Cigar Review: Sobremesa Robusto Largo

15 Oct 2018

These days, when cigar enthusiasts think of Steve Saka’s Dunbarton Tobacco & Trust, the “marcas” they’re most likely to conjure are the ones Saka features in his frequent social media posts. Sin Compromiso. The Muestra de Saka iterations, including Nacatamale and (especially) Unicorn. Maybe a close-up of a lit Umbagog taken at Saka’s favorite fishing lake in New Hampshire.

But when I think Dunbarton, I think Sobremesa. Sobremesa was announced in July 2015 to almost instant excitement as the first line from Saka’s new independent cigar operation. It marked the culmination of a two-year non-compete agreement Saka had with his former employer, Drew Estate. Seemingly everyone was clamoring to see how the man who played a critical role in growing Drew Estate into a Nicaraguan juggernaut would fare in his first solo foray.

In my opinion, Sobremesa was—and still is—worth the hype. To date we’ve written about the Elegante en Cedros, Gran Imperiales, Corona Grande, El Americano, and—my personal favorite—the Cervantes Fino. All have received exemplary marks.

Today I look at a Sobremesa vitola that has thus far escaped my reach: the Robusto Largo (5.25 x 52). Like its brethren, the Robusto Largo sports an oily, velvety, toothy, slightly reddish Ecuadorian Habano Rosado wrapper leaf with minimal veins and tight seams. It envelops a Mexican binder and a filler blend of Pennsylvania Broadleaf Ligero with four different Nicaraguan tobaccos (Gk Condega C-SG Seco, Pueblo Nuevo Criollo Viso, La Joya Estelí C-98 Viso, and ASP Estelí Hybrid Ligero).

The cap clips easily to reveal a smooth cold draw. At the foot, the pre-light notes remind me of cocoa powder, earth, and caramel.

After establishing an even light, I find a creamy, balanced, delightfully familiar profile of café au lait, gentle cinnamon spice, salted nuts, and a bit of cayenne heat. The finish has both black pepper and baking spices. The texture is bready.

As the Robusto Largo progresses, flavors like dark cherry, green raisin, cedar, molasses, and caramel come and go. The texture shifts to thick syrup around the midway point and thereafter. As I’ve written before about Sobremesa, “the complexity is palpable and highly enjoyable, and the sweetness of the resting smoke is mouth-wateringly intoxicating. Fortunately, the combustion qualities do not detract from the experience; rather, they enhance it. The burn line is straight, the smoke production above average, the draw easy, and the ash holds well off the foot.”

For me, the Cervantes Fino remains the flagship of the fleet. But don’t sleep on the other vitolas, including the Robusto Largo. It is worthy of another outstanding rating of four and a half stogies out of five.

[To read more StogieGuys.com cigar reviews, please click here.]

Patrick A

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Quick Smoke: Drew Estate x Caldwell All Out Kings Smash

14 Oct 2018

A couple times each week we’ll post a Quick Smoke: not quite a full review, just our brief verdict on a single cigar of “buy,” “hold,” or “sell.”

When I reviewed this cigar about a year and a half ago, I didn’t particularly enjoy it. Commenter Brandon suggested I wait a while to gauge the impact of a little aging. I still had two and lit one the other day to check out the performance. The short answer: much better. Gone was the “sharp, back-of-the-throat bite” and much of the dirty taste that marred my initial experience with this robusto (5 x 52). There was also greater balance. Time in the humidor seems to have done well by this cigar. While I still don’t find the complex blend to be among my favorites, the aged All Out Kings was a more than satisfactory smoke. If you lack the patience to age them yourself, check the shelves at your local retailer and see how thick the dust has settled.

Verdict = Buy.

George E

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Quick Smoke: United Cigar Churchill

12 Oct 2018

A couple times each week we’ll post a Quick Smoke: not quite a full review, just our brief verdict on a single cigar of “buy,” “hold,” or “sell.”

United Cigar has several highly rated brands, such as Atabey and Byron. Unfortunately, its eponymous line isn’t up to those standards. Though performance was fine, for me, the blend—filler from Brazil (Mata Fina) and the Dominican Republic (Habano Corojo and Habano Criollo ’98), a Broadleaf wrapper, and a Habano binder—just didn’t jell. The Churchill (7 x 54, $7) was harsh and dry from start to finish.

Verdict = Sell.

George E

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Cigar Spirits: Foursquare 2004 Single Blended Rum & Foursquare Premise Single Blended Rum

10 Oct 2018

I’m both excited and annoyed about the prospect of rum becoming the new bourbon. In recent years, bourbon shortages have driven up prices, as demand has shot up for high end, well-aged, limited-release bourbon.

The plus side of that scenario is more good rum on the market. The downside, of course, is higher prices and standout releases becoming increasingly tough to find. For example, I’ve already heard Foursquare referred to as the “Pappy of Rum,” which isn’t good for rum drinkers considering the price and exclusivity of Pappy.

That said, it isn’t hard to see why Foursquare is so highly regarded. The Barbados-based distillery uses traditional distilling methods, innovative cask usage, and an unadulterated (without added sugar) style.

The Foursquare 2004 Single Blended Rum and Foursquare Premise Single Blended Rum each show off what makes Foursquare a standout for many rum lovers. Prices vary for each, if you can find them (the 2004 will be particularly hard to find), but expect to pay $60-90 for each.

