Southern Draw is a relatively new company you may not have heard of out of Texas. They partner with the Tabacalera Fernandez S.A. factory (A.J. Fernandez) in Estelí, Nicaragua to have their cigars manufactured. 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.
Today I’ll be reviewing the Southern Draw Firethorn Toro, a blend of Habano Rosado wrapper, Mexican San Andrés binder and Nicaraguan filler. The Firethorn was the company’s second release, following the Kudzu and is intended to please the medium bodied smokers in the market (practically everybody). Part of their marketing for their cigars is to pair each blend with certain alcoholic beverages and they even provide what they feel works as best for each blend on the boxes.
Recommended Beverage Pairings:
Craft Brew: Cream Ale, Lager, Pale Ale, Belgian, Wheat, Pils and Irish Red Ale
Wine: Malbec, Ruby Cab, Syrah, Petite Sirah, Zin, Bordeaux and Oaky Whites
Spirits: Blended Scotch/Whiskey (5 – 12 year aged), VSOP Cognac, Mixed Drinks W/ Vodka, Rum, gin, Schnapps and Tequila
When enjoying a cigar on my own time I certainly like to pair with a good craft beer, wine or barrel aged spirit but during a review I tend to abstain and only drink water so as not influence the flavor profile. This time I said, what the hell, why not pair with a nice bourbon. A William Larue Weller 2010. I won’t talk about how it pairs as that is not the direction of our reviews but I wanted that to be on the record as it may have influenced my palate during this review.
Country of Manufacture: Nicaragua
Rolled: Tabacalera Fernandez S.A.
Size: 6 x 50
Wrapper: Double-fermented Habano Rosado
Binder: Mexican San Andrés
MSRP: Approx. $9
Sample: Sent by Southern Draw Cigars
Quantity smoked: 1
Very cylindrical roll, dark leathery brown wrapper, nice oils, closed foot, tight seams, small but abundant veins. Light in the hand. Slight give when squeezed.
The wrapper has a very barnyardy, earthy aroma that smells strongly of Nicaragua. There were some hints of ammonia on the wrapper. If you’ve ever been in an aging room you’ll know exactly the smell I’m talking about. Cold draw is earthy, slightly bready. Draw feels like it will be open but I won’t be able to tell until I light up because the closed foot is constricting air-flow.
As suspected, the draw was nice and open once the closed foot burned away. First few draws deliver a naturally sweet, earthy smoke, followed by relatively punchy mixed spices/pepper combo on the finish. The smoke is surprisingly light and silky which probably has something to do with the middling smoke production but it does leave nice oils on the palate. It’s odd because the draw is open but I’m just not getting a smoke as dense as I’d like. A quarter inch in, pepper ramps up even further, lingering in the nose and pairing with notes of coffee, light caramel. Towards the second third the earth adds more of a mineral dimension. Body medium-full mainly due to the pepper/mixed spice. Strength negligible.
The cigar continues where it left off in the first third except the pepper/spice combo slowly secedes from the tongue, and mainly comes on the nose in a mellowed form. The remainder of the profile is composed of mineral-earth, a base natural sweetness, hints of coffee, subtle caramel, toast and touches of salt on the finish. The smoke becomes more thick and chewy in this third due to an up-tick in the smoke production. Settles into a medium-bodied, medium-strength cigar.
The pepper and spice mellow even further as the Firethorn develops. It takes on a more bready character with even thicker, fuller smoke. The bready/toasty flavors and natural sugar sweetness make an excellent pair with the softened spices and undertones of coffee and caramel. A momentary faint nuttiness enters the picture in the middle of this third but it struggles to emerge from the background. Nearing the end of the this third the pepper ramps back up again, tingling the tongue, as the cigar burns hotter due to the open draw. Fortunately, the Firethorn Toro stays relatively smooth without too much harshness all the way to the nub. It all ends a touch above medium in terms of strength and body.
Starts with a sweet earthy core with lots of pepper and spices but soon mellows out and gains a toasty aura with undertones of coffee and caramel. While it wasn’t loaded with pepper or spices there was enough that when combined with the enveloping bready/toasty character and natural sweetness it made it into Santa Fe for me. It almost had the feel of a cameroon wrapped cigar which is interesting considering the Firethorn features combination of a Habano Rosado wrapper and Mexican San Andrés binder.
The Southern Draw Firethorn Toro is a very natural tasting cigar. What I mean by that is the sweetness never had the character of chocolate, molasses, toffee, etc. but instead exhibited a very natural tobacco sweetness that I relished. Otherwise, I enjoyed how the cigar transitioned from a zingy start with plenty of pepper, mellowing with subtle transitions from third to third; all of them welcome. It wasn’t a palate tripper, taking you on a zig-zag journey from flame to ashes, but there was enough to keep your interest piqued. All in all a very pleasant, enjoyable cigar with complimentary flavors delivered with balance and quality construction. Southern Draw hit the sweet spot with this one, producing a flavorful cigar that smokes just a hair above medium in terms of body and strength.