Bite Size Review: Kafie 1901 Sumatra
Some things just don’t pair well. I’m not talking about pickles and ice cream or ketchup and corn flakes (second hand accounts only, thank you), just certain things you’d think would complement one another that end up being a dud. Cuban cigars are wonderfully complex with nuances that are difficult to replicate, yet easy to overpower and many like to pair Cuban cigars with Rum.
I’m not a big Rum drinker so this weekend with friends, I paired a favorite bourbon (on the fruity side) with a Cuban Partagas Serie D No. 4 and it was a disaster. The bourbon’s profile just bulldozed the medium-bodied No. 4 all but obliterating the familiar complexity we all love. Probably could have guessed…note to self.
This got me ruminating about complexity and the importance of pairing Sumatran tobacco correctly. Sumatran tobacco, particularly from Ecuador, can be very flavorful and complex when blended correctly with a choice binder. The tobacco has gained in popularity over the years and yet as a wrapper Sumatra is considered, as one insider quipped, “the fifth Beatle” of wrappers. Cigar makers like Fuente, Carrillo, Blanco and Gomez have used Ecuadorian Sumatran wrappers to great success, but will always warn, it’s not a “one size fits all.”
This success wasn’t lost on relative newcomer, Dr. Gaby Kafie and his Honduran-based Kafie 1901 Brands, who in the Fall of 2017, released their own take on a Sumatra-wrapped cigar. The Tegucigalpa native launched Kafie 1901 Brands in 2013 and in about 6 years has launched 4 lines and recently opened his own factory, Tabacalera G. Kafie y Cia, in Danlí, Honduras. The Sumatra was launched alongside his critically-acclaimed Connecticut and Maduro blends and his goal is to produce around 150,000 handmade premium cigars a year. You won’t find these babies online as Dr. Kafie takes great pride in only selling to the Brick and Mortar set.
Do yourself a favor and ogle this cigar in natural, outdoor light. I immediately thought. “wow, graham cracker pie crust”. The matte and toothy wrapper cloaks a 3-country blend, is soft to the touch and sports a nice triple cap. The cigar features a uniform give throughout its length and is very aromatic. Among a lusty wash of chocolate overtones lurks notes of barnyard and apricot. The cold draw is tight initially, but this would improve nicely over time.
The initial profile doesn’t disappoint as a leathery nucleus emerges that balances notes of salted caramel and cherry with hints of salt and white pepper. All this is tied together with a rich finish of toast and coffee bean. The profile takes on a smokier character late as notes of charred meat play peek-a-boo. The cigar produces clouds of sinewy smoke and combustion is aces. After a transition, a woody core emerges coupled with a swirling mix of cedar, vanilla and coffee notes. There is a noticeable fruity essence punctuated by residual cherry notes and the overall texture is toasty.
Unfortunately, this is where the ride ends as what follows is a one-dimensional mix of oats and pinewood overshadowed by an explosion of spice. I love spice, but this concentration just overpowers whatever complexity is there – much like my bourbon misadventure. Performance wise – draw, combustion, integrity – the cigar is near perfect which makes me shake my head in frustration as this cigar was delicious, satisfying and at a sub-$9 price point, a sure thing for “go to” status. Not all is lost as there is still a lot to like here and I would definitely recommend keeping a fiver or two around. – In Fumo Pax!
Recommendation: 5 Packer
Did you Know: Dr. Kafie was a practicing specialist in sports medicine before his full-time foray into making his own premium cigars.
- Profile: Med-Full
- Vitola: Robusto
- Length / Ring Gauge: 5.0″ x 50
- Purchased: *
- Origin: Honduras
- Wrapper: Ecuadorian Sumatra
- Binder: Honduran Habano
- Filler: Nicaraguan, Dominican
- Blade: Xikar Xi1
- Fire: Colibri Firebird
- Price: $8.75
- Humidor Age: 10 mo.
- Box: 20
- Other Vitolas: VI Sixty [6″x60], Toro Bello [6″x54], Torpedo [6.5″x52]
* 99 Cigars typically pays for all cigars; however, cigars were provided by Kafie 1901 Brands in exchange for complimentary advertising.
N O T E S
Smoke Time: 1:01
Draw: Tight – improves
Construction: Toothy; matte finish; sturdy feel throughout; visible seams; veiny; piecrust complexion; triple cap; holds 1″+ ash; voluminous smoke production.
- Wrapper – Milk Chocolate, Barnyard
- Foot – Milk chocolate
- Cold Draw – Apricot
- Initial: Leathery, caramel core; salt and white pepper on palate; mix of salted caramel, leather and sweet cherry on retro; nice finish of coffee bean and toast; hints of charred meat on retro and smoky oats on draw.
- Transition: Woody profile with overt cedar notes; notes of vanilla and coffee; some caramel and cherry notes carry over; finish remains toasty with a coffee overlay; there’s a fruity essence on retro; noticeable increase in spice.
- Transition: Bold mish mash of heavy oats and pinewood; spice bomb!
Complexity: Very Good
Touch ups: N/A
Weaknesses: Only 2 discernible profiles; draw begins tight, but improves
Recommendation: 5 Packer
- 5 packer
- Yard ‘gar
- NR [No Recommendation]