All posts by Pippin

I am a part time journalist and a full time cigar and pipe tobacco reviewer. If you enjoy "the leaf," Why not join us over at I personally have 30ish years of knowledge to share and I consider myself one of the lesser experts.

Muestra de Saka Exclusivo

6″ x 52, tobaccos vary from batch to batch.

Smooth oily capa with mocha notes with mostly Cappuccino/latte notes from the foot. A somewhat heavy vitola with an excellent bunch and the perfect cold draw. I have heard lots about this cigar from smokers as well as Steve Saka, so let’s see what ol’ Joe Bob thinks.

Initial notes include insane amounts of carefully aged tobacco with backnotes of cream and coffee. Saka warned not to expect a Sobramesa or even a Mi Quireda; completely accurate so far. Not even much pepper in the retrohale. This is a very elegant creamy cigar.

Paired with an Atwater Decadent Dark Chocolate Brew, the two are meshing spectacularly, although I suspect the mocha notes would be lighter with a different beer. Still, the cigar has a sweetness of its own.

The ash is solid and medium grey and the burn is razor-sharp, signs of an excellently constructed cigar.

Backing off the cocoa-heavy beer for a few minutes, the cigar still has excellent mocha notes over the flavor of the finely aged tobacco. According to Saka, each batch will be different; this batch is divine.

Nearing the first third, the flavors kick up a bit with some pepper notes in the retrohale. Still as smooth as silk though, with lots of tasty smoke. The burn is still near perfect and is very flat.

A cool burning cigar on my patio on a nice breezy evening is pretty much as good as it gets. Not quite halfway and the cigar continues to be as cool as it was at the beginning.

I can almost hear some of you saying, “yeah, but Joe Bob is a huge Saka fanboy,” but as I continue towards the second third I am still looking for some flaw in the cigar to keep me from sounding like a worshipper; nothing has come up yet. That said, heed Saka’s warning that this is not as strong as a Sobramesa or a Mi Quierda. That takes nothing away from the quality nor enjoyment of this cigar.

Passing the 2/3 point, the fermentation notes of the tobacco strengthen, adding to the complexity of the flavors of the cigar. The burn is still almost perfect and the smoke remains cool and pleasant. I may have to run inside for a corn cob holder so that I can smoke past the point where it gets too hot to hold.

In the cigar industry, Steve Saka is mentioned in the same conversation as Rafael Nodal, EP Carillo, Michael Gianini and Christian Eiroa. I find no error in these comparisons. As for the Muestra de Saka, I’ll be “that guy” and only give it a 99.

Review of Comacho American Barrel Aged

“Private, do you know what that smells like? It smells like victory!”

“Private Joker; hell, I Iike you, you can come over and date my sister!”

“Where does he get such wonderful toys? What kind of a world do we live in where a man dressed as a bat gets all of my press?”

“There was me, that is Alex, and my three droogs, Pete, Georgie and Dim, who really was dim, trying to make up our razoodoks about what to do with the evening.,.”

Apparently, all 4 decided to smoke a Camacho Barrel-Aged robusto.

A smooth as silk wrapper; a perfect cut, cold draw hints of very rich leather,

They never napalmed the VC so they could surf; they all made it through USMC training with their sanity intact; the Joker lost to Batman; and Little Alex and his droogs had a Camacho American Barrel-Aged Robusto with their Moloko-plus and never assaulted Billy-boy and his droogies at the derelict casino because they were all so entranced by this cigar that they were all so distracted by the cigar that they never got around to their planned mischief.

Silly? Yeah, probably, but this cigar is so good that it could distract almost anyone from any planned mischief.

While typing all of that up, I have made it through the first third with the ash intact with a truly complex mixture of flavors that almost defy identify description.

The Camacho American Barrel Aged line may or may not be better than sex. You will have to decide that one for yourself,

A completely complex cigar with excellent flavors that defy description. 98, Joe Bob says check it out.

