Highclere Castle Victorian | Cigar Reviews by the Katman

Wrapper: Ecuadorian Habano
Binder: Brazilian Mata Fina
Filler: Nicaraguan
Size: 7 x 48 Churchill
Strength: Medium/Full
Price: $16.00

The Toro sized cigar was awarded No. 21 (Rated 93) of the best cigars of 2020 from Cigar Aficionado.
I bought a fiver several months ago. Ready to go.
And yes I realize that a lot, if not most of you, have tried one. But now I’m going to put my two cents in as an addition to a few existing reviews. Most reviewers showed high regard for this cigar. But size seems to matter.
This ain’t a cheap cigar so I’m sharpening my tongue.

Released: August 2019
Regular production
From Cigar Aficionado:
“If you won’t admit to having watched the period drama “Downton Abbey,” then at least fess up to sitting through an episode or two with your significant other. Highclere Castle serves as the setting for the PBS television series, and the estate is owned by George Carnarvon, the eighth Earl of Carnarvon, who commissioned Foundation Cigar Co. to create a cigar named after his breathtaking English country home.

“All Highclere Castle cigars are made by A.J. Fernandez. The Victorian is a darker, stronger sequel to the original, and the Toro size, with its dignified espresso character and regal hints of caramel, black pepper and graham cracker, proves itself to be a cigar fit for a lord.”

Petit Corona 5 x 42 $12.00
Robusto 5 x 50 $14.00
Corona 5.5 x 46 $13.00
Toro 6 x 52 $15.00
Churchill 7 x 48 $16.00

The look of this stick is not entirely appealing. Veins are an understatement…more like huge arteries to the heart. Seams are clearly visible, but tight. There are a few hard and soft spots. The triple cap is not consistent. On one stick, it is nicely done. On today’s review cigar, it looks like crap…with leaf not completely finished. Plus, the cigar tapers down from the foot to the cap until the cap is approximately a 44 instead of the 48-ring gauge foot.

The Habano wrapper does sing with oiliness. It is smooth in places and toothy in others. For $16, you’d think they would have used better rollers. If it smokes like a dream, ignore everything written so far.

Big fat, juicy aromas of dark chocolate, floral, root beer, caramel, creaminess, red hot cinnamon, malt, cedar, barnyard, and jerky.

The cold draw is impossible as there is a plug inhabiting its cocoon. I grab my PerfecDraw draw adjustment tool and go to work. As in most cases, the plug is in the area of the cigar band. My PD dispatches the detritus and now we have a nice draw.

Once again…the cold draw presents flavors of dark chocolate, espresso, creaminess, caramel, malt, cedar, barnyard, cinnamon, and root beer.

Many smokers and aficionados do insist that size is the key. A year or so ago, some numb nuts got into it with me in the comment section over this issue. It was rated highly in the Belicoso version. I smoked the Robusto. The only difference was the added length of 1” on the Belicoso. The ring gauges were identical. And I didn’t find it to be the best cigar in the land. He kept his mantra going that they are different sizes. I understand that a Lancero might taste much different than a Gordo…but a lousy inch?

I saw reviewers’ ratings go from 89-100. That’s a big spread so realize this will just be my opinion. And I don’t believe I saw a review for a Churchill.

The light up is delightful. Instant Karma. Instant complexity. Instant enjoyment. Wow.
It’s spicy from black pepper rather than the cinnamon I smelled and tasted pre-lightup.

But the character is immediately throwing beads to the onlookers.
Flavors are somewhat muted at this point. The tobacco tells this story rather than a shopping list of food items.

Strength is an immediate medium. But it’s going places, my dears.

Flavors crawl out of their hiding places and begin to expose themselves like the day I went to a gay parade when I was younger. Unfortunately, no one noticed. Damn you, Ron Jeremy. You jinxed the rest of your Tribe.

Unlike yesterday’s Southern Draw Fraternal Order Blue, this baby is filled to the gills. It burns slowly and leisurely. Not a lick of heat. Just smooth and complex.

