This year may have been the worst year for a new cigar company to debut; not only was new FDA regulation of premium cigars on the horizon, but the marketplace was to be flooded by existing companies releasing vast amounts of cigars in order to get them on the market before they would need FDA approval.
That didn’t stop some companies from debuting, however, including Sacra Folium Cigar Co., the project of Boris Grossman, Matthew Airey, John Fable and Gary Podell. Grossman is the owner of Matador Cigars in Long Island, N.Y., and the group would be bringing five new lines to the IPCPR Convention & Trade Show in hopes of gaining traction amongst retailers at the cigar industry’s annual gathering.
As the group got started, they asked Dion Giolito of Illusione Cigars for advice, who recommended they travel to Honduras and work with Fábrica de Tabacos Raíces Cubanas S. de R.L., the well-known factory generally called Raíces Cubanas.
The four came up with five lines, Fractal, Golden Ratio, Law of Sines, Malus and this cigar, 4th Density. The blend names “are mathematical and geometric terms inspired by our theme of certain scholars beliefs that the universe was originally a small geometric object that became bored of itself, and thus created us in its image, therefore each and every one of us has a part of the universe in us, some call it god or energy,” said Grossman.
4th Density is a blend of Honduran and Nicaraguan tobaccos; the wrapper is a Honduran criollo 98 viso, while two binders sit beneath that: a Nicaraguan corojo 99 viso and a Honduran criollo 98 seco. Four leaves are used in the filler: a corojo ligero is the lone Honduran, while Nicaragua contributes a corojo 99 ligero and criollo 98 ligero from Jalapa, along with a criollo 98 ligero from Estelí. It is being released in two sizes, Robusto Grande (5 1/2 x 54, $10.70) and Toro Gordo (6 1/2 x 56, $11).
Its name refers to a state of consciousness, which as Grossman explained to halfwheel, “some mystic scholars refer to a higher level of consciousness, or a 4th Dimension as the 4th Density. It is suggested that the most of us currently occupy the 3rd Dimension (3rd Density), and ascension to higher dimensions can only be achieved through the constant emotion of love which vibrates at a much high energy frequency, vs. fear which keeps us in the 3rd dimension.”
- Cigar Reviewed: Sacra Folium 4th Density Robusto Grande
- Country of Origin: Honduras
- Factory: Fábrica de Tabacos Raíces Cubanas S. de R.L.
- Wrapper: Honduran Criollo 98 Viso
- Binder: Honduran Criollo 98 Seco & Nicaraguan Corojo 99 Viso
- Filler: Honduras & Nicaragua
- Length: 5 1/2 Inches
- Ring Gauge: 54
- Vitola: Robusto Grande
- MSRP: $10.60 (Box of 20, $212)
- Release Date: August 2016
- Number of Cigars Released: Regular Production
- Number of Cigars Smoked For Review: 3
The samples smoked for this review feature the fairly unique double capped perfecto with a pinhole in the foot, something you may recognize it as a technique used previously by Viaje, which also had cigars made at Raíces Cubanas factory. As you might know, the hole is there to let the cigar breathe a bit and not retain the moisture from the rolling process; otherwise it would take the residual moisture an extended period of time to depart and get the cigar into a preferred smoking state. Also, this won’t be what ends up on retail shelves as the company has chosen to slice a small amount off the foot to help the cigar breathe better while retaining its overall shape. It’s a firm cigar that has spots where a small amount of give can be found, though one sample was absolutely rock hard with no give to be found. There’s nothing inherently eye-catching about the wrapper; it’s a few shades darker than normal; coffee bean is the term that comes to mind to describe its hue, with an average number and size of veins, a fine texture to the fingers and just the slightest suggestion of oiliness. The closed foot doesn’t offer the complete package in terms of aroma, but I get some faint chocolate and room temperature coffee, the former manifesting as a brownie and the latter with a bit of acidity. The cold draw’s utility varies based on how the cigar is rolled; one sample gave me little airflow, while another gave me plenty, echoing the notes picked up by the nose but with a bit more intensity and a touch of pepper.
