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In October, news of a new cigar that would bear the name of a popular television show character was announced, as Meier & Dutch, the distribution arm of Cigars International, announced the Lucious Lyon line, named for the main character in the show “Empire.”

The Lucious Lyon line offers three vitolas and is for the character portrayed by Terrence Howard. The blend uses a Connecticut shade wrapper, dual binder of Connecticut broadleaf and Mexican tobaccos, with a filler blend of Dominican, Honduran, Mexican and Nicaraguan leaves. The three sizes—No. 1 (5 1/2 x 50, $12.50), No. 2 (6 x 54 torpedo, $14.40) and No. 3 (6 x 52, $13.80)—all come in individually sealed glass tubes packed in 10-count boxes. They are being made at the STG Danlí factory in Honduras.

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“The characters of ‘Empire’ personify a lifestyle associated with success, luxury and an insatiable appetite for only the finest things,” said Steve McDevitt, director of sales for Meier & Dutch in a press release. “Creating a compelling, limited edition offering of premium products around Lucious Lyon came naturally and the project literally took on a life of its own from day one.”

Additionally, there is a line of branded accessories produced by XIKAR to complement the cigars, a crystal ashtray ($125), high-gloss humidor ($375), double guillotine cutter ($125) and a lighter ($125). The cigars and accessories are all described as being limited editions, though production numbers have not yet been revealed.

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  • Cigar Reviewed: Lucious Lyon No. 1
  • Country of Origin: Honduras
  • Factory: STG Danlí
  • Wrapper: Connecticut Shade
  • Binder: Connecticut Broadleaf & Mexico
  • Filler: Dominican Republic, Honduras, Mexico & Nicaragua
  • Length: 5 1/2 Inches
  • Ring Gauge: 50
  • Vitola: Robusto Extra
  • MSRP: $12.50 (Boxes of 10, $125)
  • Release Date: Oct. 6, 2016
  • Number of Cigars Released: n/a
  • Number of Cigars Smoked For Review: 3

The band appears either copper or rose gold depending on the lighting and is by far the focal point of the cigar, both since it covers nearly half of the length and also due to the images of a stoic and crowned lion a tapestry pattern on the lower third. As for the cigar itself, it’s well rolled with flat seams, a well-applied cap and a firm but not hard density. The wrapper is familiar as well, with a lightly tanned hue that is reminiscent of butterscotch or any other number of Connecticut shade wrapped cigars. The veins are small and Cubanesque at times, tooth is nonexistent and the texture is thin but familiar. The foot offers a sweet and creamy aroma, much like the leftover milk from a bowl of Frosted Flakes, with some samples showing a buttery component as well. There’s no pepper to speak of, nor is there any on the cold draw, which varies from a touch firm to a touch or two loose sheds the sweetness for dry wood that is somewhat prickly on the tongue and quickly dries out the mouth.

For showing hardly any pepper prior to being lit, the Lucious Lyon starts off with a respectable pinch of it behind more forward notes of dry wood, cereal grains and cream, a familiar flavor profile of many cigars and one that falls in line with the new Connecticut blend of recent years. In all the cigars, but one in particular, the taste of dry Frosted Flakes is readily apparent, which for me is likely because I ate too many of them as a kid and may manifest different for each individual depending on their food history. The creaminess begins to move forward through the first inch, and by the time I’m getting legitimately nervous about the band getting charred, it’s a milder, creamier cigar than how it started, though a bit of sweet pepper is beginning to emerge in the aroma. The ash breaks off about a third of an inch shy of the band, and the flavor pivots again to light, dry wood, minimal pepper except through retrohales and a generally pleasing profile, though one that if you’ve smoked a number of cigars will seem incredibly familiar.

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The burn line makes quick work of the transition from first to second third, aided both by the fairly light tobaccos used that don’t offer much oiliness to slow things down, but also by the mild to medium-minus strength and body of the smoke, which doesn’t challenge the palate or leave a lingering flavor, and thus seems to encourage a bit of over-smoking. While the tongue and taste buds don’t get as much flavor as I would like, the Lucious Lyon No. 1 does manage to do well through the nose, as retrohales are clean and peppery, with the dry wood component showing vibrance and life and giving the cigar some real character. Through this section, the cigar holds fairly true with more cereal grains that evolve into some dough and dense donut, all as the creaminess from earlier condenses into a half-and-half note before beginning to fade out of the equation.

