Umbagog: Dunbarton Tobacco and Trust

For those of you that aren’t familiar with Steve Saka and Dunbarton Tobacco, let’s get you up to speed with some info directly from their website. http://www.dunbartoncigars.com/aboutus

Steve Saka – Our master blender and catador de puros, Steve Saka, demands the most exact standards be honored at all times. Regarded as a cigar expert throughout the industry, he is credited as being an experienced cigar maker, a prolific author regarding cigars and black tobaccos, a forefather within the online media segment and a dynamic tobacco industry executive. In 2000, he worked directly for Lew Rothman, the former owner of JR Cigar, as an executive consultant for four years and he subsequently served as the President, then CEO of Drew Estate from 2005 through 2013. In 2015, he fulfilled a lifelong dream by establishing the family held Dunbarton Tobacco & Trust to craft cigars without any compromises.”

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“Puros Sin Compromiso”

” Cigars without compromise: This is an expression of our closely held ethos and states in just three simple words everything we wish to accomplish here at DTT. Cigars are more than just a passion for us; they are our life. We want to create puros that pay respectful tribute to the long, vaulted history of handmade vitolas, honor the dedicated works of all the vegueros, torcedors and artists who dedicate their labors to this timeless craft. Our goal is to always offer the connoisseur an unparalleled smoking experience bar none.”

Steve has been in the industry a long time and is behind some of the best cigars on the market today in my personal opinion. The Umbagog is the third release following the Sobremesa and the Mi Querida. I have tried them all but this is the first review I have done of the three. The Sobremesa and Mi Querida will follow soon.

I had the pleasure of meeting the man himself recently at Famous Smoke Shop and it was an honor for me. If you follow cigars and the history of the industry, Steve is a legend in the business and has forgotten more about cigars than I will likely ever know.

That all being said, let’s jump into this review and see what we get.

The Umbagog is almost the same cigar as the Mi Querida except the wrappers did not meet the standards used on the Mi Querida. Is that a bad thing? Let’s find out.

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UMBAGOG – TORO TORO 6 X 52

Blend Profile:

Wrapper: Connecticut Broadleaf

Binder / Filler: Nicaraguan

Appearance: Named after a lake, the rugged look of this “Seegar” is very fitting for what the cigar is. The rustic, reddish brown Broadleaf really shows some veins and tight seams. The Olive drab colored band with white lettering really stands out against the discolored wrapper. It has an open foot and rounded cap. The cigar feels full with no soft spots anywhere. The look works with what the cigar is. This looks like a cigar that should be smoked while outdoors hiking, fishing, or boating.

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Pre-Light: I pick up a really pleasant scent from the barrel of this cigar. It is like a mix of maple syrup, cedar and grass if I had to try and sort it out. That’s about the best I can describe it. It is earthy, very woodsy, some subtle sweetness and subtle pepper on the foot. I used a V-cutter to open the cap and the cold draw reveals a resistant but not tight draw. I pick up sweet cedar wood, hay and some pepper on the draw. The draw is a little tight for my personal liking but it could very well open up once I heat it.

1st Third:  I used a cedar spill, which is something I need to do a lot more often, and get things toasted. Immediately I get that maple/molasses sweetness followed by heavy cedar and some black pepper notes. Wow. This combo is really nice. It is earthy, grassy, very woodsy. The burn is a bit wavy, the draw is resistant but not so tight that I feel I need to work on it. The smoke production is nice. This is a complex blend with a lot of flavors coming and going. Overall it is, to me, heavy on cedar and earthy notes. Moving through the first third, the pepper is still around on the retrohale and some leather notes start to take shape. Strength is medium to full and very smooth.

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2nd Third: Moving into the halfway mark I find a shift more into earth, leather, wood, and less cedar and pepper. This cigar has a very natural, outdoor feeling to it. As I am enjoying this aspect of the cigar, how fitting is it that a whitetail deer decided to come over for a visit and lay in the yard. (Look in the background of the pic)  As I take in the flavors of this smoke, the draw has opened up nicely and performance is cruising along. No touch ups needed so far. The burn was a little off and wavy but has since corrected itself nicely. Strength is more medium plus – full.

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Last Third: As I move into the last third of this cigar, it has moved into a charred wood, nutty profile with hints of cedar, and grass showing up from time to time. About half way into the last third, the cedar and pepper ramp up a touch and take the forefront again. I am 1 hour 40 minutes into this cigar and overall I really enjoyed it. Strength finished at a medium plus – full for me.

