Wrapper: Ecuadorian Habano
Binder: Nicaraguan Jalapa
Filler: Nicaraguan Jalapa
Size: 6 x 48 Grand Corona
Today we take a look at the Muestra de Saka Nacatamale by Dunbarton Tobacco & Trust. Muestra de Saka translates from ancient Aramaic to “Colossal Babylonian Hacky Sack Foul.” I’m sure it loses something in the translation.
The cigar has received 3-1/2 month’s humidor time.
Once again, I am proud to be the very last reviewer on the planet to get around to reviewing this cigar blend. I saw a lot of 88 and 89 ratings. Paprikash! Watch.
Many thanks to an anonymous buddy, Steve, for the two sticks.
Speaking of the Olympics…The first week is never as exciting as the final week. Curling. Huh?
I sent this email to my friend Kellie: “I love the women’s snowboarding events. Not so much the men’s. The women are exciting. The men are like machines and much stronger and it takes the intensity and wonder out of the mix.
But what bores me silly is downhill skiing.
The difference between the leader and the person in 30th position is less than 1 second. And the difference between first place and 2nd is one thousandth of a second. It is hypnotizing and I believe I can go to sleep watching it. It’s like a woobie. Curling? Fuck that. What a ridiculous sport. It’s huge here in cheese head heaven.”
She replied: “Omg u said curling. I was asking Charles how some guy bowling really slowly with what looks like a cartoon bomb…and these other fucks running around sweeping… how in the actual FUCK is this an Olympic sport?”
Corona Cigar, Cigars City, Famous Smoke, Stogie’s World Class Cigars, Cigars and Pipes, etc. The cigars retail for $111.65 per box ($15.95 per cigar). Although prices are all over the place from $90-$112 per box of 7. Clearly you need to do some shopping.
From the Dunbarton Tobacco & Trust web site:
“Muestra is the humble, common word for “sample” in Nicaragua that takes on much more important, sometimes reverential meaning when used in a handmade cigar factory. A muestra is the vision of the ligador and torcedor realized, it is the promise of a new experience and possibly the key to financial success for the fabrica. Muestras are horded and coveted by not only their makers, but by the cigar smokers who seek to catch a glimpse into the cigarmaker’s soul within their smoke.
“Muestra de Saka is just that. A line of unique blends and vitolas made in extremely limited quantities that reflect the blending machinations of myself. They include many different expressions and are often crafted of leaf I am less familiar with or not even a particular fan of to create something of worth beyond my own previous experiences. To smoke a Muestra de Saka is to embark upon a journey with me in which I greatly welcome your companionship.
“All Muestra de Saka are packed in individual cedar coffins in a 7-ct box.
Additional unique ligas and vitolas will be offered each year.
Handcrafted to the most exacting standards by Joya de Ncaragua S.A. and Nicaraguan American Cigar S.A. in Esteli, Nicaragua, per the direction of Sr. Saka.”
Very nice construction. One seam is loose and may need correction at some point. I can count three caps with a pointy nipple but it so flawlessly rolled that the cap count is more a guess than what I can see with old man eyes.
The wrapper is super smooth with a hue of oily coffee beans and milk chocolate.
I find a couple of soft spots near the foot and at the halfway point.
The only cigar band is a ribbon footer band. Maybe it’s just me but it seems strange that the cigar comes in a price stabbing cedar coffin but a nice cigar band is omitted. What do I know?
I relocate the cigar band for the purpose of pretty photos.
AROMAS AND COLD DRAW POINTS:
From the shaft, I can smell chocolate covered cherries…treacly sweet, malt, coffee, creaminess, spiciness, liquid smoke, licorice, and big bolts of cedar.
From the clipped cap and the foot, I can smell strong dark chocolate, malt, cedar, barnyard, toffee, cream, red pepper, rich black licorice, and chocolate covered cherries.
The cold draw presents flavors of…once again; chocolate covered cherries, malt, a bit salty, cedar, espresso, red pepper, and hickory.
The draw is a bit tight. Even though I found a couple of soft spots earlier, there is a plug below the cap. Out comes my PerfecDraw cigar poker and clean ‘er out.
