Southern Draw is a relatively new company out of Texas who’s cigars are manufactured at Tabacalera Fernandez S.A. (A.J. Fernandez) in Estelí, Nicaragua. Currently, they have four blends in their portfolio: The Kudzu, Firethorn and the petite corona Quick Draw’s that come in Habano and Pennsylvania broadleaf.
I already reviewed the Southern Draw Firethorn Toro which I gave high marks but today I’ll be reviewing the Southern Draw Kudzu Toro. The Kudzu is the original release from Southern Draw and a fuller-bodied affair. The blend features a double-fermented Habano oscuro wrapper, and cuban seed Nicaraguan grown filler. Part of their marketing for their cigars is to pair each blend with certain alcoholic beverages. They even include recommendations on the boxes.
Recommended Beverage Pairings for the Kudzu:
Craft Brew: IPA, Porter, Stout, Brown Ale, Sours, Bock and Lambics
Wine: Port, Late Harvest, Full Body Cab/Reds
Spirits: Single Barrel Whiskey/Bourbon, Single Malt Scotch, Barrel Aged Rum (12-15 Yr), Brandy, XO Cognac, Premium Anise and Cinnamon Liqueurs
Country of Manufacture: Nicaragua
Rolled: Tabacalera Fernandez S.A.
Size: 6 x 52
Wrapper: Double-fermented Habano Oscuro
MSRP: Approx. $9
Sample: Sent by Southern Draw Cigars
Quantity smoked: 5
The Southern Draw Kudzu is a box-pressed cigar covered in a milk-chocolate colored wrapper with a matted look to it. A good amount of tooth covers the surface giving the wrapper the texture of rough parchment when touched. All 5 samples were fairly light in terms of weight with a gentle give when squeezed. The foot of the cigar features a scraggly, shaggy foot and the caps are of the triple variety.
The wrapper smells of leather with a touch of cocoa. The cold draw was open/easy on every sample, providing a variation of leather, cocoa and vegetal earth flavors.
Initial puff’s provide a combination of exceptionally sharp pepper buttressed by intonations of earth, leather, wood cellar and faint tobacco sweetness. The draw is very open but the cigar burns coolly, delivering a fairly thick and chewy smoke. On a scale from 1-10 the pepper hits close to a 10 within the first half-inch, tingling the tongue and sinuses at that level until a slight dip before the second third. For fans of pepper, they’ll really like the way this cigar kicks off but for me it’s a bit much. Coming to the end of this third hints of cocoa peek through, joining with an increasingly chalky texture on the palate. Aside from the intense pepper, the body is medium-full.
The pepper is still the key player to the profile but a slight floral element emerges in the beginning of the second third, intertwining with the natural tobacco sweetness. The cocoa notes also move up but still remain below the wood, earth, leather and light floral sweetness. Finally, by the half, the pepper drops down to about a 7 on a 10-point scale which was a welcome change for me. Smoke production, construction and draw are all on-point. Body bumps up to full and I finally get a gauge on the strength which is around medium to medium-full.
The final stage brings about a citrus note on the finish with hints of various spices. Otherwise flavor remains much the same with a woody core, some earth, pepper and a diminishing leather. Due to the open draw I get loads of voluminous smoke on every puff but the heat of the smoke rises as the cherry slowly marches to the head of the cigar. Meanwhile, the natural tobacco sweetness continues to keep things from moving too far into the bitter spectrum. Yet, overall, the Kudzu Toro isn’t particularly sweet. While the open draw is wonderful for the majority of the cigar, by the end, it becomes somewhat problematic because of the increased heat. The cigar does get a bit hot and bitter at the nub so smoke slowly. Body full. Strength full.
Hmmph. This one stumped me. It’s not as if The Kudzu Toro is super unique or anything, but the dominant features were all over the map. The pepper was probably the most dominant quality of the Kudzu Toro so you could make an argument for Santa Fe but the other main flavors don’t really fit the class. Flavors of wood were attendant throughout so you could make an argument for Regal but there was no nutty component. Cocoa and earth were also a factor so you could possibly stamp it a Coal Miner. Hell, even the strength is fairly substantial, so for some this could be a Dynamite. In the end, it incorporates too many elements to pin it to just one class, hence the Wild Card.
The Southern Draw Kudzu doesn’t exactly fit my preferred profile. The pepper is too intense for the majority of the cigar and it could have used some more sweetness to help soften the sting. Yet, every sample provided a nice easy draw, delivering copious amounts of smoke on each puff which was nice. The flavors are full-bodied and there is a solid complexity even if the cigar doesn’t go through much transition from third to third. While the pepper certainly overpowers the blend—sans a few moments between the second and final third—it’ll pair nicely with hard liquor or make for a good follow-up smoke to a full dinner. In my mind, the medium-bodied Southern Draw Firethorn is the superior smoke, but the Kudzu doesn’t lack quality, rather, my choice is a matter of personal preference. Bump this up to III. Satisfying if you really enjoy a bold cigar loaded with pepper.