14 Dec 2016
What’s supposed to be wrong with my Umbagog? That’s the question going through my head while smoking this cigar, the second Broadleaf-wrapped smoke created by Steve Saka for his Dunbarton Tobacco & Trust portfolio.
The reason that question came to mind wasn’t that I didn’t enjoy the cigar—I did—but that Saka created the bundled cigar to use Broadleaf wrapper deemed too “ugly” for his premium Mi Quireda line. The name, which refers to Saka’s favorite fishing spot, Umbagog Lake, implies this is a cigar to smoke while fishing or anytime when you may not be too concerned with the aesthetics of your cigar.
Looking through the brown paper-wrapped ten-pack, some cigars had obvious flaws like multiple speckled discolorations. For others, whatever made it not Mi Querida-worthy was less easily discerned. Too much color variation? Too prominent veins? (The above photo shows the cigars side-by-side with a Mi Querida.)
Let’s be honest here for a moment: The “factory second” discount cigar that tastes the same as a premium offering but, supposedly due to a small flaw, isn’t quite good enough to make the final cut is a time-honored marketing ploy that has disappointed many a budget-conscious buyer. Still, I had high hopes for Umbagog, especially given Saka’s reputation as one of the more detail-obsessed people in the industry. (It should be noted Saka has never called Umbagog a factory second, but merely a more affordable cigar in simple packaging that provides an outlet for Broadleaf not quite good enough for his higher-priced Mi Querida.)
Beyond the wrapper, Saka has said this cigar isn’t exactly the same blend as Mi Querida, though it’s very similar. Think slightly different primings or grades of tobacco but the same basic Nicaraguan components, all out of the same factory (NACSA) in Estelí, Nicaragua. Seven sizes are listed. I smoked four of the Toro Toro vitola (6 x 52) for this review.
The Toro Toro is heavy on the spice and earth with charred oak, chocolate milk, and white pepper that lingers on the palate. Umbagog is full-bodied with a thick, powdery mouthfeel. There are only slight variations from start to finish, including a building wood spice.
Visually, while Umbagog may not be top-grade, the construction is nonetheless excellent. The draw is firm but not tight, and the cigar burns evenly leaving a sturdy ash in its wake.
Umbagog’s flavors are not as refined as Mi Quireda, and its appearance is almost purposely unrefined, but it is plenty tasty and is offered at an excellent value ($60 for a bundle of ten). All of which earns the cigar a hearty recommendation and a rating of four stogies out of five.
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photo credit: Stogie Guys