A year ago I reviewed the Cornelius & Anthony The Gent and found it to be not only one of the better cigars of 2018, but also the best cigar I had smoked from the brand.
Since then, much has changed. In May, the company announced that its two most prominent employees had been laid off, along with its in-house salesforce. The announcement came two months after Steven Bailey, Cornelius & Anthony’s owner, had sold another tobacco business, S&M Brands, Inc., which was shut down by its new owner. Bailey told halfwheel that the company was not shutting down, but that it would be pulling out of the 2019 IPCPR Convention & Trade Show.
The company’s website still displays this past tense message from Bailey:
Five generations ago, my great-great-grandaddy set out on a path to make a life. But not just an ordinary life, a life that counted for something. For Family. For Friends. And for generations to come.
How it was for us: You either make it special, or you didn’t make it at all. Pride was something you earned.
It was a life and a lifestyle our family relished. And we celebrated every moment, because we had created something of value.
In life, that counts for something.
It’s still unclear whether the company intends to remain in business, particularly once its current inventory is sold. The company’s dormant social media pages and aggressive discounts from some retailers aren’t helping the case for being optimistic.
The Gent was one of two new lines introduced in 2018, along with The Mistress. Blend-wise, it uses an Ecuadorian rosado wrapper over an American binder and fillers from Honduras and Nicaragua. Like seven of the eight lines the company has introduced, it’s offered in the exact same four vitolas. And like all the company’s releases, it’s made at La Zona Cigar Factory in Estelí.
Here is what I wrote last September, when the Gordo size earned a 92 rating:
Over the course of the year, I will smoke hundreds of different cigars. While many of them are great cigars, it’s not every year that I find myself smoking a cigar that seems magical. As with most reviews, I had zero expectations of what would happen, but as with something like the original Las Calaveras, I was completely blindsided with just how good this was going to be. The Gent is simply fantastic. It’s a seamless transition of rich and balanced flavors that I rarely ever experience and it does it for over three hours with no reprieve. This is one of the best cigars I’ve smoked not just of this year, but of many of the years preceding it.
- Cigar Reviewed: Cornelius & Anthony The Gent Gordo
- Country of Origin: Nicaragua
- Factory: La Zona Cigar Factory
- Wrapper: Ecuador
- Binder: U.S.A.
- Filler: Honduras & Nicaragua
- Length: 6 Inches
- Ring Gauge: 60
- Vitola: Gordo
- MSRP: $9.75 (Boxes of 20, $195)
- Release Date: July 2018
- Number of Cigars Released: Regular Production
- Number of Cigars Smoked For Redux: 3
For what it’s worth, this sample was purchased immediately after the original review was published, so while it’s not from the same box as the cigars I originally smoked, it’s almost certainly from the same batch of cigars from La Zona. It looks great with a uniform milk chocolate-colored wrapper with a moderate amount of veins running down the side. The aroma off of the wrapper is medium with some barnyard and bitter chocolate. In a surprising turn, the foot is extremely full with chocolate dominating barnyard, pecan and strawberries. There is a lot of chocolate on the cold draw, kind of like dry cocoa powder, along with some black pepper and a dry nuttiness. There is a very concentrated amount of pepper. It doesn’t seem to be in that many places of the mouth, but it’s very sharp and irritating.
The Gent Gordo begins with some nuttiness, saltiness, raspberry iced tea and crisp wood flavors, around medium-plus. It continues to be a mixture of woodiness, saltiness and sweetness, though the former is the dominant flavor for the first half. The sweetness is now coming from a Nilla Wafer-like sweet cracker flavor, while retrohales have pecan and some lavender. There’s no real pepper in the first third and the finish is creamy. The profile remains medium-full in the second third, but it’s a lot sharper with some harsh creaminess, woodiness and some black pepper. The three flavors seem to shuffle around every few minutes and I’m unable to get the same complex notes that I got in the first third. Fortunately, the final third is better with cedar, white pepper, walnuts and some softer pink salt. Retrohales have meatiness and some generic sweetness, but they are quickly overwhelmed by the dry finish which is dominated by peanut butter and white pepper. The Gent ends full in flavor and medium-full in both body and strength; the strongest any of the three categories got at any point of the cigar.
Construction is an annoyance from the start. I make a quick touch-up within a few minutes—well within the range of where I don’t dock cigars under the guise of possible user error—but the burn never straightens itself out. By the second third, touch-ups are becoming commonplace every 15 minutes or so. Even if it’s only one part of The Gent that needs help, I do a full pass around the cigar with the lighter in hopes of putting an end to the process. It certainly gets better in the final third, but I still need to make two touch-ups in that section alone.
I smoked a few more of The Gent Gordo in the latter part of 2018 and found them to be as enjoyable as the three cigars I reviewed. This was not. It's probably not a bad cigar, but this particular example was flawed in a number of places. The flavor—particularly in the second third—was somewhat dull, the balance left a lot to be desired from start to finish and the construction was problematic enough that even if I wasn't reviewing the cigar, I'd be very annoyed. While the Gent Gordo was probably the most pleasant surprise of the cigars I smoked in 2018, it is probably the leader in the clubhouse for the most disappointing cigar I've smoked in 2019.