Firethorn Pome by Southern Draw Cigars | Cigar Reviews by the Katman

Wrapper: Ecuadorian Habano Rosado
Binder: Mexican San Andrés
Filler: Nicaraguan
Size: 6.5 X 40 Lancero
Body: Medium
Price: $10.75 each in 2 Pack or 5 Pack at Southern Draw Cigars web site ($9.13 with promo code: Katman15)

Today we take a look at the Firethorn Pome by Southern Draw Cigars
I received samples from SD about 2-3 months ago.

The order of releases for the three lines is as follows: Kudzu, Firethorn, and Quick Draw.

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.”

Line extensions –
CODE DUELLO – SEMI BOX PRESSED, PERFECTO (Kudzu version reviewed 12-25-16)

Robusto 5.5 X 54 $8.99
Toro 6 x 52 $9.50
Gordo 6.5 x 60 $10.00

Tuft of what looks like ear hair adorns the top of the cap. Anytime I receive a cigar with a delicate cap fan, I more often than not accidentally destroy it as I remove the cello.
In normal light, the wrapper looks more medium brown than its pure beauty that sunlight brings to the overall picture of a reddish, oily wrapper.
Seams are tight. Small veins. Nice firm cigar.
And a nicely closed foot.

From the shaft I smell honey sweetness, floral notes, fruit, a light orange citrus, cedar, cinnamon graham cracker, and a bit of spice.

From the clipped cap and closed foot, I smell bittersweet chocolate, red pepper, strong cinnamon, coffee notes, citrus, floral notes, fruit sweetness, and cedar.

The cold draw presents flavors of strong red pepper, chocolate, espresso, floral notes, orange citrus, and cedar.

The draw is the tiniest bit tight so I pull out my PerfecDraw cigar poker and a couple insertions of this miraculous device and the Firethorn is perfect.

First up: Rye bread with strong caraway influence, red pepper, cinnamon, milk chocolate, cream, cedar, custard pie, black pepper, and an array of delicious malts.
That’s how a good cigar should start. Out of the gate and it’s ripping ass and taking back Mosul…guns a’blazin’.

Strength is medium.

There is a surprise with a slightly burnt marshmallow element that makes me whine I have no graham crackers of chocolate in the house.
Transitions occur quickly. Complexity begins its journey quest. The finish is medium. And only ¾” smoked. Big smile.

I fully expect any $10 stick to begin this way. While the current cost of cigars makes a lowly $10 seem insignificant, it’s still a lot of dough for most smokers. It is for me. Hence, my expectations are high and the lizard brain is ready to pounce should the cigar fail the smell test.

The Firethorn Pome is a nice, slow, leisurely smoke. Some lanceros smoke like a cigarette. Poof and it’s gone which is why I’m not a big fan of the lancero size. Although, there are significant great ones by a few manufacturers. Paul Stulac and Ezra Zion have it down pat.

Changes occur in the flavor profile: Creaminess, red pepper, black pepper, cinnamon, chocolate, orange rind, baking spice, toasted marshmallow, cedar, a lot of malt influence, and that lovely caraway rye bread element.

Now I get something that is hard wired in my puny brain…the chocolate covered raspberry jell Manischewitz candies I grew up on during the High Holidays. Nice.

The citrus leaps from orange zest to lemon zest from minute to minute.

Strength hits medium/full at 2-1/2” burned.

Malts and coffee kick in and along with the overflowing creaminess makes this a malt shop delicacy. I actually grew up during the death throes of the malt shoppe…just like in the Ron Howard “Happy Days” era. But my buddies and I chose to hang out at the local Bob’s Big Boy because it was cheap and all the waitresses were young and beautiful; not to mention friendly. In my day of the dinosaurs, we paid $1.35 for a burger, fries, salad and Coke. We were disturbed when the price went up to $1.65 unexpectedly.

Robert and Sharon got their shit in order. Every blend they create is a killer. The recently reviewed Rose of Sharon was given a perfect 100 rating by me. The Southern Draw Code Duello Kudzu I reviewed in December, 2016 blew my socks off and got a 95.

