Cigars in books are nothing news, but I’ve never seen a book full of cigars done quite like this.
The Saga Short Tales Series is a planned 10-cigar series, all coming in cigar boxes designed to look like books. While this concept has been done by a variety of companies—Fuente, Habanos S.A and Tatuaje come to mind first, as do Habanos S.A.’s book releases—Saga’s offering is on a different level. The box is designed to look like a worn book and it actually contains a few paper pages with stains on them to mimic age.
As for the cigar, the first one is small but designed to pack a punch: it uses a wrapper from Jalapa, Nicaragua, an Indonesian binder and fillers including Connecticut broadleaf and habano and negrito tobaccos grown by the Reyes family, who owns De Los Reyes, parent of the Saga brand.
It comes in a single 4 x 58 vitola priced at $8.49 per cigar.
- Cigar Reviewed: Saga Short Tales: Tales of High Priming
- Country of Origin: Dominican Republic
- Factory: De Los Reyes
- Wrapper: Nicaragua (Jalapa)
- Binder: Indonesia
- Filler: Connecticut Broadleaf & Dominican Republic
- Length: 4 Inches
- Ring Gauge: 58
- Vitola: NUb
- MSRP: $8.50 (Boxes of 10, $85)
- Release Date: April 2016
- Number of Cigars Released: n/a
- Number of Cigars Smoked For Review: 3
The wrapper has nice reds in its color and a fair bit of oil. It looks pretty, though I’m not thrilled with the bands–more on that later. Aroma off the wrapper has leather, cocoa, some pepper, acidity and some strong barnyard. From the foot I pick up oatmeal, cocoa and some pepper. That carries over to the cold draw of the Saga: oatmeal, hickory, licorice, mint and an odd herbal flavor. On another sample I pick up kiwi, but it only shows itself on one cigar.
Tales of High Priming starts with cedar, some mild pepper and Kellogg’s cereal. The flavor is mild, though there certainly is a nicotine thump. It burns slowly and I make sure the heavier tobacco is evenly lit, which requires some work. Flavor-wise, it develops into sweet cocoa, hickory and some burnt meatiness over the familiar cereal note. While the flavor is medium-plus, strength is very full and body is full.
Things head in a very different direction in the second third. It’s still dominated by cedar and earthiness, but there’s now hay and some nuttiness underneath. The larger change is the nose: vanilla extract, raspberry-like sweetness and some dried seaweed. Otherwise, things are very much the same: medium-plus in flavor, full in body and with a very strong nicotine level. Construction is okay, but I really wish there was more smoke even if the Saga isn’t going out.
There’s a spiciness on the back of the throat when I swallow, but it’s not present on anything other than the finish. Things remain otherwise earthy, but the Tales of High Priming is developing a sugary sweetness underneath it. Eventually a restrained pepper kicks in, but it fades quickly. Towards the final inch there’s notes of acorns in the retrohale. Construction remains the same with smoke production lacking. For those hoping for a let up in strength, it does not happen.
- The name is a bit awkward, though with the current trend of how cigars are named, this is not particularly egregious.
- I highly recommend storing these at relative humidity levels in the low 70s. The cigar performed notably better when it had more humidity in it.
- While the boxes are fantastic, the bands leave a lot to be desired. I just don’t understand why the company spent all the effort with the boxes and didn’t create bands to match the theme.
- The company has not announced any of the additional sizes for the series.
- Strength is very full.
- De Los Reyes, parent of Saga, was previously known as Corporación Cigar Export.
- Cigars for this review were provided to halfwheel by De Los Reyes.
- Final smoking time was one hour and 40 minutes on average.
If you want a strong cigar, here’s a good candidate as Tales of High Priming is certainly strong. The flavor is enjoyable, though it’s not an extremely unique profile you can’t find elsewhere, at least flavor-wise. I think many stronger cigars fall into this category. Is Añejo a one-of-a-kind flavor profile? Not in my opinion. That being said, part of the Tales of High Priming is the fact it is so strong. It’s balanced, yet, you are certainly going to kicked. I don’t get the urges to see if a cigar can make me sweat, but I certainly know that’s what some consumers look for and for $8.50, I think this is a great option.