Bite Size Review: Hiram & Solomon Traveling Man
It’s tough for me not to say something to my friends and family, let alone someone I just met, when I see them mishandling a cigar. The pangs I feel are not brought on by some hollow pretentiousness, it’s more of a corny, “Father Bear” kinda thing. I just don’t like seeing careless handling that could end up costing someone any enjoyment or worse, someone trying cigars for the first time and being turned off by an easily preventable mistake. Cutting a cigar properly is an easily practiced skill and one aspect that if done incorrectly can bring all kinds of bad mojo your way including draw issues or an unwanted build-up of tar.
A common mistake is cutting the cigar too deep, something of which I’ve seen far too much over the years. The primary side effect of cutting a cigar too far down is that it could cause the top of the wrapper to unravel. Granted a little cigar glue or spit may offer a temporary fix, but the loss of excess tobacco may also affect the blend and hence the profile. Yet, veterans and noobs alike, are hacking off a ½” – ¾” (or more in extreme cases) of valuable blend real estate, instantly turning their Toros into Robustos, or worse – a $30 cigar into a $5 cigar.
As a refresher to those still honing their skills, when executing a straight cut (guillotine or scissors), best practices dictate cutting the cigar at the shoulder (parejo) or in the case of belicosos and torpedos, begin with 1/4” cut and trim more to suit your draw preference (a ~3/8” final cut is usually ideal) but be wary of tar build up on shallow cuts. So, I bring this enthralling symposium full circle as I prepare for our review of our second Hiram & Solomon cigar, Traveling Man, a cigar which I cut a little too aggressively causing the top of the wrapper to unravel. Oh Irony, thou heartless bitch.
Ok, it happens to the best of us, but let’s focus on Hiram and Solomon. One of the hottest boutiques to hit the US was inspired by the revered and secretive brotherhood of the Masons. Founded by WB Fouad Kashouty and Brother George Dakrat, and a little production help from their friends at Plasencia, Hiram & Solomon have brought an ‘A’ game for which few have the stomach or conviction.
Riding on the wave of success of their Master Mason, a cigar we reviewed late last year, the Kashouty and Dakrat portfolio also includes Traveling Man, a cigar that exemplifies what Kashouty says is, “…a Masonic tradition whereby a Freemason can [also] be called [sic] “Traveling Man” because in our quest to self-improve ourselves as individuals and build our own inner temple, we always strive in our mind to travel to the East, the place of light, the place where the sun rises, the place where we seek knowledge and self-growth…”
Sporting an oily Sumatran skin and Indonesian binder underneath, Traveling Man certainly manifests the spirit behind Eastern enlightenment. The wrapper, while veiny, toothy and lumpy, still takes on a supple, almost worn leather look as this attractive cigar is topped off by a nice cap. The length of the cigar is uniformly spongy, but solid. There’s a leather and floral bouquet from the leathery wrapper and a rich vanilla fudge aroma emanating from the foot. The cold draw is effortless, once I glued the partially unraveled wrapper leaf down thanks to my distracted cut, and produced a nice wash of raisins on the palate.
I’m warmly greeted by a spicy, nutty draw followed by a rich mélange of red pepper, leather and graham cracker. Notes of oak follow on the retro as Traveling Man finishes with touches of leather and peanuts. The core is toasty, but complexity is noticeably subtle almost obscured by a pervasive spiciness. The first round is tasty and it transitions to a more smoky, woody profile underpinned with dominant cedar, coffee bean and toasted oat notes. Body remains medium level and spice levels maintain throughout. While some leather and salted almond notes fade in and out, complexity drops off dramatically.
The loss of complexity relatively early and some balance issues late was a little disappointing as Traveling Man also becomes hot and harsh too soon. Combustion is very good producing large amounts of smoke, a strong ash and only intermittent wavy chars. Although not dry, the wrapper seemed brittle/flaky around the band area. Overall, our Traveling Man demonstrated a robust character that would go well with a nice sherry-casked Scotch (eg Macallan 12), but I has hoping for more Arapiraca and Ometepe nuances. This may be an adverse effect of 14 months of humidor age. I love the spicy disposition, but at times it assaults rather than complements. If you like ‘em savory and spicy, this is your horse. – In Fumo Pax!
Recommendation: 5 Packer
Did you Know: A Freemason can also be referred to as a “Traveling Man.”
- Profile: Med
- Vitola: Robusto
- Length / Ring Gauge: 5″ x 50
- Purchased: B&M
- Origin: Nicaragua
- Wrapper: Indonesian Sumatran
- Binder: Indonesian
- Filler: Brazilian Arapiraca, Nicaraguan Habano (Jalapa, Ometepe), Dominican
- Production: Plasencia S. A.
- Blade: Xikar Xi1
- Fire: Colibri Firebird
- Price: $10 [Box $200]
- Humidor Age: 14 mo.
- Box: 20
- Other Vitolas: Toro [6″x52], Torpedo [6″x54], Gran Toro [6″x60]. Lancero [7″x38]
N O T E S
Smoke Time: 1:08
Construction: Solid girth but spongy throughout; nice cap; minimal veins; some tooth; distinct seams; oily; lumpy; worn calf skin leather appearance; holds strong 1″+ ash; prodigious smoke producer.
- Wrapper – Leather, floral
- Foot – Vanilla fudge
- Cold Draw – Raisinesque
- Initial: Spicy, nutty draw; retro features notes of red pepper, leather and graham cracker; toasty finish of leather and peanuts; oak and raisin notes on retro develop late; finish becomes more toasty; texture is warm as spice overwhelms other profile aspects at times.
- Transition: Cedar profile; smoky texture with a woody, leathery draw; maintains spice level; rich finish of toasted oats and coffee; oak notes notes dominate retro; hints of salted almonds.
- Transition: Loss of complexity producing a robust profile of black coffee and cedar; finish is overtly woody; spice ratchets upward; becomes harsh and hot.
Complexity: Very Good
Touch ups: N/A
Weaknesses: Loss of complexity early; poor balance late; overwhelming spice at times drowns out other profile aspects.
Recommendation: 5 Packer
- 5 packer
- Yard ‘gar
- NR [No Recommendation]