Shortly before the 2017 IPCPR trade show, Dunbarton Tobacco & Trust announced the company’s second release in the limited Muestra de Saka series, titled Nacatamale. As Muestra de Saka (MdS) is intended to provide an outlet for company founder Steve Saka and his blending experimentations, Nacatamale features a completely unique blend and vitola from its predecessor, MdS Exclusivo.

The Nacatamale is the second frontmark in the line. What made this cigar a unique blending challenge was I went “viejo granja” style with it. For over a century most cigars’ entire filler recipes were comprised of just one farm’s tobacco and any complexity was introduced by extremely careful leaf processing, selection and positioning within the bunch. Whereas these days as we have hundreds of ingredients to work and blend with to create interesting and satisfying ligas. So, the challenge was to see if I could make an “old farm” style liga that could hold its own with the modern blends created today. This cigar is considerably more robust than the Exclusivo and since this puro’s tripa are all from just one small, independent farm in Jalapa, Nicaragua, I will not be disclosing the name of the vega. However, I will say it is simply sublime.Steve Saka, owner of Dunbarton Tobacco & Trust

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Muestra de Saka Nacatamale Breakdown

  • Wrapper: Ecuadorian Habano
  • Binder: Nicaragua
  • Filler: Nicaragua (Jalapa)
  • Factory: Fábrica de Tabacos Joya de Nicaragua, S.A. (Nicaragua)
  • Production: Limited (2,250 boxes of 7 cigars for initial 2017 run)
  • Vitola: 6″ × 48 “Nacatamale”
  • Price: $15.95 (MSRP)

Nacatamale borrows its name from a popular/traditional Nicaraguan dish. Pronounced “nä-kä-tə-môl,” the entrée is essentially a Mexican tamale on steroids, made from cornmeal, spiced pork, rice, onions, etc., and is roughly three times the size of a Mexican tamale. This is not to say the cigar is unusually large, as the Nacatamale is rolled in a modest 6″ x 48—slightly larger than an average corona gorda, yet smaller than the usual 6″ x 50 toro.

Blend-wise, Nacatamale is billed as a more intense smoking experience, as compared to the soft nuances of the Muestra de Saka Exclusivo, which Saka described to Cigar Dojo as offering a profile of “creme brûlée.”

Appearance

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Nacatamale offers the same basic presentation as the Exclusivo, with traditional wooden boxes stained to a black cherry tone. Each box contains seven slide-lid coffins, this time replacing the DTT logo of the Exclusivo with a new “fork and knife” design (fitting of the cigar’s title). The cigar’s band is a basic yellow ribbon with the MdS name displayed in red and black ink. This appears to be an intentionally simplistic approach, as the band will be discarded immediately—having the naked look of a factory sample.

The cigar looks to be well-constructed, showing a somewhat dense bunch, solid feel, and an excellent fantail cap. The wrapper is close to Colorado Rosado in shade, having a subtle maroon undertone. On the surface there is a fair amount of tooth, feeling like 200-grit sandpaper. It’s a fine-looking cigar, an attribute one would expect in the $15 price range.

The wrapper has a noticeable pine/menthol aroma, joined with a touch of polished leather. The foot aroma is more clean, with subtle notes of sweet cedar and vanilla/mint (think the first 10 seconds of a white Tic Tac mint). With a straight cut, the pre-light draw shows a medium/firm resistance and notes of musty basement and raw vegetation.

Smoking Experience

From first light, Nacatamale unloads a deep dosage of flavor onto the palate. Black pepper spice is the first noticeable ingredient, followed earth and pork rinds on the finish. The savory tone of flavors are soon upended by sweeter nuances of brown sugar and a custard-like finish, with various cabinet spices filling in the background.

As indicated by the pre-light draw, the resistance is on the firm side—pegged around 7/10 (5 – 6 being ideal). This makes for a low outflow of smoke, often requiring double puffs to coax the desired volume. The burn line is lightly wavy and fully manageable, producing a flakey, medium/dark gray ash that clings in one-and-a-half-inch chunks. On the palate, the smoke lights up the front of the tongue (sweet-sensing region), as well as the sides from front to back (salty and acid regions).



