Bite Size Review: Saga Short Tales – Tales of the Land Cotuí
I’ve never fancied myself a storyteller. Oh, I’ve tried – and failed – hundreds of times to enthrall guests, friends and sometimes strangers face-to-face with various anecdotes and yarns with very mixed results. It seems the most robust reactions I get are typically from humorous, self-deprecating misadventures, like the first time I accidentally wandered into a busy, public women’s restroom complete with awkward glances and a shower of “sorrys.” That was fun.
Guess I just don’t have “it”, and that’s ok, so I’ll have to be content with writing down my tall tales. When you think about those times with friends, family or colleagues, sitting around nursing your favorite stogey, it’s the stories that are typically the focus. Ranging from the fanciful and macabre to the downright disheartening, stories seem to be the best pairing companion to our beloved cigars. In the end, it’s those shared tales that sew together the fabric of camaraderie.
As a tribute to our wistful narratives, Augustino Reyes and the Dominican-based De Los Reyes Cigars launched an extension to their Saga line with Short Tales in 2016. Fireside chats, dinner table prattle and pearls of wisdom passed down to the next generation are all inspiration fodder for the new line. Reyes’ initial plan was to create 10 unique blends, each in a distinctive vitola and each “…telling a different story.” Currently, six blends have been launched to date.
The second Short Tales blend launched is the TOMO II: Tales of the Land Cotuí, a thick belicoso that pays homage to the Dominican Republic’s most fertile region, with a really long name. The word “tomo” refers to the Spanish term for ‘volume’, as in encyclopedia, and one of the most unique aspects of this line is the marketing: each blend is packaged in a box made to look like an old book, even with pages covering the cigars.
Our belicoso presents in an oily, marbled milk chocolate tone with a blunt torpedo execution and a clumsy cap. The cigar is homogeneously hard and features a lumpy, but seamless roll. Aromatic caramel and a whiff of barnyard emanate from the Dominican skin while the foot foretells a chocolatey essence with fragrant cocoa powder. The draw is tight after about ¼” cut, but with an ensuing second cut of the same size, the draw opens up nicely, but with some resistance.
The prologue to our Short Tales chapter opens with an ultra-smooth mix of cream, caramel and almonds swirling around a nutty core. The sweet tang of a dark cherry essence on the retro is, well, the proverbial “cherry on top” of this delectable blend. There’s a noticeable mesquite spice on the tongue. The sumptuous draw of wood and peanuts and the long, toasty finish is a nice alliteration of flavors. Transition profiles are overtly woody, but thanks to a balanced amalgam of nougat, spice and dark chocolate this tale is a page turner till the end.
Combustion is superb for most of the smoke, but the char does get wavy at times. Our belicoso is packed tight, so she’s a slow burner and produces a strong ash. The only knock on this cigar is that the finish becomes dry and somewhat harsh in latter stages, yet maintains an interesting and enjoyable level of complexity. This is a satisfying cigar with a great price point which makes the fact that little is known of this brand and line in the US, outside of social media circles, a real head scratcher. Well, the secrets out and we’ll look forward to the other editions. – In Fumo Pax!
Did you Know: The tobacco for the wrapper is sourced from a Cotuí farm owned and operated by Monika Kelner, daughter of Davidoff’s Henke Kelner.
- Profile: Medium
- Vitola: Belicoso [TOMO II]
- Length / Ring Gauge: 5.0″x54
- Purchased: B&M
- Origin: Dominican Republic
- Wrapper: Dominican Cotui
- Binder: Indonesian Sumatra
- Filler: Dominican, Connecticut Broadleaf
- Blade: Xikar Xi1
- Fire: Colibri Firebird
- Price: $8.50
- Humidor Age: 9 mo.
- Box: 10
- Other Vitolas: TOMO I – Tales of High Primmings [4″x58], TOMO III – L.I.V. Labor Ipse Voluptas [4.25″x42], TOMO IV – L.O.V. Labor Omnia Vincit [4″x44], TOMO V – L.A.V. Laudamus Abundantia Veteres [5″x34], TOMO VI – The Sixth Element: El Tabaco [5.5″x58]
N O T E S
Smoke Time: 1:15
Draw: Semi-open [post second cut]
Construction: Marbled milk chocolate appearance; blunt belicoso execution; hard body; wonky cap; seamless; lumpy; oily; uniform girth; holds strong 1″ ash; mediocre smoke production; slow cooker.
- Wrapper – Barnyard, caramel
- Foot – Cocoa powder
- Cold Draw – N/A
- Initial: Woody draw with peanut notes; Nutty core with notes of cream, caramel, almonds and a dark cherry essence on retro; spicy mesquite notes on palate with a long toasty, nutty finish adding coffee notes late; leather notes added late.
- Transition: Oak-dominant profile back by leather, residual caramel and a light spice; toasty finish but with leather overlay; charred meat on draw; nougat notes on retro.
- Transition: Overtly warm and woody; mild caramel and peanut notes on retro; moderately harsh finish of spicy cedar and toast; more body with hints of dark chocolate.
Touch ups: N/A
- Boxworthy / Go-to
- 5 packer
- Yard ‘gar
- NR [No Recommendation]