Tabacalera Casa de Zabala 1936 Elegante | Cigar Review

Wrapper: Nicaraguan Habano Oscuro
Binder: Nicaraguan
Filler: Nicaraguan
Size: 5.5 x 52 “Doble Figurado”
Body: Medium/Full
Price: $9.99 MSRP
Number of Cigars Smoked Prior to Review: 2
Accompanying Libation: Water





Today we take a look at the Tabacalera Casa de Zabala 1936 Elegante.

From the Tabacalera Casa de Zabala web site:

“The 1936 Elegante with its carefully balanced blend of Nicaraguan Binder and Filler is wrapped in a rich and oily Nicaraguan Habano Oscuro wrapper. It will satisfy the most demanding of aficionados, with delicious flavors of roasted coffee and spices. The rich undertones of almonds and creamy earthiness will please the most discerning smokers.

“Once Don Gabriel Zabala arrived at Ellis Island in the 1800s, he brought with him not only a dream to succeed in life but also his passion for fine cigars, instilled in him by the Zabala Family Tradition. Circumstances beyond his control forced him in a different direction. After many years of living in the United States, he finally settled down in a town west of San Juan, Puerto Rico named San Sebastian, where he became what is known in the island as “Alcalde del Pueblo” (Unofficial Town Mayor). The excellent climate and the richness of the soil in the island provided him with the necessary tools to continue and expand the Zabala Family Tradition.

“Today, after five generations, the head of the Zabala Family, Don Joe Zabala, Sr. with great honor to his heritage and tradition decided to release to the public the 1936 Elegante with the hope that you will enjoy this rich aromatic and flavorful cigar as much as our family and friends have enjoyed for years.”

I chose the Doble Figurado to review. The folks at Tabacalera Casa de Zabala sent me samples of all four sizes. The DF is the newest size.
The sticks have a rustic look. A rough, toothy wrapper that is a dark coffee bean brown. The triple caps are clearly seen. Seams are visible. But not a lot of veins.
But something I didn’t notice until I lay them in a line for a photo with the lighting equipment on. There is a strange, but gorgeous discoloration of the wrapper. It goes from a light caramel to dark coffee bean to burnt wood. I’ve not seen a wrapper like this.

Robusto: 5 × 52 $8.99
Toro: 6 × 52 $9.99
Torpedo: 6.5 × 52 $9.99
Doble Figurado: 5.5 × 52 $9.99

The shaft smells of earthy tobacco, barnyard, dark baker’s chocolate, espresso, leather, and spice.
At the clipped cap and foot, the dark cocoa is very strong. Smells good enough to eat.
The cold draw just loads on that dark chocolate, earthiness, cream, black licorice, spice, raisins, leather, and citrus. Smells very nice.

The first puffs are delicious: Cream, black strap molasses, nuts, dark dark chocolate, rich coffee, and a slowly building hot pepper.
Smoke pours from the little ¼” opening at the foot.
The strength is an immediate strong medium body.

The nuts become almonds and marzipan. The flavor of black strap molasses is very strong. Have you ever just stuck your finger in it while baking or your wife is baking? It actually tastes a little bitter which goes hand in hand with the almonds and espresso which can also have a little bitterness.

New flavors show up. Here is the sum total: Creaminess, spice, molasses, dark cocoa, espresso, nuts, caramel, black licorice, leather, earthiness, herbal notes, and a touch of floral notes.

The Tabacalera Casa de Zabala 1936 Elegante is a very slow smoke. I’m sure that will change as the foot expands from a tiny opening to the same size as the cigar’s circumference.
Yesterday’s review had me tying a noose around my neck due to a really negative review. And I was on such a winning streak. Today, I’m back on it.

The Tabacalera Casa de Zabala 1936 Elegante is a unique, tasty blend. A sip of water and my palate is awash in exotic and elegant flavors (No pun intended).
Something very fruity arises. It has notes of orange and grapefruit citrus.

The cigar is now complex after only 10 minutes of smoke time and 1-1/2” burned.
Strength is now medium/full.

Flavors come at me in triplicate: Cream, molasses, and citrus. Then spice, caramel, and black licorice. Then coffee, nuttiness, and earthiness.

This is a very unique blend. While I’ve tasted all of these flavors in most good cigars, the Tabacalera Casa de Zabala 1936 Elegante has a different attack. Instead of it being a smooth cigar, it is aggressive and begging to be noticed.

Now I’m very curious how the other sizes taste in comparison. The only thing missing in my opinion is a Corona. Otherwise, the four sizes are perfect representations of the sizes I Iike. Although, the Torpedo is a monster. Actually, and I’m no expert, the Torpedo cap looks like a cross between a belicoso and torpedo cap.