Some nice flavors pop up immediately while the cigar chokes out immense plumes of smoke: Intense creaminess, malts, cedar, chocolate, generic sweetness, very smoky with a touch of hickory, lovely licorice to provide a nice offset to the savory portions of the flavor profile, a citrus element of tart and sweet tangerine, a perfumey conglomeration of floral and coconut, blasting caps full of red pepper, some kind of nutty flavor…maybe touches of almond, hazelnut, and peanut…very subtle.
Nice start. And the char line is working overtime to please my eye sockets.
Wisconsin winters nearly destroy my cigars. This land of sub-arctic weather is a bitch. The wrapper on the Muestra de Saka is having serious problems. I got the Todos Las Dias at the same time and this was one sturdy cigar that gave me no problems. Plus, I have a lot of sticks that seem impervious to the cold. And then there are a bunch of sticks that cannot survive outside of Central America. Lots of glue and bailing wire required to keep this cigar whole til the end of the review.
I’m an inch in and no fireworks. Here we go again with me railing about selling $16 cigars that taste no different than a good $8 stick.
I should have been blasted off my writing throne by now. $16 cigars, especially with nearly 4 months of humi time, should be singing the Star Spangled Banner while balancing multiples of twirling dishes. You know this to be true. There are some incredible blends out there released in the last year that had the same amount of humi time, or less, and from the very first puffs, I was taken on a magical carpet ride.
At the moment, I’m getting a baby stroller ride through the park.
I reviewed the Todos Las Dias first after only 5-6 weeks of humidor time. I fully expected the Muestra de Saka to be the better of the two. It’s not. At least not yet. Still, when you spend double digits on a single cigar…c’mon…light my fire!
The ash is hanging tough…just waiting to disengage at the wrong moment making me scream like a little girl.
And like clockwork, the long ash finds its rightful place in my crotch. I love the smell of burning gonads in the morning.
No complexity. No transitions. And a short finish. Uh oh.
Maybe the cigar needs 6-12 months of aging before lighting up. Most of the reviews I saw were all written not long after the cigar’s release so that can’t be it…although; it might explain the low ratings this blend received over all.
Strength is a lackluster medium.
Creaminess and black pepper reign supreme. Some elements in the background like malt, cedar, espresso, not so much sweetness any longer, a very savory meaty element, and a touch of harshness. Missing are the lovely perfumey notes, chocolate, coffee, licorice, nuts, and the citrus. Oy.
The wrapper is too delicate for this weather. It just keeps on its path of disintegration.
I’m going to use half a bottle of PerfecRepair cigar glue to get this thing straight…should make for some lovely photos.
The Nicaraguan tobacco is shining through at last. That gruff intensity in the back of the throat appears with loads of black pepper.
Smoke time is 35 minutes.
No signs of complexity or nice transitions. Medium length finish.
The wrapper looks like a train wreck.
Still waiting for this $16 cigar to reach $6 status. No kidding. I am so disappointed. The Muestra de Saka has let me down. And this blend coming from a real master of blending. What went wrong? Not quite flavorless but certainly a missed opportunity.
I can’t decide if the Muestra de Saka tastes like a cigar that long ago reached its expiration date or needs way more time than what I’ve given it. Since every big reviewer has tackled this review and most are pleased with the blend…in a sort of polite way…I don’t know what’s going on.
Zero flavor transitions.
Now many reviewers put this blend on their top 25 cigars of 2017 list. What am I missing?
And then it happens. The blend opens up like a beautiful rose. Complexity arrives late but is here. Transitions begin. The finish remains the same.
I’ve found that cigars that don’t kick in until near the halfway point are either under aged or just stinkers.
I didn’t have 3 or 4 cigars to smoke first before I decided to write this review. I don’t know about you, but I can count on one hand the number of $16 cigars I’ve actually bought. I just can’t afford that price point. Yet, I’ve reviewed a lot of Bespoke cigars which are in the same price range and even higher and they were all mind blowing blends. That is when a double digit priced cigar is worth it…when it takes you out of your space and time bubble and plops you right in the moment so you can truly enjoy the fruits of labor a blender wanted you to taste.
The cigar seems to have calmed down now and the disemboweling of the wrapper stops. Still, with all the touch ups, it looks like Frankenstein’s monster.
The high premium effect has taken hold…albeit somewhat late in the game. Which means I’ve gotten half a great cigar for $16.
And flavors are great now. No kidding. All of the earlier described aromas are exhibited on my palate. And the early flavors return.
