If you’re the kind of person who appreciates dendrology—the study of trees—or simply the flora that exists in the world, then you’ve almost certainly found interest in the names of Southern Draw’s core line of cigars.
This summer, the company added a fifth regular line to its portfolio, picking the name Cedrus for it. From a more proper perspective, the line gets its name from Cedrus libani, or Lebanese cedar as it is commonly known. In ancient woodworking, the trees were highly desirable both for offering firm, high quality wood, as well as for its pleasant scent, with the varietal used for the creation of temples, palaces and sailing vessels. In the modern world, it is still used to create cigar boxes, as well as in Southern Draw’s branding and logos.
It’s not just the particular varietal of flora that the company names its cigars for, but people from whom the company draws inspiration, and in this case, the first size in the line was named for Phil and Shelly Hogan, who company founder Robert Holt cited for their support and contributions to the early days of the brand. The Hogans “have been as steadfast and enduring as the cedar tree even as they have humbly remained in the shadows of our early successes,” Holt noted when the cigar was announced in early July.
In addition to being a supporter of Southern Draw, Phil Hogan is a United States Navy veteran, a military tie-in that is reflected in the design and packaging of the Cedrus.
Beyond that, there is another varietal of cedar, the Western Red Cedar, which is grown in the Pacific northwest region of the United States and Canada and is know both for growing up to 200 feet tall and being capable of living for over 1,000 years. A specific variety of Western Red Cedar, the Hogan, shares its name with the people to whom the cigar is a tribute, and grows in a stand of trees along Hogan Road in Gresham, Ore.
Speaking about Cedrus, which is pronounced sed-dress, according to Robert Holt when he spoke about the cigar at the 2018 IPCPR Convention & Trade Show, it uses an Indonesian Sumatra wrapper varietal known as Besuki TBN, while the binder is a habano 2000 leaf from Estelí, Nicaragua. The filler contains four types of tobacco: Dominican piloto cubano viso, Nicaraguan criollo 98 viso from Estelí, Nicaraguan habano 92 from Quilali and Nicaraguan corojo 99 ligero from Jalapa. Holt called Cedrus the company’s “most distinguished tasting cigar,” due to the Indonesian tobacco’s distinctive spice profile as well as an herb-like profile that comes from the Quilali tobacco, which is grown in a mountainous region of the country approximately 70 miles northeast of Estelí.
Like the rest of the Southern Draw portfolio, it is being made at Tabacalera AJ Fernandez Cigars de Nicaragua S.A. in Estelí.
For its debut, a single vitola was released, The Hogan, a 5 1/2 by 52 box pressed belicoso fino that comes in individually numbered 10-count boxes. Southern Draw had a total of 5,000 boxes made, as well as 1,000 10-count refill bundles, for a total run of 60,000 cigars. It is priced at $11.99 per cigar and $118.99 per box.
- Cigar Reviewed: Southern Draw Cedrus Hogan
- Country of Origin: Nicaragua
- Factory: Tabacalera AJ Fernandez Cigars de Nicaragua S.A.
- Wrapper: Indonesia (Sumatra Besuki TBN)
- Binder: Nicaragua (Habano 2000 Estelï)
- Filler: Dominican Republic (Piloto Cubano Viso) & Nicaragua (Criollo 98 Viso Estelí, Nicaraguan Habano 92 Quilali and Nicaraguan Corojo 99 Ligero Jalapa)
- Length: 5 1/2 Inches
- Ring Gauge: 52
- Vitola: Belicoso FIno
- MSRP: $11.99 (Boxes of 10, $118.99)
- Release Date: July 2018
- Number of Cigars Released: 5,000 Boxes of 10 and 1,000 Bundles of 10 (60,000 Total Cigars)
- Number of Cigars Smoked For Review: 3
While not as explicit as hanging dog tags from the cigar, the Southern Draw Cedrus Hogan does bring to mind some association to a military theme at first place. The shape reminds me of two things related to the military: first, the shape of the insignia found on naval shirts and shoulders, which share the pointed tip design, and then because of the color combination of military green and old gold, the insignia found on enlisted soldiers in the Army, due to the pointed head of the belicoso. The wrapper is smooth and fairly oily, and while there the vein structure is quite visible, it doesn’t result in much tactile sensation. The press of the cigar is more noticeable on the sides of the cigar than the foot, the former squared off at nearly right angles while the latter shows its round origin. The foot of the Cedrus offers very little at first sniff, eventually revealing a bit of peanut butter on toast with trace amounts of pepper, apple cider and floral sweetness appearing in certain samples. The cold draw is smooth and shows no effects from the tapered head, with the flavors leaning towards unsalted peanuts and dry wood, with a touch of peanut butter and some creaminess.