Archives incoming

A friend wanted to know if there was a place where I had all of my cigar articles archived. As a matter of fact, I did not, so I am going to do it here.

The first post will be reviews/articles from 2015, when I first started getting “serious” about writing these. The second will be 2016 before IPCPR, another for post IPCPR2016, and I will add one for the first half of 2017 right before we leave for IPCPR2017. You will notice, if you read through all four, that my style evolves and expands over time. Then again, no one goes from crawling to running a race.

One other thing; if you are concerned about how many of the cigars I review get high scores, remember that most of them come from the vendors, who will naturally give me something they believe to be a superior product. Besides, as Tommy always says, I keep the best ones for myself…



Rearranging the cabinet today I came across this gem, the Aging Room Quattro, and couldn’t resist.

Initial draws reveal mocha notes with some pepper on the retrohale. The smoke is plentiful and pleasant with no bite or bitterness. The burn is good and the ash is very a very solid light grey. A somewhat veiny chocolate brown wrapper with a very firm box press and a perfect bunch. The wrapper and foot have definite cocoa notes. After a perfect cut, the cold draw is perfect.

The El Robusto Porter is turning out to be a very good match. The cigar is another example of the skills of the Nodal family; a flat burn with excellent complex flavors.

The ring peeled off perfectly with no damage to the wrapper. The construction is excellent. The ash remains very solid.A slight touch up at the 2/3 mark set the burn back to even. The cigar is mostly medium body with medium to full flavor. The pepper notes in the retrohale remain light and pleasant. Coffee notes have joined the cocoa and are blending nicely.

Nearing 2/3 the pepper notes have picked up a bit but the overall enjoyment of the cigar has not diminished at all. The coffee notes are overtaking the cocoa, but in a good way.

Even with the touch ups and the somewhat veiny wrapper, the draw and complexity of the cigar earns it a 9/10. If Aging Room is not part of your collection, it should be.The cigar is smoking nice and slow. A hint of nutmeg has snuck in towards the end of the cigar. Even with long draws the smoke remains cool and pleasant as I approach the final inch, where I know I will have to put it down because my fingers will be getting hot.

Perdomo Texas Edition Robusto

When I first saw this cigar I just knew that I would have to review it, not only because I adore Perdomos, but because I am from Texas dammit!

A bit rustic wrapper with one prominent vein. Not a deal breaker so let’s see how it smokes. A mildly spicy wrapper and a mild aroma from the foot with a perfect bunch.
A perfect draw after a very clean clip.

A very clean draw with a sort of pecan flavor accentuating a medium to full tobacco note. This cigar is aptly named as it evokes the Texas notes of pecan, oak and mesquite. Nick obviously knows the nuances of Texas. There is also hints of red pepper and the nuances of tacos and tamales in the smoke.

If I didn’t know better I might think Nick was a San Antonio native from all of the flavors I grew up with. As it is, I would have to say that Nick spent a good time in San Antonio experiencing the various and wonderful tastes and aromas here.

As for the cigar itself it burns perfectly with a nice conical burn indicative of a perfectly constructed cigar.

I would like to invite Nick to enjoy a great Mexican dinner here in San Antonio so he could experience what an excellent job he did in capturing the Texas experience he captured in this cigar. Nick, you have an open invitation to join me for a truly amazing dinner in the Alamo City to see what an excellent job you did in capturing the essence of San Antonio in your Texas Edition cigar.

In fla wl construction, perfect complexity and perfect burn you have captured Texas and all it stands for. Please join me for an authentic Texas dinner.

Cohiba Esplendido CLE ABR02

Have you ever rolled a cigar between your thumb and forefinger, smelled the wrapper and the foot, and thought to yourself, “Yes, I really do deserve this?” Because tonight I really do deserve this and it’s a Cohiba Esplendido from April 2002.

Just holding the cigar makes me feel like I will be sinning when I set it on fire. See, that’s one of the differences between collecting cigars and collecting art. If I was an art collector, I’d be burning a Picasso for my evening pleasure.