The ash is hanging tough. The char line is dead nuts. Hasn’t needed a single touch up.

For my newer readers, the term “Dead Nuts” refers to my life in commercial construction. It’s a term that ironworkers use a lot. And as a project manager, I fell into line using that term. It has a couple of meanings. Basically, it means that a beam has been attached to a column, or another beam, and is securely connected. The other meaning is that when using high strength bolts, a device that measures its tension is used and when the nut hits the proper amount of tension, the ironworkers refer to it as dead nuts. Stop tightening. It’s perfect!

Back to the Tabacalera Casa de Zabala 1936 Elegante.
The black licorice element is the strongest I’ve tasted in any other blend. It has that rich flavor of real black licorice like the Pontefract Cakes in Europe. When we first got to Europe and I discovered them, I ate them non-stop. And I found myself in the bathroom non-stop.

The blend changes from that aggressive mode to smooth as glass. The complexity whipped it into shape. Balance is very good with a very long finish.
Caramel and cream are standing out front. But the spiciness is the leader of the pack.
There is nothing I don’t like about this cigar.
Strength has settled into a constant medium/full body.

I really want to thank the folks at Back to the Tabacalera Casa de Zabala for sending me samples. I feel like I have a gold mine in these sticks.
A piece of wrapper just below the cigar band comes loose. I won’t know the damage until the band is removed. If necessary, I’ve got my trusty cigar glue at hand.

The crack in the wrapper isn’t too bad. Maybe half an inch long and I will burn right through it.
I smoked two sticks prior to this review and neither had wrapper issues. Murphy’s Law I suppose.

The Tabacalera Casa de Zabala 1936 Elegante is about to hit full bodied.

Flavors have changed a bit: Spice, creaminess, black licorice, caramel, sweetness, dried fruit, dark cocoa, citrus, espresso, nuts, leather, and earthiness.

The Tabacalera Casa de Zabala 1936 Elegante is very smooth with rich, deep complexity.
Smoke time to the halfway point has been 40 minutes.

The flavor profile keeps me smacking my lips involuntarily. And each sip of water is a rush.
Although a Nic puro, it doesn’t possess the stereotypical flavors of that breed. On paper it seems to be the opposite of my claim. Smoke one and you will understand.
I’m very impressed with this company that is new to me. I want to thank the good people at Southern Classic Cigars for informing Tabacalera Casa de Zabala about me.

No real changes as the cigar experience winds down.
Some nicotine shows up but is very mild.
The ash hangs tough.
I can’t wait to try the other sizes. I’m in a quandary if I should review the other sizes in case of a real change up in taste.


The ash disembarks the mother ship.
This was a fun cigar to smoke. Lots of flavor and complexity.

In the world of new cigars costing $12-$16, the Tabacalera Casa de Zabala 1936 Elegante is a bargain. It brings a nice unique quality to the table.
The web site has a RETAILERS page. There are 7 B & M’s in Florida. One on Connecticut and two in Alabama. They also have a Face Book page.

The online store Cigars Direct carries the line. It is the only online store I found. You can contact the Tabacalera Casa de Zabala folks on their web site or on their Face Book page to find other options for purchasing their cigars.
The Doble Figurado seems to be too new for Cigars Direct to carry.
You can also contact Ricky at

A real treat.
It amazes me how many boutique manufacturers are out there that fly underneath the radar. This being one of them.
As far as I can tell from the web site, the 1936 Elegante is their only blend. I should have asked if something new is in the pipeline.
I’m hoping that the Tabacalera Casa de Zabala 1936 Elegante finds its way to other online stores.
The blend totally wipes your memory of what a Nic puro should taste like. It stands alone.
I wish the folks at Tabacalera Casa de Zabala 1936 Elegante all the best and hope to see this cigar break out.

ADDENDUM 5-28-2015:
It’s only been a couple of days since I wrote this review and I am smoking a Toro and I just cannot believe how the flavor profile has exponentially exploded into a different universe.
90% of the double digit cigars I’ve smoked, read about, or reviewed cannot be this good.
Kudos to the Zabala family for such due diligence in their mastery of blending. Just unbelievable. Wow. Protection Status


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3 replies

  1. Katman I don’t have the words to expresse my gratitude. 1936Elegante family

  2. Believe me Ricky, it was my pleasure. Such a wonderful blend. I wish you nothing but success!

  3. Hey brother just checking on you.pls let us know how are you doing

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