The first puffs of the Southern Drawn Cedrus Hogan aren’t overwhelming, leaving that impression to be made by the retrohale, which is markedly fuller though not particularly pepper-laden at the outset. That changes fairly rapidly though, with each sample delivering its own level of pepper, and it’s just before the first clump of ash drops off without warning shy of the one-inch mark that I begin to consider the Cedrus as a peppery cigar, moving up to medium-full in body and strength. Even with the uptick, the cigar stays impressively balanced and smooth, with just a touch of earth terroir in the background beginning to provide some gruffness. The second sample also adds a touch of sweetness, which I’m inclined to call bubble gum, though without any big, artificial and/or juicy angles.
The second third of the Southern Draw Cedrus Hogan begins with the profile latching onto the newfound earth, rockiness and pepper, developing them with seemingly every puff. While it’s an interesting experience to be a part of, it does come at the cost of some smoothness, as the smoke now hits my palate and back of the throat with a bit of jaggedness, which leads to some lingering irritation. It’s a profile that drives the first half of this section, but as the burn line approaches the midway point, there’s a bit of creaminess that turns the flavors smooth and slightly sweet, with a bit of residual earth and pepper appearing on the finish. By the end of this section, the cigar has pivoted once again, almost completely disrobing the gruff earth in favor of woods, slightly damp bark, and just a touch of pepper. Smoked slowly, the cigar is good enough to offer momentary pause, especially once the transition is complete. Much like the retrohale offered a peak into the coming flavors in the first third, it seems to do so again here, foretelling changes several puffs away. While it doesn’t stand up and grab my attention, I notice that the draw of the Cedrus has become exceptionally smooth, seemingly dead center on the scale of loose to tight.
The transition to the final third of the Southern Draw Cedrus Hogan continues to bring the cigar back to a good level of smoothness, but more to newer depths of complexity. I’ve often referred to cigars as having stews of flavor, which this does, though it comes at the expense of any distinct flavors standing out in the first sample, while the second and third show progressively increasing amounts of the spice and herbal qualities, the latter particularly standing out in the final sample. There is still pepper, joined by a bit of beef stock and several flirts with earthiness, which are a foretelling of their gradual return when the burn line progresses through where the bands once were. There’s more of a woody spin to the flavor once the final puffs are in sight, turning the flavor slightly dry but no less enjoyable, while pepper continues to linger on the finish, which occurs after the cigar has been smoked down to a tiny, finger-burning nub.
- While I thought the cigar might have more pronounced notes of cedar given the name, I can’t say I picked them out much during the smoke. There are definitely some dry woods to be savored, but they didn’t quite stand out as an explicit cedar flavor.
- The third cigar was by far the most peppery of the three I smoked, with kick from both the retrohale and the ambient aroma.
- For the most part, nicotine strength is fairly tame, though you may feel some strength depending on your personal tolerance for nicotine. Personally, it was mild on my system, with one sample a tick above that.
- Seeing the green on the bands reminds me of an unwritten rule in the cigar industry about not using green on the bands, as it was considered bad luck as it signified the tobacco inside was green and thus not properly aged and worthy of smoking.
- The cigars for this review were provided by Southern Draw Cigars.
- Final smoking time was one hour and 55 minutes on average.
- Site sponsor Atlantic Cigar, JR Cigar and Famous Smoke Shop carry the Southern Draw Cedrus Hogan.
I was intrigued to hear Robert Holt refer to the Cedrus as Southern Draw's "most distinguished tasting cigar," and in all honesty was fairly dubious about such a claim. However, I will put my hand up proudly and say that I was wrong and this cigar is quite good and much more refined than what I have experienced from Southern Draw in the past. While I can't say I picked up all of the spice and herbal notes that were specifically mentioned, there is certainly depth and complexity in this cigar, with the second third consistently being far ahead of the first and final thirds, which showed the most variance among the three samples I smoked. It's not a gut punch, something I consider to be a critical component of being a refined smoke, yet it never lacks in palate stimulation and never takes a puff off. Capped off by a nearly impeccable draw, each one of these was a pleasure to smoke and one I'd highly recommend giving a try if you're looking for something to dive headfirst into and savor for nearly two hours of very enjoyable smoking.