Foursquare 2004 Single Blended Rum
This artisanal pot and twin column-distilled rum has been aged for 11 years in ex-bourbon casks and is bottled at full strength (59% ABV)
Nose: Bourbon-y with vanilla, oak, dried fruit, and a hint of ginger
Palate: Great intensity with nutmeg spice, chocolate, vanilla, and tropical fruit, though surprisingly lacking in heat given the high proof
Finish: Long with banana, nutmeg, and oaky vanilla

Foursquare Premise Single Blended Rum
Distilled in pot and twin column stills, this ten-year-old bourbon was aged three years in ex-bourbon casks before being transferred to ex-sherry casks and bottled at 46% ABV
Nose: Dried fruit, orange peel, and maple
Palate: Sophisticated and balanced with honey, red wine, red apple, marmalade, and pralines
Finish: Long and rich with sherry, vanilla, citrus, and wood spice

These are two great rums, each elegant in their own way, and both perfect pairings for a fine cigar. Personally, I prefer the intensity of the higher-proof 2004, but Foursquare Premise is also one of the best ten or so rums I’ve ever enjoyed.

Pair each with a good cigar and you’ll be in for a treat. Foursquare 2004 can stand up to the strongest full-bodied cigar like the Bolivar Royal CoronaDrew Estate Liga Privada Único Serie Velvet Rat, or Litto Gomez Diez Small Batch. Foursquare Premise pairs excellently with a balanced, medium-bodied cigar like the Paul Garmirian Reserva Exclusiva, Tatuaje Black, Warped Futuro, or Davidoff Colorado Claro.

Patrick S

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Cigar Review: El Triunfador (Original Blend)

8 Oct 2018

Since the brand’s debut in 2003, many, many Tatuaje cigars have been highly acclaimed. But few Pete Johnson creations have achieved such legendary status as the original El Triunfador.

Back when the line, which is Spanish for “triumphant,” was introduced in 2008, El Triunfador only came in one size: a Lancero (7.5 x 38). The blend consisted of a Connecticut Broadleaf wrapper around binder and filler tobaccos from Nicaragua. Later, we would learn Johnson initiated this release to stake his claim to the old Cuban name, which he had registered in the U.S.

He re-launched the full El Triunfador line in March 2010. It had a different recipe (most notably, the wrapper was Habano Ecuador), a different band, and seven vitolas. It was marketed as an “Old World, medium-bodied, Cuban-style cigar.” At first, this line was only available in Europe, but it eventually came to the U.S. market.

I recently came across a stash of El Triunfador Lanceros at my local tobacconist here in Chicago and picked up a handful for about $9 apiece (not including outrageous Chicago taxes). While this is the original Connecticut Broadleaf-wrapped blend, I harbor no hope that these cigars are from the 2008 production run (Johnson says he continues to have this cigar made).

This long, slender Lancero has all the rustic appeal you’d expect from a Connecticut Broadleaf creation. It is dark, oily, toothy, and not without its fair share of veins, wrinkles, and thick seams. The triple-cap is adorned by a pigtail finish, and the foot exhibits pre-light notes of cocoa and sweet hay. Despite the cigar’s thin ring gauge, the cold draw is smooth.

Once an even light is established, the introductory flavor is meaty, leathery, and oily with a delightful core of creamy roasted peanut. As the cigar progresses, attentive smokers will find cherry, citrus, earth, and molasses sweetness. The overall impression is of a finely balanced, well-rounded cigar with little spice and a short finish.

Complexity is the name of the game. There’s a lot going on here. In addition to the flavors I’ve already mentioned, at times I find cedar, oak, leather, butter, café au lait, warm tobacco, and dried fruit. Despite the lack of spice, the body is medium, the strength (nicotine content) is fairly low, and the texture is woodsy and bready.

The physical properties leave little to be desired. The three Lanceros I smoked for this review each had straight burn lines, good smoke production, clear draws, and solid ashes.

If you’re a fan of Tatuaje, and if you like lanceros, this is a must-try. And even if you are neither of those, I’d still recommend firing up at least one original El Triunfador. There’s just so much to like. That’s why I’m settling on an outstanding score of four and a half stogies out of five.

[To read more StogieGuys.com cigar reviews, please click here.]

Patrick A

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Quick Smoke: Paul Garmirian Symphony 20th Connoisseur

7 Oct 2018

A couple times each week we’ll post a Quick Smoke: not quite a full review, just our brief verdict on a single cigar of “buy,” “hold,” or “sell.”

The Paul Garmirian Symphony 20, which celebrates 20 years of the PG brand, debuted in 2009 at a dinner on the final night before Virginia’s smoking ban took effect. It was officially released in 2010 in a single toro-sized format called Connoisseur, with other vitolas added later. This particular cigar comes from the original batch and therefore has at least nine years of age (the wrapper is from 2007). While time tends to have a mellowing effect on cigars, this cigar still has full-bodied flavors with notes of leather, roasted almonds, black coffee, light cedar, and a hint of must. Construction is excellent. Somewhat surprisingly, nearly a decade of age hasn’t changed this cigar as I would have expected. But that’s OK; this was an enjoyable, complex, full-bodied smoke to begin with.

Verdict = Buy.

Patrick S

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Quick Smoke: Gran Habano Corojo No. 5 Maduro 2011 Robusto

5 Oct 2018

A couple times each week we’ll post a Quick Smoke: not quite a full review, just our brief verdict on a single cigar of “buy,” “hold,” or “sell.”

Known as the strongest blend in the Gran Habano portfolio, the Corojo No. 5 Maduro 2011 is comprised of a Nicaraguan Maduro wrapper around a Nicaraguan binder and filler tobaccos from Nicaragua and Costa Rica. The Robusto (5 x 52) starts with a full-bodied blast of espresso, roasted peanut, and cayenne pepper. It cools down considerably after the first half inch or so, yielding flavors like dry oak, dark cherry, and natural tobacco. The texture is bready and, at times, the taste shines with a sensation akin to moist chocolate cake. Solid construction and a $6 price tag make the Robusto easy to recommend.

Verdict = Buy.

Patrick A

photo credit: Stogie Guys