In September 2022, Southern Draw cigar announced that it would be adding a number of new sizes to its portfolio, four in all across three different lines.
Two of those new sizes went to the Southern Draw Jacobs Ladder Brimstone line, a 6 x 44 lonsdale that was a new size for the line, while the other vitola—a 5 x 58 perfecto—was first released in September 2020 as an exclusive for Cigar Federation. Both sizes will be ongoing production, but the initial annual productions are limited to 60,000 of the Lonsdale and 50,000 of the Perfectos.
The Southern Draw Jacobs Ladder Brimstone line debuted in 2019 as an extension to the original Jacobs Ladder, which was introduced in 2016. The Brimstone blend is notable for using American-grown tobacco for the wrapper and binder, with the former Pennsylvania broadleaf and the latter undisclosed. It is also notable for using three different ligeros in the filler, which come from the Dominican Republic and Nicaragua. It’s an upgrade from the “double ligero” that is used in the original Jacobs Ladder blend.
The Jacobs Ladder gets its name from a flowering plant that has been praised for its medicinal value dating back to ancient Greece, but it is also the colloquial name for the connection between heaven and earth that Jacob, son of Isaac, dreamed about in the Biblical book of Genesis. The name also has a connection to the Holt family, a nod to Ethan “Jacob” Holt, son of two of Southern Draw’s founders and who was providing sales, shipping and technical support to the company when the line debuted, but now is the manager of inside sales and retail partner engagement.
- Cigar Reviewed: Southern Draw Jacobs Ladder Brimstone Lonsdale
- Country of Origin: Nicaragua
- Factory: Tabacalera AJ Fernandez Cigars de Nicaragua
- Wrapper: U.S.A. (Pennsylvania Broadleaf)
- Binder: U.S.A.
- Filler: Dominican Republic & Nicaragua
- Length: 6 Inches
- Ring Gauge: 44
- Vitola: Lonsdale
- MSRP: $9.99 (Box of 12, $119.88)
- Release Date: September 2022
- Number of Cigars Released: Regular Production
- Number of Cigars Smoked For Review: 3
With two bands and a cedar sleeve covering the lower half of the cigar, there’s only a bit of the dark brown wrapper visible; an inch or so at the head and two slivers, one between the bands and one above the cedar. Once the cedar is removed, the cigar has a better opportunity to show off its color, while a tiny sliver of the binder shows through at the foot. The wrapper has a dry, fine grit texture to it, while the cigar’s sharp press is quite impressive and outshines the flat seams and the bit of tobacco standing up from the cap. While the cedar sleeve obscured much of the wrapper, it also blocked me from noticing how much of a press it has, even though I can feel the corners through the cedar. As with many box-pressed cigars, the Southern Draw Jacobs Ladder Brimstone Lonsdale has some give to it, a byproduct of needing to be able to achieve the shape. When I can pick up a smell from the wrapper, I get a bit of a grape juice and dry wood reminiscent of shelving or cigar boxes. The foot has a similar aroma, though the smell is sharper in my nose. Air moves easily on the cold draw, while the flavor holds onto some of the grape aroma but nowhere near as much as was in the aroma. Instead, I get toast with a very light spread of grape jelly on it, followed by rich earthiness and then some ligero-based pepper that takes a few moments to hit the taste buds, but once it does, it makes its presence clearly known.
The Southern Draw Jacobs Ladder Brimstone Lonsdale starts with a bit more of the grape jelly on toast flavor, but where it really shines is through the nose as retrohales can pack an absolute wallop of pepper. Those retrohales vary a bit from cigar to cigar, sometimes offering a brighter white pepper and other times offering more black pepper that seems to come from ligero leaves, but either way the result is a lot of tingle in my nostrils. Going back to the flavor, it’s a bit behind the aroma in fullness and vibrance, though the ligero sensation does begin to develop in the first inch of the cigar. Meanwhile, the smoke has a bit of a powdery texture to it, which adds another layer of stimulation to the taste buds. It doesn’t take long to discover that the ash on the cigar isn’t the most durable, with the first clump of ash dropping off shy of the one-inch mark, and the next clump follows suit. Flavor is medium-plus but easily nudged up towards full when factoring in retrohales, while body is medium-plus and strength is medium-minus. Fragile ash notwithstanding, construction is very good with an easy draw, even burn line and good smoke production.