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Final Thoughts: This was not intended to be a “pretty” cigar. It is everything it was made to be in my opinion. It is a rugged, rustic looking cigar with great flavors and a very outdoor feel to it. It won’t win any beauty contest but I would certainly add this into my rotation of go to smokes when I want something different. If you like the Mi Querida, for the price, you cannot go wrong with the Umbagog as a less expensive option. Packaged in bundles of 10, these are a great pick up for the money. They are available in other sizes, I have the gorda gorda to try next. Steve is quoted to have said “This is a cigar that doesn’t pretend to be special or seek to elicit the oohs and aahs of the cigar snobs.” I for one agree with him and I personally think he hit the mark with this one.

You can find this cigar at retailers across the US. I recommend Ford on Fifth and Famous Smoke Shop. You can click here for both.

https://fordonfifth.com/

https://www.famous-smoke.com/

Scoring:

Appearance/Construction Score: The look of the cigar fits what it is. Construction is solid. I score this a 13/15.

Performance Score: I had some issues with the draw being a bit tight and the burn being a little off but as I got into the cigar more, they both corrected themselves. I score this a 27/30.

Flavor Score: This is a complex smoke. Lots of natural, earthy, woodsy, sweet notes with enough pepper to make it interesting. I enjoyed the flavor profile of this cigar. I score this a 24/25.

Overall: I enjoyed my time with this cigar. The flavor profile works, the blend is nice. Performance was overall good with no need to touch up or fight with the burn or draw. I score this a 28/30.

Total Score: 92

93 – 90: Great Cigar. Worthy of a 5 pack or better. I would smoke this regularly.

So there you have it. I hope you enjoyed this review. Feel free to share it on social media and follow me on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter. Until next time, long ashes and full glasses friends. Peace.

Rose of Sharon by Southern Draw Review

I reviewed this cigar a couple of days ago and I am finally able to sit down and type this up. I got the following info directly from http://southerndrawcigars.com/our-cigars/rose-of-sharon/

“HAND CRAFTED IN ESTELI, NICARAGUA – The Rose of Sharon embraces a unique blend that will enhance the current Southern Draw Cigars core line including the Kudzu – Oscuro and Firethorn – Rosado blends.  A very well-balanced cigar with Mild Body – Medium Flavor.

The natural cloud cover of Ecuador has supplied us with a prized wrapper, a velvety feel, gentle sweetness and a toasty burn, our beloved Nicaragua has gifted us with rich and elegant binder and filler tobaccos while the distinct Piloto Cubano of the Dominican Republic adds a dose of boldness and spice that allows this blend live up to its moniker. “She don’t know she’s beautiful!”

Besides the apparent beauty of The Rose of Sharon in its semi box pressed format, the release is a celebration of Grace and the devotion of Sharon Holt as she continues her daily service via strong faith and daily fellowship. “Much like a Rose, Sharon exemplifies our brand with her beautiful soul, humility and a “subtle” boldness which has made an incredible impact on so many lives.  We truly needed to acknowledge her.”

No better way to sum up this cigar than to get it directly from the source. Credit to Southern Draw for the write up. Let’s jump right into the review and see what we get. This will be the first cigar I review using the new point system.

ROSE OF SHARON 5 1/2 X 54 ROBUSTO
Also available in Toro 6 X 52 and Gordo 6.5 X 60

Blend Profile:

Country of Origin: Nicaragua
Wrapper: Ecuadorian Sun Grown Connecticut
Binder: Nicaraguan
Filler: Nicaraguan Viso/Seco, Dominican Ligero/ Piloto Cubano
Factory: Tabacalera Fernandez

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Appearance/Construction: This cigar is wrapped in a very nice Sun Grown Connecticut that is tan/ khaki color with small veins and tight seams. The wrapper is very smooth with a nice oily sheen to it. The dual bands contrast nicely against the lighter color wrapper. It has the traditional red and gold Southern Draw band and a pink and gold Rose of Sharon band below it.  This is a semi box pressed cigar with a closed foot. This is a very nice looking cigar. There are no soft spots anywhere and the cigar is light in the hand.

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Pre-Light: I pick up a lot of barnyard hay and earthy notes from the barrel. The closed foot brings more of the same. I use a V-cutter to open the cap and the cold draw reveals a nice open draw with a slight resistance and notes of hay, earth, nuts, and a hint of pepper.

1st Third: I used a dual flame lighter to kick things off. Once we are good and toasted I am hit with an unexpected punch of red pepper. She looks like a lady but she packs a hidden punch. The pepper lingers in the throat for a bit. Shortly after I pick up so earthy, grassy, hay notes. A bit further in I start to get a light charred wood and nutty profile that takes shape. The pepper has really toned way back but can still be found on the retro hale at times. The draw is open and airy with a little resistance, it is burning cool and evenly. The ash is holding nicely and so far so good in regards to performance overall. As I move into the halfway point, this is certainly a mild-medium strength stick with a nice mixture of flavors.

