Wrapper: Connecticut Shade
Binder: Brazilian Mata Fina
Filler: Nicaraguan (Jalapa Criollo & Ometepe Corojo)
Size: 7 x 48 Churchill
Price: $16.00 MSRP ($1.50 less online)
Thanks to Adam von Gootkin, Co-Founder & CEO at Highclere Castle Spirits, for the samples.
Factory: Tabacalera AJ Fernandez Cigars de Nicaragua S.A.
Released: September 2017
From Foundation Cigars:
“Globally recognized as the iconic face of the award-winning television drama, Downton Abbey, Highclere Castle is now producing a cigar reminiscent of those enjoyed at Highclere Castle during the 19th and early 20th centuries.
“To create and produce the cigar, Highclere Castle Cigar Company has partnered with world-renowned cigar producer Nicholas Melillo, the former head of Drew Estate Nicaragua. Nicholas formed Foundation Cigar Company in 2015 to craft hand-made cigars in Estelí, Nicaragua, and this is the latest in Foundation’s exceptional line.
“George Carnarvon, the current 8th Earl of Carnarvon, owner of Highclere Castle and farmer of the 5,000 acre estate, is an active partner in the endeavor. “Having had the opportunity to visit Nicaragua and tour the tobacco fields and factories where our cigars are made, I’ve gained a deep appreciation for the passion and skill that goes into making a super-premium cigar. The cigar itself is an excellent representation of that, and I think my ancestors would be proud it bears the Highclere badge.”
“Highclere’s rich cigar history goes back to 1862, when cigars were first introduced to England. The tradition at Highclere Castle has always been to retire to the library after dinner for a cigar and whiskey. In 1922, the current Earl’s great-grandfather undoubtedly celebrated his and Howard Carter’s discovery of King Tut’s Tomb with a cigar in hand. Recently, Highclere Castle’s archivist discovered letters and personal account records of the Carnarvon’s cigar purchases in the early 1900s from dealers in London as well as the Ritz Hotel.
“Melillo subsequently crafted a cigar that reflects that historic flavor profile and smoking style. The Highclere Castle Cigar is hand rolled in Estelí, Nicaragua, using a Connecticut Shade wrapper, and both Criollo and Corojo from the volcanic soils of Jalapa and the island of Ometepe. The binder is made from Mata Fina, a dark tobacco from Brazil. The blend is finalized with an exclusive hybrid seed the company has named Nicadán. The resulting smoke is exceptionally creamy and elegant, with notes of pepper, citrus, leather and fireplace.” (Fireplace? I’ll be on the lookout for that. Nothing tastes better in an expensive cigar than soot).
Adam von Gootkin and Lord Carnarvon:
Lady and Lord Carnarvon:
(I was supposed to be in the photo…but I was changing out of my chambermaid attire and into my chauffeur suit. I got my silk stockings caught on the rear bumper and it took forever to wiggle out.)
SIZES AND PRICING:
Churchill 7 x 48 $16.00
Corona 5.5 x 46 $13.00
Petit Corona 5 x 42 $12.00
Robusto 5 x 50 $14.00
Toro 6 x 52 $15.00
Big stick. It glows like golden slumbers. Seams are invisible. Some large veins run up the length of the cigar. A solid cigar without hard or soft spots. Feels evenly packed. Triple cap is gorgeous. It has a perfectly round head. Like me. And the cigar band is ornately simple and classy.
SMELL THE GLOVE:
Big floral notes along with a lemon twist. There is a touch of cinnamon in the background. Some very nice creaminess accentuates the milk chocolate. Adding to the mélange is café au lait, light malt, cedar, barnyard, sweet raw cashews, and a hint of ripe banana.
The cold draw presents flavors of milk chocolate, malt, creaminess, cinnamon, dried dates, the lemon twist returns, cedar, light nuts…like mine, and that tease of banana.
The pull on the cigar is exactly how I like my sticks to suck air. I put away my PerfecDraw draw adjustment tool for the next catalog cigar I smoke.
First puffs send me skywards…A blast of white pepper with a touch of jalapeno. Huge dollops of lemon crème pie, strong maltiness, cinnamon, nuts like a bull, cedar, and milk chocolate. Nice start.
