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If you’ve been following the more recent releases from De Los Reyes, particularly for the company’s Saga line, it would make sense to expect to see a new Short Tales release when you walked into the booth at the 2019 IPCPR Convention & Trade Show. Yet there wasn’t one.

Instead, an entirely new line was on display, one called Solaz.

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While this cigar with a light-colored wrapper comes doesn’t necessarily come with an interesting backstory, it does come with some explanation for it inspiration and when the company thinks is the right time to smoke it.

Even though it may sound like a morning cigar, the name is a reference to the time of day known as “the leisure after work,” and the company hopes that it will find a place in consumers’ post-work relaxation process.

It is the company’s first mild-to-medium cigar, created by way of an Ecuadorian Connecticut claro wrapper over a binder and filler grown on the Reyes family farms in the Dominican Republic. According to the company, the cigar was crafted in an attempt to retain full flavor and complexity while dialing back spiciness.

It is available in three sizes.

  • Saga Solaz Robusto (5 x 50) — $8.30 (Box of 24, $199.20)
  • Saga Solaz Churchill (7 x 48) — $9 (Box of 24, $216)
  • Saga Solaz Gordo (6 x 58) — $9.50, (Box of 24, $228)

  • Cigar Reviewed: Saga Solaz Churchill
  • Country of Origin: Dominican Republic
  • Factory: De Los Reyes
  • Wrapper: Ecuador (Connecticut)
  • Binder: Dominican Republic
  • Filler: Dominican Republic
  • Length: 7 Inches
  • Ring Gauge: 48
  • Vitola: Churchill
  • MSRP: $9 (Box of 24, $216)
  • Release Date: Sept. 2019
  • Number of Cigars Released: Regular Production
  • Number of Cigars Smoked For Review: 3

The Saga Solaz Churchill is covered by a very light shade wrapper, definitely befitting the claro description that has been used to describe it. There are a handful of veins on the wrapper and just enough color to show the seam lines, more so near the head. The wrapper has a fairly smooth texture to it, on the dry side but showing just enough natural oil to be detected by the fingers. The cigar is rolled to a fairly firm density though there is still a bit of give. That said, I’m hesitant to squeeze too hard given the fragility of such wrappers. The foot is very light and fragrant, with a dinner roll note the first thing to register. The first cigar has a bit more of a sourdough note which is more than agreeable with my preferences. Beyond that, there is a bit of very subtle green grape sweetness or a slightly herbal perfume, with little to no pepper present. The cold draw is very smooth—in one sample loose—but not big in flavor; some searching reveals a bit more of the dinner roll note along with peanuts and creaminess, though none of them are quick to jump out.

The Saga Solaz Churchill opens up with a subtle and enjoyable mix of creaminess and white pepper, followed by a bit of plain popcorn. There are a few spots where chalk and minerals come in, though they are sporadic. It’s the kind of opening I’d expect given the blend details and the cigar’s billing, though it quickly adds in more pepper to add vibrancy both on the palate and through the nose, and within the first six or seven minutes, it’s fairly clear this isn’t going to be a subdued cigar. As that flavor takes hold and the first clump of ash drops off, the cigar gives what might be the first full taste of its blend, it’s enjoyable yet feels like a mix that isn’t quite in balance. While the pepper provides a lot of brightness to the profile, the body feels a bit thin, particularly in the first sample. The ash does a good job building up and hanging on, though comes off easily after about an inch or so with a gentle tap, and the cigar is beginning to settle into an enjoyable profile, if one that’s a touch on the dry side. Pepper still sits proudly atop buttered rolls, with dry wood, plain popcorn and the occasional mineral note in the background, with the collective flavor lingering on the tongue just long enough to redirect my attention toward it. Other than a bit of a delicate wrapper and some fragile ash, the technical performance of the Solaz is quite good throughout this opening section.

