Southern Draw Kudzu Lustrum | Cigar Reviews by the Katman

Wrapper: Nicaraguan Habano ~ Medio Tiempo
Binder: Nicaraguan Ometepe
Filler: Nicaraguan Vintage Proprietary
Size: 5.5 x 52 Belicoso
Strength: Medium/Full
Price: $11.99


Today we take a look at the Southern Draw Kudzu Lustrum.
I’ve allowed my Lustrums to meditate, naked, for over 4 months.

BACKGROUND:
Factory: AJ Fernandez Cigar Co.
Blender: Robert Holt
Release Date: July 2019
10 count special mazo
Limited production, 25,000 cigars for 5 Year Anniversary

From the Southern Draw web site:
“Our brand was founded on the tradition of the “Southern” Ladies and Gentlemen which has been referred to as a “culture of honor” however our brand has since grown beyond the traditional South and with that growth we aspire to be part of a culture where we should avoid intentionally offending others and have a reputation for not accepting improper or divisive conduct towards others. We are a brand of inclusion. From the production of our first cigar, and the millions that have since followed, Sharon (yes, as in the Rose of Sharon) has stressed the importance of loving ALL people. Our little brand is all about the people, and we have been blessed with an incredible opportunity to share our faith, our family and our own brand of fellowship, one cigar and conversation at a time.

“Southern Draw Cigars was founded by family and friends, U.S. Army and Navy Veterans with a desire to recognize and defend our traditions and rights to enjoy the incredible art form of premium cigars, while honoring the history of tobacco and those resilient families who have cultivated, fermented and aged it to perfection. In collaboration with our seasoned partners that hail from proud cultures in Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Honduras, Ecuador, United States, Mexico and the many that 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 uniquely blended premium cigars that are hand crafted from only fine Cuban seed tobaccos afforded us by our global partners and then patiently aged and naturally fermented by the dedicated hands at the world renowned AJ Fernandez Cigar Co. located in the heart of Estelí, Nicaragua.

“We offer our sincerest thanks to all that have come before us, those who have mentored us, taught us, shared industry contacts, those who have offered us patience and supported our fledgling brand as we attempt to execute our vision. So, we are one part “Southern” . one part “Draw” and 100% thankful for this opportunity.”

APPEARANCE:
Beautiful cigar. But then what SD blend is not given the attention of a true artist? Holt is the most consistent manufacturer in assuring that each and every release is drop dead gorgeous.
The cigar is heavy in the hand. Perfectly distributed leaves without a single soft or hard spot.

The oily, slightly toothy, rusty brown wrapper is a sight to behold. Seams are invisible. Only a few veins. A perfect box press. Like the recently reviewed Desert Rose, the triple Belicoso cap is a geometric wonder….the ancient Egyptians could not do better.

I love the adornments to the cigar…always classy and never dull. And no skulls! The cigar band’s color is totally simpatico with the color of the wrapper. The footer band shows off the 5-year anniversary of the company.
And look at that filler in the photo below. It is like a Tootsie Roll Pop. Makes me want to eat the filler.

SMELL THE GLOVE:
An enticing mint chocolate grabs my schnoz by its roots. A mild cinnamon bun with vanilla frosting teases my sensibility. A malty creaminess is dizzying. Earth notes excite the palate for what is to come. A wondrous nuttiness comes forth as I dissect the subtleties of the aromas. An orange caramel is at play in the background. Cedar weaves in and out. Lastly, there are notes of molasses and tamarind; the basis for Worcestershire sauce.

The cold draw presents flavors of dark chocolate. malt, cedar, barnyard, caramel, cinnamon, and black pepper.
The draw is spot on; no need for my PerfecDraw draw adjustment tool.

FIRST THIRD:
First puffs are spicy. Black pepper.
Complexity appears immediately. Transitions kick into high gear. The finish is peppery and sweet.
The burn is on the money with a snow-white ash.
Notes of black coffee, molasses, orange rind, and malty hops appear.

The initial impressions are that of finely tuned tobaccos. A meaty blend engulfed by a big sky. Itinerant flavors are muted by the over all intense complexity of the cigar. This is a whole different animal from other SD blends; not that it is better so much as it is a new tentacle in the line of Holt’s blends. It has the depth of a very sophisticated blend.

I don’t believe this will be a flavor bomb or a light experience; rather, it is going to be a journey into some serious cigar smoking. This is exactly the type of cigar I want to smoke alone. I want to be able to focus on what this delicious and complex blend has to offer without distraction. I don’t want to miss out of a single element. The subtleties are a wide spectrum of components.

Strength is medium/full.

It is also one of the few box pressed sticks I’ve smoked that doesn’t have a lick of aberration. No quirky burn. I seem to be plagued by box pressed sticks who refuse to burn evenly.

