September 27, 2023 12:16 pm

Don Kiki Gold

“Passion Loyalty Courage”
Karen Berger, The Queen of Cigars


  • Brand: Karen Berger Cigars
  • Vitola: Toro 6×56
  • Filler: Nicaraguan
  • Wrapper: Brazilian Arapiraca
  • Binder: Nicaraguan
  • Age: 1 Year
  • Body: Medium Boldness
  • Price: $8

What Makes It Special

Before Nicaragua’s cigar industry champion Henry “Kiki” Berger’s untimely passing in 2014, at age 56, he blended this Don Kiki Gold label cigar, but never actually saw it go to market. Kiki’s Nicaraguan wife, Karen Berger, who previously rolled Kiki’s cigars, made sure the blend reached the hands of cigar aficionados worldwide, bridging the gap between the Don Kiki cigar line and her own K by Karen Berger cigar line in 2016.

She designed the cigar’s beautiful gold band, its gold footer, and gave it her special touch of balance. Karen is a modern day “Queen of Cigars” who emphasizes that it takes “passion, loyalty, and courage to maintain success in the cigar industry.”

Karen’s trusted Vice President of Sales and Marketing, Bruce Busch, describes the cigar to be “a part of Kiki’s heart”, and equates it to Beethoven’s 9th Symphony.

Produced at Esteli Cigars S.A. in Estelí, Nicaragua, the cigar’s secret sauce Nicaraguan fillers and binder are wrapped in Kiki’s first time use of Brazilian Arapiraca tobacco. This tobacco is grown in the fertile soil of Arapiraca, also known as “The Brazilian Tobacco Capital.” This thicker and dark brown sun-grown leaf produces intense flavors and aroma that should balance out the anticipated spicy punch of the Nicaraguan tobaccos.

Visual / Pre-light Draw

Nice medium to dark brown wrapper with strong toothy veins and a light layer of oil. I get fresh hay and cocoa on the side sniff, with BIG floral
and cocoa notes on the dry foot odor.

The shiny gold band displays its signature gold crown over “Don Kiki Limited Edition.” The gold footer displays Don Kiki, his birth year 1957, and easily slides right off. There was a slight sweet saltiness but no spice when prepping the cigar’s head for my favorite Colibri v-cut. The delicious dry draw produces red orchard fruits over savory oat notes.

First Third

The history of the blend and who it represents is deserving of a slow but proper soft flame lighting of the cigar. Then a BURST of vanilla over beautiful baking spices on the first puff. Immediately, the cigar tastes like a creamy cake battered gingerbread cookie over some nice leather notes. There is sweet vanilla cream on the foot smoke odor, with BIG vanilla over baking spices, and a perfect subtle spicy punch on the retro-hale.

The draw has a perfect smooth tightness to it with high volume smoke input and output. Then a beautiful subtle transition to campfire roasted oats. This is a delicious and already complex cigar with nice leathery notes that transition back and forth to creamy vanilla cake batter. Its ash holds perfectly and self corrects for a continuous even burn. The cigar’s impressive first third definitely has me intrigued!

Second Third

Everything seems to be mellowing while the flavors mix together for a consistent bold and smooth flavor of leather, with minimal spice, even on the retrohale. There are nice consistent vanilla undertones while the cigar’s amazing ash continues to hold strong. Time to introduce Kiki’s golden heart to “a great whiskey with a noble heart,” The Noble Oak Double Oak Bourbon. This is an incredibly smooth cream bomb pairing.

Also pairing well is the song “Meet Me in the Woods” by Lord Huron. This “journey to the unknown” track encompasses the entire vibe of my favorite Suburban Pilgrim Youtube channel. This channel, hosted by Jason Calhoun, emphasizes the proper way to enjoy cigars and whiskey, which is SLOWLY, toward self awareness and our brief time here on Earth.


Final Third

The ash finally fell off with dignity. The cigar remains a medium bold cigar with intense consistent flavors of vanilla and leather. The draw remains perfect with consistent high volume smoke input and output. The burn really slows down and you just enjoy the cigar’s flavorful consistency. Then The Queen’s signature graham cracker note reveals itself. The ash’s second chapter and my enjoyment of the cigar took it to the nub.

The creamy retro-hale is absolutely delicious with the perfect little spicy punch on the finish. I thought the cigar would be spicier due to its Nicaraguan fillers and binder, but the cigar has incredible balance, indicative of its quality tobacco and Karen’s special attention to its production. This is a lengthy and flavorful smoke, time for another noble pour of the Noble Oak.

The Pairing:

Edrington is “The Home of Exceptional Spirits” such as The Macallan, Highland Park, and owns 90% of the world’s sherry casks. Noble Oak is the first brand that Edrington innovated, starting in 2017. This Double Oak Bourbon is finished with sherry oak staves and bottled at 45% ABV. It has nice sherry and citrus notes over classic caramel bourbon flavors that marry perfectly with the complexity of the Don Kiki Gold. For every bottle sold, Edrington plants an oak tree, maintaining the consistency in the wood that shapes their whiskey’s character. Edrington’s North Florida Market Manager, Erin Yesser, along with Bruce Busch and Jason Calhoun, joined us Chooches on The Great Cigar & Pipe Show, for an epicly hilarious live pairing of these amazing products:

Sipping the bourbon to the cigar produced nice orange citrus and red wine notes that mesh perfectly with the vanilla and leather notes of the cigar. Together they reveal a very cool candied angel food cake flavor. Smoking the cigar to bourbon produced awesome creamy campfire roasted cherry notes. Overall, the Noble Oak Bourbon compliments this Don Kiki Gold cigar perfectly as the flavors and complexities of each marry very well together, and everything just softens out to an incredibly smooth flavor. This is definitely a whiskey and cigar pairing for wine lovers, and whiskey enthusiasts alike!


Thank you Karen Berger for allowing us all to experience a taste of Kiki’s golden heart. The obvious love you put into this cigar expression definitely encapsulates the passion, loyalty, and courage you continue to share through Kiki’s heart and soul. Visit to explore all of Karen’s amazing cigar expressions.

Thank you Bruce Busch, Erin Yesser, and The Great Cigar & Pipe Show crew for helping make this pairing come to life, in an epic way, to properly honor Kiki and Karen.

Special thanks to Suburban Pilgrim’s Jason Calhoun, for your engaging perspective on time, slowing down, and self awareness, through the slow enjoyment of cigars, pipe tobacco, and whiskey.

Photography by: James Archie

"Whisky is liquid sunshine."

George Bernard Shaw

“The light music of whiskey falling into a glass – an agreeable interlude.”

James Joyce

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