Southern Draw Jacob’s Ladder | Cigar Reviews by the Katman

Wrapper: Pennsylvania Broadleaf USA
Binder: Ecuadorian Maduro
Filler: Nicaraguan (Viso, Jalapa Seco, Estelí Ligero)
Size: 5.5 x 54 Robusto
Strength: Medium/Full
Price: $9.50 ($8.40 at online stores)

Today we take a look at the new Southern Draw Jacobs Ladder.
Thanks to Mr. Holt for the samples.

Manufactured at Tabacalera AJ Fernandez Cigars de Nicaragua S.A.
“The name of the cigar has three meanings; first, it keeps with the company’s tradition of using the names of flowering plants for its cigars. Second, the name also refers to the Biblical story of the connection between heaven and earth that Jacob, son of Isaac, dreamed about in the book of Genesis. Third, it’s a symbolic reference to Ethan “Jacob” Holt, son of two of the Southern Draw Cigars founders, who provides sales and valuable technical support for the company.”

From the Southern Draw Cigars web site:
“In collaboration with our seasoned partners that hail from a proud culture in Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Honduras, Mexico and now reside in Nicaragua, which is highly regarded as the best cigar producing region of the world. 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, so we urge you to continue to enjoy them. Perfection may be unachievable but we will keep trying, under the watchful eye of a 3rd Generation Cuban and Master Tobacconist and with focus on the simple but powerful words of Charles Simmons “true greatness consists in being great in little things” and it is our belief at Southern Draw that “integrity is the first step to true greatness…” We go with God’s Grace and may God Bless you all.”

Robusto: 5.5 x 54 $9.50
Toro: 6 x 52 $9.99
Gordo: 6.5 x 60 $10.99

Nice looking stick which is not unusual for Southern Draw. A shiny, toothy, espresso hued wrapper covers a very firm stick with just the right amount of give.
Construction is top notch with a seamless triple cap, tight wrapper seams, and few noticeable veins. And to finish it off, a closed foot.

From the shaft, I can smell licorice root, red pepper, caramel, chocolate, gorgeous honey overtones, café latte, lots of cedar, an array of different dried fruits, a bit of floral, and a couple baking spices like cinnamon and clove…almost pumpkin-like.

From the clipped cap and the foot, I can smell strong earthy tobacco, barnyard, spiciness, ha-cha-cha spicy red pepper, caramel, rich black licorice, caramel, mocha java, and what I said above.

The cold draw presents flavors of thick caramel, red pepper, malts, espresso, chocolate, baking spices, buttered popcorn, and floral notes.

I gave the previous release, Rose of Sharon, a perfect 100 rating. A stunning blend. But then everything that is birthed from the masterful passion of Robert Holt is mind boggling. The Kudzu and Firethorn blends are something else.

This will be a tough follow up. Fingers crossed.

The draw is a bit tight so out comes my PerfecDraw cigar poker I’m a fervent fan of this innovative cigar tool. It has saved many cigars from the trashcan due to poor rolling techniques by too many manufacturers.

Creaminess and black pepper rule the day. Followed quickly by coffee, molasses, caramel, lots of malts, berries, dried fruits, dark chocolate, cedar, and mixed nuts.
Not a bad start. This is how a great cigar begins. It should grab you by the balls from the first puffs and never let up until you are spent when it’s over.

The char line is perfect.

There is a quaint hot cocoa with marshmallows element that is sweet and delectable. A savory note of peppery beef jerky is a nice surprise. Very meaty and smoky.

The stick is packed and will be a slow go. Makes me glad I didn’t choose the 6.5 x 60 Gordo to review. While a nice 3 hour vacation, I would become very grumpy if it was the only size I had to review. In all honesty, SD is a very New Breed manufacturer. Their sticks don’t need months and months of humidor time. I’ve only had this stick for a couple weeks. But I’ve smoked enough SD cigars to know that a couple weeks and these babies are begging to be smoked.

¾” in and complexity begins to impress. Transitions galore. Long finish. This is impressive for less than an inch smoked. Add to that the more than reasonable price point and you’ve got a bona fide winner of a blend.

