Southern Draw Cigars Firethorn | Cigar Review

Wrapper: Ecuadorian Habano Rosado
Binder: Mexican San Andrés
Filler: Nicaraguan
Size: 5.5 x 54 “Robusto”
Body: Medium
Price: $8.90 MSRP ($7.50 @ Dallas Discount Cigars)

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Today we take a look at the Southern Draw Cigars Firethorn.
Thanks go out to Miguel Castro for the sticks.

BACKGROUND:
From the Southern Draw Cigars web site:
“HAND CRAFTED IN ESTELI, NICARAGUA Firethorn, our second offering, has been specially blended to pair with medium weight styles of craft brews, boutique wines and spirits. The aged Habano Rosado, double-fermented wrapper is flawless with a taste that will quite simply – draw you in. The wrapper is complemented by perfectly aged binders and fillers from Cuban seed tobacco grown in Nicaragua and Mexic0. From the first draw, the sweet and natural aromas will tantalize the palate. After the first third of the cigar, some spicy notes will blend and then gently trail off, leaving you with a flutter of cinnamon, cocoa and caramel, eventually fading into a subtle pecan-like finish. This handmade beauty has a closed foot for a smooth and toasty burn that results in a firm ash.

“Southern Draw may very well be considered a “newcomer” to this industry be we aren’t new to cigars and we offer only custom blended cigars that are hand crafted from only fine and rare aged Cuban seed tobaccos afforded us by AJ Fernandez and the dedicated team at Tabacalera Fernandez located in the heart of Estelí, Nicaragua. There are obviously many very good cigars available so we won’t attempt to simply stake claim to ultra-premium or boutique definitions but we currently produce a monthly limit of 5,000 cigars per blend.”

It is also declared that the wrapper is double fermented.
On the web site, it shows the type of beer or liquor that would make the best pairing for each blend:
“RECOMMENDED BEVERAGE PAIRINGS:
“CRAFT BREW: CREAM ALE, LAGER, PALE ALE, BELGIAN, WHEAT, PILS AND IRISH RED ALE
“WINES: MALBEC, RUBY CAB, SYRAH, PETITE SIRAH, ZIN, BORDEAUX AND OAKEY WHITES
“SPIRITS: BLENDED SCOTCH/WHISKEY (5 – 12 YEAR AGED), VSOP COGNAC, MIXED DRINKS W/ VODKA, RUM, GIN, SCHNAPPS AND TEQUILA”

According to the Cigar-Coop web site:
“The company was founded by Robert Holt and a group of U.S. Veterans. They have teamed up with A.J. Fernandez’s Tabacalera Fernandez to make their cigars. The name is appropriate to the company’s vision. Southern Draw seeks to keep to the promoting “Southern” culture and in particular paying homage to being a Southern gentleman. In terms of their cigars, the company has put considerable effort into have an effortless draw when enjoying a cigar. Finally, the company has designed their lines with the concept of pairing with a libation. “

DESCRIPTION:
To my eye, the Rosado red wrapper color is not as prominent as I can tell. It shows a little better in a well-lit room or from sunshine.
The order of releases for the three lines: Kudzu, Firethorn, and Quick Draw.
The wrapper is more of a medium brown color with a bit of oiliness. Very smooth to the touch.
Seams are very tight. Few veins. And an impeccable triple cap.
The stick is well filled and has the right amount of give when squeezed gently.
And lastly, it has a closed foot:
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SIZES AND PRICING:
Robusto 5.5 X 54 $8.90
Toro 6 x 52 $9.30
Gordo 6.5 x 60 $9.95
Can be bought at a lot of small online stores.
You can buy an assortment of Southern Draw Cigars, and swag, from their web site.

AROMAS AND COLD DRAW NOTES:
From the shaft, I smell honey sweetness, floral notes, fruit, a light orange citrus, cedar, and a bit of spice.
From the clipped cap and closed foot, I smell bittersweet chocolate, spice, citrus, floral notes, fruit sweetness, and cedar.
The cold draw presents flavors of strong red pepper, chocolate, espresso, floral notes, orange citrus, and cedar.