Depth is a wonderful surprise. The cigar is so tightly intense due to the amazing choice of tobacco leaves that I feel like I’m sitting in an upscale cigar lounge with a snifter of brandy and wearing a tux along with the other sophisticates.

I am so glad I waited over 4 months before I reviewed the Lustrum. I smoked a few in their earlier incarnations and the current 4-month point seems to be golden.

Subtle notes of licorice, espresso, malt, molasses, touches of citrus, honey, and a rich smokiness dance the light fantastic on my palate.
I wasn’t expecting this…

SECOND THIRD:
Construction is impressive. I’m not lying on the floor and smoking the cigar so that the ash doesn’t deconstruct…it’s just that well made. But as I’m not a fan of a huge chunk of hot ash deposited on my lap during a review, I reluctantly discharge it to the ashtray.

A deep creaminess shows up for the first time. Along with a chocolate mint ice cream flavor. Sweetness, which stayed in the background for the first third, now kicks into high gear providing an even deeper balance to the blend. I taste black cherry for the first time. The molasses and honey move to the forefront.

The complexity deepens. Transitions are going Bozo crazy. The finish just coats my teeth like taffy.
Strength is past medium/full now.

This is a cigar blend for grownups. You don’t need a trained palate for this blend. It will knock your socks off. To be honest, I think that Southern Draw could have gone the way of the greed merchants and charged another $5 for this stick…and no one would have complained. It is startling in its depth.

The flavors are wonderful; but it is the width and breadth of the tobacco and its seasoning that makes this a top-notch cigar.

The first third was a tease. My head may have exploded making a mess my wife would refuse to clean up if the cigar had started with this intensity. The first third was like batting practice. Knocking balls into the bleachers.
Now, the cigar is bringing in all 3 runners.

If you bought these cigars and smoked them before the 4-month mark, my sympathies. A remarkable unveiling of style, polish, smoothness, and finesse are this blend’s trademark.

I’d love to have been able to review this cigar with 6-12 months on it. But then they would all be sold out and you would hate me for being a cigar tease.

This is a very strong cigar yet its balance is so faultless that it is nearly overwhelming. Not a hint of nicotine. There must be a crack in the time continuum.

The halfway point is manna. I take my first sip of water and my inner katman has the biggest smile imaginable. I’m dancing to the Time Warp.

Out of nowhere, a huge shift happens…the blend moves to a new level. Like a flipped light switch, everything I’ve described moves to a new dimension and I begin to have acid flashbacks.

Flavors of creaminess, chocolate, malt, sweet cherries, molasses, licorice, espresso, and smokiness condense into an atomic particle. It is ready for detonation.

“Kashmir” by Led Zep is playing. Perfect.

This is one of the most complex blends I’ve smoked in ages. It should be put on a golden altar while Moses smashes the 15 Commandments to the foot of Mount Sinai.

LAST THIRD:
Nirvana with Kurt Cobain. All 4 Beatles. Jimi. Janis. Miles. Just wow.

Quantum leaps occur in the middle of typing causing me to jerk in my chair. I think I have whiplash.
Full ahead. Throw everyone out of the lifeboat.

I do believe this may be the best cigar I’ve smoked all year. No shit. But you gotta’ baby it. Give the blend its due. Let it rest. Let it sleep. You will be on Rocky Mountain Way.

I’m so stunned by the quality of the Kudzu Lustrum that my usual barbs and small witticisms elude me. My new desert island choice.

Full strength. No nicotine. Perfect construction of any box pressed stick in memory.

Potent but smooth as silk. Flavors juxtapose in fast overlaps that make transitions impossible to dictate. The finish is 26.2 miles long.
I do believe that Robert Holt has been to the Crossroads.

This will be the 17th Southern Draw blend I’ve reviewed…going back 4 years. This is one of the most consistent brands I’ve ever encountered. I can’t begin to imagine what the Holts will be pouring out in the next 5 years. The pressure must be enormous.

I have run out of adjectives. Overwhelming instincts mixed with extreme talent. That’s the ticket.

I take a short break and look into the mirror. No idea why my nose is so brown. I know that is your first impression but if you read me regularly, you know I can be downright ruthless. Yet, in the midst of perfection, I turn into a savant idiot.

The last third does not relent. It chooses to become a flavor bomb. Those earlier described subtle flavors are in my face and enveloping my palate til it nearly shuts down out of survival instinct.

I bitch and moan about the prices of cigars ad nauseum. This baby is worth every shekel…and then some.
Boys and girls, if you haven’t snagged yourself some SD Kudzu Lustrums, stop reading me and get some. Give yourself an early Hanukkah present. And then do the hardest thing imaginable…Wait. Don’t any of you dare smoke this cigar early. No sooner than 4 months. Longer if you have the cajones.