Ever notice how you find the common threads among your favorite blenders? How you can recognize the man behind the blend? Folks like Pepin Garcia, AJ Fernandez, Dion Giolito, and Fred Rewey (More candela wrapped GB-19’s please) put their stamp on every blend. SD follows that lead and I can recognize other SD blends in the Jacob’s Ladder.

There is a fruity component that tastes like one of those fancy 100% juice drinks that cost too much. I’m thinking of the Naked brand smoothies. The Blue Machine encapsulates the flavors: Blueberry, blackberry, chicory root, and banana. In fact, the banana element is now very strong and melds perfectly with the cream, chocolate, malts, and cinnamon.

We are living the full grandparent experience now. Babysitting 3 nights per week. And attending children’s birthday parties. Today we go to our daughter Katie’s friend Theresa’s for just that. Theresa is around 30, a single mom, two gorgeous little daughters, and works her ass off to provide for them. Unfortunately, her mom died in 2016 and her dad died last week. Just when you start to feel sorry for your own plight, try to imagine Theresa’s. And like I said, just the sweetest kid in the world. So while it is supposed to rain all day here in Milwaukee, the party will be on and Charlotte and I will party heavy with a bunch of 4 year olds. Bringing a cigar.

Damn the cigar went out. The ash was really hanging tough and who doesn’t like a tower of ash photos? So I knock it off and relight.

OK. We are back in business and the slight lull has kicked the whole megillah up a big notch. We are sailing without life vests. We are doing doughnuts without safety belts. We are buying Quorums, Rum Soaked Crooks, and Gurkhas online like there is no tomorrow.

Robert Holt and Co. has created another god head of cigar blends. Despite his deep faith, I think he met up with Robert Johnson at those Crossroads and made the deal.

I am truly impressed with the construction. Not a single burn line touch up required.

As you know, I’m a malt junkie. It’s only in the last few years that my palate has been able to pick up a variety of different malts and now I’m hooked. A day without malts is like a day without sunshine.

Smoke time is 35 minutes.

The TV cable music station is playing Peter Gabriel’s “Sledgehammer.” Love that song. I remember drummer Stewart Copeland complaining to me after he recorded that song with Gabriel. After all the work he put into it, Gabriel only used Copeland’s snare on the entire song…lol. Stew was beside himself. He brought in another drummer to add the gaps and fills.

Root beer. Wow. Reminds me of back in the day going to an A&W drive in and getting a big frozen frosty mug of their root beer. With all the crap fast food joints doing well, I never understood the demise of A&W.

Sweet and savory are perfectly balanced. In fact, the cigar obtains a near perfect balance with its long list of complex flavors.

I cannot believe this is a $9 stick. Less if you shop around. So many thieves…er, I mean cigar manufacturers that don’t touch the hem of SD who use their giant PR machines to sell $15 cigars that taste like $5 Toranos. You gotta give Robert Holt props for thinking of his customer base realizing that not everyone can afford an over hyped Davidoff.

Complexity accelerates. Big everything. Cream, malts, chocolate, coffee, caramel, licorice, root beer, mixed nuts, floral, molasses, marshmallows, baking spices, cedar, black pepper, berries, banana, and smoky beef jerky.

OK. I know what you’re thinking…I’m making all this shit up. No one can taste all those flavors. Here is the secret…when I smoke a good cigar during the day, I don’t dissect it like I do for a review. I just enjoy it. I don’t tear apart the separate components. You gotta be in the zone to taste what I taste while writing and smoking. Concentration and focus are intense. I’m like a tobacco surgeon doing exploratory surgery. So don’t feel bad if you cannot taste what I taste. Kudos if you do. The main thing is I’m explaining why this damn fine cigar is sending my palate to the moon; and by doing so, describing the possibilities of the experience. I’m just like you. If I don’t pay attention, it’s all about whether I like the cigar or not.

The Southern Draw Jacobs Ladder is another notch in Holt’s blending technique.

Halfway point takes a leisurely 50 minutes.
With this slow roll, I’m guessing the Gordo will require naps in between thirds.