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2nd Third: Moving into the transition, not much changes. I am still getting the earthy, hay, grass, nutty flavors with occasional charred wood and some brief notes of pepper sprinkled throughout. This is a nice Connecticut that packs a little heat in spots but has a nice, smooth blend profile that is on the mild to medium side but is enough to keep you interested. Burn and draw are still good. I am getting a nice amount of smoke from this cigar. The burn line is a touch wavy but it is gusty outside as I smoke this.

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Last Third: Again, no real changes going into the final third. This stick is consistent for sure. No major shifts in flavors or big changes as you go. The profile is still very earthy, with only subtle changes from time to time with certain notes swapping places from front to back on the palate. Still a lingering spice/pepper that holds on throughout. The only issues I had with the cigar was that the delicate Connecticut wrapper tore a bit when I attempted to remove the pink band. No real issue and it happens often. The red band came off with a little bit of effort. The burn is a little wavy but again, its really gusty at times today. I required no touch ups and the draw was easy and open all the way through.

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Final Thoughts: I have never been a big Connecticut cigar smoker. As I have said before, it’s not because I don’t enjoy them because I do and I have, I just tend to lean heavily, almost exclusively, towards cigars. This was an enjoyable, easy smoking cigar. The flavor was nice, consistent to the point of almost being one dimensional but finding a way to avoid it if that makes sense. Just when you thought the next drag would be exactly the same as the one before, you would find a little something different. It started mild and finished more on the medium side. This is a good cigar for those that prefer a lighter strength cigar but don’t want to sacrifice flavor. It has enough to keep it interesting without overwhelming the palate. Although I didn’t find it a very complex blend, I enjoyed it and I would certainly recommend that you try it for yourself. Don’t let the pink band fool you, it’s a good cigar and no one will pull your man card if they see you smoking it.

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Appearance / Construction Score: This is a well constructed, very nice looking cigar. The artwork works will with the wrapper. There were some rough touches with the seam and cap but overall I score this a 14/15.

Flavor Score: Though I am not a big Connecticut fan, the flavor profile of this cigar were good. I would have liked it to be a little more complex for my personal liking but I enjoyed it. I score this a 23/25.

Performance Score: There really were no issues with the burn or the draw. The wrapper did tear a little while trying to remove the pink band. A little glue stick on the delicate Connecticut but no major issue at all. I score this 28/30.

Overall Experience Score: I enjoyed my time with this cigar. At times I found myself thinking it was becoming one dimensional and then it would change up enough to make it interesting. I score this a 28/30

Final Score: 93

93 – 90: Great Cigar. Worthy of a 5 pack or better. I would smoke this regularly.

This is a cigar that I would smoke again. I think a little bit of age on this cigar will make it better and bit more complex as things settle in. This is an easy smoke to pair on a sunny day with a variety of cocktails and wines. 

So there you have it. The first cigar with the new rating system and my thoughts on the Rose of Sharon by Southern Draw. You can find them at many local retailers across the U.S. Including Famous Smoke Shop https://www.famous-smoke.com/search?kw=southern%20draw%20rose%20of%20sharon

I hope you enjoyed this review. I welcome your thoughts, comments or reviews here. Please feel free to share this review on social media and follow me on Instagram, FB and Twitter. Until next time, long ashes and full glasses friends. Peace.

