In recent years, a number of companies have tried to help entice retailers to attend the annual Premium Cigar Association (PCA) Convention & Trade Show by offering limited edition cigars that can only be ordered at the show. In 2021, 7-20-4 joined the group of companies participating in the unofficial program by way of the 7-20-4 The Hustler Five & Dime.
It’s an extension to the company’s The Hustler line, which debuted in November 2012 and got its name from one of the 7-20-4 brand’s original lines dating back to the late 19th century.
When The Hustler was released, Kurt Kendall, owner of the current incarnation of 7-20-4, said he selected its original box art, “because it almost leaps off the shelf.” As he described it, the artwork “shows a dandy in full stride, toting a carpet bag and briefcase, with newspaper and ‘bumbershoot’ under each arm. The jaunty angle of the cigar in his grin says this guy’s a hustler, in more ways than one.”
The Hustler is also recognizable for using a barber pole design made up of two wrappers, the darker one a Brazilian mata fina leaf, while the lighter one is an Ecuadorian-grown Connecticut shade leaf.
For The Hustler Five & Dime PCA Exclusive, the company paid tribute to the cigars of its past, particularly the 5- and 10-cent cigars that made the 7-20-4 brand a household name in its early days, while keeping The Hustler’s signature barber pole design but giving it a new blend.
It is a 6 x 52 toro that uses a Mexican San Andrés leaf and a Brazilian habano leaf for its wrappers. The binder is an Ecuadorian Sumatra leaf, while the filler uses tobaccos from Pennsylvania and the Estelí and Jalapa regions of Nicaragua.
Production is limited to 1,000 boxes of 10 cigars, with the cigars made at J. Fuego Cigar Co. de Nicaragua. After delays with several aspects of the production process, the cigar began arriving at stores in May 2022, just over nine months after the 2021 PCA Convention & Trade Show.
- Cigar Reviewed: 7-20-4 The Hustler Five & Dime PCA Exclusive
- Country of Origin: Nicaragua
- Factory: J. Fuego Cigar Co. de Nicaragua
- Wrapper: Brazil (Habano) & Mexico (San Andrés)
- Binder: Ecuador (Sumatra)
- Filler: Nicaragua (Estelí and Jalapa) & U.S.A. (Pennsylvania)
- Length: 6 Inches
- Ring Gauge: 52
- Vitola: Toro
- MSRP: $12.50 (Box of 10 Cigars, $125)
- Release Date: May 2022
- Number of Cigars Released: 1,000 Boxes of 10 Cigars (10,000 Total Cigars)
- Number of Cigars Smoked For Review: 3
I’d forgotten how dark the wrappers are on the 7-20-4 The Hustler Five & Dime, as they are rich, meaty and earthy shades of brown. The wrapper has some fairly prominent veins, so much so that some stick out from the binder and distract from any chance this cigar had of having a perfect roll. That said, each appears to be rolled well and deals with the bigger veins decently well. I’m not sure how I feel about the barber pole design not being more prominent, as none of the three samples I received would have had me thinking there are two wrappers being used here. It’s only upon closer inspection that I notice the two sets of seam lines. As for its density, it ranges from quite hard to being fairly firm but offering a touch of give but all three samples are on the firm side of the spectrum. The first thing I pick up from the foot’s aroma is a subtle fruit sweetness, though some damp earthiness comes along right behind it and becomes the dominant aroma. In that earthiness is a bit of chocolate, black pepper, and a flavor that reminds me of a nitro cold brew with a bit of cream added, though the components don’t make consistent appearances across the samples. The cold draw is consistently firm, while the flavor lacks the sweetness found in the aroma. The earthiness is still there, along with a bit of chocolate candy and some peat.
I’m not surprised to find an earthy profile to start off the 7-20-4 The Hustler Five & Dime, though I am a bit surprised to find it starts more like potting soil as opposed to a more earthy terroir. I’m also a bit surprised to find it fairly mellow on the palate, at least in terms of the intensity of the flavors. There’s some creaminess, hints of cocoa powder and just a sprinkle of black pepper, but in the early goings, the experience is more about the thick body of the smoke as opposed to a powerful flavor. The black pepper is the first thing to rise up in the profile, and in particular in the retrohales where it provides a gentle tingling of the nostrils. Next, some bark and sweetness hit the taste buds, and in some cases a bit of chocolate bitters. After the first clump of ash falls off and the cigar is at rest in the ashtray, it begins picking up an impressively rich aroma that draws on a campfire, a charcoal grill, and a smoked cocktail with a bit of blueberry garnish. I’m hesitant to attribute a progression to the ash dropping, but the two events happen pretty close to one another across the samples. The burn line just starts to tilt a bit, but otherwise, construction and combustion have both been very good. Flavor is right around, body is medium-full, and strength is just shy of medium.