FIRST THIRD:
The draw is a bit tight.
Sure, the closed foot is artistic and shows off the skill of the roller. But, man, it is a pain in the ass to light and get a good start for the burn.

Big blast of red pepper. Really big shoe, ladies and germs. A bunch of malts waste no time entering the flavor profile. As well does the creaminess.
Smoke gushes from the foot.
Strength is medium body.

The fruitiness gives the blend a nice balanced sweetness. There is a strong toast element. Sort of like a toasted butter bagel. A good bagel not a Pepperidge Farm bagel. I cannot find a single bagel in this town made correctly. Bagels should be very dense. NO sugar should be used. A good bagel should not be light and airy like a dinner roll.

I checked into getting some NYC bagels sent from a bona fide bagel shop. I think it was around $13 for a dozen plus $98 for shipping. WTF?

Chocolate and espresso enter. I’ve only had these cigars for a couple weeks and they were bound in cellophane because Miguel only received them a day before shipping them to me. Two weeks. And the Southern Draw Cigars Firethorn is kicking ass and taking names. This is New Breed blending at its best. Not like that pitiful Viaje Candy Cane I reviewed yesterday.
The Southern Draw Cigars Firethorn is a premium blend. No doubt. I was also sent a few Southern Draw Cigars Kudzu sticks by Miguel. I just might review those tomorrow.

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And then just an inch in, more flavors are layered upon the others: Caramel, cinnamon, and nutmeg.
I dig a pony…No..I mean I dig that the spiciness is nice and strong throughout.

The fruitiness is elusive. I can taste a slight peach component. But it is only after smacking my lips for a minute that it comes to fruition. No pun intended.
Construction is good. Char line spot on. Slow smoke. Perfectly filled.
The sun comes out. It is minus 25° with the wind chill. Poor Charlotte has to drive to work in this crappy weather. But no snow. Too cold for that.

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The malts: Chocolate Rye Malt, Cara Munich Malt, Coffee Malt, and Honey Malt. (See Malt Chart).
For my tastes, malt brings an important component to the blend. It is the “It” factor that I found elusive for most of my cigar smoking years. Then one day, an Alzheimer’s epiphany. I read an article that included the importance of malt flavors in cigar blends and it just clicked. One is never too old to learn. I wish the folks who make fun of my palate would look at it positively and as a learning tool rather than diss me.
23 and counting.

Will probably take a break in a couple days as I’ve run out of most of the review cigars sent to me. And I have some special cigars I want to review once February strikes. So I shall go dark for a while.
Some very good people sent me some nicely aged cigars. Unfortunately, I dabbled in a couple and they are aged a little too long. Flavorless. Real bummer. As most readers sent me one of each reviewable cigar, I have no idea if it will be a good review or not. A real conundrum. I smoked an Opus X with a few years on it and it was as dead as a door nail. I have a couple more that are different blends with some aging and I am going to review them. Plus a few surprises.

As a reminder, I will be thanking all those wonderful people who have supported me on my last day’s review.

Here they are as I approach the second third: Chocolate, creaminess, malts, red pepper, caramel, fruit, floral notes, orange citrus, nuts, toasty, honey, graham cracker, baking spices, cinnamon, and cedar.
Not bad, huh? I swear to you on my pledge. If you are training your palate to explore all a blend has to give, there is me and other fine review sites that you can learn from. The most important thing to remember is that the blend must be the first stick of the day. No food prior to lighting up. It all affects your palate.

And intense focus. You don’t need to retrohale to get these flavors. I stopped long ago as my sinus passages got too crispy. Hold the smoke in your mouth for 30 seconds and then let go. Smack your lips. Take a sip of water. Let each few puffs happen 2-3 minutes apart. Do this and you will find your palate. (Ever notice how many reviewers spell it “palette?”) That always cracks me up. Just like calling San Andrés: San Andreas…the fault line in California.

Strength remains at medium body.

SECOND THIRD:
Smoke time is 25 minutes.
Transitions galore. Complexity. Nice balance and a very long finish. It has been a nice climb to get here. Flavorful and interesting.
Each sip of water floods my palate with flavors.

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A lovely premium blend. Thank you Miguel.