Ahh, there it is, the inimitable Cohiba sweetness. I’ll have to take a forget pill later so these won’t be gone by the weekend. At least it’s not a Lancero; then I’d have to run and hide them all now.

Sometimes I will hear someone wonder out loud what the “big deal” is about Esplendidos; I hate to break it to you, but if you have wondered this after smoking one, odds are you smoked a fake. There is huge money in fakes, especially in resort towns and especially with Cohibas. I mean, think about it, counterfeiters don’t print ones. But I run on…

And, by the way, I am not saying that the Esplendido is the end-all of cigars; it’s not even my favorite Cohiba. But when they’re on, magic happens.

Barely a third of the way into the cigar and I’m running out of superlatives. I wasn’t even going to write this review until the cigar hit my hand. But not reviewing it seemed at that point to be an act of selfishness.

What about flavors? It tastes like a well-aged Cohiba. The complexity is just too much to try to break down. And the burn is perfect. Basically, it’s Cuban tobacco at its finest that has been carefully stored for nearly 15 years.

If you get the chance to travel to Havana and have money burning a hole in your pocket, pick up some. I’m not saying that these will ruin other cigars for you (I still smoke more Nicaraguans), but they really are “special occasion” smokes.

Rating? I could easily go all Nigel Tufnel and say, “These go to 11,” but I’ll skip the hyperbole and just say that this (with a few other special cigars) is the easiest 100 rating I can recommend. And, yes, Joe Bob says check it out.

Pipes vs. Cigars

Many pipe smokers smoke cigars and vice versa. What many fail to realize is that the two are not exclusive and that you can get the same enjoyment from a pipe as a cigar.

Lets’s start with pipes. Many pipes are “aromatic” in blend; they add rum, cherry, and may other “flavors” that really only add a “room aroma” that really adds very little to the overall flavor of the tobacco, justifying their presence with what is perceived as a room aroma that is pleasing to those around the smoker. This is generally a false conception that simply adds to the variety of pipe tobaccos available.

Cigars (premium-hand-rolled cigars) will also add to the atmosphere of the room. Unless one is smoking a low-grade machine made cigar, the room atmosphere will be pleasant as well, as the blenders of the cigar tobacco work their hardest to provide a pleasant experience for both the smoker and the people in the room affected by the smoke.

In many cases, care has been taken to provide a pleasant room aroma by the cigar blender while the pipe tobacco blender has taken more effort to provide his smoker with a pleasant flavor, room aroma be damned.

What I have discovered recently that the twain can meet with carefully selected tobaccos. Cigars are now including the more aromatic Perique and Latakia tobaccos in their blends while pipe tobaccos are now also including cigar leaf in many of their blends.

What is resulting is not an “us vs. them” mindset in premium tobacco smokers, but a nice “cooperative” blending of aromas that can be enjoyed by all.

Just leave out the cigarette smokers and the vapers…no one wants to smell that crap…

As usual, comments are welcome as long as they stick to the topic and attack no one.

Where do you get your cigars?

It has recently come to my attention that the graveyard where boom cigars went to die (aka CigarBid) is once a gain a useful tool, just so long as you don’t get caught up in a “bid frenzy” and end up paying more than retail.

Also, there are at least two vendors who feature a “make me an offer” page where you can get a decent bargain by following a few simple steps. First, of course, is lowball your first offer (no more than 50% of MSRP). Sometimes it actually works, but mostly I use it as a gauging point for how “close” I am to what they will accept. I know some who swear by the 80% of vendor price rule, but I have gotten away cheaper.

What if you absolutely positively have to have it immediately? Go to your B&M. If you don’t have a nearby B&M (aka Brick and Mortar shop), do some online price compareison and then grit your teeth and order them at asking price. Make sure to figure discounted shipping offers into the final price you pay.

Good hunting, smooth draws and use the comment section if there’s anything in particular you’d like to see addressed.