Even with the wrapped and capped foot, the Sacra Folium 4th Density isn’t an overpowering cigar out of the gate; it has some pepper and sweet wood, but while the visual automatically gets me thinking of some of the stronger Viaje releases that employed a the same technique, the 4th Density isn’t gunning for outright strength. The brownie note comes alive as does the pepper and there is a richness to the first few puffs. Early retrohales really vary in terms of pepper; some samples are quite mild while others are tingly and medium-plus in strength, though none became overpowering. Additionally, the cigar burns quite well in the first inch; I opted to just toast the foot as evenly as I could and let it burn normally—no cutting or punching it—and the cigar responded beautifully. The draw can be a bit tight but with a little more than average effort I’m able to get plenty of smoke from the cigar. Retrohales are very mild with just a hint of light pepper, and what is there is wrapped in a soft smoke that is quite easy on the nostrils. The ash holds on quite well, lasting at least an inch and often longer.
While I’m inclined to say that the profile of the 4th Density has largely held steady since its beginning, it does feel a tick or two fuller, or if nothing less it’s a bit more rounded out. Notes of peanut and other assorted nuts are prominent at the start of the second third, while a bit of pepper lingers on the tongue to elongate the finish. Almost on cue at the midway point, the ash breaks off and the draw of the 4th Density opens up quite well; what had been a firm draw is now almost bordering on loose. The flavor evolves quite quickly as well, picking up damp cedar and a slight twinge of bitterness, a double edged sword of evolution that has me both liking the cigar more at its good points while wishing it had simply stayed its course when it’s at its worst. Retrohales are a touch sharper than they had been though remain rooted in a generally mild core. Thought the second third, the finish also becomes much longer and more pronounced, almost coating the tongue at points and getting the salivary glands working.
If the transition from first to second third was subtle, the one from second to final third is much more pronounced, as the cigar gets much crisper and sharper on the tongue, with pepper standing out on a bit of dry and sometimes burnt firewood, while the aroma has this almost bizarre hint of peppermint that seemingly comes out of nowhere but works incredibly well. The distillation of flavors, while still enjoyable, costs the 4th Density a bit of my favor as the softness of the smoke in the first two thirds kept the cigar from getting too into my taste buds; the smoke just feels too close and too pointed in the final two inches or so. The biggest takeaway is that it has lost some of the distinctiveness that it had earlier, as now it’s more about physical sensation than actual flavor. There is still a good amount of pepper, far from heavy but decidedly pointed, while the backing notes draw on a bit of black tea, a very slight metallic undertone and fleeting amounts of black pepper that aren’t friendly to the back of the throat. The draw and burn are both fantastic, the former a bit better than the latter, but neither warrant a single complaint, and the cigar wraps up on a good note when puffed with care and patience.
- There is certainly an interesting similarity between the 4th Density’s covered foot with a pinhole, especially since it was produced at Raíces Cubanas, the same factory that produced the Viaje C-4 (2012, 2013), Zombie 2013 and Honey & Hand Grenades. This technique has since been abandoned by Viaje since it wasn’t letting enough moisture leave the cigar and was drawing complaints from smokers who wanted to light it up, but found it too damp to get a proper burn.
- Sacra Folium has also abandoned the pinhole foot idea, though about 15 boxes of them made it to market with the design in early August, and it was what was used for samples at the IPCPR Convention & Trade Show. The second batch, which had the sliced foot, shipped in early September.
- Also of note, the name sacra folium translates as sacred leaf, which is sort of close to Ezra Zion’s Blessed Leaf project, though I don’t see the religious connection with the former that I do with the latter.
- The Robusto Grand was originally listed as a 5 x 54, though I’m told the boxes say 5 1/2 x 54. I found the samples to be closer to either 5 1/4 to 5 3/8 inches in length. The ring gauge of the head shrinks down into the low to mid-40s, depending on where you choose to cut it.
- The ash on the 4th Density was as strong as I can recently recall experiencing on a cigar.
- The cigars for this review were provided by Sacra Folium Cigar Co. at the 2016 IPCPR Convention & Trade Show.
- Final smoking time was two hours and 15 minutes on average.
To say that I am pleased by the Sacra Folium 4th Density Robusto Grande is an understatement; I am downright impressed. Not only did the company take a vitola that I had written off as being more novelty than function and turn it into something that performed quite well, the blend is solid for the better part of the cigar and has several moments where it really shines. I’d love to see the final third tweaked just a bit to retain the better parts of the first two thirds, but even in its current state it is a cigar that is enjoyable from the first puff to the last. Kudos to this new company for delivering such an enjoyable cigar.