All Southern Draw cigars really blossom after a couple months rest. Sure it’s $11 but with my promo code of Katman15, it’s a more easily digestible $9. And worth every shekel. This is my third stick since I received them and each was consistent and a joy to smoke.

At nearly 3” burned, the Firethorn Pome aims for the stars. It reaches flavor bomb status. I know, I know…I have tried to refrain from that term as I’ve overused it in the past…but this blend is firing away on all 12 cylinders.

I reviewed this blend in the Robusto size in January, 2016 and gave it a 90. Great cigar but I believe the lancero size was born to be wild.

Smoke time is 35 minutes.
Transitions are flying like the Wallendas. Super complex. Long finish.
A touch of nicotine enters.

Smacking my lips like a dog to savor the lingering tastes on my palate. A sip of water and they come rushing into the cerebral cortex of my brain which is the part that discerns Froot Loops from liver and onions. (I made that up).

I have a Kudzu lancero that I’m anticipating reviewing.

Construction is on the money. No char issues. Perfect draw. What else do you need?

Flavor queue once again: Creaminess, black pepper, chocolate icing, cinnamon, big malts, orange rind, toasted marshmallow, cedar, a nuttiness that includes raw cashew and hazelnut, and my chocolate covered raspberry.

Southern Draw is one of those few boutique brands that pushes all my buttons. I’ve smoked their blends and I love them all.

The black pepper surges like a tsunami. Yet not covering up a single nuance of its flavor profile. I could smoke this blend all day long.

Southern Draw Cigars is not a sponsor but they have been kind enough to offer a 15% discount to my readers.

Listening to Buffalo Springfield. More on that after the review.

There isn’t a single let up of the bursting flavor explosions. Even though I’ve reviewed the robusto in this blend, size matters. And while the flavors from the lancero and robusto are not dissimilar, the lancero is a more intense blend.

Lanceros typically become harsh at the end. Not the Firethorn Pome. As it burns down, it increases in appeal. It is almost sensory overload. So much going on that its complexity level is impressive.

No matter which blend you choose from the Southern Draw Cigars web site, you will love them all. And it’s convenient to buy directly from the source. You can’t buy 2 packs from any other online store.
Plus, for every cigar you purchase from SDC, they include an all-inclusive vacation in Qatar.

The Firethorn Pome ends with a bang…leaving me wanting more.
The early nicotine influence has been mild throughout. No blindness for your Grandpa Katman.
A great blend!
Final smoke time is one hour 10 minutes.


And now for something completely different:
I’ve told you about my oldest friend, Skip. And how we went to Europe together in the early/mid 70’s to make our fortune and fame in music. I have another tale of friendship and music.

I was a child of the folk music era of the early/mid 1960’s. I picked up the 5 string banjo. Skip picked up the guitar and we taught ourselves how to play. We loved music. Mostly, rock and roll. So we were in the right place at the right time for the period of peace, love and understanding.

I was fortunate to take banjo lessons from the legendary John McEuen. There was the coolest little music store in Long Beach called McCabe’s. As my music friends were respectful and jovial, the owners allowed us to hang out all day on the weekends and some weekdays in the store. We saw iconic musical greats come and go to get something special for the band.

McEuen told me one day he had to stop giving lessons because he was going on the road with his new band, Nitty Gritty Dirt Band. A big deal in those days with a couple top 10 hits nationwide.

McEuen is on the far left:

There was this great venue for musical concerts in Anaheim. It was called Melodyland. It was a theater in the round. Skip and I always bought front row center seats for around $3.50 each. I say front row because no one ever sold out the 15,000 arena and therefore the stage was aimed in just one direction and did not rotate as usual.

And we saw everyone. Our first concert, after I got my driver’s license at 16, was Buffalo Springfield (Stephen Stills, David Crosby, Neil Young, Richie Furay, Jim Messina, and Jim Felder). I had never heard a band play so loudly and I was hooked.

