Mi Querida is the highly anticipated sophomore release from respected industry guru Steve Saka and his newly-established Dunbarton Tobacco & Trust brand. Dunbarton made its formal debut at the 2015 IPCPR show—a much-welcomed return to the industry after Saka spent the prior two year’s on the sidelines, due to a non-compete after retiring from Drew Estate in 2013.
At launch, Dunbarton’s portfolio consisted of a single offering: an Ecuador Habano Rosado maduro that harkened back to the elaborately designed Cuban presentations of the cigar world’s heyday—complete with an intricately engraved vista and embossed trim along the boxes corners. The band itself was more luxurious, going on to claim a spot on Cigar Dojo’s list of the Top 10 Cigar Bands. And the Sobremesa Corona Grande eventually earned Cigar Dojo’s #5 Cigar of the Year for 2015.
As impressive an intro Sobremesa was, it still left many enthusiasts wanting; as Steve clearly avoided the Connecticut Broadleaf style he’d become known for with Drew Estate. A smart move, all things considered—Sobremesa showcased Steve’s talents as a blender—a decision to escape the long shadow of his former Liga Privada fame.
But with Steve’s solo career now firmly established, the coast was cleared to finally deliver on Saka’s signature, gritty/earthy profile of the American Connecticut Broadleaf.
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Mi Querida Fino Largo Breakdown
- Wrapper: USA Connecticut River Valley Broadleaf
- Binder: Nicaragua
- Filler: Nicaragua
- Factory: Nicaraguan American Cigars S.A. (Nicaragua)
- Production: Regular Production
- Vitola: 6″ × 48 “Fino Largo” (toro)
- Price: $8.95
As with Sobremesa, the Mi Querida (pronounced “me-kay-ree-dah”) introduces American smokers to yet another Spanish/Nicaraguan idiom.
The concept is used by Steve to showcase his love for the Broadleaf. It’s a blend designed to be flavorful and satisfying without the fancy trimmings used on Sobremesa.
The dressed up look of Sobremesa has been stripped down to a more simplistic, SBN, plain wood box for Mi Querida. Gone are the tedious embossings and trim, opting for a simplistic, black stamp of the cigar’s name on unfinished wood. The bands follow suit, using a minimalistic, thin-style band that simply display’s the cigar’s title. Steve himself has expressed his distaste for the cigar’s look, emphasizing that the cigar’s more affordable price point was achieved through packaging cost cuts, rather the tobacco quality used.
That being said, I must admit I am pleased with the cigar’s appearance once more. I’ve always loved the more minimalistic style bands spearheaded by brands such as RoMa Craft and Illusione. I appreciate that the royal feel introduced with Sobremesa and its crown band has been retained, by the use of a simple, scalloped cut into the band. A simplistic, thin band of this style requires the help of high-quality paper and ink/foils to avoid looking “cheap”, and that’s exactly what you’ll find here. The color scheme is rustic gold and royal blue (complete with very subtle, lighter blue patterns over the royal blue base), and I’d be remiss if I didn’t note the uncanny similarities between this and Drew Estate’s Undercrown cigar.
The wrapper leaf has many of the classic characteristics of the style—gritty tooth, plenty of prominent veins, and a decent amount of oil. Interestingly, the shade is much lighter than expected, having a red/brown hue on the lighter end of the maduro spectrum—in the Colorado Maduro range—looking much more “T52” than “No. 9”. The cigar’s construction looks great though—no soft spots, a nice springiness, great looking seams—no gripes whatsoever.
On the nose there are notes of barnyard musk, leather, and a light, mint chocolate. The pre-light draw is a little on the firm side—surprising, considering the cigar’s weight feels fairly light. Pre-light notes come in the form of cardboard (imagine something in between paper and wood) and cinnamon raisin—of the two, I preferred the latter…
Mi Querida begins with a decent flavor blast—it’s mild on the tongue but full of pepper spices in the nostrils. Cabinet spices fill the nostrils, led by white and black peper, which makes up the bulk of the experience for a good half inch. Soon the palate joins the action, soaking up atypical sensations of sourish tang. This certainly isn’t a negative quality, I love interesting notes that aren’t quite so obvious. This is eventually morphed into a sharper zing on the tongue, almost as if you could feel the nicotine soaking in.
None of this is to say Mi Querida is a strong cigar—it’s really quite mild in the nicotine department, considering the cigar’s style. After one-third, I’d mark the cigar around medium-light in strength, medium-plus in flavor, and an overall medium body. As with the pre-light draw, the ignited draw is in the medium-firm range, producing a decent (medium) smoke output. But of all the cigar’s qualities, it’s the construction that stands out heading into the mid-point. Two-plus inches of solid ash—medium gray, with black streaks—and no signs of wavering, touchups, or relights whatsoever.
The experience seems to become a little more gritty/punchy in the second-third. Light/medium roast coffee, earth, caramel, and an enjoyable flavor of Baileys Irish Cream (complete with a fun alcoholic bite) are among the most interesting developments. Even still, most flavors are fairly subdued and require a bit of searching to uncover. The ash grew to over three and one-half inches before I eventually forced it loose, fearing an accidental cat-ash-trophe (excuse the pun, I have a quota to meet…).
Just before the final portion of the smoke, the tongue-zinging sensation materializes a bit more. If you’ve ever felt a raw, fermenting leaf (especially maduro), you’ll surely notice the sticky, wax-like feel between your fingers. I get the feeling that the tongue-zinging sensation of Mi Querida would be similar to licking the raw and glutinous, fermenting leaf.
Rounding out the smoke, Mi Querida concludes with toasted oak, mild chocolate, and caramel. The construction doesn’t let up, although it does require a bit more of your attention—with a more frequent puffing pace to keep the smoke flowing. It is medium-plus flavor, medium strength, and medium bodied nearing the end.
Would I Smoke This Cigar Again?
Probably, but don’t hold me to it! Mi Querida is what I’d call a “casual smoke”—it never demands your attention, but at the same time, never disappoints. Flavor-wise, there really wasn’t an “it factor” for me. Sure the tongue-tingling moments were fun, but not ultimately flavorful—rather an interesting sensation. However, if you are a “muduro nut”, this may be right up your alley—your next go-to, mindless/anytime smoke.
- Smoke Time: 1 hour, 30 minutes
- Pairing Recommendation: milk stout
- Purchase Recommendation: 5-pack
- Masterful construction
- No harsh or unwanted notes
- Fun zing sensation on the tongue
- Not complex
- No "it factor" in flavor
- Slightly firm draw