Right to the very end, a bulbous blend filled to the brim with stunning flavor. Not a lick of harshness. No bitterness. Smooth as a baby’s tush.
Spectacular blend!!

This is the part of the program where I must explain myself to folks who aren’t regular readers. There is no Holy Grail of cigar blends. There is no one perfect cigar blend. Yet, I repeatedly score many blends with ratings of 95-100.

Why? Because that blend is perfect for my palate. I cannot ask anymore from a cigar than what that specific cigar delivers. It doesn’t mean it is the one and only best cigar on the planet. I have smoked a lot of cigars I deemed perfection. They come from Southern Draw Cigars, Isabela Cigars, Casdagli Cigars, Alec Bradley Cigars (I really like Magic Toast), Nomad Cigars, Stolen Throne Cigars, Protocol Cigars, and many others.

Tell me honestly; that you haven’t found total bliss from a certain favorite blend(s)?

While most cigar industry reviewers tend to be conservative, I tend to be generous and enthusiastic.
On the other hand, I have painted myself into a corner with my readers. They expect brutal honesty from me; and I deliver. I make enemies. I have received countless emails over the last decade from manufacturers; especially boutique brands…that tell me they will bury me and I will never work in the cigar industry again. Well, I’ve never worked in the cigar industry and most of those guys have gone by the wayside because they weren’t able to consistently deliver quality product. Yet, this lowly pissant Katman is still here. I’m like a cockroach or a Twinkie. Dealer’s choice.

These meanderings are meant to convey the reasons behind why I have the nerve to rate a cigar with a perfect or near perfect 100 rating.
Kohn…Out.

RATING: 100



Categories: CIGAR REVIEWS

Tags: , , ,

14 replies

  1. You have the number one blog in my opinion.
    Period.
    Plus your reviews are fun much like gr8 speakers in an audio system. This cigar will undoubtedly show up in the Katman best cigars of 2019.
    I’m going to try and procure some and wait the required resting time
    That won’t be hard as I consistently have gr8 cigars on hand year round.
    I buy in advance of when I plan to smoke them. And I date the purchases so I can be sure.
    I buy short term cigars for less wait and long term cigars for months or years down the road.
    And thanks to you I have the perfect humidor that keeps them in perfect shape.
    There are very few reviewers of products that I respect and you are the epitome of that respect.
    I also love audio and my favorite reviewer is Steve Guttenberg. Check him out.
    The best talk to you not at you.
    TR

  2. Have five of these in the humi since 10/15. Guess I’ll be waiting till mid February to smoke ‘em. Got a Jacob’s Ladder Brimstone a month earlier (after reading your review of course). I’ll wait on that one also. I almost smoked one of these the other night but now so glad I didn’t. Had an Isabela Churchill instead that was a part of your free Katpack. Isabela is now what I smoke while waiting for other cigars to mature. The single most important point in your reviews is the fact that you tell us how long you’ve had them and when to smoke ‘em. That’s why you’re the best. It’s funny, for some reason today I read your review in Jean Shepherd’s A Christmas Story narration voice. I guess that’s what I think you sound like. All that wisdom. Your descriptive writing style lends to that. Or maybe it’s from spending 2 1/2 hours outside clearing the foot of snow dropped on us (western Mass.) last night. Thanks for all that you do. I hope you and yours stay happy and healthy through the holiday season.

    • Matt,
      I’m going to frame this review. One of the nicest things anyone has ever said to me.
      Actually, my voice is a combination of Rosie Perez and Truman Capote…but I appreciate the better analogy.
      I’m so glad you put up with me.
      Phil

  3. Your photography is getting pretty good, Katman. Coupled alongside the review, I found this to be some the most compelling and provocative cigar porn of all time. Congratulations and god bless you. And god bless Robert Holt. Anyway, hey man…last Friday CI ran a Black Friday special—5 packs Southern Draw Cedrus $22.50 Shipped Free. I went a little nuts—running through the house cackling like Joaquin Phoenix in “Joker” with credit card in hand, waking up the in-laws. I realize that I have some issues, but I was pretty happy. Hope you had a great Thanksgiving. Keep up the great work, Katman.

    • Thank you Darryl…
      I laughed out loud when I read your comment. The thing is I’ve always been the worst photographer on the planet. I couldn’t take a nice photo if my life depended on it. I have nearly 8 years of photos on wordpress and the early ones are really terrible. I moved on to a better camera and I attained a better eye.
      A slightly familiar reviewer spewed crap on his blog about how the palate cannot be trained as a slam to reviewers like me who can taste flavors that some guys don’t taste yet. And they can’t be learned. He’s nuts of course because I get emails all the time from readers who learn from reviewers like me on training their palate. No different than learning about wine or liquor or any other palate related delectable.
      The point is that we can always learn. There are no limits. If you don’t want to learn, then so be it and take it out on others that do. But I learned how to take photos out of repetition and curiosity and frustration. How do you get to Carnegie Hall? Practice, practice, practice. So, thank you for acknowledging how hard I work to present a cigar in its best light. Means a lot because it drives me crazy getting the money shot.