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After holding fairly steady with the flavor profile for the first two thirds, the Lucious Lyon No. 1 makes some noticeable changes in the final third, becoming a bit rougher thanks to more pronounced wood and pepper, while the cigar begins to pick up a bit of char on the flavors it has shown to this point. While the flavors remain generally palatable, save for a brief touch of sourness that makes an unannounced and unexpected appearance, it is a turn that might have fans of milder cigars quickly becoming dissatisfied. The flavor reaches a point where it almost cries out to be balanced by the creaminess of the first third, while the sweetness would be a welcomed addition as well, and now sits almost squarely in medium body and flavor territory, a marked step up from where it began. While the change doesn’t seem like the best evolution of the blend, it’s still easy to smoke the Lucious Lyon down to as small of a nub as you’d like and find plenty to enjoy, including an occasional return of the frosted sugar note at the very end.

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Final Notes

  • On the back of the band is a copyright mark, something I can’t remember seeing on a band in some time. In particular, it reads (C) 2016 FOX.
  • For the record, I have never watched an episode of “Empire.” For those not familiar with the show, “Empire” debuted in January 2015 and chronicles the fictional story of Empire Entertainment, a music label and entertainment company started by former drug dealer Lucious Lyon and run by members of his family who fight for control and power. It is currently in its third season.
  • I ended up smoking the photographed cigar on an incredibly windy day, hence why there’s not a lot of visible smoke, but the cigar offered a more than respectable amount that was quickly whisked away.
  • I’d be worried about smoking this cigar outside on a hot day given the wrapper; while mine held up nicely, it appears to be a fairly thin leaf that likely couldn’t handle a challenging environment well.
  • Both Padilla and La Aurora use a lion in their branding; if I didn’t know the backstory of this cigar, I would assume it came from the former given the design aesthetic.
  • While this project has several connections to General Cigar Co., it’s not one of the company’s releases. Meier & Dutch is the distribution arm of Cigars International, which is owned by Scandinavian Tobacco Group (STG), as is General Cigar Co. The cigars were made at STG Danlí, and General Cigar Co.’s media relations department handled the announcement of the line.
  • Meier & Dutch has previously released “Sons of Anarchy” cigars in partnership with 20th Century Fox Consumer Products.
  • I would be very intrigued to see what this cigar would cost without the licensing agreement.
  • Other companies have released cigars based on “The Sopranos” and “Duck Dynasty.”
  • Final smoking time was one hour and 40 minutes on average.
  • The cigars for this review were provided by Meier & Dutch.
  • Site sponsor Cigar.com carries the Lucious Lyon.
87 Overall Score

At the surface level, I’m not crazy about another cigar being released simply as a tie-in to a television show. But after smoking three, I have to say I am fairly impressed by what this mild-to-medium strength cigar has to offer. There's plenty of flavor, and while mild, never fades into obscurity, and the pepper keeps itself in the discussion from start to finish. If you do end up smoking the Lucious Lyon, make sure you retrohale several times, as that is where the cigar’s best points are found, and will do the better job of satisfying the wants of fuller-bodied cigar fans. The price is a bit off-putting, though doesn't factor into the score so you will have to decide whether this cigar is worth it, but I can say that if price wasn't a factor, I wouldn't mind having a few more around for those times when a bit milder cigar is desired.

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Patrick Lagreid
About the author

I strive to capture the essence of a cigar and the people behind them in my work – every cigar you light up is the culmination of the work of countless people and often represents generations of struggle and stories. For me, it’s about so much more than the cigar – it’s about the story behind it, the experience of enjoying the work of artisans and the way that a good cigar can bring people together. In addition to my work with halfwheel, I’m the public address announcer for the Colorado Rockies and Arizona Diamondbacks during spring training, as well as for the Salt River Rafters of the Arizona Fall League, the WNBA's Phoenix Mercury and the Arizona Rattlers of the Indoor Football League. I also work in a number of roles for MLB.com, plus I'm a voice over artist. I previously covered the Phoenix and national cigar scene for Examiner.com, and was an editor for Cigar Snob magazine.

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