I hate having to write two negative reviews in a row. So not this time. Splendid cigar.

The Southern Draw Cigars Firethorn is worth every shekel of the $9.00 price. Even better at Dallas Discount Cigars for $7.50. Everyone else sells it for MSRP including Cigar Federation. Their discount applied brings it down to $8.00. So still a better deal at DDC.

Shop around. Lots of online stores carry them. And you can check the Southern Draw Cigars web site for B & M’s. (Quite an impressive list). For some reason, you can only purchase 2 packs or 5 or 6 packs from Southern Draw. No boxes. The two packs charge $11.00 each for the Firethorn. I don’t get that.
The flavor profile has no changes except the nuttiness becomes candied pecans as described by Southern Draw Cigars.

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Once a month, after getting our social security, we order out for Chinese. Charlotte always gets the Honey Walnut Shrimp. I can only taste a few bites due to my diabetes. But in retrospect, the nuttiness tastes more like candied walnuts than pecans.

Halfway point. Smoke time is 45 minutes.

The Southern Draw Cigars Firethorn is putting a smile on this old puss. I like everything about it. The spiciness has maintained an even keel. And the coordination of spice vs. sweet is perfect.

Creaminess takes the lead followed by the malts. The chocolate and coffee are on the wane.
I’m beginning to get some burn issues. And the wrapper is seeing some small cracks.
We have to turn the thermostat down at night so we can afford our utility bill. I’m sure the cold doesn’t help my cigars a bit.

9half

A seam comes loose but as I try to glue it, it just comes apart. Luckily, the other side of the cigar is flawless. I take a few hefty puffs from the Southern Draw Cigars Firethorn and the pepper is so strong, my eyes water, my nose runs, and I’m blinded by the light.

LAST THIRD:
Smoke time is one hour 5 minutes.
Strength hits medium/full.
Nicotine kicks in.

I finally got some photos of me with my head in a drag queen’s bosom from my kid’s 30th birthday party. But they are too dark and out of focus. But one look, with my snow white beard, and I cut the whole thing off last night. I had a vanity panic attack.

My hair is really long now. Past my shoulders and past my Adam’s apple.
I’m going to go to a salon that specializes in long hair haircuts for men. It’s time to look a little more hip.

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The cracks aren’t spreading. Good news. The flavors, while excellent, don’t become a flavor bomb.
But they do excel compared to the first two thirds of the cigar.
I’ve got a good story to end the review.

The draw becomes very airy now. Probably due to the wrapper cracks.

The Southern Draw Cigars Firethorn was a really nice surprise. Miguel sent me three sticks but this was my first one. With little left to review, I thought the hell with it.
Another fine example of New Breed style of blending.

11third

The cigar finishes cool without any harshness.
I highly recommend this cigar. A 5 pack is a good way to start. Southern Draw Cigars sells a 5 pack sampler. You’ll get 3 Kudzu and 2 Firethorn. For $48.00. That’s $9.60 per stick. Dallas Discount Cigars only sells boxes.

Stogies World Class Cigars sells singles, 5 packs, and boxes about a buck less than MSRP. You can make up your own sampler. Cheaper than the Southern Draw web site.

RATING: 90

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And now for something completely different:

Here is a story I told back in June of 2014. Music in the background reminded me. “Take the Money and Run” by the Steve Miller Band.

I was living, and working, in Phoenix during the 1990’s. I got this horrible project to run that was residential. The biggest home in Arizona up in the hills north of Scottsdale. The guy that owned it had a famous boat company: Sea Ray. And sold it for a gazillion dollars.

He was spending something in the neighborhood of $100 million for this project. That’s 1995 dollars.
The road to the top of the hill where the main house was cost him $20 million to build. It had a caretaker’s house at the bottom. And it had a housekeeper’s house about halfway up.

His house was on top of this hill that he bought. I don’t know how many acres it was but the land alone cost him around $30 million.

His house was perfectly round. All the rooms on the exterior walls were pie cut shaped. With a huge circular living room, kitchen, etc. in the middle.
His garage was also a circle and big enough that you could drive a car into it and come out of it facing the right direction to leave the house. Must have been 150 feet in diameter.
I wish I could remember the guy’s name but I can’t.

