Coming from the legendary master A.J. Fernandez, the all-new Samurai cigars are made to honor both the Samurai of feudal Japan and the art of crafting premium handmade cigars. Samurai were fierce and studied warriors who existed for nearly a thousand years and were among the highest of Japanese nobility. They represented their masters, regional lords called daimyo, in battles against invaders and rebels.
Samurai followed an ethical, moral, and philosophical code called Bushido, a compound of the Japanese words Bushi, meaning “warrior” and Do, meaning “way,” coming together to mean “warrior way” or way of the warrior. Interpretations of Bushido have changed over the centuries, but the core virtues of justice, compassion, courage, respect, honesty, loyalty, and honor have remained constant.
Honor is among the most significant of these tenets, not only for Samurai but for Japanese culture as well. Samurai would live, and die, in a way that most honored their daimyo, family, and themselves. This idea of honor also runs deep in the world of premium cigars, where brands that have been handed from generation to generation with reverence for legacy are commonplace.
A.J. Fernandez honors his Cuban heritage with a cigar blend consisting entirely of finely aged Cuban-seed tobaccos. The blend features Criollo and Piloto Cubano long-fillers bunched into a Criollo binder are dressed in an Ecuadorian Habano wrapper and are available in four common sizes. Let us take a deep dive into a Samurai cigar and see how it performs!
Country of Origin: Nicaragua
Wrapper: Ecuadorian Habano
Filler: Criollo/Piloto Cubano
Cigar Strength: Medium-Full
Cold Draw Impressions
Before I cut the cap and take cold draws, I cannot help but be impressed by the look of the Samurai Robusto. A large band cover sits on the center of the cigar, boldly displaying the Samurai logo over a vibrant red kanji script. The background of the gold and black band features artwork resembling waves in a style inspired by traditional Japanese paintings.
The wrapper is flawlessly applied with the seam barely visible, and the wrapper itself is smooth to the touch and has a rich chocolate brown color. I get aromas of leather, cedar, earth, and hints of barnyard from the wrapper, and the foot deepens the earthy, leathery aroma with touches of spices.
After cutting two V-cuts into the cap and taking cold draws, I get flavors of leather, earth, cream, tobacco sweetness, and hints of spices. The draw also offers the perfect amount of resistance, signaling that this box-pressed treat is filled to the gills with fine tobacco.
First Third Impressions
Right out of the gate in the first few puffs, my palate is coated by a rich medley of baking spices, leather, earth, and black pepper. While black pepper is taking the lead, it is by no means overwhelming, however, the body is firmly in the medium-full category. The pepper quickly makes way for the other flavors, with a hint of creamy sweetness on the finish tying the flavors together.
Going for retrohales reveals an earthy undertone with leather, spices, and sweetness is the main feature through the nose. There is a slight tingle, but nothing too intense for my sensitive sinuses. As the burn line progresses through the first third, hints of bittersweet chocolate also begin to emerge.
Through the first third, construction has been phenomenal with dense smoke production, a slightly tight draw, and an even burn line. The ash is also holding on strong, with over an inch of the cigar smoked it does not want to let go until I do some coaxing in the ashtray.
Second Third Impressions
Crossing into the second third, pepper is still at the forefront while earth, coffee, and chocolate begin to make their presence known. The spices have started to meld together with the pepper, and the leather is relegated to the finish along with cream. There is also a decent uptick in the sweetness of the flavors, pairing wonderfully with the increase in the pepper.
Retrohales also unveiled an increase in the pepper, providing a bit more of that tingling sensation in the nose yet still does not come close to overwhelming. The leather is also more prominent in the retrohale, joining the aforementioned pepper and notes of earth, cedar, and some hints of roasted nuts.
The burn line continues to be superb with only a slight lean in the burn line, but nothing that would require a touch-up. Smoke production is also top-notch, completely coating my palate with rich medium-full-bodied smoke and the ash is still holding strong. I must admit that A.J.’s blends are sometimes hit-or-miss with me, but I am more than pleased with the Samurai Robusto thus far.
Final Third Impressions
As the cigar comes into the home stretch, there is another notable increase in the forwardness of the pepper flavors. Behind the pepper lies a complex smattering of chocolate, tobacco sweetness, earth, and touches of barnyard. Despite the uptick in the pepper notes, they are mostly relegated to the palate, with retrohales delivering a rich earthiness with tobacco sweetness, leather, and baking spices.
The burn has also been phenomenal throughout the entire smoke, maintaining its slight lean from the second third in an otherwise flawless performance. The ash continues to hold on strong, predictably dropping off in chunks slightly larger than an inch.
As the cigar burns into nub territory, the pepper gets a twinge sharper, however, there is a ton of complexity and balance with other flavors of chocolate, earth, and tobacco sweetness, paired with a delectable smoothness during retrohales. With my fingers close to getting singed, I put the cigar down after a 70-minute smoking experience that just flew by. My next Samurai cigar will definitely be in a longer size!
A rich medium to full-bodied smoke with tons of complex flavors deserves to be paired with a drink that is equally rich with its flavors, and my mind immediately jumps to bourbon as a suitable pairing. The richness and sweetness of bourbon would play well with the pepper and tobacco sweetness of the Samurai Robusto.
Sake would also make a fantastic pairing with Samurai cigars. Sake is characterized by a unique umami richness as well as some peppery and floral notes, the perfect pairing for a cigar that boasts sweet, rich, and peppery flavors. Sake would also keep with the Japanese theme that serves as inspiration for Samurai Cigars.
Another top-quality blend from the master himself, A.J. Fernandez. This little box-pressed treat provided me with an excellent smoking experience that satisfied my palate with a smattering of rich flavors and notable transitions from third to third. With the intention of honoring Samurai philosophy and the art of cigar making, I think it is safe to say that A.J. Fernandez followed through.
With bold flavors that are complex and do not overwhelm impeccable construction and an affordable price point, I would recommend Samurai cigars to any aficionado looking for a flavorful smoke that will not overwhelm either their palate or wallet. Ranging between $7 and $8 per cigar, you really cannot go wrong with some Samurai Cigars in your humidor. Available only from JR, order yourself a box today!