Southern Draw Desert Rose | Cigar Reviews by the Katman

Wrapper: Ecuadorian Cloud Grown Claro
Binder: Nicaraguan
Filler: Nicaraguan Corojo ‘99 Ligero, Dominican Piloto Cubano Ligero
Size: 5.5 x 52 Belicoso
Strength: Medium
Price: $11.99

Today we take a look at the Southern Draw Desert Rose.
Factory: AJ Fernandez Cigar Co.
Release Date: July 2019
10 count special mazo
Production: 150,000 yearly

One constant in all SD cigar blends is the beautiful presentation. The Desert Rose is not an exception. The silky-smooth Claro wrapper is shiny from oils and the color of caramel. Seams are tight. Few veins. A gorgeous triple cap. And a beautiful box press.
It feels like a crime to clip the perfect pointy cap. Off with its head…

I’m nearly overcome with beguiling floral notes. In addition, spicy notes of white pepper, milk chocolate, gooey butterscotch, cream, tiny notes of steak sauce, mild citrus, and a touch of barnyard.
The cold draw presents flavors of milk chocolate, black pepper, sweet cream, butterscotch, lemon zest, and marshmallow.

I’ve had my Desert Rose resting naked since July…or 4 months. It should be rarin’ to go.
The draw is exemplary, so I put my PerfecDraw draw adjustment tool away for a lesser cigar.

Out of the box, come flavors of sweet cream, spiciness, lemon meringue, marshmallow, white chocolate, barley malt, molasses, and a little bit garlicky.
Strength hits the pavement at medium.

I foolishly smoked one too soon after receipt and wasted a good cigar. Patience is not a virtue for me. I must have it forced upon me. But it is worth the wait as the Desert Rose explodes with complexity in the first two minutes.

My mouth is flooded with flavors; both subtle and bold. The finish is already glazing my teeth with a zippy edge.
I purposely did not look at my 2017 and 2018 reviews of the original Rose of Sharon Toro and Lancero, respectively. I don’t want to be influenced by either.

I’m impressed with the mouth feel. Flavors just linger that have no desire to dissipate. Sort of amazing, really…I must put the cigar down to type and no matter how long that is, I can taste the flavorful tobacco at the same degree as when I puffed it.
Smoke fills the room. It’s a barn burner.

It appears I may have broken my jinx when I smoke box pressed cigars. I always have burn issues. So far, so good.

I checked out another review and the writer hit the mark with the flavors. I, too, taste marshmallow and cream cheese. This is bloody decadent. The lemon citrus is a wonderful counterpoint. White chocolate meanders in and out with aplomb. The white pepper lingers at the back of my throat giving the blend a balance Goldilocks would be proud of.

Smooth as my grandchild’s tush.
This, my dears, is a premium blend.

Strength remains at a relaxing medium.

At this point, as I near the second third, the flavors begin the morphing process. But not before a creamy banana element hits my palate. There is a dirty joke in there somewhere.

The burn is spot on and the ash lingers in place.

Man, Holt is a young man. I cannot begin to imagine what he will be producing 20 years from now. I’d like to stick around to experience that. Fingers crossed.

The richness of the blend deepens now. It has a light yet intense attack. That comment wasn’t an acid flashback…let me explain…There is a floaty flavor profile that is not only delicious but seems to come from some incredible and smart blending. The balance of flavors is perfect. The intensity comes from how powerful the impact is due to its rich complexity…OK, maybe it is an acid flashback but it makes sense to me.

This is an elegant cigar. Perfect for your morning coffee or after dinner smoke with a fine libation at your side.

This is the kind of blend that can be stored away and smoked two years from now and I would expect an outpouring of even more phenom flavors to emerge. Some sticks just don’t have longevity built into them. They wither and die after 8 months…or less. This is a big deal as I hate pulling out a cigar I allowed to marinate for an extended time only to discover it gave up its ghost long ago. Plenty of double-digit priced cigars are more than capable of becoming a letdown.

A well packed stick. The burn is slow and luxurious. Nothing is rushed. The Desert Rose takes its time and tickles the palate with its imagination and exploration of divergent directions it chooses to go.