Muestra de Saka Nacatamale cigar smoking

With the smoke fully triggering the back sides of the tongue, there is a noticeable mouth-watering sensation that I thoroughly enjoy in a smoking experience. Individual flavors are admittedly more difficult to pin down than usual. My initial reasoning for this involves the cigar’s “viejo granja” blending style, a trait well-known for Cuban cigars—which are also very tricky to pinpoint individual nuances (in my opinion). Overall, the experience can best be described as rich, mouth watering, and tongue-smacking.

The cigar’s profile is noticeably balanced, with unusually long-lasting flavor throughout the finish. Notes of brown sugar, molasses, cinnamon, espresso, flowers/perfume (in the retrohale), and a touch of saltiness are present. In the cigar’s final third, the smoke texture becomes more dry, showing notes of wheat/malt, milk chocolate, molasses, and a finish of peanuts and Nutella.

Muestra de Saka Nacatamale review

Would I Smoke This Cigar Again?

Whenever I come across it… Yes, Nacatamale is limited and, at this point, a bit tricky to track down. Add to the equation the cigar’s high price, the smoke better be lights out for me to actively seek another. And yet, I can’t imagine an occasion where I don’t pull the trigger when presented with this tasty morsel. The cigar can be smoked from late afternoon to well into the night. I can imagine this being a great pairing for those oddball “breakfast for dinner” meals…

Additional Info:

  • While Muestra de Saka projects are described as “limited,” they are not true limited edition projects, allowing Saka to continue production if there is enough demand. Saka has hinted that he’s toyed with the idea of expanding on the Nacatamale blend.
  • 600 more boxes of Nacatamale were made than the MdS Exclusivo (2,250 compared to 1,650).
  • Nacatamale is the 2nd cigar in the MdS series, followed by the MdS Unicorn announced at the tail end of 2017.
  • Winner of Cigar Dojo’s 2017 Limited Edition Cigar of the Year.
  • Shipped to retailers in the first week of November 2017.
  • Each MdS release has included a unique logo on the cigar’s coffin. Nacatamale’s design features a crossed fork and knife, alluding to the Nicaraguan nacatamale entrée.

Profile
  • Flavor: Full
  • Strength: Medium
  • Body: Medium
Core Flavors
  • Peppercorn
  • Custard
  • Brown Sugar
  • Molasses
  • Cinnamon
  • Chocolate
Tips
  • Smoke Time: 1 hour, 28 minutes
  • Pairing Recommendation: bourbon, hot chocolate, barleywine, port wine, cinnamon roll
  • Purchase Recommendation: as many as possible

Muestra de Saka Nacatamale cigar nubbed

Muestra de Saka Nacatamale
Nacatamale is the second blend in Dunbarton's Muestra de Saka series, where company founder (and industry guru) Steve Saka showcases his blending talents, releasing small batches of one-off blends/vitolas for the diehard enthusiast. Nacatamale is an impressive feat of cigar blending, where Saka has built the core blend using tobaccos from a single farm. This is akin to cigar blends of yesteryear, before manufacturers had endless selections of tobaccos from across the globe. Therefore, alternative methods and scrupulous attention to detail must be implemented in order to please the modern smoker's sophisticated palate. This is evident nearly as soon as flame reaches tobacco, where the smoke seems to engage the palate on all fronts, not allowing a moment to dissect individual flavors; instead providing sensations across the palate—a complete "experience." If you've ever thoroughly enjoyed a well-crafted Cuban Habano but had a difficult time placing your finger on the individual nuances, this is very comparable. However, flavors can best be described as mouthwatering, with black pepper, chocolate, cinnamon, brown sugar, molasses, flowers, and custard (on an unusually long finish) present. This is a deep and very rewarding smoke for the experienced enthusiast.
Appearance97%
Burn/Construction94%
Draw83%
Flavor97%
Complexity94%
Price/Value91%
Pros
  • Deep, mouthwatering flavors
  • Complex profile urges the user to use every sensory receptor, such as the five regions across the tongue
  • Good construction, few-to-zero touch-ups
Cons
  • Slightly firm draw
  • Expensive
93%Blending Clinic

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