from an old (I think it was Hungarian) website, an online humidor, that is no longer online and now that I’ve been using a 100 point score system for a year I no longer want to go back to my old system. How I come to my 100 point score is explained here (insert link)

The last few years I also updated my blog very irregularly due to my work, as part of the industry and the strict Dutch laws it could be considered advertising and I didn’t want to take any risk, even though my reviews are in English and I reviewed a lot of cigars that I didn’t represented. I just did a few reviews to keep the site alive but since parting ways with my then employer in June of 2016 I did a weekly review until the end of the year. To make a new start on the blog I decided to change a few things, like the set up of the review to make it a bit more personal, the 100 point score and a review every Wednesday and Sunday. As a lancero lover I also decided to write a lancero review every 15th of the month, even if the 15th wasn’t a Wednesday or Sunday and to top it off I also wrote a few special reviews on special dates or a series of reviews.

Out of the 156 cigars I reviewed, here’s my top 25 cigars of 2017:

1) Jas Sum Kral Kralot Pre-release Toro (Nicaragua) with a score of 95
2) Balmoral Anejo XO FT127 Lancero (Dominican Republic) with a score of 95
3) Jas Sum Kral Red Knight Toro (Nicaragua) with a score of 95
4) Warped Little Havana Toro (USA) with a score of 95
5) Undercrown Manifesto (Nicaragua) with a score of 94
6) Oliva Masterblend 1 Churchill (Nicaragua) with a score of 94
6) Don Fernando Corona (Nicaragua) with a score of 94
8) Kilo Toro (Nicaragua) with a score of 94
9) Oliva Masterblend 2 Robusto (Nicaragua) with a score of 94
10) Cornelius & Anthony Cornelius Toro (USA) with a score of 94
11) Jas Sum Kral Da Cebak A (Nicaragua) with a score of 94
11) Mi Querida Churchill (Nicaragua) with a score of 94
11) My Father 911 Commemorate Robusto (Nicaragua) with a score of 94
14) La Sagrada Familia Robusto (Nicaragua) with a score of 94
14) Ilja VIII A by My Father (Nicaragua) with a score of 94
14) 601 La Bomba Napalm (Nicaragua) with a score of 94
17) Alec Bradley Tempus Nicaragua Robusto (Honduras) with a score of 93
17) Joya Red Half Corona (Nicaragua) with a score of 93
19) Tatuaje RC233 Figurado (USA) with a score of 93
20) Plasencia Alma Fuerte Figurado (Nicaragua) with a score of 93
21) Oliva Classic Natural Churchill (Nicaragua) with a score of 93
22) RomaCraft Wunderlust Robusto (Nicaragua) with a score of 93
23) Viking Viking Robusto (Dominican Republic) with a score of 93
23) Viking Nordic Warrior Churchill (Dominican Republic) with a score of 93
25) Jas Sum Kral CRNA NOK Toro (Nicaragua) with a score of 93
25) Puros de Hostos Commendador Lancero (Dominican Republic) with a score of 93
25) Long Live the King my style is jalapeño Lancero (Dominican Republic) with a score of 93

Now you might think “hey, that’s 27 cigars” and you’re right but the Jas Sum Kral CRNA Nok, the Puros de Hostos Commendador and the Long Live the King scored exactly the same rating on my 1000 point system so they share the 25th spot, just like the Oliva Masterblend 1 and the Don Fernando share the 6th spot, the Jas Sum Kral Da Cebak, Mi Querida and the My Father 911 commemorate cigar share spot 11, La Sagrada Familia, Ilja VIII and 601 share spot 14, Alec Bradley Tempus Nicaragua and Joya Red share spot 17 and both Viking cigars share the 23rd spot brotherly. Maybe for the next year I need to come up with a divider, if you have suggestions, please let me know.

The breakdown

So I scored 156 cigars in 2017 and the average score is 88,6 so 89 but to end up in the top 25 you had to score at least 92,8 and the average of the top 25 is 93.7

Now looking at the countries, Nicaragua rules the top 27 with 19 entries, the Dominican Republic scores 5, then a surprising number three with 2 entries from the USA and 1 Honduran cigar. That means no Cuban, Costa Rican, Panamanian, Mexican, Peruvian and Dutch cigars made the cut.