I found a couple reviews that sing the praise of the Jacob’s Ladder but no one seems to think it’s worth more than a 90 rating. Bullshit. Just wait.

Sometimes I think the big reviewers are tainted by the sheer volume of great cigars sent to them that they become indifferent. And become stingy with their praise. And just as stingy with their criticisms.

The Rose of Sharon is a masterpiece. The Southern Draw Jacobs Ladder is the perfect follow up. I can only imagine what is cooking in the back room for their next release.

I got so wrapped up in the blissful encounter that I forgot to mention the strength. The cigar starts at medium and meanders to medium/full by the second third and as it approaches the last third becomes full tilt knee wobbling strong.
Nicotine begins its journey.
Not a single flavor has dissipated. The cigar gets better with every puff.
Final smoke time is one hour 50 minutes.

Smoke time is one hour 20 minutes.

Same intensity at play. And super strong. Not a cigar for newbies. And you better have food in your manly gut.

A cigar maintains your interest if it is layered perfectly. Flavors are like riding on a carousel. Actually, it’s more like riding a puke inducing roller coaster. You think you are ready for what’s next but you’re really not. The Southern Draw Jacobs Ladder is one surprise after another. The complexity and balance are awe inspiring and I, if ever, say that about a cigar blend.

Transitions are whizzing by like a bullet train. Just when you think you have the blend sussed out, it changes up and bats left handed.

I see no need to list more flavors. This is a great cigar. And if you don’t buy some, well I’ve wasted my time here. I’ll even pay for them. Just email me at

Malts take center stage. The spiciness is off the charts mixing a combination of black, red, and white peppers. Yet the body of this blend is not affected or over shadowed.

I’m having my first burn issues. Nothing major but I thought I would make it to the end without taking torch to foot.

With an inch to go, no sign of harshness or bitterness. No buildup of tar to ruin things. But the nicotine is a cat killer. (Sammy runs out of the room when I recite what I wrote).

Many thanks to Robert Holt. This has been more fun than putting out flaming boxers with Lubriderm.
Damn straight I recommend the Southern Draw Jacobs Ladder.


And now for something completely different:
I have absolutely no recollection where Curved Air was that night. Back in the mid 70’s, there was no place to grab a bite after a concert. They had these rest stops with a cafeteria every 25 miles on the freeway. So we stopped to get some food in our gullets.

They had a very limited menu and each rest stop had the exact same food. I always got scrambled eggs with simmering hot tomatoes on them, bacon, and toast. I didn’t like English sausages. So that was it. All of your choices. Oh, I left out the chips. That was what Sonja always got. A plate of French fries. She was a junkie who insisted on eating vegetarian. Go figure. We were young.

The place was completely empty as we picked our table. Darryl had excused himself to hit the loo. Meanwhile, limos pulled up with Pink Floyd in them.

They got in line at the cafeteria and then Darryl got in line and his head almost exploded when he realized who was in line with him.

The band picked a table right next to ours. We said our hellos and then scarfed.
Darryl sat down…he didn’t notice that the band was sitting right next to us. He was drunk.
And then he bellowed: “Do you know who is here? PINK FLOYD!!!!”

We all started laughing. So did Pink Floyd. When Darryl assessed the situation, he was so embarrassed; he ran out to our limo and sat it out while we ate.

Nick Mason, their drummer, sat a foot away from me. Everyone in Europe knew who Curved Air was.
Nick was very down to earth and we shot the shit for a good 30 minutes. Very funny guy and he enjoyed my company because I used to be a very funny guy.

I always had my cigars with me. The same Cubans that guitarist Larry Coryell gave me when we did a few dates with him in Switzerland…so this seemed like a good time to bring them out. Mick in our band snagged one. So did Stew. Only Nick of Pink Floyd took one. So we sat there another 30 minutes smoking leaving poor Darryl in the limo by himself.

We said our goodbyes and headed to our cars and the drive home. Darryl was really pissed off that we made him wait. He was the prima donna of the band. We just laughed and paid him no mind.
Sometime later that year, PF played a concert in London. I contacted Nick who had given me his phone number and he got us back stage passes. Only me, Stew, and Sonja went. Let me just say that was a great night.

