Wrapper: Mexican San Andrés
Filler: Nicaraguan, Honduran
Size: 7 x 60 Gran Gordo
Strength: Really Full
Price: $10.25 ($9.75 bought in a 10-count bundle)
Today we take a look at the new Southern Draw Fraternal Order ‘Black’
Samples were provided by Cigars International.
Factory: Tabacalera A.J. Fernandez (Nicaragua)
From Alexander Gougher of Cigars International:
“Last year I had the opportunity to work with Robert Holt to develop 2 cigars exclusive to our retail stores. They hit the shelves May 28th.
“The line is called Fraternal Order ‘White’ and ‘Black.’”
The ‘Black’ is a 7 x 60 San Andrés Maduro Gran Gordo.
The ‘White’ is a 6 x 52 barber pole design. (Click here for review).
“I‘m really proud to have had the opportunity to work with Robert.”
Alex’s real name is Josiah Yoder. He is Amish and lives in Pennsylvania with his 5 wives, 17 children, and 42 grandchildren. He is non-violent but warned me if I don’t give this cigar a stellar review, he will turn me into a Smucker’s quilt. Ouch.
“You won’t find these two blends on the CI website. Got to get them in-store. That’s why not many people have had them.”
The Fraternal Order blends will only be available through Cigars International’s retail locations including Bethlehem, Bethlehem (Downtown) and Hamburg, Pennsylvania and The Colony, Texas.
I will give you Alex’s home bathroom phone number, Dark Web moniker, and his credit card numbers so you can order these SD sticks.
SIZES AND PRICING:
Single – $10.25
Pack of 10 – $84.99
Single – $9.75
Pack of 10 – $79.99
This is a beautiful stick. An oily dark wrapper with the slightest bit of tooth. Seams are invisible and a modicum of veinage. The triple cap is expertly applied. The cigar is packed to the gills which will make this a long haul.
SMELL THE GLOVE:
Aromas are faint. I detect creaminess, black pepper, chocolate, barnyard, cedar, malt, caramel, espresso, peppermint, vanilla, and a bit of steak sauce.
The cold draw presents flavors of barnyard, black pepper, salty pretzel, peppermint, a touch of mocha java, cedar, and peat.
I’m at loggerheads here…
I have smoked one Black. It is quite possibly the strongest cigar I’ve smoked. You think the 601 La Bomba is strong? It’s a Gurkha Connecticut Lite compared to the Black.
Due to its size, I would normally smoke it in halves over the course of the day. I remember nothing after smoking half of the aforementioned previously smoked Black. I’m not sure if there was brain damage but as I re-read some of my old reviews, it is difficult to tell. If I do have brain issues, it is probably due to waking up while Charlotte is tightly covering my face with a wet towel while I sleep.
AND…I smoked it on a full belly. Today, as always, I am reviewing a cigar on an empty stomach. I may have to finish it from the bathroom floor.
Alex told me that nearly half of CI’s business is big sticks. I’m not a big stick guy…normally. Bespoke/Casdagli cigars tend to be big honkers but they don’t come close to the strength of what I am about to review.
So, my dears, this is Southern Draw’s induction into the world of giant cigars. A bold move…but is it the right move? Let’s see together.
The draw is spot on so I put my PerfecDraw draw adjustment tool away for another day.
It takes a couple of minutes to warm up but then displays exemplary flavors of black pepper, malt, caramel, dark cocoa, black coffee, peat, cedar, and a nice nuttiness. Some charred oak appears along with some earth, wind, and leather.
I haven’t yet acquired a game plan for this smoke. Will I need to break it up in halves with an hour or two break between? Or muscle through the whole thing before I dial 9-1-1? Can’t predict the immediate future.
Strength hits full from the get go. Pray for me.
I’ve been smoking cigars for 51 years. I like strong cigars. I like medium/full and medium strength cigars as well. I’m crossing my fingers that the week it’s been since I smoked my first one will show that the blend has mellowed a bit so as not to burn my eyebrows off and cause irreversible shock.
It’s pretty tasty. Much better than the first stick a week ago. Same thing happened with the Southern Draw Fraternal Order ‘White’ I reviewed yesterday. A single week made a huge difference in the blend’s approach.
The only real issue I have with Rodan sized sticks is that it takes them a while to really kick in with serious complexity. The cigar has to warm up and due to its size, it just naturally takes longer. And I’m an impatient guy. But like Alex said, BIG is the new small. I’m just a wuss.
At this point, the blend is mostly earthy tobacco. Transitions are minimal. No real complexity. And the finish is bland…but it’s early for this redwood tree.
And that pinpoints my preferences. I prefer cigars that hit you in the puss right away. No waiting for the second third to get into high gear. So, waiting for a behemoth cigar to find its path takes patience and dedication. But then like Dr. Rod told me, he prefers the girth and size of big cigars. (I call it the Tony Soprano Syndrome). He also said his palate isn’t what he’d like it to be but he knows what he likes and what he doesn’t like. And he likes giant cigars. So there…
I’m impressed with the construction. For such a heavily packed huge cigar, the draw has the perfect amount of resistance. Nice. There are no burn issues.
