Wrapper: Indonesia (Sumatra Besuki TBN)
Binder: Nicaragua (Habano 2000 Estelï)
Filler: Dominican Republic (Piloto Cubano Viso) & Nicaragua (Criollo 98 Viso Estelí, Nicaraguan Habano 92 Quilali and Nicaraguan Corojo 99 Ligero Jalapa)
Size: 5.5 x 52 Belicoso
Today we take a look at the Southern Draw Cedrus “The Hogan.”
Thanks to Robert and Sharon Holt for the samples.
I smoked 3 sticks prior to this review.
Factory: Tabacalera AJ Fernandez Cigars de Nicaragua S.A.
Released: July, 2018
Production: 60,000 cigars for 2018
“This summer, the company added a fifth regular line to its portfolio, picking the name Cedrus for it. From a more proper perspective, the line gets its name from Cedrus libani, or Lebanese cedar as it is commonly known. In ancient woodworking, the trees were highly desirable both for offering firm, high quality wood, as well as for its pleasant scent, with the varietal used for the creation of temples, palaces and sailing vessels. In the modern world, it is still used to create cigar boxes, as well as in Southern Draw’s branding and logos.
“It’s not just the particular varietal of flora that the company names its cigars for, but people from whom the company draws inspiration, and in this case, the first size in the line was named for Phil and Shelly Hogan, who company founder Robert Holt cited for their support and contributions to the early days of the brand. The Hogans “have been as steadfast and enduring as the cedar tree even as they have humbly remained in the shadows of our early successes,” Holt noted when the cigar was announced in early July.
“In addition to being a supporter of Southern Draw, Phil Hogan is a United States Navy veteran, a military tie-in that is reflected in the design and packaging of the Cedrus.
“Robert Holt spoke about the cigar at the 2018 IPCPR Convention & Trade Show about how it uses an Indonesian Sumatra wrapper varietal known as Besuki TBN, while the binder is a habano 2000 leaf from Estelí, Nicaragua. The filler contains four types of tobacco: Dominican piloto cubano viso, Nicaraguan criollo 98 viso from Estelí, Nicaraguan habano 92 from Quilali and Nicaraguan corojo 99 ligero from Jalapa. Holt called Cedrus the company’s “most distinguished tasting cigar,” due to the Indonesian tobacco’s distinctive spice profile as well as an herb-like profile that comes from the Quilali tobacco, which is grown in a mountainous region of the country approximately 70 miles northeast of Estelí.”
A beautiful presentation with a crisp box press and oily wrapper that feels as smooth as a baby’s bottom. Seams are hidden. And very few veins interrupt the flow of the stick. The stick is evenly distributed by gobs of tobacco but not a single soft or hard spot. The pointed cap is a work of art with a seamlessness that brags on the rollers. A gorgeous cigar…
SMELL THE GLOVE:
Light notes of chocolate, malt, cedar, salted peanuts, black pepper, generic sweetness, lavender, creamy, caramel, molasses, and lemon zest. The cold draw doles out big notes of cedar, chocolate, peanuts, malt, citrus, creaminess, black pepper, and salted caramel.
The cigar is packed to the gills with tobacco; yet the draw is clear and open. No need for my PerfecDraw cigar poker tool today.
My fingers are crossed that The Curse of the Box Press does not intervene. I don’t know a single smoker that has the problems with box press burns like I do. Could it be that my dad’s people were from the Transylvanian Mountains of Hungary?
Black pepper and cedar dominate at this early point. Creamy, malty, sweet notes of molasses, and a very earthy element adds to the mix.
Strength starts out a tad above medium.
Complexity enters almost immediately. A nice even brush stroke of flavors alongside finely aged tobacco shows signs of the Cedrus being an impressive smoke.
The cigar is super creamy with a strong element of the cedar prevailing. The blend is becoming very spicy. I’m gargling with black pepper.
The curse may be broken. The burn is money.
I’ve been a fan going back nearly 3 years. I’ve reviewed 9 blends giving them all rave applause. This is a consistent company with a one track mind when it comes to taking blending seriously.