I’ve been tempering the number of retrohales that I take given just how potent they are, and while I think about taking one at the start of the second third, a bit of smoke from a puff wafts up into my nostrils as a warning not to do so. I don’t heed the warning and am treated to a still punchy, pepper-packed sensation. One noticeable change at the start of this section is that the smoke is a bit smoother and less powdery, which makes that aspect of the cigar not quite as noticeable. The creaminess continues to build and I get a bit of condensed milk in terms of mouthfeel with a slight taste of vanilla, though I don’t want to call the cigar sweet. I also don’t want to misrepresent its strength, as the Southern Draw Jacobs Ladder Brimstone Lonsdale has some kick, but it’s not a singular or even defining attribute. There’s still some woodiness and earth in the profile, with pepper settling down on the palate and not leaving quite as much of a finish as I found earlier. The back half of this section sees the wood amplify a couple of ticks while black pepper and some heat appear on the finish, giving the cigar a fuller profile on the whole without necessarily making individual puffs unmanageable. Retrohales nudge the experience into fuller territory as well, which makes me think both of people who would love that experience and those who would stay far away from it. The final puffs of this section bring about a bit of irritation, or maybe just fatigue from the ligero, either way, the sensation isn’t quite as pleasant as I would like. This section is still medium-plus in flavor, medium-plus in body and medium in strength, though amongst the individual cigars it feels like each could move to full at any time. Construction is still very good, and by the third cigar I’m being a lot more proactive in managing the ash so that the majority of it ends up in the ashtray.
The final third of the Southern Draw Jacobs Ladder Brimstone Lonsdale starts off with slightly varied experiences. One cigar brings back some of the creaminess, while another pushes it further out of the equation, replacing it with a lighter, drier version of the earth and wood combination from earlier. Retrohales stay very vibrant with white pepper that brightens up each puff as opposed to the heavier black pepper from earlier that gave the profile more gravitas. It’s a different sensation than what I’ve experienced through the first two thirds, but definitely not a departure, and in the final inches I begin to pick up a bit of nicotine strength from the cigar. In some ways the strength makes it harder to pick up the individual flavors of the cigar, though with not much left in the cigar, it’s not I’m issue as I’m pretty satisfied by just how much the cigar has offered. Flavor is still medium-full, body is medium-full, and strength is medium-plus to full; more on that in the final notes. Construction remains very good, with only one of the three cigars needing a bit of help to stay burning.
- I’m really shocked by how delicate the ash was on this cigar. There were times I felt like I should have been wearing a bib to keep the ash from burning a hole in my shirt. Needless to say my Dustbuster got a lot of work during this review.
- In December 2017, I reviewed the Southern Draw Jacobs Ladder Toro, the blend that was the predecessor to the Brimstone variation.
- Charlie Minato reviewed the Southern Draw Jacobs Ladder Brimstone, which debuted in a 6 x 56 perfecto vitola in July 2019.
- I smoked one of the samples before lunch and the other two after lunch, and the first cigar definitely hit me with the most amount of nicotine. It’s a very small sample size, but it definitely suggests the merits of having some food in your system before smoking this cigar, and some white sugar on hand either way.
- The cigars for this review were purchased by halfwheel.
- Final smoking time was two hours on average.
- Site sponsor Famous Smoke Shop carries the Southern Draw Jacobs Ladder Brimstone Lonsdale.
If you’ve tried the Southern Draw Jacobs Ladder Brimstone blend, or its predecessor, you’re likely aware that this is a blend that isn’t shy with strength, and the new Lonsdale vitola is no exception. However, it’s not a singular or even defining aspect of the cigar, as the rich earthiness does a very good job setting the base of the profile, while the swings between wood and creaminess keep the palate engaged. But the real standouts of the experience are the retrohales, which are bright, vibrant, punchy and any number of other words. While full-bodied cigars aren’t always capable of balancing strength with flavor, the Southern Draw Jacobs Ladder Brimstone Lonsdale does a remarkably impressive job in that task, with very good construction only enhancing the experience. If full-bodied cigars with stellar retrohales are your thing, the Southern Draw Jacobs Ladder Brimstone Lonsdale is definitely worth a try.