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Not that long ago, I was listening to a podcast that spent some time on the word nostalgia, but stressed something that I had largely overlooked about the word. Not only does it indicate a fondness  or longing for something of the past, but there is also an aspect of pain that can accompany that for something that is no longer around.

I bring that up because there is some tie-in to the Sobremesa Brûlée line from Steve Saka and Dunbarton Tobacco & Trust, who said he created it in an attempt to recreate the Connecticut cigars of the past. When the line was announced, Saka said that he had always been reluctant to attempt to tackle the project, as there are were already so many classic Connecticuts in the marketplace and he felt that the major of his consumers couldn’t care less for the style. “But I started resmoking many of the mainstays,” he said, adding that somewhere over the years they just become too bitter and grassy.

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The line uses an Ecuadorian Connecticut shade G2BW wrapper over a Mexican Matacapan negro de temporal binder and four different Nicaraguan fillers: Condega C-SG, Pueblo Nuevo criollo, La Joya Estelí C-98 and ASP Estelí hybrid ligero. Saka described the blend as the milder incarnation of the Sobremesa liga, a change that was brought about by removing half a strip of Pennsylvania ligero and cutting back on the ASP-grown ligero, replacing them with seco from Nicaragua’s Condega region. The result is a change from coffee note to mocha or caramel. Additionally, the Ecuador wrapper adds sweetness and nuttiness to complement the overall profile, with the sum of all the parts delivering a richness and density that most Connecticut cigars on the market don’t have.

It debuted at the 2019 IPCPR Convention & Trade Show with three vitolas, and in early April 2020, Dunbarton Tobacco & Trust began shipping the fourth size of the Sobremesa Brûlée line, a 7 x 54 Double Corona.

  • Sobremesa Brûlée Robusto (5 1/4 x 52) — $12.45 (Box of 13, $161.85)
  • Sobremesa Brûlée Toro (6 x 52) — $13.45 (Box of 13, $174.85)
  • Sobremesa Brûlée Gordo (6 1/4 x 60) — $13.95 (Box of 13, $181.35)
  • Sobremesa Brûlée Double Corona (7 x 54) — $13.95 (Box of 13, $181.35)

It won’t be the last vitola in the line, as Saka has already announced that a limited edition 6 1/4 x 46 corona larga called Sobremesa Brûlée Blue is on the way, but delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the effects it has had on travel and other factors. It had been slated to be released at the 2020 PCA Convention & Trade Show, though that event has been canceled.

  • Cigar Reviewed: Sobremesa Brûlée Double Corona
  • Country of Origin: Nicaragua
  • Factory: Fabrica de Tabacos Joya de Nicaragua S.A.
  • Wrapper: Ecuador (Connecticut)
  • Binder: Mexico (Matacapan negro de Temporal)
  • Filler: Nicaragua (Condega C-SG, Pueblo Nuevo Criollo, Estelí C-98 & Estelí Hybrid Ligero)
  • Length: 7 Inches
  • Ring Gauge: 54
  • Vitola: Double Corona
  • MSRP: $13.95 (Box of 13, $181.35)
  • Release Date: April 2020
  • Number of Cigars Released: Regular Production
  • Number of Cigars Smoked For Review: 3

The lighter wrapper on the Sobremesa Brûlée Double Corona makes it seem a bit less imposing of a cigar than it actually is, but at 7 x 54 there’s no way to really avoid its size. The wrapper is an attractive, lightly tanned hue that’s not quite golden and not quite sandy. I could make the argument for the latte color, though I haven’t had one in so long I’m not sure it would be accurate. It’s a somewhat veiny wrapper; they are very small but still visible, as are the seams on occasion. The cigar is either firm or very firm, with a bit of give that I’m not inclined to challenge given the wrapper. Aroma off the foot is buttery at first sniff and somewhat toasty immediately after, leading me to think of someone handing me a piece of toast that they’d already buttered but wasn’t likely to eat. It isn’t an overly sweet note, at least not any sweeter than what I think of butter normally. There are also occasional touches of black pepper and a caramel sauce that I can’t quite place. Air moves pretty well on the cold draw; while I thought the first sample might have been a bit loose, I think it was the volume that surprised me. Otherwise there are no problems, with one a tick firm. There’s a bit of saltine cracker, sporadic amount of caramel and some more of the butter note, though I pick up more oiliness than sweetness. When I take the cigar out of my mouth on all three of the samples, I get an unmistakable sweetness on my tongue and lips that seems to be rehash the most debated accusation about the Sobremesa Brûlée line and certainly doesn’t clarify anything.

The sweetness from the cap is very fleeting, with just enough of whatever it is to offer a single encounter. Instead, I’m greeted by movie theater buttered popcorn and a good amount of white pepper, while retrohales are fuller and leaning more towards black pepper, though a bit of creaminess buffers the sensation. An early retrohale reveals a good amount of pepper, initially white pepper dominant but quickly shifting to a heavier profile. Before the first clump of ash drops, something in the smoke begins irritating the back of my throat, yet also has the side of my tongue salivating, an interesting combination as for a few puffs the profile was beginning to dry out. I’m a bit surprised to be getting as much black pepper from this cigar, though that seems to be due to frequent retrohales; keeping the smoke out of my nose results in a softer profile that is still somewhat buttery and now has a bit of the same sweetness I found on my lips during the cold draw, though now it is solely part of the flavor. It’s almost instinctual for me to retrohale every few puffs, though I’m not sure that’s resulting in the ideal experience, as the interplay between nose and palate isn’t quite harmonious. It’s often been written that if you’re not retrohaling, you’re not getting the full experience of a cigar; that’s the case here, though I’m not sure the combination is the ideal experience. Construction is very good, smoke production is good though no match for a nearby fan, while the burn line is even and draw is problem-free.