The second third doesn’t veer too far from where the first third left off, though it does add a brightness that has me thinking of Altoids or similar mints due to the dryness and that it’s not as typically mint flavored as what might come to mind with that word. As the ash continues to drop, the cigar picks up a more fuller and more balanced profile, bringing back the dinner roll note, now with a bit of unsalted butter and some underlying creaminess. Pepper through the nose isn’t quite as bright as it had been earlier and doesn’t lean towards either white or black pepper, but rather provides a subtle tingle. The final puffs of this section see the cigar get gruffer, with pepper settling into the taste buds more and the flavor getting a bit charred at times. It’s still at the medium mark in terms of flavor intensity and very light in strength, with little to no nicotine effect being felt. From a technical standpoint, the cigar continues to burn quite well.

While the Saga Solaz Churchill was billed as being a different type of mild, Connecticut-wrapped cigar, the final third opens on a very familiar note. There is a bit of pepper, but the smooth creaminess is making a valiant comeback in the face of some rougher notes, while the overall flavor remains on the dry side thanks to some lingering wood that is hitting the sides of my tongue. In comparison to the more traditional Connecticut profile cigar, it is probably more flavor and intensity than what would be generally expected; whether or not that is a plus is up to the individual. For me, I appreciate the flavor, though the occasional roughness comes at a cost to the profile’s enjoyment. There’s no seeming rush for the burn line to get through the final third, and the cigar burns well all the way until the end, with the burn line staying sharp, the draw easy and smoke production more than satisfactory.

Final Notes

  • The bands on the Saga Solaz Churchill feel like they were placed just a bit higher than average, though they didn’t cause any issues.
  • Speaking of the banes, there are two bands on this cigar, though not in the configuration you might think. There is a primarily gold strip that has the Saga name die cut out of it, and that sits atop the main band , which has a space that allows the underlying tobacco to show through. It’s a unique and fairly ingenious design.
  • I have not yet smoked the other sizes of the Solaz, and while I don’t generally smoke bigger ring gauges, the Gordo would be my first choice for sake of comparison.
  • Nirka Reyes talked about the Solaz line at the 2019 IPCPR Convention & Trade Show.
  • There is very little if anything nicotine strength to be found in the Saga Solaz Churchill. The flavor does a more than sufficient job, though it stays never goes much beyond the back of the tongue and top of throat.
  • The cigars for this review were provided by De Los Reyes Cigars.
  • Final smoking time was one hour and 50 minutes on average.
88 Overall Score

Whenever I smoke a new cigar, one of the questions I seek to answer is where it might fit in my future options. There are a rare handful of cigars that merit the designation of seeking them out as soon and fervently as possible, there are some that are to be avoided at all costs, and then there is the range in the middle, which I call rotation cigars. Unless you an ardent loyalist to one brand, it would seem most people smoke a rotation of cigars, and I count myself in that group. The Saga Solaz Churchill is a cigar that I’d put in that group of rotation cigars, or at least in consideration of joining that group. If you lean to the milder end of the spectrum, this cigar makes a case to join your go-to options as it offers some vibrant pepper but minimal strength, an ideal combination for when your palate feels like a workout but you don’t want an accompanying gut punch. If you favor the fuller end of the spectrum, the Solaz is still worth trying; you may very well appreciate what it has to offer as well, particularly in the morning or for that first cigar after work. While I would like the Solaz to offer a more developed flavor profile and a bit less of a mouth-drying profile, I would have no objections to smoking the cigar again, particularly if enjoyed with the right after work beverage to soften some of those mouth drying spots and give the overall experience a bit more of a full palate experience. 

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Patrick Lagreid
About the author

I strive to capture the essence of a cigar and the people behind them in my work – every cigar you light up is the culmination of the work of countless people and often represents generations of struggle and stories. For me, it’s about so much more than the cigar – it’s about the story behind it, the experience of enjoying the work of artisans and the way that a good cigar can bring people together. In addition to my work with halfwheel, I’m the public address announcer for the Colorado Rockies and Arizona Diamondbacks during spring training, as well as for the Salt River Rafters of the Arizona Fall League, the WNBA's Phoenix Mercury and the Arizona Rattlers of the Indoor Football League. I also work in a number of roles for MLB.com, plus I'm a voice over artist. I previously covered the Phoenix and national cigar scene for Examiner.com, and was an editor for Cigar Snob magazine.

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