Strength moves to medium/full.
A wonderful sweetness of fruit and citrus reappears. Creaminess is thick with intensity. Chocolate is back. Malts climb back on the horse. A touch of honey appears for the first time.
I’m burning the area where all the glue sits. It causes lots of char line touchups but so far the cracking has stopped.
The halfway point arrives at 50 minutes.
Now this is what I’m talkin’ ‘bout. Great bold flavors shoot explosively like a pearl necklace.
Complexity is now strong; yet full of subtle and nuanced notes. Transitions are spinning like a dreidel. And the finish is a mile long.
Now we’re where we should have been an hour ago.
I’ve been writing about cigars for 10 years. Truly, I prefer to find great blends and go ape shit over them allowing me to highly recommend your purchase of something great. The first half was like a funeral cavalcade. Burial or cremation?
The great Tom Petty is playing on my music channel. Every time I hear him, I get pissed off. A damn accidental drug overdose. Sonovabitch. Fame. You can have it.
And speaking of tragic losses, “Are You Experienced?” is playing. Can you even imagine what Jimi would be like if he was alive today? 27 years old. He was a kid.
I have nothing to criticize about the flavor profile now. The Muestra de Saka is smoking like a fine $9-$10 cigar.
I believe a lot of blenders are very sensitive to the blowback from smokers who disdain being charged outrageous prices for a single cigar…Thereby, producing excellent blends for a reasonable price for 2017 and 2018.
It was less than 5 years ago when an expensive cigar was $7-$9. Not cheap but affordable for a treat.
I do respect the shit out of Steve Saka. He stands tall in the world of making great cigars. And reacting negatively to one of his shining blends just kills me. But if I don’t react truthfully…then what’s the point?
I can hear snap, crackle and pop from the wrapper sitting several feet away from me…and I have the music playing and I can hear that unsettling noise clearly.
Now my dread is that I won’t be able to finish the cigar. Fingers crossed.
By the time I stop schmearing cigar glue on the cigar, it’s going to look like a bunch of Kleenex on the floor of a porn theater.
Damn, I’m cruel.
Smoke time is one hour 15 minutes.
Here they are: Black pepper, creaminess, a chocolate malt, dried fruit, citrus returns, a terrific Nicaraguan tobacco influence, nuttiness reappears, licorice, the smoky hickory reassembles, and a combo of very sweet, assorted fruits.
I am beside myself. The first half was drek. The second half is shining. How to rate? How to rate? I dunno. Can I rate the first half and the second half separately or do I need to average it out? Folks with terrible illnesses out there and I’m despairing over a cigar.
Charlotte is having surgery on Thursday the 22nd. I’m not sure what my reviewing schedule will be until I get there. (Got a call from her doc this morning a couple hours after publishing this review. Surgery was put off because they found nicotine in her system. Not allowed. She went cold turkey on half a pack of cigarettes per day 7 weeks ago and it’s still not out of her system and at a rate too high to proceed. Testing again in 3 weeks. A week to get results. Then schedule surgery early April.)
While the blend is better than excellent at this point, all I can think of is the wonderful cigars I’ve reviewed at half the price and twice as good as the Muestra de Saka.
If the Muestra de Saka started with a bang and had all the redeeming qualities of the second half, this blend would have gotten a huge score. Only 20 minutes from finishing the experience, I have exactly no idea how I’m going to rate it.
The last third is just unbelievably good now. If it had exhibited these flavors early on, I know I’d have rated this blend a 95 at least.
I scored the Todos Las Dias at 97! It was my #8 cigar of 2017. And at a little over $12 a pop….worth every penny.
Seems like I must give Saka a mulligan for this blend. I don’t understand its limp noodle start.
But then all the reviews never exceeded a couple 90’s and a 93, 95, and a perfect 100. Did I get a bad stick? How could I be having a totally different experience than the big reviewers? It nearly makes me want to not to publish this cigar review. I’m thinking it must be me.
The thing is that all those great reviews saying this is damn near a perfect cigar baffles me.
Truthfully, if it wasn’t for the wildly complex nature of the second half, I would have to determine the Muestra de Saka just didn’t have what it takes. I know there is a great cigar in there somewhere. I’ve just not been allowed to revel in it.