As the flavor begins to come alive, it signals a transition into the next offering that the blend offers, one that begins to offer some better suggestions as to what the wrappers have to offer. Some of the bolder components shine through while it feels like there are some details that aren’t quite able to contribute. Specifically, the earthiness and terroir seem to be coming from the Mexican leaf, while the Brazilian habano contributes a bit of woodiness and spicy pepper. A bit of chalkiness comes into this middle section of the cigar at times, and in one sample it leads me to check the head of the cigar for some possible tar, which thankfully I did not find. Around the midway point, the cigar picks up a very interesting aroma that is sweet and effervescent, making me think of a sparkling white wine for a moment, as it is also fleeting. I’m still a bit perplexed by the relatively tame profile of the 7-20-4 The Hustler Five & Dime , as I would have expected a more vibrant and lively flavor offering from this cigar. It is plenty enjoyable, yet the flavors just feel a bit tight and not ready to show off all that they have to offer. This section closes out with a changing base flavor, as the earth takes on a flavor of over-roasted coffee and a medium-well steak, a change that is not harsh or abrasive, but shows how some otherwise good flavors can get overcooked and lose their better attributes. Construction and combustion remain very good, though I found myself developing a tendency to slow down my puffing as the flavor settled into a routine, which necessitated an occasional touchup. Flavor is medium-plus, body is medium-plus, and strength is medium.
The change I noted at the end of the second third continues into the start of the final third and those flavors are now sharper and a bit rougher on the palate. There’s also some peppery heat in the equation, similar to the sensation of eating red chili pepper flakes and when I retrohale the cigar I get more of a tingle in my nostrils. From there, the 7-20-4 The Hustler Five & Dime dabbles in a number of the flavors it has offered before with some various spins on the chocolate flavor that have shared roots in cocoa powder, along with some bark and wood, a bit of spice and some black pepper. While there are a good number of flavors, none of them seem to want to take the lead and the more I dive into what the cigar has to offer, the more it feels like it might need a bit of time for the flavors to open up and shine. Dry wood starts to take a bit of the lead as the cigar gets into its final two inches, which elicits a new sensation on my tongue. The homestretch of the cigar also offers some assorted combinations of dry chocolate, a bit of peated Scotch, earth and terroir. Construction and combustion are still very good, with flavor finishing medium-full, body is at medium-plus, and strength is medium.
- After holding on well during the first third, the ash became much more fragile during the second third, breaking off in smaller clumps and without much prompting or indication that another clump was about to fall.
- The dark wrappers and light ash create a pretty stark visual contrast; both are some of the more extreme examples I can recall seeing recently.
- This is a cigar that has me wanting to smoke the components on their own as well as just the wrappers in combination to taste what each has to offer and what gets added and subtracted when they are combined.
- I have come to notice that for as much as I try and smoke every cigar as similarly as possible, I tend to slow my puffing rates when the cigar isn’t responding with more pronounced flavors or transitions.
- This leads me to think of cigars in terms of how dynamic they are, not necessarily a judgment on strength or intensity, but in how captivating it can be to my senses.
- None of the three samples hit me with much nicotine strength.
- The cigars for this review were purchased by halfwheel.
- Final smoking time was two hours and 30 minutes on average.
Every so often there will be a cigar with a profile that feels like it has yet to open up, which is where it seems like the 7-20-4 The Hustler Five & Dime PCA Exclusive is at the moment. There are suggestions at some very enjoyable flavors, most notably the berry sweetness, chocolate, earth and chili pepper, yet none seem quite ready to take the wheel. Likewise, the combination of the components seems like it has a good amount of as-of-yet unrealized potential. Hopefully some time allows this cigar into the cigar it seems capable of becoming, as the results could be quite impressive.