The char line is a thing of beauty. I can shave myself with the sharp burn line.

Flavors tend to be more on the earthy side. No sweetness appears. This is my only criticism. I need both for the ref to call it balanced.

There is a new touch of cinnamon graham cracker…that helps.

I stop to read 4 reviews from the top guys. Damn. I’m mimicking everything they observed. Clearly, this blend takes no prisoners and provides consistency to no matter who smokes it. This is an excellent sign of quality.

Now that you know I agree with the other guys, no point in you reading any further.

I get an ample dose of espresso and naturally sweet tobacco. And a tad bit of creaminess.
The cinnamon gives me a baked apple impression. Which is hard to learn without using a full-length mirror.

Balance begins to queue up. The blend would be a little smoother if not for the near pepper bomb effect it is throwing into the wind.

Again, the choice of tobaccos was key. This ain’t no shit found behind some rum barrels at a tobacco farm in Nicaragua. “And it’s the best we’ve tasted this year! Get yours now because they are limited to only 23 cigars. Act now because they will be gone forever.” Or until they find similar tobacco hiding underneath the farm’s door frames. Meanwhile, two weeks later, they are still hawking them as irreplaceable and only 2 cigars left.

“Revolution” by The Beatles is playing. I always preferred the alternate slow version.

Strength is slowly moving towards medium/full.
Complexity leaps forward with every puff. Damn fine cigar.

Transitions begin…a meaty concern is ever present; sort of like sugar free beef jerky…as well as the cinnamon graham crackers, espresso, dark cocoa, malt, and a bevy of raw nuts. There is an inappropriate joke there but I’m not that kind of reviewer.

This baby is the real deal. The real McCoy. The genuine article. It has the goods. Just crackerjack. An arrangement of the finest sativa leaves. If you live in a state that has not legalized cannabis, do not read my previous sentence.

A sip of water and my throat is coated in kittens, baby ferrets, and puppies.

The big selling point for this blend is the ever sought after the sum is better than its parts. The stick hunkers down and gets real smooth. Unlike my 71-year-old foreskin in my mother’s baby book. Looks like a tiny, dried apricot…and I mean tiny. Damn you Ron Jeremy.

Now I know I didn’t pay anywhere close to $16 per stick for a fiver. But in my sloppy research, I couldn’t find where I purchased it and how much I paid. Obviously, I got a killer deal.
For years, the trollers come after me because I told everyone I had dementia or Alzheimer’s. The stupid fucking doctors misdiagnosed me with this disease in 2016. In actuality, I came in at a metric ton and my organs were failing causing my brain to say WTF? This is proof the asshole docs said this:

I hope this finally takes the gas out of the trollers saying I was faking it for sympathy. Unfortunately, 5 years later, I occasionally can’t remember why I entered the kitchen or the living room. And the senior moments are more frequent. Hey, I’m old as dirt.

Changes are minimal. Flavors do not alter their positions in the universe. But the complexity and intensity are constantly sweeping the floor with their concubines.

The cigar relaxes the shit out of me…not literally as this would upset Charlotte.

I’ve been in contact with Dr. Rod. He has been sick as a dog for a month with what was probably the Delta variant. He is better now as he has gone back to telling me I’m wrong on a number of issues. Back to the future. He is about to release his PerfecPunch finally…the pandemic put the hold on this. We are going to give away thousands right here in various contests akin to “Jeopardy.” I will keep you updated.

The Victorian is by no means a flavor bomb. It is a serious fucking cigar. And worth the debtor’s prison price. Since all of you dear readers are fabulously wealthy, it is a good time to restock this item for your living room walk-in humidors.

The blend reminds me of an excellent Casdagli blend. Which one? Fuck if I know.

The spiciness has relented and is now just a backdrop for the wisps of flavor flowing by at the speed of light. The finish is somewhat muddled.

