There are very few cigar brands still on the market today that can trace their roots back to a time before the United States of America was founded, but Red Anchor is a brand that fits that bill.

According to United Cigars, the history of the Red Anchor brand dates back to 1770 when a trademark was registered by a cigar shop. Two years later, Albertus Hillen Sigarenfabriek started making the Red Anchor cigars at a factory in Delft, Holland. The brand was passed to various family members until it was sold to Martinus Hioolen in the 1890s, who expanded the brand’s reach. In 1909, the company added new machines and started using tins but the brand faced challenges in the 1920s due to market saturation and new excise taxes. In March 1937, Red Anchor went out of business.

In May, United Cigars announced it would be relaunching the Red Anchor brand during the 2022 PCA Convention & Trade Show in a singular 6 x 52 vitola the company named The Admiral. In terms of the blend, the cigar features an Ecuadorian habano 2000 wrapper covering Dominican tobacco used in both the binder and filler, and the cigars were rolled at the Hendrik Kelner Jr.’s Kelner Boutique Factory in the Dominican Republic.

“Four years have passed since the start of this project. Every aspect of Red Anchor has been carefully crafted to properly encapsulate the 250-year history,” said Oliver Nivaud, director of operations at United Cigars. “Working closely with Hendrik Kelner and the KBF team has been very smooth, this is a perfect marriage.”

Each cigar has an MSRP of $25 and there were only 6,250 cigars rolled and packaged in 25-count boxes that shipped to retailers in September.

  • Cigar Reviewed: Red Anchor The Admiral
  • Country of Origin: Dominican Republic
  • Factory: Kelner Boutique Factory
  • Wrapper: Ecuador (Habano 2000)
  • Binder: Dominican Republic
  • Filler: Dominican Republic
  • Length: 6 Inches
  • Ring Gauge: 52
  • Vitola: Toro Extra
  • MSRP: $25 (Box of 25, $625)
  • Release Date: September 2022
  • Number of Cigars Released: 250 Boxes of 25 Cigars (6,250 Total Cigars)
  • Number of Cigars Smoked For Review: 3

From a visual perspective, there is plenty to love about the Red Anchor The Admiral as I see it out of the cellophane for the first time: the reddish-brown wrapper features some noticeable mottling and is toothy to the touch without being overly rough. There is both a lack of oil and protruding veins, and all three cigars have some nice when they are squeezed. Aromas emanating from the wrapper include strong cedar up front with leather, tobacco leaves, cocoa nibs, black coffee and generic sweetness behind. The foot also has a dominant cedar aroma—albeit more of an aged cedar—followed by black pepper, earth, barnyard, mushrooms and rich vanilla beans. Finally, flavors of citrus peel, mushroom, mustard seed, leather, earth and light vanilla bean sweetness all combine in about the same amounts on the cold draw after a punch cut.

A vegetal note combines with some obvious black pepper just after I light the foot of the Red Anchor, but the former does not last long. Soon after, a combination of aged cedar and leather becomes the main flavors in the profile. Secondary notes that include cinnamon, dank earth, brewed black coffee, toasted bread, hay and cocoa nibs flit in and out, while the retrohale features a touch of black pepper and distinct maple sweetness. Flavor and strength end the first third between mild and medium, while the body is at mild-plus. Construction-wise, there are no issues with the smoke production or the draws, but the burn on one cigar needs a quick correction with my lighter to stay on track.

The profile of the Red Anchor becomes noticeably more complex in the second third, with a combination of plain popcorn and cedar taking over the top spot, followed by rich espresso beans, sweet earth, barnyard, powdery cocoa nibs, leather and sourdough bread. In addition, the retrohale features about the same amount of black pepper, but the maple note from the first third has been joined by a bready sweetness that reminds me of a maple-glazed donut. Both the flavor and body increase to a solid medium, but the strength makes a more substantial jump to end at a point slightly above medium. The smoke production and draw continue to give me no issues whatsoever, but all three cigars feature minor issues that force some quick touch-ups.

While cedar remains a top flavor in the final third of the cigar, the plain popcorn flavor has been replaced by a wonderful dark chocolate flavor. Secondary notes include cinnamon, bitter espresso beans, barnyard, leather, hay and sourdough bread. In addition, a vegetal note invades the finish on two of the three cigars, although it is never all that strong on either one. There is virtually no change on the retrohale, where slight black pepper and bready maple sweetness dominate. Flavor ends the cigar at a point just over medium, but the body remains at medium-plus and the strength eventually reaches the medium-full mark. Finally, smoke production continues to be excellent, but one sample needs a couple of quick corrections with my lighter to avoid larger issues.

Final Notes

  • Nivaud told halfwheel that the company is planning four new sizes for the line to be released in 2023.
  • There are a somewhat surprising number of cigars that feature the word “Red” in their names, a list that includes Joya de Nicaragua Red, Java Red, Dunbarton Tobacco & Trust Red Meat Lovers, Viaje Zombie Red, Amendola Family Cigar Co. Cannoli Red, Macanudo Inspirado Red, Espinosa Red River Valley, Sans Pareil Red, Arandoza Red Label, Sinister Mr. Red Scala, Jas Sum Kral Red Knight, Viaje Skull and Bones Red, Cohiba Red Dot, La Palina Red Label, Paul Stulac Red Screaming Sun, G.A.R. Red, Daniel Marshall DM2 Red Label and Primer Mundo Red, Black and Blue.
  • One cigar I smoked for this review was clearly different from the other two in a few noticeable ways: for one, the flavors were neither nearly as complex nor as distinct as the other two. It also ended up being noticeably stronger, and it took quite a bit longer to finish smoking.

  • All three cigars had varying burn issues in the second third—the above was the worst of the three—and while they were not all so significant as that photograph shows, each was definitely something that needed to be corrected before they got out of hand.
  • Cigars for this review were purchased by halfwheel.
  • Final smoking time averaged one hour and 57 minutes for all three cigars.
  • If you would like to purchase any of the Red Anchor The Admiral cigars, site sponsor Corona Cigar Co. has it for sale on its website here.
87 Overall Score

More than any cigar I have reviewed in the last few months, the Red Anchor is a tale of two experiences: my first cigar was decent enough, but it had a couple of burn issues and the flavors were not up to par with the last two cigars, which were quite a bit better from both a flavor and a construction standpoint. At its best, the profile not only gets more complex after the first third but also becomes quite a bit creamier and sweeter as well, both of which continue until the end of the cigar. Make no mistake, the Red Anchor is not nearly as good—nor as well-constructed—as the Alfonso I recently reviewed, but with that said Selected Tobacco S.A. is fast becoming a brand that I am looking forward to smoking more of no matter which cigar it is.

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Brooks Whittington

I have been smoking cigars for over eight years. A documentary wedding photographer by trade, I spent seven years as a photojournalist for the Dallas Morning News and the Fort Worth Star Telegram. I started the cigar blog SmokingStogie in 2008 after realizing that there was a need for a cigar blog with better photographs and more in-depth information about each release. SmokingStogie quickly became one of the more influential cigar blogs on the internet, known for reviewing preproduction, prerelease, rare, extremely hard-to-find and expensive cigars. I am a co-founder of halfwheel and now serve as an editor for halfwheel.