Complexity kicks in immediately. No dust on this baby’s heels. A rich, full balance begins with transitions that waste no time in performing Disney on Parade.
The cigar starts at medium, rather than mild/medium. I’m not much of a fan of mild cigars. For most experienced serious smokers, mild is tasteless. There have been exceptions, but they are few. It must be difficult to develop a mild strength cigar with all the flavor points of a more complex and stronger blend. Mild usually rests in the favor of unsophisticated palates.
Two puffs later and I’ve climbed two rungs of the complexity ladder. The Highclere Castle Edwardian tastes like the tobacco was aged for years and then aged for several more years after it was rolled. It is so flavorful, I could plotz…but I’d need to use the cat to help me get back up.
The char line is hell on wheels. Perfect.
I believe we all thought, especially us ‘older’ folk, that the Stones would outlive us all. Even at 80 years old, it is hard to believe that drummer Charlie Watts passed yesterday. As a die-hard Beatle’s fan…my first bass guitar was a 1964 Hofner like McCartney plays…something happens to 79-year-old McCartney…it will signal the end of the Age of Aquarius for good. And maybe saying goodbye to that period is well and good. As it turns out, we Boomers shot out of the tube with tribal chants of revolution and peace to all man. Since those days, we have single handedly fucked up the planet royally. We leave it to our children and their children to fix what we did. But we still have the music ringing in our ears that changed the world for better, for a short time.
The Highclere Castle Edwardian is kicking ass and taking names. The banana shows up as a flavor instead of just an aroma. This stick is so rich that I believe my gout is returning.
This perfectly constructed cigar is a slow roll…taking its time…no rush to get anywhere, allowing me to savor every puff.
The balance of sweet v. savory begins with an entry of lemon, garlicky, stir fry. A touch of cumin, anise, and assorted savory spices. The cigar’s profile is all sweet and delectable and then spins on an English penny and becomes an Asian buffet. The spiciness comes from white pepper with a soupçon of cinnamon stick.
If I were a rich man…this cigar is friggin’ delicious. What a perfect morning cigar. I reviewed this cigar in corona size a few years ago and I did not like it. It was a gift. Clearly, it had not been properly taken care of. It’s like night and day. This is why I do not review one off cigars in which I don’t have at least a second cigar for testing purposes.
But I gotta be honest here…this is a $16 stick. For those of you with a 1967 Ford Mustang parked in your 4-car garage, no big deal. But for the rest of us eking out to stay level in this economy, it is a lot of dough. Or maybe it’s just an old retiree speaking.
The point is that if I opt in to pay this kind of dough for a cigar (OK. You Commonwealth folks stop laughing at me over price), I expect to be impressed by the hands of the gods. I reviewed the Highclere Castle Victorian a few weeks ago and it too was a mind blower (See, I’m still trapped in the 60’s, Daddy-O’s and Kitty Kats).
Strength is a solid medium.
The first third was a nice 40 minutes. I felt no passage of time…except I had to get up and pee twice.
There are no new flavors. No need. Everything I’ve described is in place and becoming more influential to the over all character of the blend. Not a single linear moment occurred. I find it rare when a cigar nearly starts at the sweet spot and finds its potency declaring victory on the field from that point moving forward.
This blend is every bit as good as most of the Casdaglis I’ve smoked and reviewed; but cheaper. And I have a very high regard for Jeremy Casdagli and his wares.
Nick Melillo must be some sort of dark wizard. He produced two different blends in which one does not outshine the other. Both sparkling versions of the ancient tradition of smoking anything with leaves. My first sip of water and my undersized pate explodes. Nothing about this cigar that leaves an unpleasant aftertaste or dry throat and mouth. It’s like drinking clotted cream.
First time I had clotted cream and scones was in 1974 while touring with Curved Air. I found myself on a side trip with leader/violinist Darryl Way in Devon on a mission to visit his mother. She served us high tea and I believe that was the first time I had ever plotzed. A small, but significant, moment in my life…good English food.
I lived with Darryl for a time at his house in Datchet. About a mile from Windsor Castle. The first time he cooked for me, he took a beautiful roast and threw it into a cauldron of boiling water. It came out gray and looked like roadkill. I escaped later and headed for a nearby Wimpys for a crappy hamburger.
