In 2021, JR Cigars celebrated its 50th anniversary in business. To commemorate the release, JR Cigars commissioned various manufacturers to participate in delivering a cigar into the series. Throughout 2021, JR Cigars released one of these cigars on a near-monthly basis. The final installment would be a cigar from Dunbarton Tobacco & Trust known as the Dunbarton Tobacco & Trust Limited Edition EM Maduro. This is the cigar we will take a closer look at.
For Dunbarton Tobacco & Trust founder Steve Saka, the Dunbarton Tobacco & Trust Limited Edition EM Maduro was a sort of a homecoming. Prior to Saka becoming President and CEO of Drew Estate, he worked as an executive consultant for JR Cigars. The name “EM” pays homage to Ed McVey, a long-time buyer for JR Cigars. The cigar itself is actually a prototype being slated for the Mi Querida brand (potentially in 2023). As Saka explained in a press release announcing the cigar:
This is a prototype of a Mi Querida liga we’re developing as a possible addition to our brand portfolio,” Steve says. “Our current code name for the project is “MQ Black” as it is intended to be ringed with black bands.” “It is only fitting that this cigar first be used to celebrate JR Cigar’s 50th Anniversary as its inspiration was the maduro cigars that Ed McVey, the longtime cigar buyer, and I smoked during our tenure over two decades ago at JR.
The cigar itself was made to be “reminiscent of the style of the heavy broadleaf cigars that Steve enjoyed during his tenure at JR.”
While the cigar was banded with Mi Querida black bands, the JR cigar is being dubbed the Dunbarton Tobacco & Trust Limited Edition EM Maduro. The boxes do not contain any of the Mi Querida branding and as with all of the JR 50th releases, it contains a JR 50th secondary band.
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- Dunbarton Tobacco & Trust Limited Edition EM Maduro
Without further ado, let’s break down the Dunbarton Tobacco & Trust Limited Edition EM Maduro and see what this cigar brings to the table:
Blend and Origin
Wrapper: Connecticut Broadleaf No.1 Dark
Binder: San Andres Negro
Filler: Nicaraguan, Honduran, Dominican
Country of Origin: Nicaragua
Factory: Nicaraguan American Cigars S.A. (NACSA)
The Dunbarton Tobacco & Trust Limited Edition EM Maduro was produced in one size – a 7 1/4 x 54 parejo. The cigars were presented in ten-count boxes with a total of 500 boxes produced. The Dunbarton Tobacco & Trust Limited Edition EM Maduro was also a part of the JR 50th Anniversary sampler. There were 300 samplers produced and each sampler contained one of the EM cigars.
The Connecticut Broadleaf wrapper of the Dunbarton Tobacco & Trust Limited Edition EM Maduro had a roasted coffee bean color to it. There was some oil on the surface and some sporadic mottling on the surface. There were some visible veins and the wrapper seams were well hidden. The cigar is finished with a small swirl cap.
There are two bands on the Dunbarton Tobacco & Trust Limited Edition EM Maduro. The primary band uses a similar design to the original Mi Querida with the main difference being that it uses a black and silver color scheme. The band has a black background with silver trim that has a perforated look to it. On the band is the text “Mi Querida” in a silver-colored cursive font.
There is a secondary band around the footer. It is one that is common to the JR 50th series. It is a gold band with the red, white, and black JR 50th Anniversary logo surrounded by white adornments. On top of the logo is the text “ESTABLISHED 1971” in white font.
As opposed to pulling the pig-tail cap off the Dunbarton Tobacco & Trust Limited Edition EM Maduro, a straight cut was used to remove the cap and tail simultaneously. Once the cap was removed, it was on to the pre-light draw ritual. The cold draw delivered notes of coffee and slight pepper spice. To me, this was a satisfactory pre-light draw. At this point, it was time to remove the footer band of the Dunbarton Tobacco & Trust Limited Edition EM Maduro, toast up the cigar and move on to the smoking phase.
The Dunbarton Tobacco & Trust Limited Edition EM Maduro started out with notes of coffee, red pepper, and the damp earth note that was reminiscent of the Mi Querida (Blue) line. The coffee and damp earth notes moved to the forefront early on and the pepper settled in the background. During the first third, the coffee notes developed mocha qualities with chocolate notes fusing nicely with these notes. The mocha notes had an underlying creaminess. Meanwhile, there was an additional layer of red pepper on the retro-hale.
During the second third, the mocha fusion broke up with the chocolate notes diminishing while the coffee and damp earth notes remained primary. While the chocolate receded into the background, there were times during the second third it popped up in the forefront. The red pepper notes increased slightly but remained in the background. The creaminess present early on dissipated. Just past the midway point some cedar notes developed. One note about this stage is the damp earth notes started to take on more sour qualities.
The last third saw the earth notes remain primary. There was a slight increase in the cedar and pepper notes in the background. There were touches of coffee and the chocolate notes were gone. By this final third, there was some muddling of the flavors and the sourness with the damp earth notes remained. This is the way the Dunbarton Tobacco & Trust Limited Edition EM Maduro came to a close. The resulting nub was soft to the touch and cool in temperature.
The burn of the Dunbarton Tobacco & Trust Limited Edition EM Maduro tended to meander several times off the straight path. This required an unusual number of touch-ups. The resulting ash had a silver-gray color. This was an ash that was on the firm side. As for the burn rate and burn temperature, both maintained ideal levels.
The draw of the Dunbarton Tobacco & Trust Limited Edition EM Maduro performed extremely well. This was a draw that had a touch of resistance to it. This resulted in an ideal draw in my book.
Strength and Body
The Dunbarton Tobacco & Trust Limited Edition EM Maduro started out as a medium to full strength, medium to full-bodied smoke. For the most part, the EM maintained these intensity levels throughout the smoking experience without much variance. Both the strength and body balanced each other nicely with neither attribute overpowering the other.
Dunbarton Tobacco and Trust’s Mi Querida and Mi Querida Triqui Traca lines have been some of the best cigars the company has produced. Given this blend could result in the next Mi Querida blend, I had high hopes for the Dunbarton Tobacco & Trust Limited Edition EM Maduro. The way the EM started out, I was confident this would live up to the Mi Querida and Triqui Traca. When the EM reached the second half, some of the sourness combined with some of the dankness became too aggressive for me. The last third of this cigar had muddled flavors. In the end, while the DNA of this cigar is no doubt Mi Querida, it simply didn’t reach the usual levels of Mi Querida. There are still positives with this cigar – especially in the first half, but at $14.50 per cigar, I’m inclined to recommend trying a sample first and seeing if this cigar is for you. I’ll definitely revisit the blend if it comes to market in the future as I think it has potential and the right DNA.
Key Flavors: Mocha (Coffee, Chocolate), Damp Earth, Cedar, Pepper
Burn: Very Good
Complexity: Medium Plus
Strength: Medium to Full
Body: Medium to Full
Finish: Very Good
Value: Try a Sample
Brand Reference: Dunbarton Tobacco & Trust
Photo Credits: Cigar Coop