Bite Size Review: Southern Draw Jacobs Ladder
99 Cigars is blazing a trail through boutique heaven and Southern Draw is our next stop. Southern Draw’s portfolio has steadily drawn significant buzz since launching it’s inaugural blend, Kudzu, back in 2015. Its growth is fueled by popular blends growing a faithful following faster than many boutiques during the same period. The company was formed by US veterans and the driving force behind Southern Draw, along with his wife Sharon, is Robert Holt: US Army veteran, southern gentleman and “Chief Evangelist.” Like many of us, Robert discovered the “it” factor in cigars which was then paired serendipitously with working in Central America in a non-cigar industry. Fate made damn sure a cigar dream would be realized. Conceptually, Southern Draw is rooted in the principles of the quintessential southern gentleman and within it’s fabric are woven the ideals of God, family, country, respect, integrity and honor to name a few. This is a working philosophy not smoke and mirrors or marketing gimmickry. Assisting on the tobacco side of this effort is none other than cigar wunderkind and blending badass, AJ Fernandez.
Jacobs Ladder was officially launched in late 2017 and like other sticks in SD’s portfolio, is a nod to flowering plants. It is also a spiritual reference to the conceptual steps between Heaven and earth. Jacob’s Ladder promises to be unique in that it’s wrapped in decadent broadleaf and filled with peppery ligero. We LOVE ligero! Sporting dreamy bluish-purple banding and with 4 months of age, it was time to liberate and shake down this espresso-colored (almost black) Pennsylvania broadleaf-wrapped beauty. The construction is solid, save for one soft spot. The ‘Ladder is semi-veiny with raised seams and a rather messy cap. The cold draw is on the tight side but offers lots of chocolate with a slight tang. Lovely aromas of herbal tea and dark cherry caress the nose. The shrouded foot produced a muted, but wonderful note of pan dulce (sweet bread). The flavor palette of ligero and broadleaf is intoxicating with a couple of transitions and there’s no question Fernandez’s hands are all over it. The final stretch is a power stroke of strength and body, another Fernandez trademark. Initially complex and well-balanced, the final third is more one-dimensional. Our expectations were spot on – this was a unique and, aside from some combustion issues, an enjoyable experience; however, I don’t see this cigar as an everyday smoke or a go-to. This is a unique blend that deserves special consideration for place, time and occasion. – In Fumo Pax!
Did you Know: AJ Fernandez assists with both the blending of Southern Draw’s cigars as well as production in his factory in Esteli, Nicaragua.
- Profile: Full
- Vitola: Toro
- Length/ Ring Gauge: 6.0″ / 52
- Purchased: Local B&M
- Origin: Nicaragua
- Wrapper: Lancaster (Pennsylvania) 401 Broadleaf
- Binder: Ecuadorian Maduro
- Filler: Nicaragua
- Cutter: Colibri V
- Lighter: Xikar Exec II
- Price paid: $10
Build: Uniform firmness with exception of soft spot under band; perfunctory cap; holds 1+” ash with ease.
Draw: Good but on tight side
- Shaft – Dark cherry; herbal tea
- Foot – Pan dulce (sweet bread)
- Cold Draw – Chocolate with a slight tang
Flavors: Pepper bomb! Lots of chocolate notes, black pepper, earth, dark cherries; toasty and espresso finishes (initially dry); dark cherries, whiff of anise and oats on retro transitions; Spicy with uptick as you smoke; Dark fruit and Oak profile in transitions; a lingering floral essence.
Complexity: Excellent initially
Balance: Excellent initially
Touch ups: 3
Combustion: Uneven for most of smoke but improves
Weaknesses: Burns hot at times; tighter than average draw; Uneven combustion
Recommend: 1. Go-to 2. 5-packer 3. 3rd stringer 4. Smoke a banana instead