Behind The Stick:
If you are an active member within the Facebook Cigar Community, chances are in your favor that you have spoken to – or heard of – Riste Buc. Without going into who he is too much – being a fellow computer “geek” and lover of the leaf, he and I have had a few conversations here and there about the industry, cigar profiles or even the occasional technical joke. When out of the blue he commented that he had created his own cigar and wanted me to try it, I have to admit I was taken back. Most people who approach the daunting task of blending and creating their own cigar for production are closer to 50 than they are to 30 – a snapshot of his background and experience within the industry shows that age truly is just a number. Focusing on creating a cigar ‘I would want to smoke every day” – Riste has put almost every cigar smokers dream to reality – creating your own cigar.
Starting with a Nicaraguan Puro core – a combination of Jalapa and Esteli Nicaraguan tobacco’s meet a ’98 Nicaraguan Criollo binder forming the baseline of what is known as “Jas Sum Kral” – a Macedonian phrase translated to “I Am King”. Rounding out the binder and filler combination, an almost velvety smooth Nicaraguan Habano wrapper is added along with a pigtail cap giving this unbanded pre-release smoke a true ‘Cubanisque’ feel from appearance alone. Being released in bundles of 12, this boutique minded cigar has been produced not for the sake of making a quick buck or putting a name out there – but to create something true to the soul and passion of it’s maker, something that really is contagious if you get the chance to speak with it’s creator. Enough of that – Onto the review!
Size: 5 x 52 Robusto
Wrapper: Nicaraguan Habano
Binder and Filler: ’98 Nicaraguan Criollo, Jalapa and Esteli Nicaraguan
Price: Undisclosed ( pre-release )
Factory / Country of Origin: Undisclosed / Nicaraguan
Release Type: Boutique as Fuck
Release Date: July/August 2015
A velvety and oily milk chocolate brown wrapper holds a Nicaraguan core of tobacco – evenly packed from head to foot the cigar is ‘similar yet different’ to the large number of competitors within the Nicaraguan Puro market. Cubanisque in texture, feel, appearance and sporting a pig tail cap that opened the draw perfectly without the need for a cutter – the Jas Sum Kral took to flame without issue and burned consistently from start to finish. There is not much more to say – it did not unravel, it didn’t break apart and there were no burn issues. So Far, So Good.
Always the most important part – how does the cigar taste?! Without belaboring it too much – good… very good. Starting out with a light wood and nut backbone combination, a sweet almost honey like undertone started to show itself more and more, aided by a light white pepper on the retrohale that gave this naturally sweet tone a bit of pizazz and balance that otherwise may have been lacking. Once the cigar had a chance to open up with smoke production and about an inch in – there was a very unique yet enjoyable transition from roasted nuts to hazelnuts to a clearly defined almond flavor. As if this first third has not been dynamic enough – a slight but noticeable savory earth and leather combination joined the almonds and white pepper blending together to be much more complex than I originally had expected.
The second third really does not carry that large of a change, the dynamics from the first third – while not present at this time – maintain the level of refinement and enjoy ability that you’ve already grown accustomed to. The earth and leather base accompanied by the honey sweetness and the white pepper retrohale are only accentuated by an even more in-depth flavor combination specific to nuts, hazelnut and almond.
The final third is where this cigar really shines – not for the dynamics but for ‘doing things right’. In conversation with Riste while smoking the cigar, I had commented how the smoke and feel had taken on a ‘buttery’ consistency, larger and thicker volumes of smoke being produced with every puff. The term “Butterville” was used more than once to explain the redefined dynamics from before all with a little darker, deeper and more savory overall tone. The end of this cigar slowly began to lose it’s flavorful push, resulting in a cigars version of ‘fade to black’.
With so many cigars in the world and with so many of those cigars being exceptional – it is hard to really pin point what makes a cigar a ‘gourmet burger’ vs a ‘McDonalds burger’ but there is something about the Jas Sum Kral that just puts it into a different category than other ‘similar’ Nicaraguan Puros. Just like when you pick a spot for your business, location is everything and that includes the specific locations and types of tobacco you are using when producing cigars. I have spoken with Riste about the various transitions and blends he went through in attempts to blend this cigar and about the various flavor profiles he had to work with to allow certain flavors to shine while muting other that may overpower the blend.
For me – it is not only how well the cigar performs, the cost associated, the flavors one can pick up on or the overall ‘experience’ of the cigar – it is also about the history and the story of the cigar itself. As I had eluded to before, if you get a chance to speak with Riste his passion and love for the leaf is clearly evident and contagious. The cigar itself has encapsulated this feeling and turned it into a very real and tangible expression – literally after my first cigar I asked Riste if I could buy a few, not only to hold onto but to allow the other members of The Cigar Nut the opportunity to experience this cigar. Hint hint Riste… I want more..
With pre-release cigars I always get a little sketchy, you never know if the blend will stay the same or if the ‘pre-release’ blend is the last iteration of blends before the final ‘production’ blend. I have been promised that there are going to be no further changes, just age and rest to the cigars before sale. To say I am excited would be an understatement
Every Cigar Has A Story, Every Smoke A Memory