And now for something completely different – Part 2:
A little rock n roll…1975.

I know a lot of you tire of my ex-rock god stories. But they are fun for me to re-live. And my musician readers can relate. After all, I lived through the days of legendary arena rock bands that are now old men like me.

Normally, Curved Air headlined those big arenas in England and Europe; but on occasion we supported a world class band; like Jethro Tull.

Let me say this: Ian Anderson is a tool. Like Frank Zappa, he never did drugs, did not approve of drugs, did not allow his band mates to use drugs and looked down his nose on anyone that used drugs. And by drugs, I am talking about the Hippie drugs: weed and hashish. In Europe, weed was almost never seen because of the climate and the difficulty to smuggle.
Meanwhile, hash had more bang for the buck in terms of smuggling, and worth more.

Amsterdam was always our first stop of an 8 week tour on the Continent. We stocked up on hash and weed. And damn near smoked it all on the way back to the hotel.

Somewhere in Europe, we hooked up with Jethro Tull for 4 gigs. It was just the two of us on the bill.
We met the band and all was going well. We jammed with them for hours on end prior to sound checks. It was a lot of fun. Especially, since Tull was kind of jazzy because of Anderson’s flute and our violinist and our keys player. All classically trained. Things got wild. Anderson loved us because of our musicianship. I had a great time trading riffs with their bassist, Jeffrey Hammond. I showed him how to play like Stanley Clarke and he showed me Jethro Tull riffs.

And then it became a dark and stormy night.

Each night, the band, except for Anderson, would hunker down in Curved Air’s dressing room prior to the concert and smoke some dope with us. Our band leader, Darryl the violinist, never did drugs either, but had a more enlightened view of things. He drank like a fish and enjoyed us as we got our goof on.

On the third night, we could hear Anderson SCREAMING for his band mates. The guys made a quick exit through a second door just as Anderson entered our dressing room. He smelled the pot and saw us smoking da’ herb mon. He was livid and infuriated.

He said, “I know my guys were in here smoking dope with you. Where did they go?” His face was beet red…and breathing hard and his chest was heaving.

We just shook our heads and hunched our shoulders in response…with a stoner’s blank expression of “I don’t know, dude.”
Off he went.

He never found them smoking. They had clustered somewhere else and completely denied smoking dope when Ian Anderson found them. This really put me off on Anderson. It wasn’t like they were shooting heroin.

The next night, the boys were back in town; or rather, back in our dressing room having a good time. We laughed like idiots for the longest time and then Anderson walked in and caught them red handed.

He screamed like a banshee. Now here were some of the most famous rock n roll guys in the world, at the time, and they cowered under the idiocy of their band leader.

They all retreated to their own dressing room and then Anderson started in on us.

Before he got too far, all five of us gave him the finger and told him to fuck off. Spittle was coming from his mouth and this stopped his tirade dead in the water. He stared at us for a moment and turned heels and left.

He didn’t allow us a sound check that night. Bastardo!
And we were never allowed to tour with them again. Methinks a whole lot of bands never toured with Jethro Tull twice.


Tags: , , ,

6 replies

  1. Great review as always Grandpa Kat, I cant wait to get my hooves on any SD blend! Lol.

    P.S. Don’t party too much bro! Jjk. Enjoy yourself and family.

  2. Thanks Michael…I plan to dance around the Festivus Pole to entertain the little ones. And for the mamas too.

  3. Thanks Katdude!! The hippie rocker stories NEVER get old. A nice treat at the end of the review. Dessert? Anyway, gonna grab me some SD. Check for me review.

  4. Thanks Greg….Katdude, huh? Never been called that…I like it…better than Moon Doggie.

  5. Sonja was a junkie who insisted on eating nothing but chips, BECAUSE she was a junkie. That’s all carbs. In other words, SUGAR. Junkies are straight up sugar fiends. Or so I’ve heard..cough, cough…

  6. She liked pork & beans with her chips. Based on her mammoth size now, I can safely assume that she moved on to full meat eater.

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s