Simply put, Steve Saka is an unstoppable force in the current premium cigar market. Hell, he’s been unstoppable for a while now. Sure, he had to take some time off after departing Drew Estate (acting as the company’s former CEO), but that was about it in terms of stagnation. One could easily argue that he has been the hottest name in the cigar game since 2015, upon launching his own company, Dunbarton Tobacco & Trust. I like Steve. I like him a lot, actually. Mainly I like him because he is so unabashedly Steve. He treats you the same, whether you love his cigars or you hate his cigars. Steve knows who he is and I love that about him. I also enjoy his cigars. With all that being said, the Sobremesa Brûlée was at the top of my “I have to smoke this before I explode” list going into IPCPR/PAC 2019.
The Sobremesa Brûlée is so very different from any cigar that Saka has ever blended. Steve said, in his own words, “Sobremesa Brûlée is a recreation of the milder, shade wrapped ligas of my early years.” The Brûlée is not supposed to be like the amped-up Connie’s we’ve seen in the market over the last few years. Instead, it’s a throwback to your “grandfather’s Connecticut.”
Sobremesa Brûlée Robusto Breakdown
- Wrapper: Ecuador Connecticut Shade G2BW
- Binder: Mexican San Andrés Negro
- Filler: Nicaraguan
- Factory: Fábrica de Tabacos Joya de Nicaragua, S.A. (Nicaragua)
- Production: Regular Production
- Vitola: 5¼″ × 52 (Robusto)
- Price: $12.45 (MSRP)
The tobaccos chosen for this blend are very interesting. Essentially, Steve has taken the same blend used for the original Sobremesa cigar and tweaked it, resulting in a milder expression that better compliments the blend’s new Connecticut Shade-grown wrapper. Steve describes it much more eloquently than I can, so be sure to check out the video from my interview with him at IPCPR/PAC 2019 for a deeper understanding:
The Sobremesa Brûlée is available in three different vitolas, ranging from a slightly extended robusto to an extended gordo with a belicoso head:
- Robusto: 5¼″ × 52 | $12.45 | 13-ct box ($161.85)
- Toro: 6″ x 52 | $13.45 | 13-ct box ($174.85)
- Gordo: 6¼” x 60 | $13.95 | 13-ct box ($181.35)
Sobremesa Brûlée kind of looks like… a Sobremesa. It has the familiar gold crown primary band (a former top choice for Cigar Dojo’s Top 10 Cigar Bands), complimented by the gold/brown Sobremesa foot band, but that is where the similarities end. The difference is the wrapper (duh, right?). Where the original Sobremesa sports a dark Ecuadorian Habano Rosado leaf, the Brûlée is rockin’ a gold-hued Ecuadorian Connecticut leaf that is classified as grade G2BW (a top-shelf classification). Again, an in-depth description of this unique leaf can be found in the above interview with Steve Saka—it really is a beautiful and unique wrapper.
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I almost cannot stress enough just how excited I was to spark up the Sobremesa Brûlée. Being a fan of both Connecticut-style cigars and Saka’s approach to blending, the anticipation had sufficiently come to a head—a match made in my personal cigar-smoking heaven, if you will. Following my habitual pre-light ritual, the wrapper gave off notes of hay, toast, graham cracker, and brown sugar. The cold draw was very sweet on the lips (more on that later), with notes of oatmeal, cinnamon, raisin, and hay. The only thing that surprised me was the unusual sweetness on the lips and, like I said, we’ll get into that in a bit.
I sparked this sucker up and was met with more sweetness on the lips. The first three words in my notes were “sweet, smooth, and light.” My lips were unusually sweet—long after each puff had run its course—and that was distracting. In fact, it was that sweetness on the lips that dominated the first inch or so of the cigar. Following this segment, I started getting notes of sugar cookie, toasted bread, white pepper, and a mild and earthy anise flavor. Frankly, the flavor profile didn’t really get going until this point. The strength and body picked up and I was starting to experience a pretty enjoyable smoke.
The second third was very good. The flavors didn’t change much, but they gained intensity. Sweet cream, caramel, and baking spices (mainly cinnamon) joined the cast and I must admit, I was quite pleased. In the very middle of the cigar (around two-and-a-half inches in) I started to get a fruity note—blueberry. Sweet blueberry, no less—not a tart blueberry like you’d find in a muffin. The middle two inches of this cigar well-exceeded my initial expectations.
The final third was better than the beginning, but it didn’t quite reach the heights of the Brûlée’s exceptional mid-section. The profile maintained the main notes of sugar cookie, toasted bread, mild white pepper, and caramel. The blueberry, unfortunately, subsided, along with the cinnamon and sweet cream. It was a solid ending to an overall solid cigar.
Would I Smoke This Cigar Again?
Sure. I’ve smoked the Brûlée Robusto three times already and I will say, it is very consistent. I just wish there was a bit more in the beginning and the end. The main thing that may keep me from picking up more of the Sobremesa Brûlée is the price point.
- This is the fist release from Dunbarton Tobacco & Trust to feature a Connecticut wrapper.
- The first portion of the cigar’s name (Sobremesa) represents a Spanish expression that describes the timeframe between eating and rising—it’s the discussions that take place over a post-dinner smoke or coffee. The added Brûlée portion of the title is inspired from crème brûlée dessert—custard topped with caramelized sugar.
- The Sobremesa Brûlée debuted at IPCPR/PAC 2019 in Las Vegas, NV. The cigar later shipped in mid-July 2019.
- Flavor: Mild / Medium
- Strength: Mild / Medium
- Body: Mild / Medium
- Sugar cookie
- Toasted bread
- Mild anise
- Mild white pepper
- Sweet cream
- Smoke Time: 1 hour, 35 minutes
- Pairing Recommendation: Light-roast coffee with cream | Cream soda | Flor de Caña Spresso with cream | Anything coffee and cream-based
- Purchase Recommendation: Buy a single first and proceed from there
The Sobremesa Brûlée was among my personal most-anticipated releases for 2019. I had high expectations, but when it comes to Steve Saka’s offerings, who doesn’t? I really wanted to love this cigar, but it fell a bit short for me. The first and final thirds were lacking, while the middle third was impressive.
And now we have to address the cigar's controversial tip/head. The question: does it have a sweetened tip? Steve says no, and I have no reason (other than what my taste buds tell me) not to believe him. There were a lot of negatives in that sentence, but I digress... There is something going on with the tip; adding to the dilemma, this sweetness doesn't appear to be present when testing (read: licking) the cigar's mid-section. Steve insists it is a product of the high-grade tobacco he settled on and the fermentation process used. All I know is that it’s cloyingly sweet at the beginning. It was sweet to the point that I could lick my lips and taste a sugary sweetness. That sweetness fades over the first inch or so, but it is definitely there. Frankly, that sweetness got in the way of me enjoying the first third of the cigar. I’ve smoked three of these (and a fourth as I am writing this) and the experience was the same every time. I suggest you smoke it for yourself and come to your own conclusions—it simply has to be experienced first-hand.
- Construction and draw are impressive
- Middle third is tasty and complex
- Distracting sweetness from the cigar's head
- Lackluster beginning and end
- Price point