Filler: Nicaraguan, Dominican
Size: 7 x 48 Churchill
Today we take a look at the Southern Draw Cigars 300 Hands Habano.
Samples were provided by Robert and Sharon Holt.
From Cigar Dojo and the Southern Draw press release:
“Southern Draw Cigars has announced the company’s second new project to be debuted at next week’s IPCPR trade show in Las Vegas. Southern Draw has long been focused on family and charities, such as with the IGNITE Some Good project from earlier this year. The company now turns their efforts towards the struggling Nicaraguan community with a new series dubbed 300 HANDS.
“The name is sure to be familiar with many cigar enthusiasts, as it is often estimated that a cigar will come into contact with 300 hands throughout the entire manufacturing process—from seed to final product. But Southern Draw (SD) has put a new spin on the term, attempting to share the stories from 300 Nicaraguans throughout the cigar manufacturing industry.
“We hereby ask our valued retail and media partners to join us as we endeavor to share the stories of 300 Nicaraguan brothers and sisters, using their words, their emotions and their heartfelt pleas to help their neighbors. We have high hopes for a better Nicaragua as they fight to overcome decades old struggles that have just recently escalated into what has been deemed a “newsworthy” crisis. They are 300 HANDS” and “this is their story.”
~ Robert Holt, co-founder of Southern Draw
“The cigars themselves consist of two blends and are said to be “part of our original private blend collection and are now in full production.” 300 HANDS Maduro uses an Estelí-grown maduro wrapper over an Indonesian binder and fillers of Nicaragua and the DR. The cigar’s counterpart—300 MANOS Habano (pronounced Trescientos MANOS)—features an Ecuadorian wrapper over a Cameroon binder and fillers of Nicaragua and the DR. Both blends will be offered in the same five sizes, retailing between $5.99 and $6.49.
“Aiming for affordability, SD hopes to drive attention to “one of the least developed [countries] in Latin America.” Southern Draw will also be donating 25% of profits from 300 HANDS to the Nicaraguans that are featured throughout the project. At launch, they will be sharing the stories of five Nicaraguans: José Efraim Flores Arauz (Farm Supervisor), Pedro Osniel Perez Rivadulla (Fermentation Technician), Anielka Romero Perez (tobacco sorter), Elsa Guadalupe Vallecillo (manager of quality control), and Roxanna Judith Martinez Flores (cigar roller).”
A light chocolate hue to the wrapper with a nice oily sheen. Seams are invisible with just a modicum of veins. The cap is so flawless, it is impossible to count the number of caps. I like the simple cigar band as it represents the struggle for Nicaraguans in a respectful manner. No flash, no dazzle…just a way to provide identification of the blend.
SIZES AND PRICING (MSRP):
Petit Edmundo: 4.75 x 52 $5.99
Coloniales: 5.25 x 44 $6.19
Corona Gorda: 5.625 x 46 $6.29
Piramides: 6.125 x 52 $6.39
Churchill: 7 x 48 $6.49
THE SCHNOZOLA TEST:
OK. I turn some music on and it’s the Eagles playing. Someone hang me.
Lovely floral notes along with a condo full of milk chocolate, sweet caramel, creaminess, malt, cedar, fruit, dried fruit, barnyard, cotton candy, black and red peppers, and coconut. On the cold draw, I taste chocolate malted milk balls, cloves, malt, spiciness, dark coffee, cedar, curry spice, and coconut.
The cap is clipped and the draw is spot on. I can put away my PerfecDraw cigar poker tool for this review.
Van Morrison and Bowie replaces the Eagles. Thank you, dear Cosmic Muffin.
The draw is perfect. Flavors waste zero time examining the outside world from its cloister of solitude and silence. Now the blend is speaking for itself and doing it with panache.
Right off the bat, complexity settles in and the flavor profile explodes like a broken mirror reflecting different segments of light that all shine in different directions. Transitions are all in. The finish isn’t far behind.
Strength is a solid medium.
Cocoa, malt, creaminess, black pepper, baking spices, and a sweetness that finds its roots in stewed apples, summer fruit, and blackberry jam.