Some creaminess finally appears. The blend is primarily savory. There isn’t a balance between sweet and savory yet. But the stick is very smooth. Even at full tilt, I still retain my vision and can see the laptop screen clearly.
One thing I do like about giant cigars…you can walk away from them for minutes at a time and come back and it’s still burning. No constant re-charring of the foot that can occur in smaller sizes.
1-1/2” in and complexity raises its head. Transitions begin. The finish is more pronounced. We are headed in the right direction.
The Southern Draw Fraternal Order ‘Black’ is a cigar that should be put away in your humidor for at least 6 months. I’d love to report back in that time but I’m sure the cigars will no longer be for sale at that point. There are some rough edges that I believe time will cure. I believe I’m strictly in the “potential” arena as I smoke this blend.
You put Southern Draw, AJ Fernandez, and Cigars International’s heads together and you gotta come up with gold. At this early juncture of the Black, I’m in the Bronze Era.
I’m amazed at how in only one week, the strength has changed so dramatically. I’m not kidding when I tell you the first stick I smoked knocked me out from the start. And here I am approaching the second third and I can still type. Although, things are getting fuzzy around my peripheral vision.
2-3/8” took 45 minutes to consume. Not bad.
I bought a urinal on Amazon. I installed it directly below the table where my laptop sits. Now I don’t have to get up for pee breaks. Of course, Flomax helps out a lot.
The flavor profile on the Southern Draw Fraternal Order ‘White’ was intense and immediate. But then, it was merely a 6 x 52 Toro. Looks like a corona next to the Black.
I’m handling the strength better than expected; especially as I’m doing this on an empty stomach. The strength overload I experienced with the first stick was due to its early unboxed stage. I did allow the cigar to dry box for a couple of days and I believe it helped immensely.
Flavors. Pretty much the same as the first third. It is an earthy blend that doesn’t scream flavor bomb. But the flavor elements are there; just not bursting at the seams.
Just like that…the flavor switch is turned on. Now we’re talking. Malt, chocolate, coffee, sweet factors of caramel, Boston baked beans, and some gingerbread. Added to that, I detect components of buttered popcorn, black tea, green chile, nuts, and the constant expelled from the creaminess.
Complexity begins to rear its head. Transitions get off their arse and begin to ride the Hadron Collider. The finish is dominated by the spiciness of black pepper and green chile.
Six months from now, I’d be slapping my forehead by now excited by all the bold flavor components. The potential at this point is outstanding.
The other bright star is the price. A massive premium stick for only $10 by the single and $8.50 in the 10-count bundle. This is severely impressive.
Like Moe used to say, “Spread out!” This is what the Black is performing…flavors go bat shit crazy. I find this event like smoking a different cigar. It has kicked in. The Eagle has landed.
The balance is now on the money. Savory and sweet are in sync. The complexity continues to dig deep. Transitions are flying by. And a very tasty long finish.
Trying to think what blend this cigar reminds me of…zilch. So far, it stands alone…like the cheese. This is a good thing. Uniqueness drives the cigar market.
I can still see. Even though the cigar blend has lifted its strength to a new level not experienced. Wow. Everything puckers. I’m lightheaded. Not the 1972 eating peyote sessions light headedness, but on its way. I expect to be able to see the Cosmic Muffin any time now.
The flavor profile is changing…big notes of peppery fried chicken, malt, smoked brisket, Red Hots cinnamon candy, chocolate saltwater toffee, nougat, espresso, charred oak, and a strong nuttiness.
Methinks with the right humidor aging, this cigar will be a monster in step with the other SD blends.
I’ve tied thick rope to my waist to keep me from floating away.
I’m half an inch away from the halfway point. Yep. I will need a short break soon. This will be my first 7-hour review.
Public Service Announcement: Newbies! Run!!
Time to get up and walk this off. If I can walk, that is.
Half an hour later…I have my sea legs back.
The break was a good idea. Flavors are freshened.
As I don’t regularly smoke big cigars, you tell me…when you smoke a Gordo+ stick, do you puff on it without a break? Do you milk it by only taking puffs every few minutes? Do you take breaks? I was sent an 8 x 80 stick a while back. I had no idea what to do with it. I didn’t even attempt to smoke it. Instead, it went into a bag with other cigars in a silent auction for an event for a Milwaukee cop’s family. I saw a lot of women laughing.
The complexity continues on its mission. Getting more intense and interesting.
Flavors intersperse with each other like riding a roulette wheel.
For survival sake, I am only puffing on the cigar every few minutes. The nicotine level is climbing Mt. Everest. Slowing down at the halfway point is a must for this old man.
This revised tactic on my part allows the flavors to show off. The finish is bold.
David Lee Roth or Sammy Haggar?
Ruta Lee or Ann Margaret?
Groucho or Harpo?
The warmup period has come to an end. The Southern Draw Fraternal Order ‘Black’ is now full fledged and embossed. Super tasty. Perfectly balanced. Smooth. And strong enough to kick a water buffalo in the nuts.
I’m digging the shit out of it now. I just wish I had possession of my precious bodily fluids.