The Southern Draw Cedrus adds to the quality of Southern Draw’s line by upping the ante. While not diminishing the quality of their other blends, the Cedrus takes the whole megillah a step further in the journeyman approach of Robert Holt. This young man is on a path to be a force that must be reckoned with in the world of boutique brands. I’ve seen bucketsful of boutique brands come and go. My gut tells me that Holt is here to stay.
Big complexity. Transitions are doing 4.4 in the 40. The finish is filled to the brim with cedar and creaminess. The citrus and chocolate are a real treat; especially with a new hint of mint.
There is enough mineral content to keep the cigar’s output on the edge.
Strength remains at a touch above medium.
The Cedrus is fat. Balance is becoming a shining example of laser focused intent. I haven’t had this much fun since my Bar Mitzvah.
The blend is on a constant agenda to surprise your palate at every juncture. The cedar is the leading edge and now that cedar finds sweet qualities that exemplifies the blender’s intent.
I believe the citrus could take it down a notch but it is a minor thing as everyone’s palate is different.
As I near the halfway point, the blend changes gears. The cohesiveness of the “whole” is now very impressive and puts a big smile on my puss. The character and complexity are in high gear.
Here they are: Creaminess, cedar, black pepper, chocolate, malt, citrus, molasses, mineral, dried fig, cinnamon, along with a deep richness that is so pervasive that it coats my teeth like toothpaste.
I love that the strength is still at a potent medium. Nope. No nicotine. (Jinxed it).
The finish provides long, languid, lip smacking moments that are to be savored between puffs.
I’m burdened by a box press burn issue curse. And yet, the Cedrus will have none of that. Not a single touch up has been required. And the draw has been superior.
I’ve had my cigars for about two months. I can only imagine the growth of the blend given it receives a few more months of humi time. Some cigars just scream leave me alone so I can develop into a knee slapping event.
The second half is just Bozo crazy. The first half was such a tease and now the Cedrus is roiling with complexity and expectations. I love this cigar.
True cigar aficionados are going to dig the this blend. It is a perfect blend for newbies due to its constrained strength…making it a real learning experience about the art of blending.
I betcha’ the Holts are very proud of this accomplishment. They should be.
I’m on a magic carpet ride. This is definitely a stick you never want to end. I wonder how many iterations of sizes they went through before deciding on the Belicoso fino?
If you haven’t tried the Cedrus or haven’t opened your wife’s wallet to buy some, I’m telling you emphatically that this is a must for your humidor. It’s a limited release so the longer you wait….snooze, you lose.
The construction needs some mentioning. I’ve only had to rid the stick of ash twice; and that was to keep the errant ash from descending upon my naughty bits. The draw is spot on. The cigar never gets mushy or soft. It maintains its structural integrity throughout. Holt used some mighty fine rollers and yet maintained a decent price point for a blend of this quality. If this was a high premium brand name, you’d be seeing this cigar blend touted as the best thing since sliced white bread with a double-digit price point most of us can’t afford.
Yeah, I go on nauseatingly about the $12+ prices on cigars because most are not worth the price. Like anything else in life, you get what you pay for…unless it’s cigars. Here, we have a product that exceeds expectations and provides world peace and may even cure the common cold.
Strength is medium/full with only the slightest hint of nicotine.
A clear winner for me is when the cigar is so smooth you want to plotz. And at the same time so intense that it stops time and puts you in the moment so as to create focus and acceptance. You are smoking a one of a kind blend.
The Cedrus is a perfect example of high premium blending. The whole exceeds its parts making it a fierce competitor for your hard earned dough.
The perfect cigar with your morning coffee or the perfect stick at cocktail hour.
There are a few brands that blow my socks off with each release. I can only think of a small handful of brands that has this effect on me. And Southern Draw is a member of this elite club.
And now for something completely different:
The Eddie Munster Chronicles 1983:
It was the day before the first shoot. I hadn’t written a script yet because Butch kept putting off getting together with me. Thank goodness because I got a hair up my ass and whipped it out in twenty minutes the night before. No changes needed. 33 scenes for a 2-minute song. It sometimes amazes me how you can pull shit out of nowhere when you are in a high stress situation.