There is a gorgeous chewiness coating my teeth like a warm blankey. Flavors whiz past as if their entrails are on fire.
This is how a premium, expensive cigar should start the program. Oh wait…this is a $6.50 cigar. Ha! How can that be? What black magic is this? And why doesn’t Santana ever show his bald head when he is in public?
Shredded coconut really melds perfectly with the heavy malt influence and the sweetness of all things surgically inserted, without anesthesia, into this blend. Chocolate covered espresso beans jazzes things up.
Yeah, I’m a sucker for Southern Draw blends. Never had one I didn’t adore. And the beat goes on with 300 Hands. I cannot believe that this cigar was ready to smoke in only two weeks. Two weeks! What sort of mischief is this?
Construction is dead nuts perfect. A perfect char line with no indication of requiring assistance. The resistance on the draw is right where I like it…in the back of my 1960 Pontiac making out with a girl at the movie drive-in. A double feature of course. Of course, I ended up moving to an area where there isn’t a drive-in theater for 4 states.
Huge sweet spot arrives on a red carpet with Casey Kasem asking who your influences are?
This may just be my new go-to cigar. You cannot beat the price. And the quality far exceeds the price point. Once again, if blind taste tested, I’d put this in the horrifying arena of a double digit $$ cigar. This project is one of love and passion from the Holts and you gotta give them props for their dedication to quality and fearlessness. All those $12-$15 price point cigar makers must be seething from knowing that Southern Draw can produce a blend that is every bit as good as their overpriced, over-hyped drek for half the price. Keep your CAO, Torano, and Patel blends. This is the real thing…catalog pricing in a cigar from a parallel universe when things made sense.
I mean how sick are you of spending $60-$75 for a decent 5 pack of cigars? The Southern Draw Cigars 300 Hands Habano just gave you a brilliant set of options. I’ve already smoked the Maduro version and it’s a killer from another mother. That doesn’t sound right.
Levels of complexity keep piling on like an orgy at the petting zoo. Ever wonder where that goat’s mouth has been? When I was young, I French kissed a wildebeest at a petting zoo. It was a dare. What did I know…I was only 23. I married that wildebeest 6 months later but it filed for divorce shortly after and I have no idea why. Religious differences?
This is the Habano of Habanos. The cigar is rich with a wonderful array of flavors, serious complexity, and subtleties that blow my mind. There is a constant thread of nuance that keeps the blend fresh. I could smoke this cigar all day long.
This has never been in print before this review…The Holts are illegal aliens from the Cigar Galaxy from the Ursa Major Constellation where space, time, matter, energy, the physical laws and the constants that describe them are in constant flux. This means it’s a long drive to the local In-N-Out.
Sweet spots are like spots on a leopard. You lose count and then fall into a deep coma…then you awaken only to realize you don’t have an Aunt Rhoda.
I’m beginning to separate from my body. (My body thanks me). I look down and only see the 300 Hands Habano being cradled by a kindly old woman with armpit hair.
Here we go: Caramel, notes of vanilla toffee, malt by the bushel, chocolate, creamy coffee, cedar, fruits from all over the map, Prell shampoo, and grains like the perfect varieties of Sugar Frosted Flakes.
Not a single incident in which I’ve had to correct the burn line. Or burn the correct line.
Because I’m old and sitting on a fortune of Pez stock, I may ask to adopt Robert and Sharon. I look forward to paying for Robert’s Bar Mitzvah.
Damn. I’m not screwing around…this is an incredible blend. And you know I’m a real sonovabitch when it comes to cigar snobbery. I love this blend. I’ve smoked 3 now and each one is consistent and brilliant without any issues. Just more fun than a barrel of canola oil slathered pink fairy armadillos. Served at every Texan truck stop.
Back in 1975, Curved Air did a few support gigs with Deep Purple. At one sound check, we jammed with them on “Smoke on the Water.” I was told I played too many notes and their bassist didn’t speak to me after that.
Anything pairs up with this blend; from bottled water to Johnny Walker Black Label. Dealer’s choice.
