In 2021, Dunbarton Tobacco & Trust introduced StillWell Star. This is a brand in the Dunbarton portfolio where each of the blends incorporated pipe tobacco into the filler. For over 30 years, Dunbarton Tobacco & Trust owner Steve Saka has also been a pipe smoker. He has admitted that, for over 20 years, he has incorporated some of his favorite pipe tobaccos into cigar blends for personal enjoyment. When the COVID-19 pandemic came around, Saka decided to explore the concept and see if he could scale things from a personal cigar project to a brand. For the project, Saka turned to Jeremy Reeves of Cornell & Diehl. Cornell & Diehl has experience with many of the best luxury pipe blends out there including G.L. Pease, BriarWorks, Two Friends, and Drucquer & Sons. It turned out that Reeves was also a cigar smoker and Dunbarton Tobacco & Trust was one of his favorite blends. When Saka told him of what he was doing with the personal blends, Reeves was equally intrigued and the project was underway. The result would be StillWell Star. It would be a line of cigars that would debut at the 2021 Premium Cigar Association (PCA) Trade Show in four blends. Today we will focus our attention on one of those original blends, the StillWell Star Aromatic No. 1.
The following are the four original blends that were released as a part of the StillWell Star collection. All of these releases are regular production. Listed are the pipe tobaccos that are incorporated.
Aromatic No. 1 (Black Cavendish, Golden Virginia, Burley)
English No. 27 (Burley, Turkish Leaf, and Cypriot Latakia pressed cake)
Bayou No. 32 (Bright and Virginia Leaf, St. James Perique)
Navy No. 1056 (Red and Golden Virginias with a touch of “Naval Rations” combined with Orientals and Latakia).
There is also a limited edition StillWell Star Holiday Y2022 coming out. This cigar incorporates mild, aromatic “holiday” seasonal pipe tobaccos in the blend.
Without further ado, let’s break down the StillWell Star Aromatic No. 1 and see what this cigar brings to the table.
Blend and Origin
The StillWell Star Aromatic No. 1 blends Black Cavendish, Golden Virginia and Burley Pipe tobaccos with traditional Nicaraguan cigar tobaccos. The Aromatic No. 1 features a San Andres binder and is finished with an Ecuadorian Habano wrapper. Production for the StillWell Star Aromatic No. 1 comes from the Joya de Nicaragua factory in Estelí, Nicaragua.
Wrapper: Ecuadorian Habano
Binder: San Andres Negro Cultivo Tonto
Filler: Nicaraguan plus Black Cavendish, Golden Virginia, and Burley Pipe Tobaccos
Country of Origin
Factory: Fábrica de Tabacos Joya de Nicaragua S.A.
One thing that is different with StillWell Star Aromatic No. 1 compared to the other offerings under the brand is the Aromatic No. 1 features a sweetened cap.
Each of the four StillWell Star blends are available in one size – a 6 x 52 Toro. Each is presented in 13-count boxes.
The Ecuadorian Habano wrapper of the StillWell Star Aromatic No. 1 had a dark brown color to it. There was some oil on the surface to the wrapper. The surface of the wrapper had a few visible veins, and a few visible wrapper seams to it.
There are two bands on the StillWell Star Aromatic No. 1. The primary band is common to the four regular production blends of StillWell Star. This band has a blue background with gold font. On the front of the band is a large star with a gold sunburst-style frame around it. The remainder of this band has various gold adornments going around it including some smaller gold stars.
The secondary band of the StillWell Star Aromatic No. 1 is a footer band that is unique to the Aromatic No. 1 cigar. It is also blue with gold font. On the front of the band is the text “STILLWELL AROMATIC NO. 1” in gold font. The band has a gold tile-style trim along the upper and lower edges.
A straight cut was used to commence the cigar experience of the StillWell Star Aromatic No. 1. Once the cap was cut off it was time for the pre-light draw ritual. The cold draw delivered notes of coffee, earth, smoke, and a slight mixed pepper note. I did get some residual artificial sweetness from the cap, but it wasn’t overly aggressive at all. All in all, this was a satisfying pre-light draw experience. At this point it was time to remove the footer band, toast up the StillWell Star Aromatic No. 1 and move into the smoking phase.
The StillWell Star Aromatic No. 1 opened up with notes of coffee, dark chocolate, and smoky notes. The smoky notes were how I assessed the contributions of the pipe tobacco. During the first third, I found the coffee and dark chocolate notes to be the primary notes, but the smoky notes helped round out the profile. There was also a layer of smokiness on the retro-hale. As for the residual sweetness from the cap, this quickly dissipated and was almost a non-factor during the smoking experience.
Late in the first third of the StillWell Star Aromatic No. 1, the coffee notes took over as the primary note. As the cigar experience progressed into the second third, the dark chocolate notes receded into the background and there were some notes of pepper that emerged. At the same time the smokiness became a little more prominent and made their way into the primary notes.
As the cigar progressed to the latter part of the second third, the coffee and smoky notes remained primary. There was a slight increase in the pepper on the tongue and it also mixed into the retro-hale. There wasn’t a lot of change in the final third – coffee and smoky notes primary and pepper and chocolate notes secondary. The cigar experience of the StillWell Star Aromatic No. 1 finished with a slightly soft and cool nub.
The StillWell Aromatic No. 1 did require some touch-ups to maintain a straight burn path and straight burn line. The touch-ups were a little more frequent than usual. The resulting ash was mostly silvery gray with some dark streaks. This wasn’t the firmest ash, but it wasn’t overly loose or flaky either. As for the burn rate and burn temperature, both were ideal.
The draw to the StillWell Star No. 1 was excellent. It has a touch of resistance to it – which is something that I like. At the same time, this was a low maintenance cigar to derive flavor from.
Strength and Body
When the StillWell Star line was announced, the Aromatic No. 1 blend was described as the most dialed back of the four. In terms of strength and body, I can see why this was said. This was a cigar that started off as mild to medium in both strength and body. There was a slight increase in intensity of both attributes. While the strength stayed in the mild to medium range of the spectrum, by the final third the body had progressed into medium territory. Overall the body maintained a slight edge over the strength.
I wasn’t sure what I would think about a premium cigar that would contain both aromatic pipe tobacco and a sweetened cap, but I will say this cigar delivered flavor-wise. While the flavors weren’t as rich and complex as I would have personally hoped for, the flavor notes were still quite enjoyable. Personally I’m inclined to smoke this cigar again, but I also will say – this is simply not a cigar for everyone. At $15 plus dollars for a cigar, this is one that I would encourage giving a try first and seeing what you think.
Key Flavors: Coffee, Dark Chocolate, Smoky Notes, Pepper
Burn: Very Good
Complexity: Low to Medium
Strength: Mild to Medium
Body: Mild to Medium (1st 2/3), Medium (Final Third)
Finish: Very Good
Value: Try a Sample
Photo Credits: Cigar Coop