For the second time in less than a year, Altadis U.S.A. has released a new cigar in the Henry Clay line, a brand that has been around for a very long time, but has seen very little action before the release of the Henry Clay Tattoo last year.
While the newest incarnation in the Henry Clay line looks very similar visually to the aforementioned collaboration with Pete Johnson, owner of Tatuaje Cigars, the two releases are quite different otherwise. While both blends incorporate a Connecticut broadleaf wrapper, the leaf on the Henry Clay Tattoo is from 2010 while the wrapper on the Henry Clay Stalk Cut is from 2012. In addition, while the Henry Clay Tattoo was available in just one size and in limited numbers—a 6 x 52 toro—the Stalk Cut has three different vitolas, all of which are regular production.
(Images via Altadis U.S.A.)
Inside the Connecticut broadleaf wrapper is a Dominican piloto binder from 2010 and three different fillers tobaccos: Dominican olor and Dominican pilot from 2012 and Nicaraguan criollo from 2013. The cigars are a regular production release blended by Altadis U.S.A.’s Grupo de Maestros and is rolled at Tabacalera de García in the Dominican Republic.
Patrick Lagreid explained the process of stalk cutting tobacco here:
Stalk cutting of tobacco is a method unique to Connecticut broadleaf, and one that has been used in the marketing of other cigars in recent years. Instead of harvesting the tobacco leaf-by-leaf, priming-by-priming, the entire plant is cut in the field and then quickly transferred to a curing barn to be hung to dry. This allows the tobacco to retain its nutrients and produce flavorful tobacco.
The Henry Clay Stalk Cut was available in three different vitolas at launch, all of which are sold in boxes of 20.
- Henry Clay Stalk Cut Gran Corona (6 x 46) — $8 (Boxes of 20, $160)
- Henry Clay Stalk Cut Robusto (5 x 50) — $8.25 (Boxes of 20, $165)
- Henry Clay Stalk Cut Toro (6 x 54) – $8.50 (Boxes of 20, $170)
- Cigar Reviewed: Henry Clay Stalk Cut Toro
- Country of Origin: Dominican Republic
- Factory: Tabacalera de García
- Wrapper: Connecticut Broadleaf (2012)
- Binder: Dominican Piloto (2010)
- Filler: Dominican Olor (2012), Piloto (2012) & Nicaragua Criollo (2013)
- Length: 6 Inches
- Ring Gauge: 54
- Vitola: Toro Extra
- MSRP: $8.50 (Boxes of 20, $170)
- Release Date: Jan. 22, 2016
- Number of Cigars Released: Regular Production
- Number of Cigars Smoked For Review: 3
Visually, the Henry Clay Stalk Cut is a gorgeous specimen, with a dark espresso bean brown wrapper that is silky smooth to the touch and evidence of plenty of oil. The box-press is very obvious, and the covered foot is a nice touch. Aroma from the wrapper is a combination of surprisingly subtle earth, leather, manure, dark chocolate and coffee grounds, while the cold draw brings flavors of rich milk chocolate, sweet oak, espresso beans, leather and sweet vanilla.
Starting out, the Henry Clay Stalk Cut has a dominant combination of leather and oak, interspersed with other notes of gritty earth, peanuts, toast, powdery cocoa, anise, lemon citrus and . There is a nice amount of both black pepper and nutmeg sweetness on the retrohale, and both are strong enough to impact the profile in a positive way. Construction-wise, the draw is a bit tight, albeit still smokable, while the burn is giving me very few problems. The smoke production is about average, while the strength hits a point close to medium by the time the first ends.
The nutmeg sweetness dies down significantly in the second third of the Stalk Cut, as does the black pepper on the retrohale. In fact, the profile becomes noticeably less distinct overall, albeit more smooth on the palate as well. Unlike the first third, there are not absolute dominant flavors, but I am tasting more bitter chocolate, leather, dark fruit, coffee grounds, oak and creamy nuts. Unfortunately, the draw is still quite spongy, and while the burn is far from perfect, it is not bad enough to actually have to touch up at this point. Strength-Wise, the Henry Clay easily reaches a medium point by the halfway point of the cigar, but stalls out there, seemingly content to remain where it is for the foreseeable future.
I did not think it was possible, but the profile of the Henry Clay Stalk Cut becomes even more indistinct in the final third, forcing me to really concentrate to pull out any flavors at all. I am tasting more creamy nuts, more leather, more earth and more coffee, along with some very slight sweetness on the retrohale, but all of the notes are fairly generic, and none really stand out from the rest. There is almost no black pepper remaining on the retrohale, and the strength goes no further than the medium mark it hit at the halfway point by the time I put the cigar down with a little more than an inch to go.
- All Connecticut broadleaf tobacco is stalk cut when it is harvested.
- Patrick Lagreid visited the Altadis Shade Co.’s Gershel Farm in Somers, Conn. in 2014, you can see the photos here.
- I cannot stress how silky smooth the wrapper is; in fact, I would almost describe it as slimy. It sure does not feel like any other Connecticut broadleaf I have ever felt, nor does it look as dark as most of the Connecticut broadleaf I have seen on other cigars.
- I have always loved the Henry Clay brand, ever since Tatuaje owner Pete Johnson told me about them many years ago when met him for the first time. While I don’t smoke a bunch of them, I enjoy every one I do smoke.
- Two of the samples I smoked had very spongy draws, not quite tight, but not ideal either. Having said that, the burn was fantastic on each of the three samples, only giving me a problem once for each cigar that was easily fixed.
- The final smoking time for all three samples averaged one hour and 55 minutes.
- The cigars smoked for this review were provided to halfwheel by Altadis U.S.A., which advertises on halfwheel.
- If you would like to purchase any of the Henry Clay Stalk Cut cigars, site sponsors Atlantic Cigar, Cigar Hustler, Cigar.com, Corona Cigar Co. and JR Cigar have them in stock.
As a blend, the Henry Clay Stalk Cut is best in the first third, by a pretty wide margin. In fact, after the start of the second third, the profile begins to turn mushy and indistinct, with very few dominant flavors that stand out from the bunch. This issue continues to get worse in the final third, and was probably not helped by the spongy draw I encountered on two of the three samples, but despite that, the burn was quite good, and the smoke production did not seem to suffer any. An interesting cigar to try, but give me a regular production Henry Clay any day of the week over one of these.