Nothing really distinct pops out. It’s an amalgamation of savory and sweet tobacco notes. All on point.
The growth of the cigar is a joy to behold. It digs its heels in with every inch disappearing into the ether.

I could live on these babies. But I’d need to sell my 1957 Edsel to do so.
Maybe medium/full. Hard to tell as my palate is in a state of bliss. I was in the state of New Mexico for a while. Everything smelled like roasting chiles.

In the 90’s, I had a construction project in Albuquerque. One day at the airport, I noticed actress Ali McGraw (Gawd, she was gorgeous!) was speaking to Richie Havens. I stood there in awe. Both were on my Southwest plane back to Phoenix. Ali sat across from me with her back to the bulkhead. I’ve never tried to not stare as much as that incident in my entire life. Havens sat next to her. He flew without his teeth in his mouth so when I eavesdropped, I could hear Ms. McGraw clearly…but Richie was unintelligible. I saw Ali bobbing her head. I don’t think she understood a word either. And then the horror of my life occurred. Havens looked at me and asked me a question. I had no fucking idea what he said. I looked at Ali for help and she just shrugged her shoulders. I smiled and pretended to be deaf.

Intensity just can’t go any further. Impossible by modern physics. I’m slathering my lips with my tongue like a rabid ferret with a cleft palate.

Sips of water increase the experience exponentially.
No new flavors. The brilliant tobacco is doing all the heavy lifting.

There was no information about the aging of the tobacco. I’m curious.
The char line and general construction has been impeccable.

I decide to check the rest of the list on CA’s top cigars for 2020. As usual, it appears to be another pay to play situation. Alec & Bradley’s Gatekeeper is #7. Holy shit. And Patel’s Number 9 comes in at #9. And this cigar is only #21. Both of those sticks were nothing more than bundle cigars to me.

This sausage has taken a leisurely 90 minutes to get here.

I’ve been watching the Olympics. I love volleyball. I was part of a group, many years ago, that played beach volleyball and did so very seriously. I often got a rocket to the face when I was at the net and one of the huge jocks decided to rearrange my puss. Speaking of which, the women playing for gold are barely wearing anything. They are all flat chested. But their bottoms seem to be no bigger than tampons. I’m certainly no prude but I don’t understand why this is the dress code. Half the time these women are playing like goddesses and the other half, they are pulling down the back of their bottoms so you don’t see too much butt cheeks…which are already totally exposed.

The Victorian has reached a new platform. The complexity is so over the top that I’m having mini seizures. The cat has been trained to bite my nads when he sees this happening to bring me back.

The last third is the sweet spot. It oozes like an ATM machine out of control.

This is better than sex. I do wish Charlotte would be conscious during our encounters. Forces me to moan in her voice and it makes me hoarse.

Since changes to the cigar’s intensity doesn’t lower its guard, there isn’t a lot to say. Flavors are low key. The balance is spot on. Nuances and subtleties are in constant play. Smooth as my tush.

I never smoke a great cigar when I’m with friends…I always get distracted. This is a cigar you should smoke alone in the Bat Cave. Savor every moment. I’d love to try one with a special distilled spirit of my choosing. There is no way a flavored drink would interfere with the cigar’s personality.

My all-time favorite Beach Boys song…”God Only Knows.” It’s too bad you have to be nuts to be a brilliant song writer.

The Victorian doesn’t let up. How it continues to improve with such vehemence stuns me.
I’ve run out of adjectives. This virtuoso of a blend is a gift from the Cosmic Muffin.

I am going to sit here quietly and finish the last 1-1/2” in silence. Wait for me.
Strength never exceeds medium/full.
Not a lick of harshness or heat.
I tip my hat to those that have smoked this masterpiece. And for those that have not, if you are going to splurge, boy do I have a cigar for you.



