Five Questions: Steve Saka, Dunbarton Tobacco & Trust

1. What’s got you excited about Dunbarton this year?
Most folks would expect me to answer about this blend or that brand, but for me, it is who we are as a company overall. From the start, I had a vision of puros sin compromiso, aka “cigars without compromise,” for both our cigars and how we operate overall. As much as I love this industry, we all know how challenging it can be, so it is very difficult for any fledgling company to stay the course. So for me, it is how we have gotten here and where we are going in the future.

Steve Saka | Dunbarton Tobacco & Trust

2. Since starting in premium cigars, what is the biggest change in the industry you’ve seen—good or bad?
The slow, yet steady, dissolution of being primarily a family-owned business and its subsequent transition into becoming a commodity-oriented, corporate one. One where authenticity simply “was” to one where it is now pantomimed by brand and lifestyle managers. Sales over substance, rather than substance being rewarded with sales.

3. What is your favorite competitor cigar?
For me personally, what I admire the most in cigars is consistency, creativity, and skill. Cigars from the established factories of Fuente, Padron, Pepin Garcia, EPC, Perdomo, La Flor Dominicana, and Joya de Nicaragua all have a cemented place within my own humidor. I am also excited by the work product of young, talented cigar makers like Nicholas Melillo and Henderson Ventura. I am sure you wanted me to just name one great cigar, but that is a fool’s errand.

4. Describe your ideal day away from the cigar business.
This one is easy: A crisp sunny day of smallmouth fishing with a cigar in hand. Tight lines would be a bonus but not necessary. And it ends with me gathered around a campfire with family and friends and a good bottle of whiskey, and of course, more cigars.

5. What has you most concerned about the premium cigar industry today and why?
Our misguided government and its continued incremental encroachment on our liberties to choose, create, and follow our passion. It is one of the primary reasons the pace of consolidation continues to quicken. Ultimately, I fear, my beloved industry will become another over-regulated, over-taxed hegemony of bland greyness. Passionate people following their dreams and exercising their creative talents freely are at the core of what makes handmade cigars more than just another product—it is why it is an art. There is no place for “art” in the soulless hearts of bureaucrats.

This story first appeared in PCA The Magazine, Volume 2, 2023. To receive a copy of this magazine you must be a current member of PCA. Join or renew today at