The first shoot was an exterior. There is a line in the song that says, “I got up and left school.” So, we got the iconic auto customizer, George Barris, to loan us John Travolta’s souped up Trans Am. George insisted that he provide the driver. The scene required two shots. First was Butch running down the steps of the high school in cap and gown. And the second was the Trans Am burning rubber taking off from the school.
Our second scene for the Eddie Munster video was a completely unexpected success. I had no permit to shoot a film. And we were stopping traffic on Sunset Blvd. We fooled the cops and shot right in front of Hollywood High School. In fact, cops did drive up and turn their lights on to help us out not knowing we were shooting illegally. They were so smitten with meeting Butch that they didn’t give a shit. But that was only 2 scenes. My shooting script had 31 more scenes to go.
I scoped locations. In San Pedro, CA, there is a permanently docked tourist boat that has a couple restaurants, and a chapel on top. The Princess Louise.
There was a chapel on the top deck that would be perfect for the balance of my scenes and I made financial arrangements with the chaplain.
I gathered my crew, my extras, and the band…and we showed up at the Princess Louise around 6pm. A total of 125 people.
I was immediately met by the owner of the boat who said the chaplain had no authority to allow us to shoot. “!%#^$#%&*(*&!!!!”
“$2000 please”…as the owner stood next to his brand new Rolls Royce.
I drove home like a maniac while the crew was moving their gear to the chapel. I went into my safe and grabbed the dough. The owner, and his Rolls Royce, was waiting for me. I handed the money over and he left but not before I gave him the finger. Only a few of my crew knew what had happened. I couldn’t afford another disaster like the mortuary catastrophe. (Another story)
I had rented 5 outlandishly decorated caskets from Cassandra the Casket Queen in Hollywood. We were forced to hold them over our heads as we transported them upstairs to the chapel. We actually had to wind our way through a crowded restaurant to do this. Forks fell in unison.
The camera crew set up in the chapel while our make-up artist did her thing with the band members….Eddie in white; while the Monsters were in green make up. All good looking boys. In fact, one of them was Butch’s brother, Mike.
I went over the script with Marvin Rush, my cinematographer (Who went on to be one of the most sought after cinematographers in L.A. He did some Star Trek movies.)
One of his crew members voiced an opinion that it can’t be done in one night. Marvin immediately told him to shut up. He explained to the guy that Phil is the director and they will do whatever it takes to get it done.
The extras are ready. I picked regular folks. No models or pretty people.
I quickly spent a few minutes with all concerned to tell them what I needed from them.
And then I yell “Action.”
We had begun to shoot our first scene of the night. Now mind you, “Whatever Happened to Eddie?” was just barely 2 minutes long and I had written 33 scenes to shoot. That meant an edit every 3.6 seconds. The same way the Bourne movies are edited. Blink and miss a scene.
The first shot was of the 50 extras dancing into the chapel while the music played. I purposely picked a huge array of types; fat women, fat men, a rainbow coalition of ethnicities, young and old, and they were all thrilled to be there and have their 15 minutes, or shall I say 7.2 seconds of fame? The longest scene of the video.
One of my friends, Ben, brought his friend, Jasper. Both were very well dressed in three-piece suits. So, I put them up front for two reasons….they were dressed to the nines and could move their fat asses like no one else in the crowd.
One of the shots had the camera on them as they sang the chorus. All they had to was lip sync the title of the song. It turned out that it was the only shot of the night that required more than two takes.
Jasper, could not for the life of him, remember the words, “Whatever Happened to Eddie?” So, his mouth moved in total non-unison with the song. It was driving me nuts and taking too much time.
It was the only time I acted like a prima donna during the whole project. I screamed at Jasper that is he stupid or what? It was like talking to Forrest Gump. He just couldn’t do it. He promised he would on the threat of being sent away. I had 49 other extras lip syncing perfectly and there was Jasper in the second row messing it all up.
I didn’t want to look at the play back. I had to move on….But I heard Marvin, my camera man, laughing so I knew that Jasper had failed miserably. That was the only scene where we needed extras so, upon completion of that part of the video, I sent them home.
And then we moved on to the parts with Butch and the band.
And it got really hairy at this point….things happened…the night turned into morning and everyone was running on fumes…..tempers were out of control….the end result of a 16 hour shoot.
To be continued…..
Categories: CIGAR REVIEWS