Full disclosure… I have been a member of Cigar Dojo for a few years now. As a result of my time on the Dojo app, I have made some great friends and learned a lot about this hobby that we all love so much. When the original Sarsaparilla cigar was released in the Fall of 2014, I was excited to try it because I was already a big fan of the cigars coming out of the La Zona factory from Erik Espinosa. The original Sarsaparilla cigar proved to be another winner, and I still consider that to be one of the best cigars to have ever been crafted at La Zona. Because of my high regard for the first release, I was especially excited to learn that the Sensei’s Sensational Sarsaparilla II would be a reality.
A “teaser” announcement was made by Erik Espinosa at the Dojo party during IPCPR 2016, followed by the official announcement from Erik Espinosa and Cigar Dojo on August 18th, 2016. Sensei’s Sensational Sarsaparilla II was made available to the public on October 21st, 2016. As with the original, the Sassy 2 is sold in 10 count bundles, wrapped in paper with beautifully distinctive artwork. As the original was a 5.25×52 belicoso, the Sassy 2 is a 6×50 toro. Production was limited to 1000 cigars and the price per 10-count bundle is $89.99. – All other info can be found here.
As expected with a cigar from the La Zona factory, the cigar looks beautiful. It has a rich chocolate color and is nicely rolled. The wrapper is toothy, with a nice sheen of oil on the surface. The seams are flawless and the foot looks like excellent construction. The outer wrapper has a distinct smell of vanilla and cedar, while the foot has aroma notes of pepper and sour cherries. After cutting the cigar, the cold draw has flavors of cocoa, white pepper, and oak.
The first thing that hits me on this cigar is the voluminous smoke. The draw is near perfect and is absolutely filled with big smoke output. The flavors are very frontal, with a mix of pepper and toasted wood. As the burn line reaches the 1-inch mark, a nice natural tobacco sweetness comes in with a gentle note of anise and roasted nuts. This beginning portion of the cigar closes out with a nice creamy note and a brown sugar sweetness. The retrohale is no slouch, giving me notes of white pepper and hickory.
In the middle third, an earthy component comes in. It has a slightly dry feel on the palate, but that does seem to mix nicely with a cocoa note. The retrohale has mellowed a bit and also has some of the earthiness. As the middle third continues to warm up, some raisin notes join with the same brown sugar sweetness from earlier. I get a bit of an increase in strength and body.
The final third isn’t big on transitions, but the overall profile is very nice. A nice creamy texture is a nice addition to the cocoa notes, and the anise returns which goes nicely with a toasted wood flavor. At the very end, the retrohale is back to bold white pepper and some cola. A dark-roast coffee and sour orange flavor on the last few puffs, and the cigar goes down to a 1-inch nub.
The burn was flawless on this cigar. It has a nice even burn line, white ash that actually showed off the tooth of the wrapper and held for solid chunks. With a perfect draw and incredible smoke output, the flavors and aromas were present and discernible. The overall profile kept me interested, but was not muddy or overly complex. The strength was never overpowering, and increased in just the right amount as the cigar progressed to amplify the flavors.
While I still prefer the original Sarsaparilla release, I believe the Sassy 2 will get there. I think it has a ton of long-term potential and I will be tracking progress over the next year or two. It just seems a tiny bit on the young side, and may need a little more time in the humidor before it reaches peak flavor and nuance. That said, I was thoroughly impressed with the sequel and give kudos to Espinosa Cigars and the team at Cigar Dojo for another solid release. This is definitely a cigar you should pick up if you can still find it.
-Matthew T. (A Huge Nerd)