After witnessing Cigar Federation's March Madness tournament, I just had
to try the Jas Sum Kral Red Knight
in its original vitola, a 6x52 toro (it has also been released in lancero, lonsdale, and robusto sizes) ~$10. It's got an Ecuadorian Habano wrapper, a Mexican San Andrés binder, and the filler is undisclosed. Lots of dried wheat, intermittent blasts of pepper, and an overall woody character. In the latter portions of the stick, there's a nice mix of nuts and earthiness, but the dominant impression comes from a strong menthol core. Discrete menthol can
help to freshen up a cigar with a heavy profile, but this was a bit too dominant for my taste, and my sample didn't show a hint of sweetness at any point. The overall impression borders on austere, not unlike a very young, old-school Barolo. I plan to age these, hoping for better balance.
The Red Knight was the winner of the tournament, essentially a crowd-voted #1 of 2016. Wow. Not only do I not
think that this is a viable 'best cigar of 2016'; I don't think it's even the best cigar made by Jas Sum Kral. I much prefer the Crna Nok
(I have no idea what it means) ~$11, featuring a CT Broadleaf wrapper, Mexican binder, and Nicaraguan fillers. What jumps out to me is a sharp, licorice-laced, maple syrup, punctuating a dark chocolate core - quite tasty! Excellent construction, fairly aromatic, and well-balanced. A definite winner in my book... but still no #1.
My first impressions of Jas Sum Kral: I love
the packaging (very regal, detailed band, and fivers are shipped in an attractive, card-stock box), I really like the construction (rolled by Noel Rojas's factory), I don't care for the brazen attitude (his motto is, "Boutique as F-*k"
), and I absolutely hate the website (animated 'reviews' mean that everything beneath them constantly shifts, while you're trying to read, and clicking on an item to get more information automatically adds it to your cart). This may be the hot ticket for the "gotta' have the latest sparkly" segment of the boutique cigar world, and I think this is a brand worth watching, but anything beyond that just seems like hype at this point IMO.