Muestra de Saka Unicorn Nacatamale by Dunbarton Tobacco & Trust

Muestra de Saka Unicorn Nacatamale by Dunbarton Tobacco & Trust

Just prior to the 2017 IPCPR Trade Show, Dunbarton Tobacco and Trust announced it was putting into widespread release the second installment of its Muestra de Saka series, the Muestra de Saka Nacatamale. The Muestra de Saka line is a limited production line where it follows a model of “one size, one blend”. Dunbarton Tobacco & Trust founder Steve Saka has also said these are ligas he considers to be personal challenges in terms of the blending series. The first Muestra de Saka,  the Muestra de Saka Excluivo, was released earlier in 2017. Today, we take a closer look at the second installment, the Muestra de Saka Nacatamale.

Saka has described the Muestra de Saka series as follows:

“Muestra is the humble, common word for ‘sample’ in Spanish, however it takes on much more important, sometimes reverential, meaning when used in a handmade cigar factory. A muestra is the vision of the ligador and torcedor realized, it is the promise of a new experience and possibly the key to financial success for the fabrica. Muestras are hoarded and coveted by not only their makers, but by the cigar smokers who seek to catch a glimpse into the cigarmaker’s soul within their smoke”. Muestra de Saka is just that. A line of unique blends and vitolas made in extremely limited quantities that reflect the blending machinations of myself. To smoke a Muestra de Saka is to embark upon a journey with me in which I greatly welcome your companionship.”

As for the Nacatamale, Saka explained the background on this project:

“The Nacatamale is the second frontmark in the line. What made this cigar a unique blending challenge was I went “viejo granja” style with it. For over a century most cigars’ entire filler recipes were comprised of just one farm’s tobacco and any complexity was introduced by extremely careful leaf processing, selection and positioning within the bunch. Whereas these days we have hundreds of ingredients to work and blend with to create interesting and satisfying ligas. So, the challenge was to see if I could make an ‘old farm’ style liga that could hold its own with the modern blends created today. This cigar is considerably more robust than the Exclusivo and since this puro’s tripa are all from just one small, independent farm in Jalapa, Nicaragua, I will not be disclosing the name of the vega. However, I will say it is simply sublime.”

As for the name, Nacatamale refers to a traditional Central America dish that is used for special occasions. It includes items such as pork, potatoes, peppers, tomatoes, onions, and rice wrapped around a corn mesa.

Without further ado, let’s break down the Muestra de Saka Nacatamale and see what this cigar brings to the table.

Blend Profile and Vitolas Available

The challenge Saka sought to overcome with the Muestra de Saka Nacatamale was to construct a blend that featured Nicaraguan tobaccos from a single farm. Saka is not disclosing the specific farm or seed origins these tobaccos come from.

Muestra de Saka Nacatamale

The Nicaraguan tobaccos in the blend come from the same farm. As with the other cigars in the Muestra de Saka line, the Nacatamale is produced at the Joya de Nicaragua factory in Estelí, Nicaragua.

Wrapper: Ecuadorian Habano
Binder: Nicaraguan (single farm)
Filler: Nicaragua (single farm)
Country of Origin: Nicaragua (Fabrica de Tabacos Joya de Nicaragua S.A.)
Short Churchill: 6 x 48

Consistent with the Muestra de Saka line, each Muestra de Saka Nacatamale cigar comes packaged in an individual coffin. There are seven coffins available per box.

Muestra de Saka Nacatamale by Dunbarton Tobacco & Trust-Coffin

Coffin packaging of the Muestra de Saka Nacatamale

Muestra de Saka Nacatamale

Box packaging of the Muestra de Saka Nacatamale

For completeness, we include the other installments of the Muestra de Saka series put into widespread release. As mentioned, Nacatamale was preceded by the Muestra de Saka Exclusivo.  Since the release of Nacatamale, a third installment – the ultra premium Muestra de Saka Unicorn has been released. The Unicorn is a cigar that has a suggested retail price of $100.00 per cigar.

Muestra de Saka Exclusivo

The Exclusivo features tobacco from the four main growing regions of Nicaragua: Condega, Estelí, Jalapa, and Ometepe.

Wrapper: Ecuadorian Habano
Binder: Nicaraguan
Filler: Nicaraguan
Country of Origin: Nicaragua (Fabrica de Tabacos Joya de Nicaragua S.A.)
Toro: 6 x 52

Muestra de Saka Unicorn

The Unicorn is a project that incorporates some of the most premium tobaccos that Saka could secure.