Cigars smoked: 156
Highest score: 95
Lowest score: 73
Average score: 89

Now broken down per country:
Flag USA
America:
Cigars smoked: 5
Highest score: 95
Lowest score: 73
Average score: 89

 

flag costa rica
Costa Rica:
Cigars smoked: 3
Highest score: 91
Lowest score: 90
Average score: 90

flag cuba
Cuba:
Cigars smoked: 12
Highest score: 92
Lowest score: 84
Average score: 88

flag dominican
Dominican Republic:
Cigars smoked: 38
Highest score: 95
Lowest score: 72
Average score: 82

 

Flag honduras
Honduras:
Cigars smoked: 15
Highest score: 93
Lowest score: 79
Average score: 90

 

Flag Mexico
Mexico:
Cigars smoked: 7
Highest score: 86
Lowest score: 73
Average score: 90

 

flag nicaragua
Nicaragua:
Cigars smoked: 73
Highest score: 95
Lowest score: 77
Average score: 91

 

flag netherlands
Netherlands:
Cigars smoked: 1
Highest score: 89
Lowest score: 89
Average score: 89

 

flag panama
Panama:
Cigars smoked: 1
Highest score: 89
Lowest score: 89
Average score: 89

 

flag peru
Peru:
Cigars smoked: 1
Highest score: 82
Lowest score: 82
Average score: 82

Now what do these numbers say? It is too simple to say that the average per country is which country I like best because I haven’t smoked an equal amount of cigars per country. But it is safe to say that my preferences are more met by Nicaraguan and Honduran cigars then by any other country.

If you look at the average scores between the Dominican Republic and Cuba you might say I prefer Cuba over the Dominican but I reviewed a lot of Dominican budget cigars and only premium cigars from Cuba so if I cut those budget cigars out, the average of the Dominican Republic shoots back to 90, all those budget cigars definitely effected the average for the Dominican Republic.

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Cigar of the month November

It’s the end of the month again, so as in every month before this year I will rank the cigars I reviewed this month from best rated to lowest rated. This month I rated 14 cigars, some old, some very new and with a spread of the four most prominent cigar countries.

The cigar with the highest rating last month is:

Joya Red Half Corona with a 93 score

Now as for the complete list of cigars I published:

1) Joya Red Half Corona (Nicaragua) 93 points
2) Tatuaje RC233 Figurado (Nicaragua) 93 points
3) Long Live the King my style is jalapeño Lancero (Dominican Republic) 93 points
4) Alec Bradley Lost Art Robusto (Honduras) 92 points
4) La Sagrada Familia Maduro pre-release Robusto (Nicaragua) 92 points
6) Todos Las Dias Toro (Nicaragua) 92 points
7) Joya de Nicaragua Antaño Gran Reserve Robusto (Nicaragua) 91 points
8) Joya de Nicaragua Antaño Gran Reserve Torpedo (Nicaragua) 90 points
9) Viaje Zombie Antidote (Honduras) 90 points
10) A. Flores El Trovador Petit Belicoso (Dominican Republic) 90 points
11) Davidoff 702 #2000 (Dominican Republic) 88 points
12) Partagas Serie D#5 (Cuba) 87 points
13) San Pedro de Macoris Ecuador Robusto (Dominican Republic) 87 points
14) San Pedro de Macoris Brazil Robusto (Dominican Republic) 86 points

Categories: Cigar of the month | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Todos Las Dias Toro

If you’re fluent in Spanish you might see the error in the name of the cigar, and brand owner/blender and industry legend Steve Saka explained in a facebook post a few months ago the story behind that name. Now I scrolled back on his Facebook posts but he’s so active that I couldn’t find it anymore, but it was a funny story about misunderstanding the language (which I, as a non Spanish speaker understand), trademarks and eventually using the wrong name as a tribute to a mentor and to bypass copyright laws.


Anyway, I was in Cigaragua in Amsterdam the day the cigars landed in The Netherlands and smoked one right out of the box. Since it was my third cigar of the day I could not do a review on the spot with my tainted taste buds but the next day Juan Martinez from Joya de Nicaragua gave me another cigar that I stashed away for a review, this one.


The wrapper is amazing, like dark coffee but with some sparkling minerals, oily and with only a few very thin veins, this cigar is a looker. That’s being magnified by the simple yet sophisticated rings, a diamond shaped ring in silver van black with a logo and beautiful decorations and a foot ring in the same colors with the Todos Las Dias name in a curly font. The cigar feels rock hard though, but without any softer spots so I figure that won’t be a problem. The head of the cigar is perfectly round. The cigar has a medium strong aroma of hay, grass and charred wood.


My Joya branded cutter is working overtime this week since it’s the 4th Joya made cigar in a row. The cold draw is on the tight side of good. I taste a sticky raw tobacco flavor with a little pepper. The cigar starts out smooth and a little sweetness and coffee. Slowly the flavors pick up, creamy chocolate with some pepper show up too. The cigar is smoother than I expected. After a third I still taste the creamy chocolate and pepper but now with a little splash of lime. Halfway I also taste an earthy flavor, still creamy. The final third starts woody with pepper and a mild salty flavor which is hard to describe. The pepper gets stronger and the dominant flavor.