To say this is a departure from the previous SD blends is like saying waffles taste like pancakes.
I’ve now spent nearly 2-1/2 hours smoking this cigar…not including my 30-minute break.
Damn. A fine blend.
Thankfully, Charlotte is at her part time job. Otherwise, she would be constantly coming into my mini man cave and ask why I’m whimpering so much?
This is going to be a killer blend in 6 months.
It would make a fine high end blunt. Platinum OG.
The music posters on my wall are gyrating and melting.
Now I’m wondering how SD and CI were able to make a determination on this blend. These people are busy folks. Do they sit and smoke a stick for 4 hours? Or do they smoke half, go out for air, and then make a decision on its potential? No idea.
I’ve taken my last photo. Technically, I could stop smoking the cigar to hold on to the last 4 molecules left in my brain and just fake the rest of the review but I am not a cheater. I will finish this no matter the level of hallucinations.
The Southern Draw Fraternal Order ‘Black’ tastes great. Loads of interesting flavors. Great complexity. Lovely transitions. Right on balance. Big finish. Smooth. And only $8.50. That price point still amazes me. So many boutique brands really skewer you for the privilege of trying their wares. But Robert Holt has never been greedy and he has put out some spectacular blends that, by any other manufacturer, would be twice the price. Kudos to SD and CI.
I’ve reached a new level of consciousness. The intense strength doesn’t bother me as much. And I find myself just kicking back and enjoying.
The last third is gold.
To my musician friends…ever play in a band where you didn’t cover Allman Bros. tunes? Me neither.
Greg or Cher?
Stewart Copeland or Keith Moon?
3-1/2 hours to smoke the cigar. 30-minute break. Another two hours to prep for the review and 30 minutes for the photos. Then 30 minutes transferring my word document to my blog. My first 7-hour review. I need a raise.
Southern Draw just doesn’t produce mediocre or average blends. This review will rate the cigar based upon the potential. And I believe if you are patient, you will be treated to another SD winner.
Once again, both Southern Draw Fraternal Order blends are only available from the B&M’s of CI. They do not appear on their web site. Find your friends in PA and TX and offer them pirate’s booty to get you some.
Thanks to Alexander (Josiah Yoder) Gougher for thinking of me.
And now for something completely different:
A tale of New York City…Back in the late 90’s, La Guardia Airport was going through some renovations. I was senior project manager for a high-end foo-foo gingerbread ferrous and non-ferrous metal fabrication company. The outfit was in Phoenix and I had to fly to NYC regularly.
What I didn’t know going into this was the stranglehold the unions had in that city.
The Ironworker’s Union business agent had decided to charge us triple time without cause or reason (We employed 3 crews of seven union guys each; 8 hours per day). We went back and forth with the union for a month on this issue and I got nowhere.
The owner of my company was a weasel who told me to take care of it but would not get involved himself. (He was my age but a real pussy. Afraid of confrontations but talked the talk but couldn’t walk the walk).
Every time I arrived at the job site, my hired NY crews were nowhere to be seen. Other trades would get on their radios alerting my men that I was there so by the time I got back to where they were supposed to be working, there they were with an Alfred E. Newman look on their faces…”What? Me worry?”
Why weren’t the assholes working?
I finally demanded a meeting with the Local B.A. I had to scuttle this triple time thing in the bud or we would take a horrendous dollar loss on the job.
We were to meet at the Waldorf Astoria. It was winter and very cold.
I stood in the lobby waiting. They were late. Sending me a message.
And then they walked in.
Four guys in trench coats. All of them huge guys.
And they all sounded very New York.
“Hey. How you doin’? My name is Vinnie.”
The BA and I shook hands but the other 3 spread out. We went into the empty dining room and sat down.
The BA and I sat at one table and the other 3 sat at separate tables all by themselves. They had surrounded me.
“Didja’ know that I’m the third BA in a year for this local?”
“Yeah, dat’s right…last BA just up and disappeared one night ‘bout 3 months ago. Hasn’t been seen from since. I got the job.”
And then he leaned into me and asked why I was causing so many problems?
I told him that there was no basis for charging me triple time during ordinary working hours.
All four of them laughed hard.
“Look here, kid…I say it’s triple time so that’s what it is. Capiche?”
I told him my budget would not allow for that.
They laughed again.
I was literally pissing my pants.
When I insisted that we pay them standard pay, one of the guys opened his coat to show me his shoulder holster. Never said a word. Just smiled.
“You should know how t’ings run around here, kid. It goes like I say it goes. Capiche?” (He kept saying “Capiche.”)
My mouth was so dry, I couldn’t speak so I just shook my head…I didn’t have a shoulder holster.
And with that, they got up and marched out the front door of the hotel.
I went back to my hotel and said, “Fuck it.”
I lay down on the bed and stared at the ceiling. What if I had really pushed it? Would I have disappeared?
I called the owner of my company and told him how it went. He was pissed off at me for not “handling” it correctly. I got mad. I yelled into the phone, “Well, why the fuck don’t you fly out here and straighten it out?”
Then I heard “Click.”
Categories: CIGAR REVIEWS