The second third of the Sobremesa Brûlée Double Corona starts by adding a bit of soft bread to the profile for the palate, an addition that is right in line with where things have been so far. It’s the beginning of a drier profile, as the bread includes some of crust flavors as well, which elicit a bit of a mouth-drying sensation, even though a quick inspection reveals my mouth isn’t actually dry. Whatever sweetness was found earlier is either gone or close to it when it comes to the palate, but a bit of creaminess appears in retrohales, reminding me of condensed milk. By the midpoint in all three cigars, I find myself contemplating where this cigar sits on the spectrum; flavor is around medium, although the pepper can kick that up a bit. Body is back to medium as well after being a bit thicker, though it seems like a momentary stop on its journey, while strength is medium-minus and probably the most definitive aspect. Construction remains essentially flawless, with ash coming off cleanly in dense, inch-long chunks, leaving an even burn line while smoke production, draw and combustion are all fantastic.

After some brief flirting with a dry mint flavor, the final third of the Sobremesa Brûlée Double Corona sees the flavor get distinctly drier, introducing a lumberyard woodiness that is a new addition to the profile. While it’s not completely gone, the butter, creaminess and sweetness from earlier is playing only a minor role at this point, though there is still some toast in the mix. Black pepper has migrated to the palate, with the profile now medium-plus in intensity. While doesn’t come out completely, I find myself wanting to write vanilla at several points during the review, so here is as good a point as any as it is back in the mix. The final third doesn’t lose its ability to deliver flavors to the palate, though they don’t seem as diverse and deep as the blend exhibited earlier, staying in fairly familiar territory with wood, black pepper and toast, which places it alongside the more typical Connecticut profile, albeit it with more flavor intensity. The cigar finishes medium-plus in flavor, medium in body and medium-minus in strength with still beautiful construction all around.

Final Notes

  • I might be seeing things, but I swear there was an imprint of the band on the wrapper of one of the cigars.
  • I’m a bit more surprised that I don’t hear the term brûlée in more flavor descriptions, as it would seem a fairly achievable and familiar flavor.
  • I can’t say this enough, but the construction on this cigar was essentially flawless.
  • The as-yet-unreleased Sobremesa Brûlée Blue vitola has me intrigued, mainly because Saka maintains that it’s a project for the cigar geek in him and he doesn’t think will it be a big seller. For what it’s worth, I really like that vitola and would love to see that as the seemingly default choice as opposed to the thicker toro vitola.
  • There will be a sampler released in August that will seemingly address—and hopefully resolve—the ongoing debate about whether or not the Sobremesa Brûlée line uses a sweetened cap. Dubbed Saka’s Taste for U’rself Sampler!!!, or STFU!!!, it will contain five cigars, three of which will be regular Sobremesa Brûlée Toros, along with one Sobremesa Brûlée Toro that has a sweetened cap, and one more that has a double sweetened cap. Each cigar will have a code on it, either S, T, F, U, or !, and Saka says that on Sept. 15, 2020 he will reveal which cigar was which.
  • For the record, Saka has said numerous times that the Sobremesa Brûlée does not have a sweetened tip and that whatever sweetness is being tasted is simply a natural component of the tobacco.
  • I do not doubt Saka that this cigar does not have a sweetened cap. That said, I can not recall tasting anything like what I get on my tongue and lips from that first cold draw that didn’t come from a sweetened cigar.
  • The Sobremesa Brûlée Double Corona offered about as little nicotine strength as I’ve had from a cigar in recent memory, which is perfectly fine with me. While I’m not opposed to some strength, I’m steadily becoming less enthralled with the idea of feeling woozy.
  • The cigars for this review were purchased by halfwheel.
  • Final smoking time was one hour and 55 minutes on average.
  • Site sponsors Atlantic Cigar Co., Cigar Huslter, Famous Smoke Shop, JR Cigar  carry the Sobremesa Brûlée Double Corona. Corona Cigar Co. and STOGIES World Class Cigars carry the other sizes in the line but do not list the Double Corona.
87 Overall Score

As I sat down to write this, I had it in my mind that the Sobremesa Brûlée Double Corona simply might not be the best vitola to show off what the blend has to offer, a thought that came to mind after thinking back to enjoying both the Robusto and Toro vitola in non-review experiences. Yet then I remember that this isn't that much different from the Toro vitola, just an inch longer and two ring gauge thicker. Yet for some reason, I didn't get the same experience that I recall from those sizes. The flavors are still enjoyable, yet for whatever reason it seems to have lost some of the density and overarching sweetness that the other sizes offered, which cleared the way for more pepper, wood and toast, which are all fine flavors but not what is going to help this size stand out from its competitors. I certainly wouldn't shy away from this blend, and as noted above, am very intrigued to see what a 46 ring gauge will offer. Maybe there's just a tipping point when it comes to this blend and certain ring gauges, and while close, the Double Corona is just a step on the wrong side of that line.

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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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