Dunbarton Tobacco & Trust – Part II

Sobremesa Corona Grande

From: Dunbarton Tobacco & Trust (Steve Saka)
Vitola: 5.25 inches by 44 ring gauge (Parejo)
Capa: La Meca Ecuador Habano #1 Rosado
Capote: Matacapan Negro de Temporal
Tripa: Nicaraguan Gk Condega C-SG Seco, Nicaraguan Pueblo Nuevo Criollo Viso, Nicaraguan La Joya Esteli C-98 Viso, Nicaraguan ASP Esteli Hybrid Ligero, USA Lancaster County Broadleaf Ligero

Dunbarton Tobacco Trust Part II 2

The wrapper looked a bit rustic (by ‘rustic’, I mean it was not perfectly flat and smooth, which does not bother me), but smelled wonderful. And the cigar had a nice firm bunch. The Corona Grande clipped easily and had a perfect draw.

My first puffs revealed a complexity that was more than I had expected. And knowing how exacting Mr. Saka is with his cigars, my expectations were pretty high. I was experiencing a huge mouthful of toasted tobacco and leather with a light spiciness. The burn was razor-straight, and the ash was light grey and firm. To this point, it was a medium to full-bodied cigar, giving off plenty of smoke.

Pepper notes kicked in after the first third of the cigar, along with smoother leather tones and steady strong tobacco flavors. A light sweetness developed on the lips, and the cigar did not heat up.

At the two-thirds mark, some cinnamon notes developed to mix with the other flavors, which continued to deepen until I was forced to put the cigar down with less than one inch left.

Dunbarton Tobacco & Trust

Steve Saka, former CEO of Drew Estate and creator of the Liga Privada line, is in his third year of producing his own cigars, which include the Sobremesa and (as of 2016) the Mi Quireda. Both lines are excellent, and represent fine examples of Steve’s craft.

Mi Querida Gordo

After last year’s stellar Sobremesa, many of us were expecting bigger and better things from Steve Saka. Here, I am reviewing his new marque – the Mi Querida.

Dunbarton Tobacco Trust Part III 3

Upon first inspection, this Gordo has a very smooth wrapper with minimal veining and a perfect cap. The bunch is firm but not hard. The wrapper smells as much of coffee as it does tobacco, and the foot has sweet earthy notes. A nice clean clip yields a perfect draw with some light cashew notes to complement the tobacco notes.

Initial notes of pepper and light nutty tobacco are very pleasant. The dark wrapper of the cigar is a bit misleading when you taste the flavorful medium-bodied smoke. This is not a bad thing – just a really unexpected pleasure.

Expecting a fuller flavored cigar, I pair it with a Real Ale Commissar (Russian Imperial Stout), yet am still very pleased with the flavor combination.

After the first third, the cigar remains cool and extremely pleasant. The light to medium grey ash is firm, but falls just short of one inch.

The pepper notes continue, but otherwise this is a very creamy smoke. The burn isn’t ‘perfect’, yet it doesn’t require any touch ups.

At the halfway mark, the pepper notes have all but disappeared, leaving a very pleasant creamy flavor. There are light nutmeg notes, but this could be a result of the Imperial Stout. Still, the combination represents an almost perfect pairing of beer and cigar.

The volume of smoke is most pleasing, speaking to the excellent construction of the cigar.

I will admit to expecting great things from a Steve Saka cigar, and I am not in any way disappointed. Even were I to smoke it blind, I would still be very impressed. This one would definitely be included in a ‘desert island’ selection.

Even though I feel the Mi Querida perhaps doesn’t quite reach the lofty heights of the Sobremesas, it is still one that has a place in every humidor – a solid 9.6/10 cigar. Joe Bob says, “Check it out.”

Sobremesa Elegante en Cedro

Dunbarton Tobacco Trust Part III 2

The wrapper and foot smell like rich tobacco. The cold-draw tastes like Tamarindo candy. The big event with this cigar is that it fell in the garden, yet was successfully recovered and ended up being a stellar cigar.