I was in the Todd Hart Band Blues Trio at the time and for Christmas he bought me a beautiful leather jacket with the band’s logo on it.

Todd on guitar, the drummer, and me on the far right in the background playing my Dobro electric upright bass like a guitar:
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I remember I had a meeting with the owner, architect, construction manager, and the structural engineer one morning at the site.

The owner saw my jacket and inquired. He asked me if I knew Steve Miller? I laughed and said no.

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He said that Steve was staying at his house in Paradise Valley…an old, very upscale part of Phoenix. Same place that Alice Cooper lives.

I should add that the owner of the company I worked for was there as well. He was my age. A real prick. Cheated on his wife openly with some buck toothed chick that worked in the office eventually leading to a divorce. And his wife getting half the business. She was a class act and such a nice lady. Why this douche bag continued to cheat one her is beyond me. Especially, with a long line of dogs.

So the owner says to me that Miller is quite the guitar player. I nodded. He then took out his cell phone and made a call.

He hung up and asked if I wanted to stop by his house and meet Miller when business was done? Before I could answer, Brad said “YES!”

We meet Miller and he was as gracious as all get out. He actually had set up a little recording studio in one of the large rooms in the house. I was introduced and gave him my background for my 15 minutes (actually 10 years) in the music business.

Then he asked if I wanted to lay down some bass lines or just jam?

I told him that I didn’t have my gear with me. He laughed as he pointed to about 6 different basses in their stands. All were collector’s items and I picked the 1958 Fender Precision. It felt like I had owned it forever. While in England, I bought Wishbone Ash’s Martin Turner’s 1968 Fender P bass.

My boss was impressed with me for the first time. Then, a few people I didn’t know came into the room. One was a drummer.
I was freaking out. I didn’t know any of his songs. Miller graciously suggested we start with a blues improv. You know…1-4-5?

We played for an hour on one tune and took it everywhere. Miller and I and the drummer were having such a good time that time lost its value.

Miller invited me to stay all day and asked if I could lay down some bass lines on stuff he was working on.
And my prick boss said we had to get back to the office. My jaw dropped. How could he do this to me? Fuck nuts!

We all glad handed each other and Brad and I left in his new Corvette. I didn’t say a word to him the whole 45 minutes back to the office.

We get back and Brad goes on and on about what happened. But forgets to mention how Miller and I bonded and how much he liked my playing. This guy was an egomaniacal narcissist and couldn’t stand to not be the center of attention.

Of course, the truth came out during the day as I was pounded for more info. Brad always liked to leave early in the day to go fuck his sweeties.

So all work stopped and I told the story of Miller and I playing together.
I got some serious street cred from that incident in the office. Maybe 30 people.

I never saw Steve Miller again. But a week later, I met with the house owner and he told me how much Miller appreciated me being there because he had recorded the whole jam and it gave him some ideas for new compositions.

So I really thought Miller would contact me again to use me but alas, never did.
Oh well…It was a fun experience.

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3 replies

  1. This cigar is my favorite that I save for the most special of occasions. I bought a box about a year ago, and beyond the fact that they are simply very fine ceegars, the owners of the company are most gracious folks. I like to buy stogies made by folks I like, and folks that I know at least a little bit, altho from afar, and these fit the bill. They are every bit as fine a smoke as you say they are, sir! If it wasn’t for the fact that the Kudzu is box pressed, I’d like it better.

  2. Great review! Another good stick I’ll be looking for. You’re so right about only being able to get decent bagels and/or bialys from NY. What they call a bagel in the mid-west is nothing more than a small bread roll. Not that anyone outside of the NY area would know what a bialy is unless they watched The Sopranos! My experience is that the best bialys are from Brooklyn.
    God bless you Katman! I’ll be delving into your library of reviews on WordPress in the future. So glad you are preserving them there!

  3. Another great and thorough review. Hate that your FIRETHORN might have been a little tight. Proper care and handling is something we strive for and to enjoy our blends to their fullest, the proper burn rate and tempeture is a must. Maybe we need to get you a few of another vitola and see how it stacks up. Let us know and we would be proud to do so. Be blessed. Robert