CigarFest 2019 was a great weekend for me. I had just moved to Pennsylvania from Arizona to start at Cigars International a month or so before, and it was the perfect way to get to know a lot of my coworkers. Sure, maybe I got to know a few of them a little too well, but it was mostly a fantastic time for us, the vendors, the customers, and I suspect even some of the resort staff witnessing the debauchery. I also got to meet a lot of prolific master-blenders and company owners, one of whom was Robert Holt, head of Southern Draw Cigars.
Holt's a pretty pleasant guy to be around, with a firm handshake and a good sense of humor. We spoke briefly about a common interest, good bourbon, and at the end of the conversation he handed me a pre-release Southern Draw Jacob’s Ladder Brimstone. I decided to let it rest for a while, and when I saw that the Brimstone started arriving on our docks, I decided it was time to fire it up and tell the people what it’s all about.
The first thing I noticed is the aroma. This stick is pungent, always a harbinger of great flavors from well-fermented tobacco. It sort of smells like freshly-baked gingerbread, with a bit of heavy earth, and a little cocoa. It surprises me to pick up so much from just the wrapper and the tapered foot, because I know I’m hardly even smelling the filler at all. The cold draw is nice and toasty, with a good amount of sweetness over a solid backbone of earth and spice.
It's not often you can tell that you’ll like a cigar from the first few puffs, but the Brimstone is an exception. The earth, leather, pepper, cocoa, and espresso beans are perfectly balanced from the get-go, an impressive feat considering the high ligero content. Even more surprising? I was called away from my desk for about 15 minutes and had to leave it, and when I got back the burn was still going strong!
The cigar continued to show a really excellent balance in the second half, with a bit more body and depth while keeping the same levels of spice & pepper. I took it down to about an inch left, and chucked it into my ashtray with satisfaction. That was a really good cigar. I unfortunately haven’t quite made my way through Southern Draw’s entire portfolio, but they’re absolutely on my radar after the great experience I had with the Jacob’s Ladder Brimstone.