Review: Nomad Renegade
Officially launched in January 2012, Fred Rewey’s Nomad Cigar Company released its initial offering of five cigars to the market on March 28. The lineup is as follows:
- Drifter – 6 x 60
- Renegade – 5 1/2 x 54 Robusto
- Vagabond – 4 5/8 x 54 Figurado
- Navigator – 6 x 52 Torpedo
- Fugitive – 5 7/8 x 64 Figurado
While the first four are regular production cigars, the Fugitive is billed as the company’s 2012 limited edition because of its blend percentage and vitola. Production on that cigar was limited to 500 boxes of 20 cigars for a total run of 10,000 sticks, as opposed to the 30,000 cigars estimated for the other vitolas.
Rewey says that he wanted Nomad Cigar Company, “to be as close as you could get to creating your own cigar – an elite club indeed.” With a professional portfolio that includes a career in the financial world, writing two books and creating a couple of internet businesses, the move to the cigar world seems like a somewhat unlikely one. But as he explained in an e-mail:
In the past I have always turned my hobbies into businesses. Cigars would have to be the last as, for the most part, it was going to require the most of my time and needed to be done right. It took considerable research and it was something I wanted to build for the long haul, not just build and sell.
As for what was the tipping point that made Rewey want to get into the cigar business, he says it was three fold:
One, I always wanted to do something with my cigar passion – I just waited until I had something worthy to offer; either do something right or don’t do it at all. I smoke cigars with Avo several times a week – he encouraged me to finally offer something to the cigar world.
Two, I was determined to get a quality cigar to market at a decent price – nothing new in the cigar market, yet rarely achieved by a start up. I would not sacrifice quality, and I did not realize what kind of barrier that was for a start-up. Fortunately, we got everything lined up: tobacco, blending, and construction.
Three, I wanted to create the company in such a manner that it had great access and relationship with its customers (ie: Rocky, Avo, etc). I really do want Nomad smokers to have a great cigar experience. The “Nomad” name was more of a lifestyle and attitude that was shared with more and more cigar smokers I came across.
Now that we’ve got that out of the way, let’s light this stick up.
- Cigar Reviewed: Nomad Renegade
- Country of Origin: Dominican Republic
- Factory: n/a
- Wrapper: Ecuadoran Habano
- Binder: Dominican Republic
- Filler: Dominican Republic
- Size: 5 1/2 Inches
- Ring Gauge: 54
- Vitola: Robusto Gordo
- MSRP: $8.00 (Boxes of 20, $160.00)
- Date Released: March 28, 2012
- Number of Cigars Released: Regular Production
- Number of Cigars Smoked For Review: 4
The Nomad Renegade is wrapped in a medium brown leaf that is fairly veiny with a bit of give, almost feeling a bit wet still. The pre-light aroma has an enjoyable bit of pepper that helps give life to the mild sawdust-like wood, wheat and grain notes. A bit of brown sugar on top of a woody spicy note is the easiest way to describe the cold draw. The band features a winged iron cross with a compass, imagery familiar to those knowledgeable about 19th and 20th century Prussian and German military awards. It’s also a symbol frequently found in the motorcycle world, one of several interests of Rewey’s.
The first third of the Nomad Renegade starts inauspiciously, a medium-bodied cigar that doesn’t produce a ton of flavor but has a chewy, doughy texture. While the ash holds on well for the first inch or so, it also lets a good amount of the bright orange light from the burning center of the cigar shine through – something I can’t recall seeing as prominently in other sticks. While the spice mostly stays minimal in the first third, one cigar had a much bigger spice component early on, which completely changes the introduction to the stick. In this third, the Renegade doesn’t show a ton of complexity or flavor changes. The smoke is plentiful with good texture, though the lack of flavor is a significant drawback.
While the smoke stays plentiful moving into the second third, the flavor hasn’t progressed much. It starts to round out a bit at the halfway point, losing what bits of sharpness it had early and smoothing them over with a creaminess in the smoke that wasn’t seen earlier. The smoke coming off the third cigar has a much more enjoyable aroma than the first two did – it’s richer and reminds me of grilled hot dogs at a picnic. Not only does it smell really good, it also evokes some good memories.
The final third adds a layer of complexity that was sorely lacking from the first two thirds. The wood notes intensify with the pepper picking up a bit, although in the third cigar, the flavors start to get a bit out of balance and some sourness comes in that hurts what had been an otherwise very good cigar. Notes of cherry wood close out the Renegade bringing it to a favorable finish that warrants being taken down to the fingertips.
- I just can’t accept that this is a traditional Robusto as advertised on Nomad’s website. This is a fat Robusto, a chubby Robusto, a Robusto Gordo, whatever you want to call it, but with a 54 ring gauge, it’s certainly not what most people would think of when it comes to a traditional Robusto. Brooks wrote this editorial about this phenomena seeming to happen more often.
- This is the only cigar band I can think of that has a Twitter account on it – in this case, it’s Rewey’s @Godfadr account.
- The third and fourth cigars were real departure from the first two and it was for the better. The flavors seemed much more alive and had a complexity not found in the first two.
- I was continually impressed by how well the ash held on. It’s always nice to see great construction, but even more so from a new cigar company.
- The production number of 30,000 cigars is an estimate at this point, as Rewey said he’ll make about 1500 boxes of 20 in 2012.
- Rewey already has his 2013 Limited Edition lined up, though he wouldn’t say what it will be. He did say, “I am actually excited about the new one.”
- He mentioned that he thought the Navigator would be his best seller, though it hasn’t been – yet. He’s also considering making it with a Connecticut wrapper.
- At this time, Rewey isn’t disclosing a factory, although he frequently mentions having the best rollers.
- The cigars are available through Nomad’s website and a handful of retailers across the country with the updated list coming to the website in the near future.
- While you’re smoking a Nomad, check out one of Rewey’s sites, TheSlowBleed.com, a site billed as “The Systematic Draining of America’s Economy, Culture and Pride.”
- If you order Nomad cigars via the website, you might just find a surprise in the box. Besides the hand signed card or note that goes in every order, Rewey has been known to include hats, stickers, lighter watches, iPhone covers, travel humidors and other goodies. However, the rumor that he mailed a live kitten seems to be false.
- Final smoking time is about one hour, 45 minutes
The Bottom Line: While it wasn’t love at first smoke with the Nomad Renegade, over time I did fall into a deep state of like with it. The first two left me fairly ambivalent, but the third and fourth showed a much different side of the blend that captured my attention from the get go and had it not been for the cigar falling a bit out of balance in the final third, would have really had me singing its praises. I have no hesitation recommending the five-pack sampler that Nomad offers – for $35 plus shipping you get one of each of the company’s five cigars, which is a good way to get introduced to the line. I’m a bit disappointed that there isn’t any smaller ring gauges than the 52 ring gauge Torpedo or the 4 5/8 x 54 Vagabond Figurado, as I think a sub 50 ring gauge could help the flavors stand out a bit more, so hopefully those will come in time. For now though, the Nomad Renegade is an enjoyable debut cigar that is worth checking out.
Final Score: 84