Debuting at the 2022 Premium Cigar Association (PCA) Trade Show early in July, the ”K” By Karen Berger 25th Anniversary is the latest offering from the Queen of Cigars – Karen Berger. With this release she celebrate 25 years in the premium cigar industry and testament that few in the industry can make and even fewer that are woman. It was her late husband Henry “Kiki” Berger that was one of the first Americans to travel to Nicaragua and establish a factory and a farm. Don Kiki is forever remembered by Karen by using the letter “K” in her brand names. If you ask her, she will tell you the “K” stands for Kiki as a forever tribute to her late husband. Karen is also the owner of the Don Kiki Cigar Super Store in Daytona Beach, FL.
For this release, Karen teamed up with the one and only A.J. Fernandez to source the leaf, work on the blend and construct the cigar.
The bold blend is described as:
- Wrapper – Connecticut habano broadleaf
- Binder – Mexican San Andrés
- Filler – Nicaragua
The ”K” By Karen Berger 25th Anniversary is expressed in a single 6 x 52 toro and comes packaged in 20-count boxes with an MSRP of $16.00/cigar. The company notes that production is limited to 1,500 boxes or 30,000 cigars.
For this review, I sampled three of these cigars which I received from the company for the purpose of reviewing on Stogie Press.
The ”K” By Karen Berger 25th Anniversary exhibits an excellent construction with a crisp box pressing and sports a dark chocolate brown wrapper that is smooth to touch. The wrapper has minimal veins and has a decent oily sheen. It is packed well with just the right give along the barrel. A well applied double cap finishes the presentation.
Two bands beautifully adorn the cigar. They both use a Light gold and sky blue motif that make them pop on the background of the dark brown wrapper. The primary band displays the “K” logo in the center with a crown above it, representing “Don Kiki”. The name Karen Berger is printed above and “25th Anniversary” below. The Nicaraguan flag is presented in both sides with the left identifying it as a product of “Estelí, Nicaragua” while the left states it is “Hand Made”. A thin secondary band, using the same motif, is placed just below the primary and pay honor to “A.J. Fernandez”.
Running the cigar along the nose, I picked up a light fermented leaf aroma along the barrel while the foot offered notes of pepper and earth.
Using The Baller Cutter by CigarMedics, I neatly opened the cap and proceeded to give it some cold puffs that I found to be spot on with restriction and offering notes of black pepper and earth along with a touch of leather. Tasty pre-light for sure and had me cold puffing this longer than I would normally.
Cigar Review Notes
- Pepper shots right off the first light to open the nasals for sure
- Fruit notes quickly join the mix
- There is a pleasant natural tobacco sweetness entering after a half inch of burn
- A white ash forms on top of a thick char line
- Savory spice notes begin to develop adding an additional dimension to the profile
- Ash fell after about an inch of burn revealing a decent burn cone
- Continued fruit and peppery savory spice notes carry it into the second third
- More dimension is created with rich chocolate notes
- By midway there is a caramel sweetness with a hint of cream that just sooths the palate with an easy retro-hale
- Coffee notes add to the pleasure
- Ash builds back up but I will say it was a tad flaky
- Licorice and chocolate entering final third
- Medium to Full in Strength
- Total Smoking Time was 1 hour and 50 minutes down to the nub!
If you are going to celebrate a major milestone, like 25 years in the cigar business, it certainly helps to work with other masters in the industry like A.J. Fernandez. The Collaboration between Karen and A.J. on the The ”K” By Karen Berger 25th Anniversary shines throughout the experience I had one each sample I smoked. The mere fact that I took this down to the nub and almost grabbed to nub tool to keep smocking it tells a lot. I found the profile to be pleasantly complex and well balanced and especially enjoyed the early fruit notes that filled the core into the second third. The licorice notes in the final kept me puffing my way to that nub. The burn was spot on with just a slight ding for the flaky ash. This most certainly box worthy. I rate this a 95.
Point Deductions: (-1) Flaky Ash
Bonus Points: (+1) Pleasant and Consistent across Multiple Samples; (+1) Box Worthy