In 2016, Saga debuted one of the more interesting projects of recent memory. It was called Saga Short Tales, a collection of different blends and sizes all packaged in boxes that look like actual books and technically include packaging.

While unique packaging is nothing new for the cigar industry, Saga’s decision to use multiple blends and to extend it over a number of years is not how most of the winners of our Packaging Awards enter the market.

Perhaps most interesting was how the series started. I’m not sure what Saga is best known for, but “strong cigars” is definitely not it. And yet, the opening release for Short tales was Tales of High Priming, a 4 x 58 parejo. There are a lot of cigars that mention strong tobacco, normally some combination involving the word ligero, but many of them fail to live up to the moniker. That wasn’t the case with Tales of High Priming.

Here’s what I said when I reviewed the cigar in August 2016:

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.

There have been six Short Tales cigars to hit the market.

  • Cigar Reviewed: Saga Short Tales: Tales of High Priming
  • Country of Origin: Dominican Republic
  • Factory: De Los Reyes
  • Wrapper: Nicaragua (Jalapa)
  • Binder: Indonesia
  • Filler: Dominican Republic & U.S.A. (Connecticut Broadleaf)
  • 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 Redux: 1

I don’t really remember much about the Tales of High Priming other than its size and strength, but I was pleasantly surprised by the amount of oils present on the wrappers. The cigar is nearly rock hard, which is odd given that boxes in the humidor next to the Tales of High Primings didn’t have that issue. I also can’t pick up much aroma-wise despite the fact that these have been sitting in the box, though I do think these cigars are typically packaged in cellophane, so that’s probably partially to blame. Aroma from the foot is a mixture of root beer, wheat pasta, creaminess and a bit of cinnamon. The cold draw has lots of creaminess, nuttiness and some black pepper. I can already feel the chemical reaction that occurs when there’s a high amount of nicotine happening, something that isn’t totally unexpected, but the potency was certainly surprising.

Flavor-wise, I pick up toastiness and lots of red pepper—around medium-full—as soon as the smoke hits the palate, though the most noticeable feature is strength, which is still very much here. The first third of the Tales of High Priming has a core of earthiness and oatmeal with red pepper on the underside of the tongue. The cigar struggles to burn at any reasonable level, which definitely impacts my ability to pick up flavors. After about an inch and a half, things are a lot better and I can now pick up some coffee and raw sugar alongside the earthy core. The red pepper moves from the bottom of the tongue and is now on both the sides of the mouth and the back of the throat, and is still quite potent. Flavor and body are both medium-full, while strength is varying levels of strong, though declines into the final third. The coffee profile seems to head more to a burnt coffee flavor, but the star of the show is still earthiness and nicotine. The red pepper does a bit of a disappearing act and then is once again found on the bottom of the tongue, though at this point I wonder how much of it is my mind compared to the cigar.

As is often the case with super strong cigars, the burn is not great, particularly in the first inch. It never goes out, but the Saga Short Tales needs quite a bit of help to stay evenly lit. At some points, smoke production is impressive, though it’s not consistent until the midway point. I will say that knocking the first clump of ash off helps quite a bit and up and from that point until the final inch-and-a-half construction is pretty good. In the end, the cigar takes over two and a half hours to smoke and I end up putting it down with over an inch left.

87 Overall Score

I was genuinely curious to see if nearly three years of time in the humidor had taken any of the edge off of the Tales of High Priming. The answer is yes, but not by much. For the first two inches it didn’t appear that time had done much to change any part of Tales of High Priming, but by the final third there were some signs of a bit more manageable profile coming in. Where to go from here is an interesting question. After looking over my notes from the original review, which said that the cigar performed better with more humidity, my plan is to take two of my remaining cigars and place it in a humidor around 72 percent, while leaving the other two in their current 67/68 humidor. A handful of years from now, I’ll report on the experiment. For now, this remains a very strong cigar, a good cigar for $8.50, but far from the best of the Short Tales Series.

Original Score (August 2016)
Redux Score (March 2019)
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Charlie Minato

I am an editor and co-founder of Media, LLC. I previously co-founded and published TheCigarFeed, one of the two predecessors of halfwheel. I have written about the cigar industry for more than a decade, covering everything from product launches to regulation to M&A. In addition, I handle a lot of the behind-the-scenes stuff here at halfwheel. I enjoy playing tennis, watching boxing, falling asleep to the Le Mans 24, wearing sweatshirts year-round and eating gyros. echte liebe.