Melodyland always had a full evening’s entertainment. No band played longer than 30-45 minutes so there were always 5-10 bands to enjoy.
Buffalo Springfield had just scored a top 10 hit with their “Nowadays Clancy Can’t Even Sing” song. Followed by the iconic, “For What It’s Worth.” And there we were watching these soon to be one of the most famous classic bands of the music world.

One night, we saw the greatest concert of all. The Mamas and Papas opened and played for a full hour. We were delirious. And after that, Simon and Garfunkel came on and did 90 minutes. Just the two of them and Simon’s guitar. No backing band. We sat there rapt in wonder. All for $3.50 and we sat up front less than 20 feet away.

At 16, The Byrds played at the Golden Bear in Huntington Beach. It was a small dive that seated about 150 people and getting tickets was impossible. So I called the place and pretended to be a reporter from the Long Beach Press Telegram newspaper. Their manager bought into it and my friend, Elliot Kushell, and I took a tape recorder and camera (My Kodak Instamatic should have been the red flag debunking that we were pros) and we spent the whole evening back stage.

We literally hung out with the band in their dressing room the whole night while they played three sets. I wrote an article and submitted it to Tiger Beat magazine but it was rejected. Full of red marks correcting me. It was like friggin’ English class. The editor told me that the story wasn’t “cuddly and cute” enough.

I still have the reel (I used a Sony tape recorder my grandfather bought me for my Bar Mitzvah) from the interview we did with Jim McGuinn. That’s right. Roger McGuinn’s original name was Jim but his guru said he was a Roger; not a Jim. So when he signed an autograph for me, He made a big “J” then stopped and wrote “Roger.” Wish I still had that little piece of paper.

And then the craziest of all: Jimi. The place was half full. It was before Woodstock. We watched as this guy, who had been living in London and killing them over there; had come back to America to play shit hole gigs. He even opened for The Monkees and was booed by all the teeny boppers. I believe he canceled his participation in the tour after 3 gigs.

The volume of the Hendrix band was so loud that a rep from the theater actually walked up to Jimi while he was playing a solo and used his hands to show that the volume had to come down. We laughed hysterically. And since we were only 10 feet away from him, Jimi saw us laugh and he looked at us and smiled.
So what did Jimi do? He turned up, of course.

Things were very informal in those days. Especially, at a small venue like Melodyland. It only held 3000 folks…but no series of acts ever sold the place out. The stage was circular and could rotate 360 degrees. But they never had to do that as half the place was empty so they faced their audience.

Skip and I were brazen young men and always hung out and talked to the bands afterwards. They were all gracious and kind to us. They never shooed us away.

We endeavored to talk to Jimi but we realized he was really high. Didn’t know on what at the time…my guess was either acid or heroin. But he was out there playing his ass off. Maybe he wasn’t high. He was just being Jimi.

When I was 19, I got tickets to see the Doors at the L.A. Forum. I was shocked at seeing the stage. This place was huge. The stage was completely set up like a fortress of Marshall amplifiers. At least 15-20 feet tall. And they stretched across the stage not allowing one inch for anything else. If I had to guess, I would say there were 50 amps up there. No idea how many they actually played out of. Seemed more like a stunt than necessity.

Now this was surreal. I took a date to the L.A. Forum. The Doors’ opening act was Jerry Lee Lewis. Everyone loved this guy but who thought this would be a good opener? And to make things worse, Lewis was going through his country phase. So all the musicians in his 8 piece band wore the exact same three piece suits. And Lewis wore a different colored three piece suit to stand out from his sidemen.

After about three songs, the audience started to boo. Lewis must not have heard them; or ignored them. He did a torturous 45 minute set…never once played any of his legendary songs…only country. And when he came to the last song, he approached the mic and bellowed to the audience, “You wanna’ hear more?”
And in unison, 20,000 people yelled, “NO!!!!!”

Lewis was in shock. He told the audience to go to hell and stomped off the stage to thunderous applause.