No new flavors from the aforementioned ones…but it doesn’t need to be a flavor bomb. It is flying high on a solid base of sweet cream, light spice, malt, citrus, white chocolate, caramel, that mild touch of steak sauce, and I love that banana. I rarely taste marshmallow as other reviewers seem to pick it up better than I do; but in this case it is an upfront element that puts me in the Way Back Machine of my youth sitting at the beach and roasting the little devils at a fire ring. Only difference is that my teeth don’t hurt from solid sugar sticking to them.

The malt elicits a boutique beer presence…golden and hoppy.

Remember, this is my palate. Don’t listen to the naysayers who denigrate reviewers that have a capacity to taste things that are subtle. Sure, it is subjective but it doesn’t mean it isn’t real. I can’t stand those guys who rip on us. What do they care if we delineate flavors that affect our palate? Are they offended or just jealous?

I need to keep our windows open when I smoke. And it’s freezing outside. The delicate wrapper cracks from the cold. Nothing I can do about it. Cigars hate the cold.

The Desert Rose makes a quantum leap at the halfway point. It is approaching the elusive flavor bomb status. Complexity does a cartwheel. Everything is now jumping out at me. What a nice build from the start to where it is now. Evenly balanced and without harsh attempts at finding its way in the dark.

Haven’t thought about a sip of water. I partake and the Red Sea parts. My neighbor can now taste it through osmosis.
I have other SD blends sitting and waiting for their turn in the barrel. I eagerly look forward to this.

The cream cheese factor makes me crave for a bagel. I never eat before a review and I’m hungry.
Yet, the savory portion holds its own with elements of malt, a smoky meaty flavor, a definite hint of rye, and that mild steak sauce.
Still, this is a blend that devours the list of sweet characteristics.
The complexity is now through the roof as I am nearly overwhelmed by its sheer excellence.
Waiting for over 4 months makes it all worth it.

The conversion from very good to great is now self-evident. Holy crap. What a stunner. Its slow evolving development is almost Darwinian…meaning your favorite pet monkey will love this stick. I have no idea why I said that…

I can’t get over how beautifully smooth and complex this baby is.
Nothing is out of place and everything has a manifest destiny.

Based on a couple reviews I read, I expected this to become stronger. But maybe the 4+ months it has been resting has mellowed it out some. It stays at just a scoche over medium strength. Fine with me. I don’t need to have my toupee blown off with every cigar I smoke.

No nicotine. Yay for me. It is tiring when my wife contacts the Journal Sentinel to place an obituary ad when she sees me face planted on my laptop keyboard after a strong smoke.

I’ve listed all the flavors…no need to do it again.
This is a most consistent blend. It takes baby steps along the way in upping the ante of its impressive blending.

Spiciness increases as it looks for its completion but that signals it wants to kick me in the arse and keep me interested. Again, you can’t ask for a better-balanced stick.

I rail against double digit priced cigars but at $12 or less, if you shop around, it is a real treat. Especially, as the cigar smokes at a leisurely pace that inflicts large doses of illumination.
I’m on board. Definitely worth a mazo of 10 sticks.



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3 replies

  1. I may have made the mistake of smoking this cigar right there in the lounge directly after purchase at my local B&M, but I had the same experience with the Rose of Sharon. I can’t say enough good things about Southern Draw. I just struggle with cigars blended with a shade grown wrapper in mind. I have the utmost respect for this cigar company and also have seen the other reviews of this stick so I realize it’s not just me. I know our palettes change with time, and I’m just not there yet. But man, I love Southern Draw’s medium to full stuff. Consistent, consistent, consistent.

  2. I was somewhat underwhelmed with this blend too until I tried it with my morning black coffee. Probably one of the nicest cigar and coffee pairings I’ve had. Delicate and profound sweetness.

  3. Phil, I wandered into a B&M here in Massachusetts and found this smoke. As usual I went for it to see how many flavors I can suss out, and yeah it’s the absolute berries. You’ve yet to let me down with a recommendation. No pressure!

    I just came from a closing, sold my mom’s condo for nursing home money, and am just really enjoying this smoke. And the quiet (smoking room here’s empty) and again, the smoke. I know you aren’t a big retro-haler but if you were this would be a good one. Peace to you, hope the wife’s work life has settled after the robbery.

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