Wrapper: Connecticut Broadleaf
Binder: Nicaraguan
Filler: Nicaraguan
Country of Origin: Nicaragua (Fabrica de Tabacos Joya de Nicaragua S.A.)
Diadema: 6 1/2 x 60


The Ecuadorian Habano wrapper of the Muestra de Saka Nacatamale features a roasted coffee bean colored wrapper. It is a Habano wrapper that has a near-oscuro look to it. The surface of the wrapper has some oil on it. This wrapper has a bit of a rustic look to it. There are some visible veins and visible wrapper seams. The cigar is finished with a fan-tail on the cap.

Like the Exclusivo, the Muestra de Saka Nacatamale uses a yellow ribbon on the footer. The ribbon contains the text “MUESTRA DE SAKA” in a red stencil font. Superimposed over that text is the text “NACATAMALE” in black font.

Preparation for the Cigar Experience

As opposed to pulling the tail off the cap of the Muestra de Saka Nacatamale, I opted to use a straight cut to remove both the tail and the cap together. It was then on to the pre-light draw. The dry draw delivered notes of chocolate and touches of cedar and maduro sweetness (a combination of natural tobacco and dried fruit). I considered this to be a satisfactory pre-light draw. At this point, I removed the footer ribbon around the Nacatamale, lit up the cigar and moved on to the smoking phase.

Flavor Profile

The Muestra de Saka Nacatamale started out with a short spurt of assorted pepper spices. This was followed up by notes of chocolate, dried fruit, and classic wood. The chocolate notes quickly moved into the forefront while the fruit, wood, and pepper notes settled in the background. As the Nacatamale moved through the first third, the assorted pepper spices took on some jalapeño-esque qualities to it. This spice remained a close complementary note throughout the smoking experience. Meanwhile, the retro-hale delivered a somewhat sharp red pepper note.

During the second third, the classic wood notes began to increase in intensity. By the midway point, these wood notes joined the chocolate in the forefront. As the Nacatamale moved into the second half, the chocolate notes diminished and the dried fruit had dissipated. There was also a short time where I detected some baker’s spice in the background with the pepper notes.

By the last third of the Muestra de Saka Nacatamale, the wood notes were grounded as the primary note. I found a touch of cedar mixed in with the classic wood notes. The pepper notes remained a close secondary note. There still were notes of chocolate present in the background. This is the way the Nacatamale came to a close. The resulting nub was firm to the touch and cool in temperature.

Burn and Draw

In terms of the burn of the Muestra de Saka Nacatamale, I found it scored consistently well. This is a cigar that had no trouble maintaining a straight burn path. While there was a slight amount of curvature on the burn line, this really didn’t warrant any additional touch-ups above the norm. The resulting ash had a salt and pepper color scheme. This was an ash that was tight and firm. As for the burn rate and burn temperature, both were ideal.

Muestra de Saka Nacatamale-Burn

The draw to the Nacatamale scored equally as well. This is a cigar that had a touch of resistance – which is something that I like on a draw. Even with a little resistance on the draw, there was also a nice amount of smoke production from this cigar.

Strength and Body

Out of the gate, I found the Nacatamale to be a cigar that was medium in strength and medium to full in body. Both attributes gradually increased throughout the smoking experience. Just past the midway point, the strength moved into medium to full territory and the body moved into full territory. During the last third, the increase in body began to level off, but the strength continued kick up – and by the time the cigar experience closed out, it had reached the full level.

In terms of strength versus body, I found the body had the edge for most of the smoking experience. Toward the end of the smoking experience, I did find both attributes to be even in intensity.

Final Thoughts

One thing I have been observing as Saka builds up his portfolio is the range of cigars he is delivering. On one end of the spectrum, you have the refined, medium cigars like Sobremesa and Muestra de Saka Exclusivo. On the other end are the grittier, “dirtier” smokes like Mi Querida and Umbagog. In terms of where Nacatamale falls, it pretty much falls somewhere in the middle. Nacatamale is a cigar that is well-constructed and delivers enough complexity to satisfy me. Flavor-wise, I will admit I liked the first two thirds more than the final third. While certainly a cigar ready to smoke now, my gut tells me long-term aging will be very kind to this cigar.

This is a bolder cigar and as such, I would recommend it a seasoned cigar enthusiast. As for myself, it’s a cigar I would smoke. While a pricier cigar at $15.95, it’s still one worth picking up and putting multiples in your humidor.


Key Flavors: Chocolate, Classic Wood, Pepper, Dried Fruit, Cedar, Baker’s Spice
Burn: Excellent
Draw: Excellent
Complexity: Medium to High
Strength: Medium (1st Third), Medium to Full, Full (Toward End)
Body: Medium to Full (1st Half), Full (2nd Half)
Finish: Very Good


Value: Buy Multiples
Score: 91


News: Dunbarton Tobacco & Trust Releasing Muestra de Saka Nacatamale
Price: $15.95
Source: Dunbarton Tobacco and Trust, additional purchases made
Brand Reference: Dunbarton Tobacco & Trust

Photo Credits: Cigar Coop