The blend finishes with a huge flourish. Strength is medium/full bordering on full.
No harshness or bitterness. No nicotine poisoning.
What a great half a cigar!
I must give the blend the benefit of the doubt as it seems something went wrong that is out of my control. And I will rate it accordingly. I guess I will have to bury my balls in the wood coffin the cigar came in.
What could possible make the first half a major disappointment?
Don’t go by me on this one. Saka produces superb blends. I must be the fuck up here.
And now for something completely different:
More on Curved Air…1974…The “Live” Tour.
As Stew, Sonja and I stood on the train platform, I got bad news. They forgot to renew Sonja’s prescription for methadone and I was told there might be some problems on that long train trip. I was directed by Stew to make sure that the rest of the band didn’t find out about this.
Sonja had battled morphine addiction. Under a doctor’s supervision, she was getting off the stuff.
I didn’t learn about this until our first gig of the tour in London. It happened in the dressing room after the concert. The dressing room was full of people when she asked me to follow her to the bathroom. I was stunned.
Everyone heard her invitation and eyebrows raised.
She took off her stage outfit and stood their naked in front of while she motioned her forearms to me. I didn’t get it. Then I noticed the tracks. Clearly, she was giving me a preview of what was going to be our secret from the rest of the band. Stewart Copeland and I were to be the only ones to know she was back to her old ways but now kicking the habit.
I had only been in the band for two weeks. I didn’t know her. I didn’t know her history. And as I had just been raised from being totally broke in a foreign country to rock star status, I didn’t want to jeopardize this wonderful opportunity…so I agreed to keep her secret.
Management got us first class seating. All that meant was that instead of chairs, ala airplane seating, you get a nice big table with two chairs on each side and special attention from the stewards.
Stew made sure we didn’t sit with the band.
Apparently, they forgot to get refills of Sonja’s methadone at the pharmacy. And she would have to go without it for the 8 hour train ride to Manchester. I was told she would probably go through withdrawal. Oh God. I had never known anyone that went through withdrawal.
The rest of the band sat in the first class car ahead of us. They spent most of their time in the bar car getting smashed. So as they passed Sonja and me they didn’t notice her bizarre behavior.
And of course to top it off, we sat across from a stuffy Member of Parliament and his wife. Both in their 60’s.
In fact, most people in that car were elderly.
So when Sonja began her withdrawal symptoms, everyone pretended not to notice.
First her eyes rolled up and it looked like a horror movie. Then she began clawing at her arms with her fingernails causing long streaks of blood.
Then she started making animal sounds. Sounds of an animal in distress. Then the arms started waving uncontrollably.
I thought I was going to have a heart attack. This was happening only 2 hours into our 8 hour trip.
All I had on me was Dramamine. I was shoveling them down her gullet like Skittles. After a bit, they did their job and she fell asleep.
I took that time to go pee. When I got back she was awake and screaming…and trying to crawl on top of the table. She became incredibly strong. I struggled to keep her arms from waving and keeping her in her seat.
Our companions just turned away. Never said a fucking word. Arrogant assholes…we were just a couple of drug induced Hippies.
We finally got to our destination in Northern England. Instead of checking into our hotel, I grabbed her and dragged her to the nearest pharmacy. We got her stuff and ran back to the hotel.
Meanwhile, the band had no idea.
Management put Sonja and me in the same hotel room so I could look after her. And of course, I couldn’t say a word to the band about this or they might have called off the tour. This had happened before in the past and they swore that if she was getting high again, there would be no reunion of Curved Air.
I managed to get her needles and her ampules out and prep them. I smacked her around while I sat on her belly on the bed. I couldn’t get her to become coherent and I had no idea how to load a syringe; let alone inject her.
I tied her off.
Mind you. I had never done anything like this. And I was shitting my pants.
Sonja came around enough to inject the needle into a fucked up vein. Moments later, she came to. And behaved like nothing had happened.
“Are we there already?”
I just rolled off of her and on to the floor next to the bed. I was drenched in my own sweat.
She got up and said she was going to meet up with the rest of the band. Did I want to come along?
I took a shower and thought about how we had 8 weeks of this bullshit.
The rest of the tour was a nightmare trying to keep this a secret from the band. And Sonja pulled all sorts of stunts.
To be continued….
Categories: CIGAR REVIEWS