Every sip of water whips the complexity senselessly and each renewal of intense flavors is brought to the mainstream of my palate.
The original release date, per my research, was supposed to be on September 15 but I have seen them for sale on a couple online stores. Buy as many of the Habanos and Maduros as your wife will allow you…let me re-phrase…buy as many as you can without your wife knowing. “Oh look dear, the Holts sent me 5 boxes of cigars for free because Uncle Katman owes me so many favors.” Yeah, that’ll work. Ha.
Straight talk now…I’m deadly serious (Old men should never use the word deadly in a sentence) about this. Achten Sie auf Ihre dumme Gans. (Watch out you silly goose). These cigars are going to fly off the shelves like Ligero flavored Pop Rocks.
Southern Draw is not a paid sponsor. I believe in these folks. They are hard working, decent people. And they pump out one incredible blend after another. So I’m not blowing smoke up your patootie. This is the real deal.
The strength has remained a constant medium throughout making it a perfect cigar for anytime. Newbies will love this cigar as it is the perfect entry point for understanding what a premium cigar brings to the table only without the hefty price tag. And best of all, this is New Breed blending incarnate. Not everyone can afford to buy a box of cigars and let them rest for 9 months. Some of us need to choose based upon how quickly a cigar is ready to smoke. The 300 Hands makes short shrift of the waiting time.
Flavors, all of them, are accounted for with big fancy notes of brilliance.
Trust me on this. This was a fun review to write because the subject matter was glorious. Kudos Mr. and Mrs. Holt for your dedication to blending with passion and giving to others with that same level of passion.
And now for something completely different:
After joining Curved Air, I had to learn 15 songs from their repertoire for the upcoming tour in which a live album would be recorded.
This was 1974 and the band started in 1968. They knew these songs over, under, sideways, down.
The problem for me was that this was a progressive band. Classically trained musicians and the songs were not 1-4-5; like the blues. They were complex numbers that I had less than two weeks to commit to memory.
At the time, I hadn’t heard of the band and had no idea how famous they were in Europe. So I figured a hidden music stand with my charts would help me in a pinch on stage.
Because they liked the funky way I played the bass, they allowed me quite a bit of freedom and latitude. But time signatures and chord changes were rampant in each song. They did have a Top 10 song called “Back Street Luv.” The easiest of the tunes to play of course.
Management rented out a rehearsal space in Covent Garden. Which was the vegetable district for farmers to bring their produce for restaurants in London.
We had four hours every day for 8 days. I had never seen people take so many tea and biscuits breaks in my life. I was struggling and they were screwing around. I was scared shitless.
We’d go over one song, once, and then move on.
And then this guy walks into the studio and sits down next to the chick singer. He is carrying a bass case and opens it. It is a paisley Fender Telecaster and begins to change the strings while kibitzing to Sonja.
I took a huge gulp and thought that my replacement had just shown up.
We took a break and I was introduced to the guy who happened to be the original bassist for Big Brother and the Holding Company. He was in England for some reason and knew Sonja and just decided to drop in. Whew.
The non-rehearsal rehearsals went on for the rest of the allotted 8 days and I was learning nothing. I had a tiny record player at home like I did when I was 8. No bass came out of the 3” speaker and I was desperately trying to figure out very specific bass parts.
We were chauffeured to the first gig. I thought it would be a club. As we approached London Arena, I panicked. I began asking everyone in the car where were we? What were we doing here? No one answered or even paid attention to me.
I stood on the mammoth stage with the huge sound system and all the stage lights and looked out into the audience seats. It held around 8,000.
I saw how they set me up on stage. There was no way I could hide a music stand. No way.
I barely knew the songs.
We did a 45 minute sound check. I used the music stand. No one said anything.
I placed my charts on top of my gigantic amp rig.
Long story, short…I got through the night without playing too many clams. Anything I played was still in the key for the song and only sounded like I was playing harmony.
The band didn’t notice and neither did the 8,000 screaming fans.
Besides, they were all concentrating on our sex symbol singer. I could have played “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” and no one would have noticed with Sonja gyrating.
