Southern Draw Fraternal Order Blue | Cigar Reviews by the Katman

Wrapper: Nicaraguan Corojo ‘99
Binder: Nicaraguan
Filler: Brazilian, Nicaraguan, Honduran
Size: 6 x 52 Toro
Strength: Medium
Price: $8.00 ($6.00 online)


Thanks to Dennis K. for the samples. He said he paid $5 each for them. Didn’t say where though. And it is important to note that he has had them for 5 months and I’ve had them a few weeks…so the stick should be ready to go.

BACKGROUND:
This is a joint venture between Southern Draw and Cigars International.
Didn’t find any info on the SD website so here is the PR from Cigars International:
“As veterans themselves, Robert and Sharon Holt of Southern Draw know the meaning of sacrifice, and the importance of brotherhood. United we stand, divided we fall isn’t just an empty idiom, it’s a lifestyle necessary for the safety and success of us all. That’s the inspiration behind the Southern Draw Fraternal Order Blue, a collaborative effort between Southern Draw and Cigars International.

“The first thing you’ll notice when you pick up the Fraternal Order Blue is the sultry, oily Nicaraguan Corojo wrapper. This gorgeous leaf brings distinct notes of cedar and nuts, and when laid over Brazilian, Nicaraguan, and Honduran long-fillers, delivers a smooth profile with a sweet and spicy backing and a healthy dose of pepper. The medium to full-bodied flavors give way to a smooth finish, and the careful construction ensures an excellent draw and an even burn. We’re proud of this collaboration, and we’re happy to share it with CI Nation. Quantities are limited, so join the Fraternal Order today!”

APPEARANCE:
Not a bad looking stick. Exposed seams, but tight. Lots of unobtrusive veinage. There are occasional hard and soft spots up and down the cigar. I’m not completely sure but it appears to have a double cap. Had to take a flashlight and magnifying glass to it and I’m still not positive. The copper penny wrapper glistens with oiliness. The double cigar bands are appealing.

SMELL THE GLOVE:
Aromas are very faint…but I do smell some floral, notes of sweet sriracha sauce, cedar, espresso, dark chocolate, barnyard, black pepper, and green bell pepper.

The cold draw presents flavors of cumin, cocoa, siracha sauce, bell pepper, cedar, malt, barnyard, espresso, and earth, wind, and leather.

FIRST THIRD:
The draw is wide open. A little too open for my tastes. But the cigar may heal itself during the burning ritual.

Opening flavors are heavy with black pepper…followed by creaminess, café au lait, black licorice, and cedar.

The wide-open draw causes some unwanted heat to the delicate skin in my open maw.

A nice caramel apple note appears in the background.

The cigar is burning very quickly. Not enough stuffing. I went through the first inch in about three minutes. The burn line is maintaining an even keel.

Not much complexity. Transitions are waiting on the bus bench. The finish is spicy.

The caramel apple note is increasing which is very nice. The creaminess matches it. But the chocolate is gone. A bit of the espresso is still in play.

Strength is mild/medium.

The black pepper is calming down a bit, but still too strong and takes over the character of the blend.
Forward momentum is minimal. Not a bad inexpensive cigar. But certainly not a premium stick. Transitions are still waiting, tokens in hand.

If I had paid the fictitious MSRP of $8, I’d be using words from the Talmud to describe it.

I’ve always been a fanboy of SD. I’ve written 23 reviews going back 5-1/2 years. The thing is…Robert Holt et. al. have trained me to be excited with every release because they are always top notch. But this blend is not up to their standards. I have no idea the deal made with CI, but a grass cutting cigar is not their bailiwick. I hope this does not lead to more releases that are like this one. I don’t want to see Holt become Rocky Patel in 10 years.

SECOND THIRD:
Holy shit. It took less than 15 minutes to get here. This is way too fast for a Toro. This may be my shortest review ever.

But flavors get more to the point at this stage. The creaminess is joined by peanut butter. The caramel apple takes a few steps back. The raw throat from black pepper needs to knock it off.

Still, no complexity. No transitions. The finish is a blow torch.
This bums me out. I love everything SD produces.

I’m going to stick my neck out and tell you that I don’t believe AJ had anything to do with this blend.
But, again, it is a $5-$6 cigar. Expectations need to be put in check.

Generally speaking, most SD blends are in the $10 range…or a bit less. This may be a tool to bring smokers unfamiliar with Southern Draw into exploring their other blends. Just a guess.

The burn slows down. And finally, a touch of complexity hits the palate. A bit of richness and depth appear. Transitions begin with notes of caramel, creaminess, malt, vanilla bean, and a hint of Fruit Loops.

