In April, Southern Draw Cigars announced that over the summer, it would be releasing the third installment of its QuickDraw line, the QuickDraw Connecticut.
For this installment, a blend of an Ecuadorian Connecticut wrapper over a Nicaraguan binder from Ometepe and fillers from Estelí and Condega was chosen, with production once again handled by Abdel Fernandez’s Tabacalera AJ Fernandez Cigars de Nicaragua S.A. in Estelí. That factory has made all of Southern Draw’s releases to date, including the QuickDraw Ecuadorian Dark Habano and QuickDraw Pennsylvania Broadleaf.
It’s a blend that Southern Draw Cigars founder Robert Holt said was influenced by his appreciation of cafe Cubano, coladas and cafecitos, which show “the strength of dark roast espresso, the sweetness of hydrolyzed sugar and the light creaminess of the espumita or crema that sits atop the coffees.” He added that the small vitolas were selected to further enhance the coffee experience.
The name is particularly applicable to this line, as it is being released in two small vitolas: a Petit Corona (4 1/2 x 44, $5) and Short Panatela (5 1/2 x 40, $5.50), and both of which are said to be smokable in under 30 minutes. Each size features a closed foot and a short pigtail cap, as well.
Holt went on to say that the QuickDraw Connecticut is “a celebration of the morning and mid-day cultural and social coffee-related activity that is prominent among most all Cuban and Latin Americans, many of whom have cultivated this fabulous cigar industry and whose knowledge and support has been a catalyst for Southern Draw Cigars’ entrance into the industry.”
The QuickDraw Connecticut is being limited to a total of 100,000 cigars this year, split evenly between the two sizes and set to be released through a series of retail events and cigar socials between April and June.
- Cigar Reviewed: Southern Draw QuickDraw Connecticut Short Panatela
- Country of Origin: Nicaragua
- Factory: Tabacalera AJ Fernandez Cigars de Nicaragua S.A.
- Wrapper: Ecuadorian Connecticut
- Binder: Nicaragua (Ometepe)
- Filler: Nicaragua (Estelí & Condega)
- Length: 5 1/2 Inches
- Ring Gauge: 40
- Vitola: Cremas
- MSRP: $5.50 (Boxes of 25, $137.50)
- Release Date: April 2016
- Number of Cigars Released: 2,000 Boxes/Bundles of 25 Cigars (50,000 Total Cigars)
- Number of Cigars Smoked For Review: 3
The wrapper on some samples isn’t the prettiest I have ever seen, but at its better points the QuickDraw Connecticut is a respectable looking leaf with a lightly tanned hue hinting at a graham cracker or very milked-up coffee. It’s a firm cigar, which is readily discernible without a ton of squeezing, which is avoided for the sake of leaving the wrapper intact. The roll is clean with no visual irregularities, and the covered foot it executed fairly well, with a bit more bunching than folding of the tobacco to get the desired effect, but it certainly works. The cap is also good but not as refined as it could be in certain examples, with the short nub of twisted tobacco sticking up from the head of the cigar, ready to be clipped before it could grow into a more ornate tail for the cigar. The first impression from the foot of the cigar leads me towards plain corn flakes and cake donut; both fairly neutral flavors that are distinct but don’t necessarily carve out a place in one’s memory with any forcefulness. Air moves well on the cold draw though there isn’t much to indicate what might await the palate; other than a faint bit of pepper and dry wood it is a nondescript introduction.
Given that quick and Connecticut is in the name of this release from Southern Draw, I’m not surprised to find that this QuickDraw wastes no time delivering familiar Ecuadorian Connecticut flavors. Pepper is a bit more prominent than I would have expected, while the drier and almost earthy front notes are very familiar, and when working in unison provide a good tingle for the tongue. Depending on one’s particular preference, and even the particular cigar you end up with, this can be either a very enjoyable flavor profile or one that leaves the mouth a bit dry and unsettled, and I had both reactions. The ash isn’t terribly strong with this Connecticut-wrapped cigar, breaking off twice in the first third alone. The cigar begins its move to its next act with a steady building of black pepper and a bit more intensity, climbing from medium to medium-plus with each puff, with some samples showing a propensity to dry out the mouth and leave behind a somewhat off-putting finish, though that might depend on one’s own preferences.
While I didn’t drink coffee or espresso during any of the samples smoked for this review, I can easily imagine how well the QuickDraw Connecticut would pair with them, particularly a sweet Cuban espresso that would enhance the subtle hints of sweetness that the cigar is offering. The speed at which this cigar can be smoked becomes particularly noticeable in the second third, as while I pride myself on being a slow smoker, the burn line seems to fly through this section, though evenly I am happy to report. A combination of wood, white pepper and touches of Ecuadorian terroir still make up the bulk of what this cigar has to offer, though there are times when it takes a peak into crossing the medium-bodied line as touches of black pepper get introduced. By the midpoint, the Quick Draw Connecticut will certainly have you rethinking that this was mild at all, let alone its relative mildness in the first third. Pepper is cranked up much more than it was earlier and now is felt both on the tongue and in the back of the mouth, while retrohales offer even more in a passable yet almost challenging retrohale.
Entering the final third, I find myself occasionally smoking the QuickDraw Connecticut Short Panatela to quickly, which gets the cigar a bit too hot and works against the natural flavor and strength progression that is happening. I can’t say that I find a significant change in flavor from where things were earlier, though the intensity and concentration of the flavors has certainly ramped up, as has the pepper and accompanying strength. At its fullest, the QuickDraw Connecticut is a strong medium and definitely falls squarely into the realm of the more recent generation of Connecticut wrapped cigars that offer more kick than what was common a decade or so ago. The cigar finishes up with a touch more strength being added and the flavors staying fairly consistent from where they started, and with some attention towards keeping the smoke cool, ensures the cigar can get smoked down to a tiny remnant.
- Given both the name and the size of this cigar and its smaller sibling, I wonder if there might be a tendency for consumers to smoke these a bit too fast and miss out on some of the flavors being offered. You can certainly get through this cigar in an hour or less if you try, but I think you’d be better served going with something smaller or simply smoking slower.
- Nervous ashers or those who just don’t like being covered in flakes, beware, the Quick Draw Connecticut is one you’ll want to monitor closely and tap occasionally while you can get it in the ashtray.
- Similarly, the covered foot results in bits of ash almost immediately scattering around your area once the cigar is lit. This is something common among almost every cigar with a closed foot, and while decorative and beneficial to the flavor, does ensure a bit of a mess.
- I smoked a single sample of the Petit Corona vitola, and there was a side of me that preferred the slightly bigger ring gauge and softer profile that it offered. That said though, the final third might have been even more peppery than its more slender counterpart, stinging the eyes with peppery smoke several times. I still think I’d take the Petit Corona between the two, though the final scores may be nearly even.
- A.J. Fernandez advertises on halfwheel.
- Final smoking time was one hour and 10 minutes on average.
- The cigars for this review were provided by Southern Draw Cigars.
- Site sponsors Lone Star State Cigar Co. and STOGIES World Class Cigars are Southern Draw retailers.
While I enjoyed the QuickDraw Connecticut from Southern Draw, I couldn’t help but thinking of this more as a lifestyle or situational cigar rather than something that I would turn to on a regular basis. Both sizes in the line lend themselves to brief windows of opportunity to smoke a cigar, whether it be in the car, fighting off unfavorable weather, or simply squeezing in a cigar on a lunch break. I’d love to see more complexity from the blend, but with a properly paired coffee beverage, the QuickDraw Connecticut should more than suffice a brief opportunity to light one up.