      Anytime a Southern Draw blend is on sale, it is credit card time and be ready for the lashes from the wife. You promise to be good. Your wife walks away in a huff…maybe a minute and a huff. And then you do it again. We all have the same incurable disease.
      Thanks for commenting. You made my day.
      Phil

      • Hey Katman, as always, I appreciate and enjoy your feedback. Pertaining to this reviewer that argues a palette can not be trained—wow, bullshit. As if what he’s doing is so special it can only be handled by folks selectively chosen by god. Yeah sure, and Jimmy Swaggert once had his own private line to Jesus. Mmhmm. I remember when I first started smoking cigars. I tasted good tobacco and nice woody flavors for the first couple of months and that was about it. Then one night—bam—dried cherries. I’ll never forget it and never miss it in a cigar again. A few months after that—bam—toasted nuts. I’m a slow learner. Anyway, I never liked flavor wheels, basically because I don’t want to stare at something that looks like a high school statistics project during my sacred time. What I like to do—and what really helps me—is to smoke the first third or so and draw some of my own conclusions. Then I go to you and Cigar Dojo to compare notes and see if I can pull out some flavors I missed while I smoke the last half. I know profiles can change quite a bit throughout a cigar, but hey, nothing’s foolproof. And boy is it fun to compare notes with the big boys. I have so much more to say on this subject and everything else having to do with cigars, but I’ve already rambled enough. I apologize for being long winded. Thanks Katman.

        • Hi Darryl,
          Saying a palate cannot be trained would also be an affront to wine and spirits connoisseurs…as well to foodies, fine chocolate lovers and many other forms in which the taming of the palate is a must. I don’t believe anyone is born with a trained palate. It takes patience and curiosity to teach oneself how to enjoy the finer things in life.
          Phil

  4. Hmmm… I only gave mine a couple of weeks, and I wasn’t that impressed. I thought the Brimstone was vastly superior. I’ll try my second one in another month or so.

    • A couple weeks is like flushing your $10 cigar. Be patient…I know how hard it is. I do scenes from Hamlet wringing my hands as to when I can light my first stick and then flagellate myself for being foolish when I know better.
      Time is a cigar’s best friend.
      A lot of reviewers find the need to produce the first review of a new cigar. They may slam it with a low rating or wing it and fake it. When you review a cigar, it is your responsibility to reap the best out of that blend. I believe it is a reviewer’s responsibility to give the blender a fair shake and reviewing it too soon ain’t fair. On the other side, by waiting for months to review a new cigar, you take the chance of indifference by readers to read your opinion. I choose the latter.
      I loved the Brimstone. The thing is all blends are different in their aging process. I’ve smoked some cigars that because of their extensive aging, were ready to smoke in two weeks. That’s a rarity. But it happens.
      Matt B. has a pretty good system by always being ahead of the curve allowing his impatience to be sated by always have a regular rotation of cigars that are ready to smoke when he wants to indulge. I believe most of us work along that principle. Helps us keep our hands off the new stuff and let them do their thing so we get our money’s worth and the best from the cigar.
      Thanks for commenting and all the best,
      Phil

  5. Can you publish a list of your 100 point cigars? I don’t think there is a way to search for it.

    • I don’t keep track of them. I would need to look through thousands of reviews.
      My only advice is to click on the “Katman’s Top 25 Cigars” lists at the bottom of the home page and then plug those names into the search window.
      No one has ever asked that before so you caught me unprepared. My apologies.
      Sounds like a good project though…
      Phil

  6. Hi Phil,

    Another 100 pt cigar = wife with CC bill in hand giving me the stink eye.

    I picked up a bundle from JR after reading your review, use SAVINGS30 discount code for 30% off good until end of December. It’s going to be a long 4 month’s to wait on these. GIVE ME WILLPOWER!

    I think I need to patent a time lock humidor, that way in a moment of weakness you can’t waste quality sticks.

    Glad your back in the land of the living, stay healthy Phil.

    Jeff

    • I feel your pain, Jeff. I tell my wife I got 35 incredible sticks on Cbid for $105 and I get the same stink eye distributed to women at birth to ready them for marriage.
      A time lock humidor…brilliant idea!
      And thank you for the good wishes. Healthy as hell…just old.
      All the best,
      Phil

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