The balance is off for my taste. The savory v. sweet traction falls into the sweet category. Not treacly sweet, but I’d like to see the endeavor move into something I can sink my teeth into.

Not an unpleasant cigar. But if you are on a strict budget…

The only caveat to the last statement is that I dislike how quickly the cigar burns. As I hit the halfway point, it’s only been 20 minutes. A solid Toro should be a good 90 minutes. Not half that.

The spiciness makes a decided upturn. Drat.
Sip of water…it releases the caramel and creaminess but mostly it calms my parched throat.

I’m pretty sure that the second half will unleash the sweet spot.

“American Pie” is playing. I hate that song. Didn’t like it when it came out. But then The Beach Boys’ tune “Don’t Worry baby” begins and unclenches my butt cheeks.

It is clearly evident where the hard and soft spots occur in the stick’s progression. The last inch or so was packed better and the heat dissipated. But as Gulliver travels down to the current section of the cigar, it is underfilled and the heat returns.

Reminds me of the scene in “Lawrence of Arabia” when Peter O’Toole says to the bartender, “He likes your lemonade.”

A savory point begins. Can’t quite make it out yet. Maybe beef jerky.
The pepper is really beginning to annoy me. The subtle flavors are nearly wiped out by the spiciness.

Strength is a solid medium.
Maybe the last third will entertain becoming the sweet spot.

Kudos to the char line. It has behaved throughout.
I get the essence of nicotine now.

The thing I hated most about being the steamboat captain at Knott’s Berry Farm was that every now and then, some kid would have shoved more crap down his gullet than a goose being rendered for Pâté. And of course, he would wait til he was on my boat before he began to projectile vomit. Who cleaned it up? Me, of course. I loved being on both knees cleaning and gagging.

LAST THIRD:
30 minutes in. The cigar’s mission seems to be in fast forward mode.
Certainly, there is no shortage of inexpensive cigars in the marketplace. But I am disappointed. It’s as if Mr. Holt let CI develop the entire blend.

I get a wallop of mustiness. The black pepper increases. I can’t taste any of the nice flavors I listed.

Complexity is on the short side of the scale. Transitions disappear. In essence, the blend is linear. No significant changes for the better.

The mustiness goes away as quickly as it appeared.

I’m gulping big shots of water to assuage my sore throat.
No sweet spot in this cigar’s repertoire.

I’ve never given an SD blend less than a 90 rating.
The cigars come in 10 count boxes. I’m happy that I never bought one. First time I’ve ever said that about an SD blend.

John Lennon’s “Watching The Wheels” is playing. What a sad song. And a sad memory as it was released in 1980. If you are old enough, you remember where you were when the news announced he was murdered.

The blend is in stasis. The extreme spiciness has ruined my experience.
Harshness enters. Double drat.
I dislike reviewing a disappointing cigar. More so when it comes from the Holts.

With an inch to go, I abandon all hope. It is a 40-minute Toro. Flavors were scattershot. And the indiscretions outweigh the good points by a country mile.
I’m done.

RATING: 75



Categories: CIGAR REVIEWS

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3 replies

  1. Awww Phil, now I feel bad for sending you the first SD dud out there. I guess that’s why they are among SD’s cheapest offerings… well, I wanted to know your honest opinion on these, and now I do. Thanks for trying them out!

    I am surprised about the burn time though… I have never finished one of these in less than 90 minutes.

  2. I smoked another after reading this review. It’s been in the humidor for six months. It lit perfectly fine, the burn line was razor sharp and the burn rate was optimal. The biggest problem with the cigar is fighting the urge to compare it against SD’s other offerings. I found it to be a stick that kept cycling through various types of pepper and vanilla. If you want a peppery stick that flip flops between white and black pepper, this may be for you. But if you are looking for a Manzanita experience, you will be disappointed.

    With additional time, I’m glad I didn’t throw the rest of my 10 pack out. I’ll smoke them when I am in the mood for a peppery stick. But, I won’t be refilling my stock after I smoke the last one.

    • SD, for me, has always been a bastion of excellence. Consistently. i don’t know the Holts well enough to ask them what prompted them to release a bundle cigar. There has to be a good reason.
      Over the 10+ years I’ve been doing this, I’ve seen a few superb boutique manufacturers get down and dirty and produce subpar blends. Which led to their catalogs being hit hard and word of mouth became unkind.
      I hope this is just a one-off experiment. I buy every new SD offering with gusto and no word of mouth required because I know I’m in a for a treat.
      I never want to see ‘how things go’ before I buy the next new offering.
      I wish the Holts the best and continued success.

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