The Tabernacle by Foundation Cigars

I initially wanted to start this review with information taken from the Foundation website but this information is very easily accessible with a quick click here http://foundationcigarcompany.com/the-tabernacle/ You can find out all of the info behind this masterful blend. Nick Melillo is the man behind Foundation Cigars and is known as the “Chief of the Broadleafs” and for good reason. Being from New Haven Connecticut and working with farmers there for over 10 years, in his words “Broadleaf is more than tobacco for me. It is something sacred.”
You may recognize the name from many of the top selling Drew Estate cigars. Nick is the man behind those masterful combinations. Liga No 9, Dirty Rat, Nica Rustica, Feral Flying Pig, etc… Plain and simple, the man is one of the top blenders in the world.
I walked into Famous Smoke Shop a few weeks back and asked one of the guys I know there to pick out a nice quick smoke that wouldn’t cost me a fortune. I wanted something I could easily smoke in under or right at 1 hour in the very cold temps we have here in Pa. He picked out the Charter Oaks by Foundation for me and I was blown away. For a petite corona under $5.00 you simply can’t beat it. Of course this got me interested in learning more about the company, as I always try to do, and I found out why this cigar was so good. When I realized who was behind the brand, I felt like an idiot for not picking up the Tabernacle and the El Guegurnse “The Wise Man” (Pronounced El When When Say). So on the bright side, I made another road trip to Famous. When life hands you lemons…
Now that we got all of that out of the way, let’s get down to why you are reading this page shall we?
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The Tabernacle Corona- 5 1/4 x 46 Price $9.00
This work of art features Honduras (Jamastran Valley) Nicaragua (Esteli & Jalapa Valley) fillers, a Mexican San Andres binder, and wrapped in a beautiful Connecticut Broadleaf wrapper.
This is a very dark chocolate wrapper that really stands out against the very unique and elegant black and gold band with super high quality printing. This thing screams elegance and produces notes of rich dark chocolate, almost espresso like, earth and pepper from the broadleaf wrapper. I pick up more dark chocolate (cocoa), a woodsy cedar, earth and pepper from the foot. I decided on a straight guillotine cut and the cold draw reveals a sweet blend of cedar, pepper and earthy notes. The draw offers some resistance. The wrapper is rolled very nicely with very tight seams. It feels firm and solid which explains the resistance on the draw.
I used regular wooden matches to get things going and immediately I pick the familiar cedar and a very smooth cocoa blend. The pepper makes an appearance about a quarter of an inch into it. It blends very nicely with the cedar and the sweetness. The blend is very good and I am enjoying this one a lot. The draw is still a little tight but not bad. It is producing some nice smoke. The ash is holding very tight and is white in color. At the end of the first third, the pepper fades a bit and the dark chocolate and earth notes come to the forefront.
The second third brings more of the same and I am good with that. No huge jumps in flavors moving through the transition. As I get more into the halfway point the full flavor of the blend comes together very nicely. The cedar, earth, pepper and cocoa really pull together and I am reminded of other cigars that utilize tobacco from the Jamastran Valley. The spice of the San Andreas really starts to come through but never enough to overpower the flavor profile.
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(Sorry for the lighting but it is under flood lights around my house) The final third is a continuation of the first 2 thirds. Sweet cedar, cocoa, pepper and earth close this cigar out. The draw remained a little tight throughout but helped to extend the burn time to 1 hour 40 minutes. I was outside in a damp, freezing rain (light drizzle) about 38 degrees for the first half of this cigar like a crazy person grilling steaks and burgers. Dedication is something I pride myself on. Lol. The ash held very tight for most of each third and the burn was a little uneven but this is due to the harsh outside conditions and breeze. When I went into my heated garage, it evened out very nicely.
Overall thoughts. This cigar was delicious. Almost dessert like in a sense. The rich dark chocolate mixed with the sweet cedar wood profile is very good and hard to put down. The strength is medium moving into full towards the end but never got harsh or bitter. It certainly ramped up towards the end and I was warned of that prior to having it so I was prepared. The flavor profile is full for sure.
The overall look to this cigar is simply elegant, the construction is great, the draw was a little tight for my personal liking but not bad, the burn was great, the ash held tight, and the flavor was just fantastic. This is an immediate box worthy cigar for me and I would put this into my rotation today. They come in 6 sizes and in boxes of 24 with the exception of the Lancero which comes in a box of 13. This is the second cigar I have tried by Foundation and I can say that I am more than impressed and I am a fan of Foundation Cigars. The hype behind this one was very well deserved which is rare these days. I highly recommend this cigar.
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I am going to start adding this declaimer here at the bottom in response to internet warriors that are cowards and hide behind the safety of their computer screen in mom’s basement in their underoos and find ways to try and troll people. If you met them in the streets they would want to buy you a cigar or if confronted, piss themselves. Either way, the more I thought about doing this or not, I decided it is actually a great addition to let people know that I am not being paid, or compensated by these companies to promote their product. I offer EVERYONE the same opportunity after EACH review to leave their own comments, thoughts, AND REVIEWS. No one has sent me one so I can’t post what I don’t have but I have made that offer since day 1. Will their review differ from mine? I certainly hope the hell so. I also don’t block people comments. I approve all of them regardless of content. People can disagree with my review, ultimately I am telling you what I experienced, not what you are going to experience. I would imagine your taste will be different than mine. Sorry for the rant, just felt like I needed to explain that some.
Leave your comments, thoughts and reviews here and as always, long ashes and full glasses friends. Peace!
“This cigar was purchased by me for the purpose of my enjoyment. I did the review on my own for the purpose of providing a true, honest opinion on the product. I am under no obligation to provide favorable reviews for this product and receive no compensation for doing so.” Cigar Hawk
P.S. If it wasn’t great, you would read that also. I just don’t bash peoples work, I can do it tactfully.

