The coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic has changed every part of life, including ones most people would never think of. One of those I bet you didn’t think it changes this is that we have had to be much more proactive in finding cigars to review. Due to stay-at-home orders, the temporary closings of cigar shops and cigar factories, and the general disruption in people’s lives, there’s just not as many new cigars hitting the market.
As such, I’m spending a lot more time looking for cigars for us to review. Some companies are still releasing new cigars, and a handful are releasing quite a few. However, just as in non-pandemic times, we don’t want to have a situation where we review every new release from a single company. I was looking over the new arrivals list at Cigars International and saw that there was a Mi Querida release that I’d never heard of: Puma Negra.
Steve Saka of Dunbarton Tobacco & Trust said that the Puma Negra isn’t new for 2020 but rather came out in the summer of 2019. It’s an exclusive to Meier & Dutch, which is the wholesale cigar arm of Cigars International. The 6 x 60 size replaced the SakaKhan, a 7 x 50 Churchill that was previously only offered through Meier & Dutch.
It’s the 11th release for the original Mi Querida line—the one with the blue and gold band—and uses the same blend as the rest of the line: a Connecticut broadleaf wrapper over a Nicaraguan binder and Nicaraguan filler.
- Mi Querida Fino Largo (6 x 48) — 2016 — Regular Production
- Mi Querida Ancho Corta (5 x 52) — 2016 — Regular Production
- Mi Querida Ancho Larga (6 x 52) — 2016 — Regular Production
- Mi Querida Muy Gordo Grande (6 x 56) — 2016 — Regular Production
- Mi Querida Gran Búfalo (7 x 64) — 2016 — Regular Production
- Mi Querida SakaKhan (7 x 50) — 2016 — Limited Production
- Mi Querida Short Gordo Grande (4 3/4 x 56) — 2016 — Limited Production
- Mi Querida Gordita (4 x 48) — 2017 — Regular Production
- Mi Querida Pequeño Pequeño (4 x 44) — 2017 — Limited Production
- Mi Querida Firecracker (3 1/2 x 50) — 2018 — 500 Boxes of 20 Cigars (10,000 Total Cigars)*
- Mi Querida Puma Negra (6 x 60) — 2019 — Limited Production
- Cigar Reviewed: Mi Querida Puma Negra
- Country of Origin: Nicaragua
- Factory: Nicaragua American Cigars S.A.
- Wrapper: U.S.A. (Connecticut Broadleaf)
- Binder: Nicaragua
- Filler: Nicaragua
- Length: 6 Inches
- Ring Gauge: 60
- Vitola: Gordo
- MSRP: $12.50 (Box of 10, $125)
- Release Date: July 2019
- Number of Cigars Released: Regular Production
- Number of Cigars Smoked For Review: 3
If I were to guess without measuring, I’d say this is a 58 ring gauge or something just below 60 ring gauge. That being said, this is a heavy cigar and feels quite dense to the touch. The wrapper has great oils with mild discoloration and some spider web-like veins at various points fo the cigar. This particular box of cigars is a bit lighter than the last box of Mi Querida I’ve opened, or at least that’s what I think without doing a side-by-side comparison like the one above. These cigar shave been out of cellophane for roughly a month and there’s not much in the way of aroma from the wrapper just some leather. The foot has a nice mixture of hickory, chocolate, a bit of beef jerky and a touch of sweetness. It’s the type of smell I’d be happy to encounter if I walked into an old school steakhouse. The cold draw is rather sharp with chocolate syrup, a bit of a soapy hop flavor and some apples. All three cigars have a draw that is a bit tighter than I’d expect for this size.
The draw of the Puma Negra starts out a bit tighter than this ring gauge should feel, but the smoke production—both in the mouth and off the foot—is massive. There’s some pizza dough, leather and earthiness; all of which are quite smooth. Almost an hour in and the first third is more or less finished. The flavor is dominated by a damp earth over some sourdough and a half and half-like creaminess. Retrohales have pistachio with a lot of sweeter accents underneath—apple pie and a McDonald’s Polynesian sauce at times—and some earthiness. The finish is like a loaf of sourdough with some minerals and a bit of Thai basil. Flavor is medium-full, body is full and strength is medium-full, though every once in a while a puff delivers a lot more strength than medium-full. Construction is fantastic.
That sourdough flavor disappears and is replaced by a pizza crust flavor, which is now competing with an increasing earthiness. There’s some lemon, sawdust, creaminess, a mineral flavor and some harshness. Retrohales have an overly salty sunflower seed flavor along with some of the mineral flavors. The Mi Querida’s finish now tastes like a watered-down lemonade mixed with some earthiness. Flavor is full, body is full and strength is medium-full, though given that I’m two hours into the cigar, the effects of the strength are apparent. Construction is great with tons of smoke production, an easy draw and a slow, but very even burn.
I’m pleasantly surprised to find creaminess entering the final part of the cigar. It really helps to bring the Mi Querida Puma Negra to a close and helps to balance out the increased mineral flavors. That generic harshness remains, now joined by a candy corn flavor. Retrohales are challenging to pick up because the smoke production in the mouth has decreased and the temperature of the smoke is much hotter. There’s some of the candy corn, but it’s largely a lot of earthiness. The finish has lots of peanuts that drown out the chances of me identifying any other specific flavor. On puffs where I take a retrohale, there’s some cinnamon added to the peanut mixture. Flavor is full, body is medium-full and strength is probably still medium-full, but it might as well be full thanks to the effects of smoking this cigar for nearly three hours. Construction remains terrific outside of the decreased volume of smoke that enters the mouth.
- Steve Saka told me that the 7 x 50 Churchill size might return for a special project in the future though it’s unlikely that will happen this year.
- Keen-eyed observers will note that there are three Mi Querida sizes that come in 10-count boxes, and all of them are exclusives to big catalog retailers.
- I can’t figure out whether I would say this cigar is “easy to smoke.” The construction is great and the flavors are pretty easy to figure out but it always feels like the cigar is a few moments away from getting a lot more aggressive than it actually tastes and that thought lingers with me throughout the cigar.
- I have really tried to avoid bring up Drew Estate, the company Saka worked for before going out on his own, in reviews of Dunbarton Tobacco & Trust. That being said, this cigar has smoke production that is reminiscent of Liga Privadas: absolutely tons of smoke, albeit not that blue-colored smoke that Liga Privadas oftentimes have. I would have made this comparison regardless of Saka’s work history.
- Construction was excellent throughout my nine hours of smoking these cigars. One cigar needed a touch-up but otherwise, the routine was cut the cigar, light it once, enjoy.
- I’m always a bit surprised when a company opts to make a 6 x 60 a retailer exclusive. It’s one of the more popular sizes in the modern American market and I imagine a lot of retailers would love to carry this cigar. This is the second example of this when it comes to Dunbarton Tobacco & Trust, the 6 x 60 Sin Compromiso Selección No. 6 is an exclusive for Corona Cigar Co.
- Your local shop could carry this cigar as Meier & Dutch sells to other stores.
- General Cigar Co., a sister company of Cigars International, advertises on halfwheel.
- Cigars for this review were purchased by halfwheel.
- Final smoking time averaged two hours and 45 minutes on average.
We don't factor price into reviews, but after smoking three cigars and seeing the $12.50 price I thought: exactly what it should be. The Puma Negra is neither the most complex nor the best of the Mi Querida line but it's what I'd want this 6 x 60 to deliver: excellent construction, big flavors and a cigar that packs a punch. I've put one in my redux box and am looking to seeing what 18 or so months do to this cigar because the flavors aren't as crisp as the best sizes of this line.