We had a concert in Nottingham the next day. I spent the whole travel time hunkering down with my charts. Back then, there were no IPods and I had to do this with the songs in my head. I was sweating like a pig.
Three days later, the recording of the album began. It was done over two consecutive nights. And magically, I forgot about the recording truck outside the arenas. And I played my ass off.
During the mixing of the album, I discovered that I in fact, played very well. And got lots of compliments. Every member spent hours overdubbing clams they played or sang.
Me? I had to play ONE note to replace a clam. One note. I got the stink eye from everyone.
The managing director of BTM Records said in the studio, “Well, I guess we all know who the star of the album is…” as he looked at me.
The prima donna band put on sour faces that could kill. This was the first step in my downfall that would occur two years later. I was outplaying these fine musicians and they began to hate me for it.
Yeah, I was kicked out for political reasons but I had the time of my life. I had made the big time and squeezed every moment out of it.
And now for something completely different Part 2:
Rock n Roll Hall of Fame drummer: Hal Blaine:
Hal was a special man to me. Hal was part of the L.A. Wrecking Crew in the 1950’s, 1960’s and 1970’s. This was a group of high powered musicians that were hired for their expertise and cohesion in the studio. I really don’t know if they ever played out together, but they did create magic in the studio. The bassist, Carol Kaye, was my bass teacher for a couple years starting when I was 19. She and Hal played on most of the Beach Boys songs.
The list of Top 10 songs Hal played on is endless. And he worked a lot with Phil Spector.
Hal became my mentor and friend. I was 32 at the time. He played with everyone; literally. He could tell stories about my heroes like no one else. I loved to hear him talk. And he was a bona fide story teller. A real Mark Twain.
He told me he was at Sinatra’s house when Tommy Sands met Nancy Sinatra and he could see they fell in love immediately. Jesus Alou!
Hal lived the typical rich musician life. Lots of wives and kids and during the time I was close to him, he lived on his yacht which was docked in Marina Del Rey, CA. Going through divorce #29.
At the time, I had a TV show with a local DJ who was on a major rock station in L.A. He did the interviewing of 1960’s musical acts and I wrote, produced and directed.
We were lucky enough to get Hal to agree to be on one of our shows. And we also got Darlene Love of “The Blossoms” fame. She was Danny Glover’s wife in the “Lethal Weapon” movies.
As fate would have it, both of them did an Ed Sullivan Special together in 1971. It was Nancy Sinatra in Vegas for the whole show. Darlene and her Blossoms did the backup vocals and Hal was on drums.
Hal bought a 1971 Sony video recorder and player, for $2000, so he could watch the show afterwards. This thing was like a boat anchor. It was reel to reel. And I had the chore of getting the show converted to ¾” format for 1982 TV. This is what news cameras used. I had to borrow the video recorder from Hal to take it to the transfer studio.
So off I went to his boat with no idea how heavy this thing would be. And it was a long walk. I was on the light side back then. And this thing must have weighed 60lbs. It also came with a B&W 21” monitor that weighed what I did…I sat with Hal and we kibitzed for a while and then I left. To this day, my right arm is one foot longer than the left because of carrying that recording equipment.
I went through the motions and accomplished my ordeal. Then I reluctantly dragged the thing back to the yacht. When I got there, Hal asked me to hold on to it for a while because he had no room for it on his boat. WTF!!!???
“Hal! Look at me! I weigh 98lbs and this thing is making me a hunch back!”
Hal laughed. And shook his head. I told him that he must make me lunch to gain the strength to lug this thing back to my car. He did. Lox and bagels. Ummmm.
I lugged the damn thing back to my 1971 Datsun station wagon.
Long story, short…The show was a rousing success. We had wonderful shots of Darlene and Hal playing while Nancy did “These Boots are Made for Walking.” And they were completely at home in front of the camera.
Every now and again, I would mention to Hal that I would be happy to bring his recorder back. He shrugged his shoulders and said, “Hang on to it a little longer, bubbelah.”
So now, over 35 years later, the recorder is in my living room. I use it for a bomb shelter.
Categories: CIGAR REVIEWS