Last August, Scandinavian Tobacco Group announced a new series of limited edition Diesel cigars focused on Nicaraguan tobacco and blended by Abdel “AJ” Fernandez and Justin Andrews, senior brand manager of Diesel. Named Sunday Gravy, the series comprises individual blends released seasonally and sold for a limited amount of time, each of which is intended to have an MSRP under $5 per cigar. Each cigar released so far has been named after Italian-American cuisine, a nod to Andrews’ heritage.
The first release in the Sunday Gravy Series was San Marzano, a 6 x 54 toro with an MSRP of $4.99 that arrived on store shelves in August 2021. The company added the Sunday Gravy Pecorino to the series in October 2021, a 5 x 56 robusto gordo also priced at $4.99 each.
In February, Diesel began shipping the third addition to the series named Sunday Gravy Rosamarino, a 6 x 50 toro. Like the previous two blends in the series, the Rosamarino features an MSRP of $4.99 and is made at Tabacalera AJ Fernandez Cigars de Nicaragua S.A.; however, unlike those cigars, it is a Nicaraguan puro incorporating a habano wrapper, a habano binder from Condega, and filler tobaccos sourced from the Condega, Estelí and Ometepe growing regions.
“When AJ and I develop blends for the Sunday Gravy series, we bring our opinions to the table, and we go head to head on which tobaccos we’re going to use,” said Justin Andrews, new business development manager of STG North American Branded and Rest of World divisions, in a press release. “Ultimately, AJ wins when it comes to delivering a bold smoke, and I get my way when it comes to delivering on balance. With Rosamarino we’ve shown how the optimal ratio of tobaccos in a blend can deliver a cigar that can appeal to a wide range of cigar smokers.”
On April 1, Diesel released the fourth addition to the Sunday Gravy Series, a 5 1/4 x 45 parejo named Gabagool that is priced at $4.99 and will be sold through the end of May.
There are currently four different releases in Diesel’s Sunday Gravy Series:
- Sunday Gravy San Marzano (6 x 54) — August 2021
- Sunday Gravy Pecorino (5 x 56) — October 2021
- Sunday Gravy Rosamarino (6 x 50) — February 2022
- Sunday Gravy Gabagool (5 1/4 x 45) — April 2022
- Cigar Reviewed: Diesel Sunday Gravy Rosamarino
- Country of Origin: Nicaragua
- Factory: Tabacalera AJ Fernandez Cigars de Nicaragua S.A.
- Wrapper: Nicaragua (Habano)
- Binder: Nicaragua (Habano)
- Filler: Nicaragua
- Length: 6 Inches
- Ring Gauge: 50
- Vitola: Toro
- MSRP: $4.99 (Pack of 10, $49.90)
- Release Date: February 2022
- Number of Cigars Released: Undisclosed
- Number of Cigars Smoked For Review: 3
Both positively and negatively, there is not much about the exterior of the Sunday Gravy Rosamarino to make it stand out in my humidor: the wrapper is a smooth cinnamon brown color with very few veins visible. Two of the three cigars are quite firm when squeezed, but the third has quite a bit more give to it as well as a large soft spot just above the foot. The aromas from the wrapper are all quite similar and include relatively faint notes of earth, wood, leather, cocoa nibs and coffee beans. When I bring the foot of each to my nose, the scents become more distinct, and I can pick out dense dark chocolate, oak, gritty earth, almonds and hay. After straight cuts, the cold draws bring flavors of strong raisin sweetness, creamy oak, black pepper, hay, baking spices and light cinnamon.
The profile of the Rosamarino starts out well enough for two of the samples with bitter espresso beans and spice in the first three puffs morphing into main flavors of oak and earth. Additional notes of hay, coffee beans, leather, cocoa nibs, toasted bread and a light vegetal flavor flit in and out at various points, while the retrohale features a small amount of both black pepper and raisin sweetness. Unfortunately, one of the cigars not only has some major trouble getting lit but also features an extremely loose draw caused by a massive hole in the filler—see more on that below—that results not only in a very bitter, ashy start, but also makes it difficult for me even to get any smoke into my mouth. Flavor ends the first third just under medium, while both the body and strength are at mild plus. The other two cigars give me almost no issues at all, with nice draws, copious amounts of smoke and only one needing a correction with my lighter.
Thankfully, the hole in the filler of the problematic sample closes up just before the second third of the Diesel begins. Pretty quickly that cigar’s flavor profile turns remarkably similar to the other two cigars. The second third profile includes the same main flavors of gritty earth and oak that were present in the first third, but dry cereal and creamy almonds join the existing secondary flavor list that includes coffee beans, leather and hay. In addition, the raisin sweetness and black pepper on the retrohale noticeably increase. Flavor bumps up to a point just over the medium mark, the body is just under medium and the strength hits a solid medium. After a disastrous first third for one sample, I have no issues with construction during the second thirds of all three cigars.
In many ways, the final third of the cigar mirrors the preceding third: the main combination of oak and earth continues to reign supreme in the profile, followed by notes of coffee beans, leather, toast, hay and creamy almonds. The similarities extend to the retrohale as well, where the amount of raisin sweetness and black pepper have changed very little. As a result, flavor remains at a point just over medium, and while the body does increase slightly to hit the medium mark, the strength does not budge from the solid medium it was at when the second third end. Finally, all three samples feature the same excellent draws and plenty of smoke emanating from the foot, and while two cigars give me no issues with the burn, the last one needs two quick corrections to stay on track until I put the nub down.
- Both of my parents grew up in very small towns in rural North Carolina, so I grew up eating quite a bit of traditional southern cooking including what was probably a somewhat unhealthy amount of white gravy that was made to complement a wide variety of dishes.
- Editor’s Note: Umm. I’m not sure if Brooks knows what “Sunday Gravy” is. — CM.
- While the construction issue in my second sample mentioned above was extremely detrimental to the profile of the cigar in the first third—not to mention the final score overall—it should be noted that after the issue corrected itself and the draw improved, the flavors reverted back to what I tasted in the other two cigars.
- Interestingly, I actually experienced a very similar construction issue with another cigar recently, specifically the La Galera 85th Anniversary José Manuel Blanco’s Blend.
- For what it is worth, those two cigars are made a different factories located in different countries: the La Galera is made at Tabacalera Palma in the Dominican Republic while the Diesel is rolled at Tabacalera AJ Fernandez Cigars de Nicaragua S.A. in Nicaragua.
- General Cigar Co. advertises on halfwheel.
- The cigars for this review were purchased by halfwheel.
- Final smoking time for all three cigars averaged out to one hour and 39 minutes.
- Site sponsor Cigar Hustler has the Diesel Sunday Gravy Rosamarino on its website, but it is currently sold out.
I hate to see one third out of nine have such a large effect on a review, but that is certainly what happened with the Diesel Sunday Gravy Rosamarino. While it never featured the most complex of profiles, the main combination of oak and earth flavors was enjoyable and easy to identify the vast majority of the time. In addition, the overall construction sans the aforementioned third was above average. In the end, the major issue soured the overall experience for that one cigar, but even at its best, there are far better blends in the Diesel portfolio that I would track down before this one.