There’s nothing new about a long-time cigar fan deciding to throw his hat in the ring and produce his own blend. However, Riste Ristevski’s Jas Sum Kral cigars, branded by Ristevski as “Boutique as f*ck,” have garnered plenty of online attention since debuting in late 2015. Originally from Macedonia, Ristevski now calls the town of Hebron, Indiana, United States, home. Jas Sum Kral translates to “I Am King” in his native language, and is a nod to his homeland. “I want people to feel like a king while smoking a Jas Sum Kral,” he says.
Ristevski currently has three lines being produced in Estelí’s New Order of the Ages (NOA) factory run by Cuban Noel Rojas. “Noel’s knowledge of tobacco can’t be put into words,” proclaims Ristevski. “He has been dropping knowledge about tobacco since we started. Learning how to recognize different tobaccos by sight and feel is just one of the skills I’ve learned through Noel.”
Intricate band and box art has been developed by Singapore designer Nuzli Hakiim. Despite looming FDA intrusion on his very new boutique operation, Ristevski has pressed ahead with his project. “It hasn‘t slowed me down, just added fuel to the fire inside me to work harder and outwork everyone.”
The Jas Sum Kral Lines
The JSK Red Knight features an Ecuadorian Habano wrapper, Mexican San Andrés and Jalapa Seco binder and filler from Estelí and Jalapa, resulting in a creamy blend with a pepper and leather kick. The Crna Nok, Macedonian for black or dark night, features an Ecuadorian Broadleaf Maduro wrapper, Mexican San Andrés binder and filler from Ometepe, Estelí, and Jalapa. This cigar delivers lashings of strong espresso and black pepper from the start.
Rounding off the first three releases is the Zlatno Sonce (“Gold Sun”), and was inspired by the news that Riste was to become a father – his son is now one year old. This cigar features an Ecuadorian Connecticut wrapper, Mexican San Andrés binder and Estelí Corojo and Piloto Jalapa filler.
This article was published in the Cigar Journal Winter Edition 2017. Read more