Steve Saka is not only a master blender, but also a master of dropped cigars. This will be my favorite dropped-cigar story of all time.

Dunbarton Tobacco Trust Part III 4

Back to the cigar… I thought Steve Saka had outdone himself with last year’s Sobremesa. I was dead cold wrong. Along with the Dunbarton Tobacco & Trust Mi Querida Gordo (reviewed above) and the Short Churchill, Steve has not only topped himself, but has created a new class for himself.

Sublime flavors of tobacco, spice (remember the Tamarindo I mentioned) and deep rich leather blend together to make this a cigar to remember. And do your best to keep some in your box, because they seem to keep getting out and being smoked.

Getting older

Not talking about me (although I am); today I was digging through my stash of cigars and found some Bolivar Coronas Extra with a box stamp that basically translates to 4/99. That’s almost 18 years old. These cigars could vote in April…

Boli CE are known for their deep strength and multitude of flavors. After all this time, the strength hasn’t mellowed any, and the flavors have intermingled to present one of the most well-rounded cigars I have smoked in recent years.

These cigars are excellent when they are fresh, if a little harsh. The harshness has completely gone now. I did have some slight issues with the wrapper being fairly delicate, but simply smoking easy solved most of those issues.

The draw was tighter than I am accustomed to (having smoked mainly “domestic” (aka, legal in the US) cigars lately. but the work was worth the reward. A fine example of complexity and strength was my reward.

Jealous? You might well be, but I imagine (know) that there are aficionados with older and better cigars than I, so start your own aging section in your humidor (or get another that is dedicated to aging) and you will be rewarded as well.

To paraphrase Walter Brennan from “The Real McCoys,” it’s not bragging if it’s true.

Thanks to everyone who reads and enjoys my ramblings.

Room 101 Figurados are winners

(as previously featured on Cigar Weekly)

Johnny Tobacconaut Fileroid

Size: 4½ inches by 52 ring gauge

Room 101 2

Before I cut or lit this one, I noticed rich tobacco aromas from the cigar. The dry draw was perfect, and tasted wonderful.

I am a big believer in giving every cigar a chance up front, and this one earned it. A little spice on the tongue, along with back flavors of holiday spice bread, made me want to smoke faster. But I resisted.

The entire Johnny Tobacconaut line is comprised of figurados, which (in my opinion) gives you the widest spectrum of flavors in a cigar. The Fileroid does not disappoint.

Think of Gramma’s ginger bread cookies with lots of extra ginger, or maybe snickerdoodles with extra cinnamon, depending on your preference either for ginger or cinnamon. This cigar also smoked very smoothly.

Anyway, if you have been reading my Room 101 reviews lately, you won’t be surprised at the 9.5/10 I gave the Johnny Tobacconaut for total quality. Joe Bob says, “Check it out!”

I will follow up this review with another piece (below) on the new Room 101 Chief Cool Arrow (snicker, ask a friend who speaks Spanish), this year’s replacement for the Tobacconaut. Let’s see how that works out.

Chief Cool Arrow Ranflajo

Size: 5½ inches by 50 (maximum) ring gauge

Room 101 3

The smooth chocolate brown wrapper displayed some veins. I sensed very light aromas from the wrapper and foot, but it was chilly out. A perfect bias cut and pre-light draw evidenced the excellent construction of the cigar. I paired it with a Real Ale Benedictum sour.

The Chief line is a 2016 release, replacing the 2015 Johnny Tobacconaut. On the cigar’s paper wrapper, you see a picture of the Chief with an astronaut (tobacconaut) head under one arm. In fact, I thought I could detect traces of blood and tomahawk (just kidding).

The early flavors showed nuts and cedar as well as a very creamy mouth feel. The beer, however, was almost too sour – something I was not expecting from Real Ale. But I didn’t think it would unduly hurt the flavor of the cigar, which was burning fairly cleanly with a solid ash.