The draw is great, the smoke is on the thin side though. The burn is straight. The ash is white with dark spots and firm. This cigar is full bodied and full flavored but still smooth. The smoke time is two hours.

Would I buy this cigar again? Another winner from Steve Saka.

Score: 92
number92

Categories: 92, Fabrica de Tabacos Joya de Nicaragua, Nicaraguan cigars, Todos Las Dias | Tags: , , , , , , ,

Cigar of the month August

Just like every month I post the list of cigars I published that month in rating order, highest to lowest and in August I rated 15 cigars

The cigar with the highest rate in August is:

Don Fernando Corona with a 94 score.
Now as for the complete list of cigars I published at Cigarguideblog in August:

1) Don Fernando Corona(Nicaragua) 94 points
2) Mi Querida Sakakhan (Nicaragua) 94 points
3) 601 La Bomba Napalm (Nicaragua) 94 points
4) La Sagrada Familia Toro (Nicaragua) 91 points
5) Illusione ~hl~  Lancero (Honduras) 91 points
6) Rosalones Reserve Corona (Nicaragua) 91 points
7) Royal Danish Regal Blend Belicoso (Nicaragua) 91 points
8) Indian Motorcycles Habano Robusto (Dominican Republic) 90 points
9) La Gloria Cuban Medaille D’Or #3 (Cuba) 89 points
10) Capadura 808 Robusto (Dominican Republic) 88 points
11) Capadura 808 Robusto (Dominican Republic) 87 points
12) Juan Clemente Club Selection #2 (Dominican Republic) 82 points
13) Juan Clemente Classic #2 (Dominican Republic) 82 points
14) Capadura 848 Robusto (Dominican Republic) 80 points
15) Capadura 898 Robusto (Dominican Republic) 72 points

 

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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: , , , , , , ,

Sobremesa Short Churchill

Back in 1996, years before I smoked my first premium cigar (that was a Cuban Cohiba in Indonesia late 2005) Steve Saka started what was most likely the first consumer oriented website on cigars ever. As I mentioned, it was years before I lit my first premium cigar so I missed that Steve started working for JR Cigars as a dedicated consultant for sales, marketing and product development. Actually, the first time I ever heard his name was after he moved to Drew Estate and created the cigar that was a game changer for Drew Estate, Liga Privada no.9, and the follow ups like the T52 and undercrown lines.

After leaving Drew Estate Steve took a hiatus before returning with his own company, Dunbarton Tobacco & Trust and his first line: Sobremesa. This cigar is made by Joya de Nicaragua but the blend is made by Saka and he actually owns the tobacco himself instead of using Joya’s tobacco. I heard and read a lot of the cigar and finally met Steve at intertabac last September. We chatted a bit and he gave me two cigars, his new blend Mi Querida and this 4 3/4 x48 Sobremesa short Churchill.

The wrapper is an Ecuadorean Habano rosado with a Mexican Matacapan binder and a filler consisting from Nicaraguan tobacco and Pennsylvania Broadleaf. The band is awesome, the shape is unique, it’s a crown, not a picture of a crown but completely shaped as a crown, very detailed and the brown of the ‘gaps’ in the crown matches the color of the wrapper perfectly. The simple yet matching foot band spells the name Sobremesa is beautiful curly letters. The wrapper is beautiful, shiny and I only see one vein. The construction feels good and the cigar has a medium strong barnyard aroma with also a hint of burned wood. I punched the cigar and found a great cold draw with some pepper and raisin.

After lighting the cigar with my Ronson varaflame I taste espresso with a woody background and a little sweetness. Soon the sweetness is stronger with wood, the espresso is gone.

After a third the sweetness is gone, the cigar now tastes like smooth oak with a little citrus aftertaste. Halfway I taste a little bit of sweetness again. The wood also changed a bit in flavor but it’s still wood. I also taste a very mild dark, mildly sweet, chocolate but is disappears quickly.

The smoke is white, thick and I get a medium amount of it. The burn starts of a bit crooked but it’s corrected itself. The ash is silver gray and beautifully layered. It’s also firm. The draw is great, no plugs and the right resistance. This is a great medium bodied yet full flavored cigar. The smoke time is about 90 minutes.

Would I buy this cigar again? Hell yeah!

Score: 93

93

Categories: 93, Fabrica de Tabacos Joya de Nicaragua, Nicaraguan cigars, Sobremesa | Tags: , , , , , , , ,

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