 

A great find…for a great price!

 

I stopped by Famous Smoke Shop the other day to pick up some accessories and while I was there I picked up a few cigars that I hadn’t tried before and some that I had tried but wanted different sizes. I came across the Charter Oaks Petite Corona by Foundation Cigars.

“Charter Oak cigars are an affordably-priced premium cigar edition from Nicholas Melillo that reaffirms his passion for U.S. Connecticut cigar tobacco in both shade-grown and broadleaf maduro selections. Produced at Tabacalera AJ Fernandez Cigars in Nicaragua, the core blend consists of fillers from the Estelí and Jalapa regions of Nicaragua, with a Sumatra binder for the shade version, and a Nicaraguan Habano binder for the broadleaf.” (credit Famous Smoke Shop for the description)

The El Gueguense (highly rated award winner) along with the Tablernacle, are also from Foundation Cigar Company. I have not tried anything from them yet so I decided to go with the smaller Charter Oak simply because it is freezing here in Pa and I wanted a smaller, shorter smoke.

The Petite Corona Broadleaf is 5 1/4 x 42 and features a Connecticut Broadleaf wrapper with Nicaraguan filler and binder. It is a mild to medium strength. It is a nice maduro dark brown with the foot folded over. I pick up notes of earth, hay, cedar and a faint sweetness. The band is very cool featuring the image of a historic Oak tree from Hartford Connecticut paying tribute to state Nick was born and raised in.

With the foot being covered you can’t pick up much from it. I used a match to get started and it lit quickly. Straight guillotine cut (I almost opted for the V-cut) and off we go. Right off the bat, the semi-sweet chocolate mixes with earth and some cedar. There is a little pepper left on my palate but blends nicely. The draw is nice with a bit of resistance which is good for a cigar this small. The burn line is forming and is nice and even. The flavor profile remains basically the same. A bit of chocolate with that earthy, cedar wood, and a touch of pepper spice. The pepper doesn’t really build much but is enough to let you know that it is there. For a cigar that is priced under $5, I am VERY impressed with it. I did not expect this much complexity and flavor from this stick.

The second third adds a bit of leather and a nice creamy feel to the blend. The draw is still great, the burn got a bit off but I attribute that to the swirling heat from the heater in the garage. I walked outside in the brisk, cold air for a couple of minutes and the burn evened out immediately. I can’t believe the flavors coming out of this smoke. This cigar rivals cigars I have paid double the price for. Very impressive. Still picking up the earthy, cedar, leather and spice with faint sweetness that pulls it all together.

The final third there is a subtle sourness that comes in but is not overpowering and blends in with the sweetness. The pepper and wood notes are still around and this cigar ends with a very nice, very complex flavor profile. I expected this to be a quick, short smoke but the resistance on the draw really kept this cigar from burning too hot and I got a little over an hour with it. 1 hour 15 minutes and there was little sitting time. I could not put this cigar down. I can’t say enough about this cigar. For the money, I absolutely did not expect to get this much quality and flavor from it. Unbelievable smoke for around $4.50.

“I wanted to create an economy-minded, everyday smoke for connoisseurs; something tasty and delicious but didn’t break the bank”, says Melillo. Mission accomplished sir!! Well done!

Overall, I have to say this cigar completely exceeded the expectations I had for it. Construction was solid, draw and burn were both very good. The complexity of the blend was very interesting and made it hard for me to put down. It never changed so much that it waivered from the initial profile, but enough to make it interesting. This one is an absolute no brainer for me. This is a box worthy purchase any day of the week at this price point. The only other cigar at this price that edges this Charter Oaks is the Rorshach by Black Works Studio. Do yourself a favor and pick up a few of these great cigars. They are available in other sizes as well. I did not pick up the Shade version of this because I am much more a broadleaf guy but I would imagine it is good probably not as complex. This was a mild to medium smoke for me and would be great for beginners looking for a flavorful change, but it is complex enough that experienced smokers would enjoy as well. I am certainly getting more of these and I want to step up into the Tabernacle as well.

Paired with water for the first 2 thirds and Dreaming Tree Crush Red wine for the final third. Paired very well and I could certainly see this pairing with a scotch, rum or bourbon.

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I hope you enjoyed this review. Feel free to leave you thoughts, comments or reviews and as always, long ashes and full glasses. Peace!