Espinosa Cigars created the Sensei's Sensational Sarsaparilla for Eric and the folks over at CigarDojo.com. The Sarsaparilla is the second cigar to be "dedicated" to the Dojo. Drew Estate released the Undercrown Dogma to much fanfare in 2014.
The Sarsaparilla is a limited run though I can't seem to find an exact number of how limited it is. It is available in 10-count bundles exclusively at Famous Smoke. We had Master Sensei on the Year in Reviews show on CigarChat last month and he indicated that there were about 100 bundles left.
Sensei's Sensational Sarsaparilla
Size: 5.5 x 52
Wrapper: San Andreas
Factory: La Zona - Esteli, Nicaragua
MSRP: $79.00 - 10-count Mazo
Cigars smoked for review: 2
Cigars smoked for this review were purchased from Famous Smoke
Note: For this review I used CigarFederation's rating system
Pre-Light: The Sarsaparilla is only available in these awesome 10-count mazos. As you can see they are pretty cool looking. I dig the old school "tonic" look. The cigar itself was very densely packed. So much so that I was afraid there would be issues with the draw. The San Andreas wrapper was beautiful and smelled of dry wood, cocoa powder and mild anise. The cold draw was clean and tasted strongly of dried fruit (cherries, raisins and dates) with a mild cocoa sweetness.
Beginning: The Sarsaparilla was full flavored from the first puff. Right off the bat I was hit with sweet milk chocolate, raisins and a mild white pepper spice on the retrohale. I use the term "white pepper" often so i'll take a quick moment to explain what that means to me. White pepper spice is "brighter" than a black pepper spice and it is more heat than flavor. So I am really talking about a lighter spice while black pepper is heavier. I hope that is clear.
After the first inch, the initial sweetness of the milk chocolate backed off and the profile took on a earthy and peppery complexion. During this time I picked up a flavor that I can only call green bell pepper. I haven't experienced that one too often and I really enjoyed it.
Middle: The profile settled into a nice rhythm at the two-inch mark. Each puff delivered dry earth and wood notes up front followed by a creamy chocolate finish. The white pepper on the retohale increased over the first few inches and settled in at a solid medium. The balance of earth, sweet and spice was, dare I say, wondrous to behold. The middle portion of this cigar was basically perfect.
End: The creamy chocolate sweetness and the white pepper on the retro took over the show. The earth and wood notes took a back seat. I called this portion of the cigar "dessert." While the profile fell a little out of balance toward the end, it fell in the direction I would have chosen. I would much rather have a cigar go in a sweet and spicy direction than become an earth and pepper bomb.
Final Thoughts: The Sarsaparilla is a very approachable cigar and I mean that in a very good way. While it is billed as a full strength smoke (I would call it a solid medium), I think just about any cigar smoker will enjoy it. Not only is it a great cigar, but I can say with some confidence that the Sarsaparilla is the best cigar to come out of the La Zona factory to date. The profile was exceptionally tasty, well balanced and full of complexity and transition. It's a unique cigar that I will reach for on a regular basis. In short, I love everything about it.
Rating 94 AKA "Box Purchase"
OK, so it doesn't come in a "box." The profile and smoking experience of the Sarsaparilla along with the fact that it comes in a 10-count mazo makes it an easy Box Purchase. In fact I am halfway through my mazo now and will have to get at least one more before they run out. It really is the perfect smoke for just about any time of the day. I can see it pairing nicely with a sweetened coffee, chocolate stout or some nice Flor de Cana.