Some coffee notes began to emerge nearing the initial third. The cigar was still very smooth, giving off bountiful smoke. A very light white pepper note began to come out on the retro-hale.

By now, I knew I was wrong about the beer. Some of those sour notes were starting to transfer to the cigar. So I drank the Benedictum very slowly. At this point, I would certainly have not recommended a sour ale with the cigar.

This was a medium-bodied cigar with full flavors. A little more pepper was now noticeable alongside the rich tobacco and light nuttiness. The muted coffee notes also remained. At the halfway mark, the cigar still smoked coolly and smoothly.

At the two-thirds point, the smoke stayed very flavorful and smooth. This was a very pleasant cigar. The pepper continued to build, but not unpleasantly so. And the coffee notes remained muted as the tobacco grew richer. Meanwhile, the nuts all but disappeared.

I ended up putting the cigar down with one inch left because of wrapper heat. This was a very good cigar with an almost perfect burn and excellent construction.

I gave it a 9/10. Joe Bob says, “Check it out.”

Current Favorite Cigars

First, If I have given you a high rating on one of my reviews, please know that it was very hard to leave them off of this list. That Said, and in no particular order;

Dumbarton and Trust Sobramesa Short Churchill

What Steve Saka has created may not be for everyone, but it is definitely for me. A great morning cigar with coffee that provides a great kick off to the day.

Rafael Nodal’s Solera.

There was absolutely nothing I could find wrong with this cigar as it provided complete enjoyment from cut to put-down. A true masterpiece.

Edgar Hoill Travesio Pyramid.

If you have not tried this cigar and enjoy smooth yet full bodied cigars, get the to a tobacconist and pick up at least two because one will now be enough.

Room 101 Big Payback

I smoked the 6×60 hueso and could have not been more pleased with the result.  A maduro/oscuro that gives you more than you pay for in quality and flavor.

Crowned Heads Las Mareas and La Caremea

To separate these would be an injustice. Crowned heads is one if the premier boutique brands on the market. I will also include the Jericho Hill line (especially the lanceroos) as one of the finest cigars on the market today.

Foundry Falling Star

Michael Gianini is one of the true geniuses of the cigar world today, and this collaboration with AJ Fernandez will not let you down.

Room 101 Johnny Tobacconaut

Yes, this is the second time I have mentioned a Room 101, a Davidoff product, with good reason. One of the most complex and satisfying cigars out there today. And I expect that my upcoming review of their replacement, Big Chief Cool Arrow will have the same complexities ans the Tobacconaut.

Camacho American Barrell Aged

I will finish this “master” list with a cigar that debuted in 2015 and has avarything I could possibly think you would want in a cigar. The complexity is legendary.

Perdomo Habano sungrown

The Perdomo Habano wrapper were always on the top of my list when I went to the shop to bet a handful or cigars. His re-blend has just that something extra that stands out in my mind.

Now to my list of “could have made it” cigars. The Tabernacle blended by Nick-R-Agua, The Balmoral Anejo from Michael Herklots, Rafael Nodal Oliveros reboot. USA Distributions’d Hidden Treasure,  Karen Berger’s awesome continuation of her late Husbands’ Don Kiki line, absolutely anything in the PDR Catalog, La Serino’s new premiums…and I am sure I am forgetting too many that were good enough to make the list.

If I missed you (like I see I did with Fratello Boxer, the new Nestor Mirandao Line, Ventura, and anyone else I missed, I can honestly say that this was the absolute best IPCPR my wife and I have ever attended, and look forward to seeing you all again; probably not Next year because we hate Lad Vegas in July.

Best to all, and PLEASE bring IPCPR back to San Antonio…

To Steve Saka and all the other vendors we will be at C.A.T.S Fest next year in San Antonio. And if you come through San Antonio with a new release like the recent Black Diamond and Black Trading Label Company, please give me a heads-up so I can schedule and interview. (I still want to know how much Omar de Frias weighs….