Ever notice how some cigars can transport you to a feeling of bliss? Here we are. Time has stopped. I’ve got Pink Floyd playing in the background and if I were any more relaxed, I’d be a hunk of Silly Putty.
The balance of the Highclere Castle Edwardian flavor profile is just plain stunning. The finish is buttery and creamy with those highlights previously notated. I’m surprised that the banana influence remains a perfect counterpoint for the lemon crème that I did not expect to last.
I love the cinnamon that is subtle but haunting to my uvula. The white pepper is very mild but allows for just enough kick in the arse to keep the blend edgy.
Still at medium strength with no early signs of veering off the road.
I’m now taking regular sips of water to reinvest in the palate explosions.
“Monday, Monday” by The Mamas & Papas. I still vividly remember the 1966 concert I attended in Anaheim where Simon & Garfunkel opened for them. I had front row seats. I paid $3.50. That would be 210 Euros in today’s market.
Complexity is beyond calculus and physics. Parabolas and Salamanders fly above me in geometric precision. You just never know when an acid flashback will occur. Nice.
I rarely recommend you spend your monthly food allowance on a cigar…but this is a case in which you get everything you paid for, plus some.
The lemon twist is tart and refreshing and seems to have no intention of slowing down.
The creaminess is dense. The milk chocolate is at parade rest…spurting little doses unexpectedly; just when it knows its needed for a delightful surprise. I believe this cigar has a tiny brain of its own. I wish I had one of those.
The maltiness comes and goes as it pleases. A potent raw cashew component splurges for several moments and then recedes to being a backup singer.
Once, our management sent a new Bentley to pick us up at the airport after finishing 8 weeks on the road. The windows were darkened. As it was the first time for most of the band to ride in something other than a Ford, we decided to lower the windows and stick our heads out like dogs so people would recognize us. We were young. I don’t remember any applause from onlookers.
I’m now nearly 90 minutes in. I perform pagan rituals of voo doo in order to urge the cigar not to burn down to a roach. I wear my yarmulke just in case.
More sips of water…my head rolls off my neck and lands in the cat’s litter box…I’ll get it later.
Over the years, the Highclere Castle Edwardian has gotten splendid reviews. But you know me…this cigar ain’t no 92. But as an independent reviewer, not a cigar industry reviewer, I am allowed to dole out authentic ratings. I know my dear readers count on this.
Without hesitation, or hemorrhoid cream, I highly recommend snagging some to treat yourself. This is a special occasion cigar. Like when you find out it’s not an STD, but rather, your peeny is just worn out.
Perfect. “What A Wonderful World” by Louis Armstrong. In the late 50’s, I took tap lessons from Armstrong’s right-hand man and arranger…Percy Venable. To this day, tap is my favorite dance to watch. It harkens back to those 1930’s and 1940’s musicals on the silver screen. I continued to tap until I had a convuncular morbid defibrillation in my ankle stopped me.
Look up the word ‘smooth’ in the dictionary. And then give it a prefix of ‘ultra.’
The voo doo ain’t working…the cigar is disappearing…
“That old black magic has me in its spell,
That old black magic that you weave so well.
Icy fingers up and down my spine
That same old witchcraft when your eyes meet mine.”
Two flashbacks in one review? Wow.
The Highclere Castle Edwardian is an unprecedented blend using a Connie Shade. Never smoked a single wannabe that reaches this level of mastership.
A spot-on cigar for newbies…and sophisticates alike.
I break into “Pennies From Heaven.” I hear neighbors yelling at me to stop.
And then “Have A Cigar” by Pink Floyd emanates from my sound system.
For years, I’ve given consideration of doing video reviews. But my written reviews are a test of me being socially acceptable…sort of. Me on video? I’d be banned from the airwaves.
This Churchill has never relented or taken refuge. I want to have Melillo’s baby. But I hate morning sickness so I will pass.
While not a flavor bomb in the traditional sense, the Highclere Castle Edwardian is just that. Favors attack and then run away to allow me to regain consciousness. That, my friends, is a considerate cigar blend.
I’m being prepped for a brain transplant with Harvey the Chimp at the Milwaukee Zoo. Poor old guy can’t remember who to throw his shit at. I just hope he receives my palate.
A stunningly sophisticated cigar blend you must smoke…
I’ve updated my Time Out post.
Categories: CIGAR REVIEWS