In 2020, Nat Sherman’s cigar and pipe division was shut down. But because what’s old is new again has been the consistent theme of the cigar business for the last five years, the blends are coming back. Two former employees, Michael Herklots and Brendon Scott purchased the rights to the brands—albeit, not the Nat Sherman name—and are planning on bringing back the cigars later this year through their new company, Ferio Tego.
The final years of Nat Sherman International, the Altria division that included the cigar and pipe division, were not the most fruitful when it came to new products. In early 2017, Altria purchased all of Nat Sherman, a move that was made because of the company’s natural cigarettes but also meant it bought a wholesale cigar business and retail store. To Altria’s credit, it didn’t kill off Nat Sherman immediately. Somewhat surprisingly, it actually invested into the premium cigar business, including a massive rebrand of the company’s portfolio. That rebrand largely focused on removing or relocating the words “Nat Sherman” from many of the company’s products.
I bring all that up because the cigar I’ve chosen for my redux review was one of the last new products to wear a main band that said Nat Sherman. It was, of all things, a limited edition cigar made for a retailer in Jeffersonville, Ind.
While Nat Sherman made a lot of limited releases that it sold exclusively at its own retail store in Manhattan, it wasn’t a company that was known for making exclusive cigars for other retailers. That being said, in 2016, it created the Nat Sherman Timeless Dominican 555 as an exclusive for MATCH Cigar Bar’s fifth anniversary.
The cigar was a 5 x 55 robusto gordo version of the company’s Timeless Dominican brand. Made at Quesada Cigars, it used a Honduran wrapper over a Dominican binder and fillers from the Dominican Republic and Nicaragua. Ferio Tego plans on bringing back this blend and name, Timeless Domincian, later this year.
I’ve had the leftover sample from my review in my redux box since I reviewed the cigar in September 2017. I remember finding the concept —a single store release Nat Sherman—odd and not enjoying the cigar. Here’s what I said in my initial review:
There is a reason we opt to smoke three cigars per review instead of one, and it’s reviews like this. One sample was good, not great, but certainly nothing to complain about. The following two Nat Sherman Timeless 555s would not draw correctly, albeit to very different extents. Construction affects cigars. Cigars that don’t burn well don’t usually taste good and cigars that don’t draw properly, well, look at the score. The Nat Sherman Timeless Dominican is a good cigar, this isn’t.
- Cigar Reviewed: Nat Sherman Timeless Dominican 555
- Country of Origin: Dominican Republic
- Factory: Quesada Cigars
- Wrapper: Honduras
- Binder: Dominican Republic
- Filler: Dominican Republic & Honduras
- Length: 5 Inches
- Ring Gauge: 55
- Vitola: Robusto Gordo
- MSRP: $9.99 (Boxes of 5, $49.99)
- Release Date: Aug. 18, 2016
- Number of Cigars Released: 555 Boxes of 5 Cigars (2,775 Total Cigars)
- Number of Cigars Smoked For Redux: 1
While I haven’t ever thought of this blend as having a very oily wrapper, the one sample of 555 I have left has quite a bit of oil on the reddish-brown leaf. I’ve been looking at this cigar in my redux box for 3 1/2 years, so it’s not surprising that without cellophane there’s not much aroma left on the wrapper. I pick up smells of raisins and cedar, but they are both quite mild. The foot has a medium-full aroma with raisins, woody flavors, oyster sauce and a slight tartness. Of note, all of the flavors—sans the tartness—are pretty balanced. Once I cut the cigar I hear a sound that isn’t great: the cap has split. And once my lips are on the cigar, things are getting worse. While the wrapper is not fully intact, the flavor is. I get a medium-full mixture of a Cuban-like twang, nuts, floral flavors, white pepper and leather.
Before lighting, I suspected that this Nat Sherman Timeless Dominican 555 was going to be a fight with the cap and the first puff only validates this theory. Instead of paying attention to the flavors, I’m concerned with how much damage the first puff did to the cracked wrapper. My notes say there is a lot of cedar, leather and creaminess; but I’m pretty sure there was more going on that I failed to write down because of the further unraveling of the cigar. Fortunately, after a bit of focus, I seem to have gotten the cigar to a place where each puff isn’t going to further damage the cigar. Flavor-wise, the first half has a great creamy and cedar mixture with some hay behind it. There’s a sourness that comes and goes throughout the first third and before the halfway mark I get a distinct white pepper on the tip of my tongue. Both of these flavors seem to break up the enjoyable, yet pedestrian, combination of woods and creaminess that led the 555 through the first half. The finish has more nuttiness, though it’s joined by creaminess and white pepper. As the cigar gets closer to the halfway mark, that gets a bit sharper thanks to white pepper and mineral flavors. Retrohales produce a nuttier flavor, now leading a mixture of creaminess, white pepper, leather, lemon and barbecue sauce. Flavor is full, body is medium-plus and strength is medium-plus.
I make one touch-up during the first third and am certainly cautious each time I puff, but the construction is far from as bad as it looks. That being said, as the second half of the cigar progresses, the construction is deteriorating. There are two more touch-ups needed, something that seems to be exasperated by the draw getting looser. Flavor-wise, there’s a defined shift. It’s much creamier—sort of similar to the earlier retrohales of the Nat Sherman Timeless Dominican 555—and the cedar flavor is now joined by oak. That sourness that I found in the first third continues to come and go, never sticking around for longer than five minutes at a time. The finish just seems to add more creaminess, though I also find a cola-like sweetness buried in there. Retrohales add a familiar nuttiness back into the profile, sitting on top of creaminess and leather. The finish of the retrohales has a weird petroleum-like flavor that accents the more intense nuttiness and leather flavors. Flavor is full, body is medium-plus and strength is medium-plus. While the draw might have gotten worse in the second half, I really enjoy how much thicker the smoke is. Because of how smooth the flavor profile is, it doesn’t seem to increase the body’s intensity that much, but I appreciate the smoke feeling fuller.
While there are many positive things that can happen when a cigar spends time in a humidor, there are some downsides. The Nat Sherman 555 shows one of them: damage. I’m not sure where or when the damage took place, but the cap unraveling colors this experience greatly. It’s a shame not just because it’s generally annoying, but that in this case, it took away from a flavor profile that was very good. As the world waits for Ferio Tego to bring these blends back to the market there’s been ample opportunity to pick up some of these cigars at low prices. While the 555 may not have been one of those cigars that could be purchased at a great discount, it does show that some of those cigars might be great candidates for flavor improvement over time. While the score won't show it, flavor-wise this was a pleasant surprise.