At the 2016 IPCPR Trade Show, Steve Saka’s Dunbarton Tobacco and Trust (DTT) showcased two projects. The first project was the “poco mas intensa” (translates to “a little more intense”) line extensions to Sobremesa. The second was his Connecticut Broadleaf line, Mi Querida. There were also several other new lines that DTT had available in extremely limited quantities. At that time, these other new lines were being offered in order to have them introduced to the market before the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA)’s August 8, 2016 regulatory deadline. By introducing these cigars prior to that date, DTT would have an extra two years to seek FDA approval on whether to keep them on the market. Earlier this year, one of those projects called Umbagog moved into a wider distribution. With Umbagog, it’s a value-priced more limited offering that traces its origins back to the Mi Querida release. Today, we take a closer look at the Umbagog in the Corona Gorda size. While a value-priced offering, it’s a cigar that delivers the quality that has been demonstrated across the DTT portfolio and is another excellent offering.
The story with Umbagog goes back to the production of Mi Querida. During the quality control process, Saka felt that some of the Connecticut Broadleaf wrapper he was using was not aesthetically up to the standards of Mi Querida. While the wrapper wasn’t as pretty as Saka would like, the tobacco was still good. Rather than discard the wrapper, Saka decided to use the wrapper for another cigar. He chose to call it “Umbagog” and sell it at a lower price. To offset costs, Saka decided to package the cigars in bundles instead of boxes. Because the amount of the less atheistic Connecticut Broadleaf wrapper tobacco is finite, the production of this cigar has been somewhat limited.
Umbagog is named for a lake located on the New Hampshire-Maine border and is a favorite fishing spot of Saka’s. Saka explains the logic for why he picked this name for this project:
Like Mi Querida, Umbagog comes from the NACSA factory in Estelí, Nicaragua. Saka has pointed out this cigar’s blend profile is not identical to Mi Querida. Umbagog uses different primings and occasional “broken” (long filler with breaks in one half of the leaf). He refers to this as his “version of an economy minded cigar” – meaning it is one he would actually smoke himself.
Wrapper: Connecticut Broadleaf
Country of Origin: Nicaragua (NACSA)
Four sizes of the Umbagog have been introduced. Each is packaged in 10-count bundles.
Corona Gorda: 6 x 48
Robusto Plus: 5 x 52
Toro Toro: 6 x 52
Gordo Gordo: 6 x 56
The Umbagog Corona Gorda’s Connecticut Broadleaf wrapper had a roasted coffee bean color. For the cigars I smoked, there was a good amount of mottling on the surface. While not a bumpy wrapper, the texture of the wrapper was slightly sandy. The wrapper also had a light coating of oil on the surface. There were some visible veins and visible wrapper seams. While these wrappers did not make the cut for Mi Querida, to my eye they didn’t appear to be “inferior”. They capture the ruggedness often associated with Connecticut Broadleaf.
The band to the Umbagog is quite simple. They have a dark sage green color with white trim. Prominently displayed on the front is the text “UMBAGOG”.
Preparation for the Cigar Experience
I commenced the cigar experience of the Umbagog Corona Gorda by using a straight cut to remove the cap. After the cap was clipped, I then moved on to the pre-light draw. The dry draw delivered a mix of chocolate, earth, floral, and cedar notes. Overall I considered this to be a very good pre-light draw. At this point, I lit up my Umbagog Corona Gorda and awaited what the smoking phase would have in store.
The start of the Umbagog Corona Gorda delivered a mix of damp/musty earth, chocolate, cedar, and white pepper. The damp earth was definitely reminiscent of the Mi Querida and like with that cigar, it worked in favor of the Umbagog. The damp earth and chocolate notes became primary early on while the cedar and pepper moved into the background. The retro-hale produced an additional layer of white pepper with some black licorice mixed in.
During the first third of the Umbagog Corona Gorda, I found the damp earth and chocolate notes alternated in intensity. There was an underlying creamy texture to the flavors. Meanwhile the pepper and cedar remained in the background. Toward the end of the first third, the white pepper on the tongue transformed to a red pepper varietal.
The second third of the Umbagog Corona Gorda saw the black licorice notes emerge in the forefront joining the damp earth. The damp earth and black licorice alternated in intensity. Meanwhile, the chocolate notes floated between the forefront and background. The red pepper and cedar remained grounded in the background. I also found the creamy texture dissipated during this stage.
Later in the second third, the damp earth notes took hold as the main primary note. The black licorice, cedar, and red pepper remained secondary flavors while the chocolate diminished. During this point, the cedar and red pepper did increase.
The last third of the Umbagog Corona Gorda saw a mix of the damp earth, cedar, and red pepper. I still got some sweetness from the licorice notes. This is the way the cigar experience came to a close. The resulting nub was firm to the touch and cool in temperature.
Burn and Draw
The Umbagog Corona Gorda has a slight amount of curvature on the burn line. There were a couple of cases where the burn wanted to meander, but this was remedied with some touch-ups. I didn’t find the amount of touch-ups to be excessive. The resulting ash was a silver-gray color with some darker speckling. This was an ash that was on the firm side. The Umbagog Corona Gorda’s burn rate and burn temperature were ideal.
The draw to the Umbagog Corona Gorda performed very well. I found this draw to be open, but not loose. There was definitely an abundant layer of smoke produced from this cigar.
Strength and Body
Out of the gate, the Umbagog Corona Gorda delivered medium to full strength. For the most part, I didn’t find much variance in the strength levels throughout the smoking experience. The flavors of the Umbagog Corona Gorda also started out medium to full, but I found they increased. By the second half, I found the cigar’s flavors to be full-bodied. During the last third, I found the increase in body to level off. This is a bold smoke that won’t knock you down for a ten count.
In terms of strength versus body, I gave the body a slight edge throughout the smoking experience.
One thing that is safe to say. If you like Mi Querida, you are going to like Umbagog. The Umbagog Corona Gorda is the same size as the Mi Querida Fino Largo. While I haven’t formally assessed the Fino Largo size, I can say there are parallels (I wouldn’t call them carbon copies) in terms of flavor profile – and both are of excellent quality. The bad news is it might be tough to find the Umbagog Corona Gordas as these have been more limited. Because it’s a bolder smoke, I recommend this cigar to a more seasoned cigar enthusiast. As for myself, this is a cigar I would smoke again – and it’s certainly worthy of a box (bundle) purchase.
Key Flavors: “Damp Earth”, Black Licorice, Chocolate, White/Red Pepper, Cedar
Burn: Very Good
Complexity: Medium to High
Strength: Medium to Full
Body: Medium to Full (1st Half), Full (2nd Half)
Assessment: 4.0-Box Worthy
News: Dunbarton Tobacco & Trust Umbagog Heads for Widespread March Release
Brand Reference: Dunbarton Tobacco and Trust
Reviewer’s Note: Some clarifying information from Saka on the blend was added. We had given the impression this was simply a wrapper change, which is not the case – nor was it meant to imply that. We apologize for any confusion.