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10 replies

  1. This is a Classic Katman Review (polite applause ensues).

  2. Thank you, Owen.
    I don’t know what that means because I never read my reviews after I’ve written them, but thank you.
    You’d be surprised how many people will bring up something I said in a review and they might as well be speaking Greek. I have no recollections. I write it and move on with my life.
    But thank you so much.
    Give me your social security number and I will put you in my will.
    All my love,

  3. While I really value your cigar reviews, the fillers you sprinkle into the reviews are gold. You in the Bat Cave, listening to “God Only Knows”, moaning in Charlotte’s voice while reviewing a cigar is about as close to listening to a Dali painting as you can get. Your reviews are a must read.

  4. “Mr. Katman, you are no Jack Kerouac.”
    But some of it fits…

    Kerouac’s 30 Rules for Writing

    1.Scribbled secret notebooks, and wild typewritten pages, for yr own joy
    2.Submissive to everything, open, listening
    3.Try never get drunk outside yr own house
    4.Be in love with yr life
    5.Something that you feel will find its own form
    6.Be crazy dumbsaint of the mind
    7.Blow as deep as you want to blow
    8.Write what you want bottomless from bottom of the mind
    9.The unspeakable visions of the individual
    10.No time for poetry but exactly what is
    11.Visionary tics shivering in the chest
    12.In tranced fixation dreaming upon object before you
    13.Remove literary, grammatical and syntactical inhibition
    14.Like Proust be an old teahead of time
    15.Telling the true story of the world in interior monolog
    16.The jewel centre of interest is the eye within the eye
    17.Write in recollection and amazement for yourself
    18.Work from pithy middle eye out, swimming in language sea
    19.Accept loss forever
    20.Believe in the holy contour of life
    21.Struggle to sketch the flow that already exists intact in mind
    22.Don’t think of words when you stop but to see picture better
    23.Keep track of every day the date emblazoned in yr morning
    24.No fear or shame in the dignity of yr experience, language & knowledge
    25.Write for the world to read and see yr exact pictures of it
    26.Bookmovie is the movie in words, the visual American form
    27.In praise of Character in the Bleak inhuman Loneliness
    28.Composing wild, undisciplined, pure, coming in from under, crazier the better
    29.You’re a Genius all the time
    30.Writer-Director of Earthly movies Sponsored & Angeled in Heaven

    Thanks Jerry…you made my day,

  5. I’ve been reading this website for maybe four years now. No other review directs cigar smokers to the most exquisite cigar smoking experiences out there. I don’t pick up 10% of what Phil’s palette does, but his score can be trusted. I have never been let down. No other reviewer has lead me to cigars that have brought me so much joy. Take the Davidoff Downtown 2015 for example. No other reviewer is going to warn you that some aged cigar still selling for $27 is something you have to buy now. Why? Because their job is to sell you what the industry is pushing. Phil is going to point you in the right direction over and over again.

    PS: I just scored a box of those Davidoffs. Keep doing what you do, Phil. I am utterly grateful for your reviews.

  6. Thank you, Bryant….kind words, indeed.
    I’m guessing my check cleared?
    Love you baby.

  7. Ha ha. Just stating the facts.


  8. Been smoking these since they came out. Never retail. And the corona is better than the Churchill. As always even in agreeing with the other reviewers, you are the best. On the medical note, the best way to be diagnosed with brain disease is to go to a doctor who specializes in diagnosing brain diseases. It’s cause and effect.

    I always enjoy your work. You are, by far, the best reviewer of cigars.

  9. Holy shit, John…thank you.
    Just before Charlotte and I have sex…right before she puts the black leather harness with the red ball in my mouth, I will read her your comment. This will guarantee I last an extra 3 minutes.

    That diagnosis was from a neurologist…two of them…after a CT scan of my brain…and the fucks still got it wrong. I was just too fat and no doc thought it might be causing other issues til I ended up in the E.R.

    Thanks again, brother…

  10. Glad I could add three minutes of happiness to your life. Another cigar your review turned me onto is the Warped Don Reynaldo. What a great cigar.

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