Morrison was a known drunk. He held a bottle of Southern Comfort the whole time and about 15 minutes into the music, he grabbed an empty box and puked into it. In one hand he held the liquor and the other, the box. So for the entire set, he was either drinking or puking. He got booed as well. It was disgusting, especially when he missed the box.

Not long after that, Led Zeppelin came to the Forum. I saw them play every single time they hit L.A. Right up until the death of Bonham. So I must have seen them play 4-5 times.

My new girlfriend had never gone to a real concert before and when Bonham started sledge hammering the drums for the start of their first song “Rock and Roll,” my girlfriend sprung out of her seat like a helium balloon and never sat back down for the entire concert. She was mesmerized. I got laid that night.
If you never saw the original Zep, well…that’s a real shame because it was like watching the thunder of the gods. As a bassist, I was mesmerized by John Paul Jones. I wanted to burn my bass when I got home.

Who else did I see in L.A.? I saw The Who. With drummer, Keith Moon. I saw Cream. Watching Jack Bruce changed my life.
My first bass was a Hofner like McCartney’s. But watching Jack Bruce play his Gibson EBO made me change axes. I bought a brand new Gibson EBO and juiced it up with fancy electronics. In fact, I used that bass on the Curved Air Live album. It was after that that the band convinced me to switch to a Fender P. That was a mistake as it was only a few weeks before we began to record the next album. I went from being comfortable with a short scale bass to being overwhelmed by the giant Precision bass that felt like playing a 2×4 neck. It really took me 6 months to get used to it.

My bass playing style completely changed as I mimicked the improv style of Jack Bruce. As any musician knows, woodshedding is the most significant method to hone one’s chops. I got really good which held me in good stead when I auditioned for Curved Air. But the great jazz fusion bassist, Stanley Clarke, also had a huge influence on me and the combo of Clarke and Bruce made me a special player over in England.

I know I am missing a shit load of bands that I saw as a young man but it was so long ago and I’m so decrepit, it is hard to remember them all.
But it was quite an era. Protection Status


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3 replies

  1. Hey Uncle Phil,

    No S%&t that Doors concert at the Forum when we were 19 was surreal! Personally, I would have said it was “F%#ked Up”.

    When Jerry Lee first came out, I heard a lot of groans. When the audience booed him, man did he get pissed!! Do you remember that when he cursed at the audience, he jumped on top of his piano first? He was standing on top of that piano yelling at us. Unforgettable.

    I was a Doors fan BEFORE that concert at the Forum. But not after. Do you remember that the Forum went entirely black? Finally a single spot was on Morrison, sitting crossed-legged on what looked like some sort of catwalk. The spot light just stayed on him, sitting there, with him looking up at the audience – although I’m sure he couldn’t see the audience.

    He said nothing. And after a minute, the audience thought it was really cool. Wow! Morrison just sitting there, saying nothing, just staring at us. Far out!

    But then, when a LONG time went by, the audience started stomping our feet and then some noise as if to say, “Enough with the sitting there looking at us – let’s get this show on the road”. And with that, Morrison yelled to the audience, “SHUT UP!!!!!!”, followed by other profanity. The audience, including me, then started booing the A-hole.

    I remember that Morrison was so f%&ked up, they only played a few songs (which sounded horrible) and then left.

    Wow, what a memorable night!

  2. This freaks me out that someone I only met in 2017, and the same age as I, experienced so many of the same things by living in the same town and traveling in the same circles 50 years later. The Cinnamon Cinder rules!

  3. Boy those are awesome memories Phil! I’m a huge Neil Young fan and love how he’s accomplished so much in over half a century of work.

    I love the Doors as well. Too bad you couldn’t see them earlier when they were playing The Whiskey A Go Go. I still think they were a really tight band. Manzarek’s keys were great, Densmore was solid on the sticks and Robby Krieger is a tremendously underrated guitarist. And Morrison, when he wasn’t off his ass on booze and drugs, was and is one of the most powerful performers.

    You are truly a lucky man to have seen all these great artists in person!

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