Before you storm TNCC headquarters with your cyber pitchforks and sanctimonious torches, we will go ahead and state the obvious right now – we are big fans of Dunbarton Tobacco & Trust. It’s not because the company sends us cigars for review. It’s not because DTT’s founder Steve Saka has graciously spent hours upon hours talking with us on our podcast over the last eight years (Steve said this of his visit with us last year, “I can honestly say this is one of my WORST and BEST cigar podcast interviews ever” – that’s high praise, maybe). We are big fans of DTT simply because they consistently make amazing cigars all while releasing new, highly unique blends at a highly impressive rate. We know that’s a boring explanation but it’s truly the reason that Saka creations traditionally end up on our year end “Top Ten” lists. So those of you angry mouthbreathers who get pissed off every year at these lists for some unfathomable reason and start aggresively clacking away on your poor phone screen, stop calling us fanboys! We’re fanmen goddamnit. And take it easy on your phones for Christ’s sake, go inside and get laid for a change. And if you’re not married or in a relationship… well…you know what you need to do. That’s between you and God. There, you’re welcome! Now where was I?
Size: 5 5/8 x 48 (grand corona)
Wrapper: USA (Connecticut broadleaf)
Binder: Mexican San Andrés
Filler: Dominican Republic, Honduras, and Nicaragua
Price: $15.95 (while these were submitted to the TNCC for review by Dunbarton Tobacco & Trust, you can head over to Famous Smoke Shop and get a box right now and save $20 off by using promo code TNCC20)
Tonight’s cigar has a big brother, the SakaKhan, which was voted as our #4 cigar of 2022. Fortunately, or unfortunately if you’re me, it’s been a while since I’ve smoked that particular stogie so I’m going in to the PapaSaka with little in the way of a comparison point.
The PapaSaka features a dark, oily broadleaf wrapper with some noticeable tooth and a minuscule twisted cap. The wrapper’s aroma is that of heavy leather with a touch of earth, there is a rich sweetness detected when sniffing the foot of the cigar directly. Have you ever walked in to a Wilson’s Leather store at your local outlet mall? That’s what the PapaSaka smells like. And I just now learned that Wilson’s Leather recently went out of business so I’m going to have to cook up a different reference point moving forward… and find a different retail store to buy my father-in-law reasonably priced leather wallets for Christmas.
After experiencing a cold draw that was indubitably sweet (like Red Man chewing tobacco sweet), I gently peel off the cap and set the PapaSaka on fire. Bright white pepper soars through the nostrils immediately upon ignition. After a few puffs, some sweetness and a hint of maple begin to arise on the backend of that pepper. As far as the draw is concerned, leather and espresso notes are presenting themselves equally here in the early goings.
Smoke production is copious and nobody of sane mind is going to complain about the PapaSaka’s aroma. Just beyond the 1” mark, a distinct Nica mineral sensation develops fast on both the retrohale and the draw. The mineral is so pronounced that it nearly stands toe-to-toe with the white pepper spice. The espresso begins to outshine the leather around the end of the first third, right as the dark grey ash falls for the first time.
Construction overall has been very good with a smooth draw and an satisfactorily straight burn line. There is a brief moment around the fifty yard line where a fleeting creaminess presents itself via the retrohale and I sincerely hope it returns at some point. It’s around this same time in the smoking experience that the PapaSaka transitions to full bodied territory, while the strength is still medium-strong as it has been from the get-go. This cigar is begging for a coffee pairing or a nice pour of bourbon to perhaps bring out some of that now diminished maple sweetness back to the party. Seeing as how I’m a professional cigar reviewer, I’m pairing the PapaSaka with room temperature water like a big fat nerd.
Even without the maple, I’m enjoying the flavor profile on display here tremendously! The boldness of the espresso is dancing beautifully with the mineral and woodsy oak that are now dominating the retrohale here in the second half. And, prayers answered, the creaminess returns just as the burn approaches the cigar’s band. This PapaSaka is keeping on my toes.
Low and behold, the San Andrés pepper spice is back in the cigar’s final act. The PapaSaka admirably doesn’t grow hot to the touch (or my lips) as it nears the nub, so I continue to puff away until there’s basically nothing left but a tiny smoldering memory of what was a terrific cigar.
Once I completed my review of the PapaSaka, I revisited our previous review of the SakaKhan and I couldn’t help but notice the similarities between the two experiences*. However, I appreciated the less ballsy aspect of the PapaSaka as it doesn’t hit you with the relentless strength that the original Mi Querida Black offering delivered… not that there’s anything wrong with that. The PapaSaka is complex, packed with rich flavors, and in my opinion it’s one of the least boring broadleaf cigars that I’ve smoked in quite some time**.
*For those who are interested in such things, the SakaKhan scored a 92.725 last year while the PapaSaka just now earned a 92.575
**Total smoking duration was just shy of 90 minutes