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Over the years, various cigar companies and charitable organizations have gone hand in hand and a new series of limited editions from Southern Draw Cigars continues the trend.

Dubbed Ignite, the new series of cigars is made up of partnerships with specific retailers around the country that is intended to raise money for three types of different charities: helping active-duty, deployed, military veterans and their families; premium cigar rights and cigar retail associations; and organizations that help the needy, homeless and hungry population, many of whom are U.S. military veterans.

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In terms of packaging, the different limited edition cigars will encompass a total of 5,000 10-count jars—2,500 in black and 2,500 in white—that are tagged with the slogan “Ignite Some Good.” In addition, inside each jar will be a humidification pack donated by Boveda and an informational brochure insert about the charity being donated to, as well as a sticker on the lid detailing said charities. As part of the program, both Southern Draw and the retail partner will each contribute $3.75 per jar—a total of $7.50 per jar—with a total donation of $37,500.

So far, there have been two different releases in the new series: the first was a 6 1/2 x 40 box-pressed lancero that debuted on April 12 at the Texas Cigar Festival in collaboration with Serious Cigars and Casa de Montecristo that benefited Operation Cigars for Warriors, a charity that sends cigars to active duty military. That cigar is the Southern Draw Jacobs Ladder Lancero, 6 1/2 x 40 box-pressed lancero featuring the exact same blend as the normal release version: a Pennsylvania broadleaf wrapper covering an Ecuadorian maduro binder and filler tobaccos from Nicaragua.

“We are excited to partner with Robert and Sharon Holt and the Southern Draw family on the release of the IGNITE project,” said Ernie R. Watson, senior merchandise manager for Casa de Montecristo, in a press release. “As the largest brick and mortar cigar lounge chain in the country and the first retailer to receive and offer these for purchase, we feel that our customers will be just as excited as we are to try these exclusive items.”

The first release consisted of 1,000 jars of 10—500 black and 500 white—with 100 sold at the event and each cigar retailing for $9.99. In addition, 400 went on sale at other Casa de Montecristo locations around the country while the remaining 500 jars are scheduled to be released at a future time. The cigars are being rolled at Tabacalera AJ Fernandez Cigars de Nicaragua S.A.

The second event was held on May 12 at Easton, Pa.-based retailers Famous Smoke Shop & Leaf Cigar Bar, where the 6 x 56 Rose of Sharon Perfecto was introduced. A third event introducing two new cigars will be held in later in the year at Cigars International.

There are now four different vitolas in the Jacobs Ladder lineup:

  • Southern Draw Jacobs Ladder Gordo (6 1/2 x 60) — $10.99 (Box of 20, $219.80)
  • Southern Draw Jacobs Ladder Robusto (5 1/2 x 54) — $9.50 (Box of 20, $190)
  • Southern Draw Jacobs Ladder Toro (6 x 52) — $9.99 (Box of 20, $199.80)
  • Southern Draw Jacobs Ladder Lancero (6 1/2 x 40) — $9.99 (Jar of 10, $99.90)

  • Cigar Reviewed: Southern Draw Jacobs Ladder Lancero
  • Country of Origin: Nicaragua
  • Factory: Tabacalera AJ Fernandez Cigars de Nicaragua S.A.
  • Wrapper: Pennsylvania broadleaf
  • Binder: Ecuadorian maduro
  • Filler: Nicaragua
  • Length: 6 1/2 Inches
  • Ring Gauge: 40
  • Vitola: Lancero
  • MSRP: $9.99 (Jar of 10, $99.90)
  • Release Date: April 12, 2018
  • Number of Cigars Released: 1,000 Jars of 10 (10,000 Total Cigars)
  • Number of Cigars Smoked For Review: 3

There is no doubt that the Southern Draw Jacobs Ladder Lancero is visually striking from the first look, with a rustic, close to black wrapper that is surprisingly smooth to the touch. It has virtually no oil noticeable and the combination of small nub cap, cedar wrap, box-pressed vitola and closed foot are all nice touches. Aroma from the wrapper is a combination of gritty earth, cedar, manure, sweet almonds, hay, dark chocolate and black pepper, while the cold draw brings flavors of creamy cedar, nuts, leather, earth, tree bark, espresso beans and dark fruit sweetness.

Starting out, the Southern Draw Jacobs Ladder Lancero features two dominant flavors in combination, earth and cedar, both of which all but drown out the lesser notes of leather, freshly roasted coffee, cocoa nibs and floral. There is quite a bit of black pepper on the retrohale early on as well as some noticeable spice on my tongue and I pick up a small amount of dark cherry sweetness on the retrohale that is pulled over from the cold draw. The draw is excellent after a simple straight cut and the burn is very close razor sharp, needing no attention so far. Smoke production is about average off of the foot and the overall strength hits a point closer to medium than mild by the time the first third comes to an end.

Consistency is the name of the game for the Jacobs Ladder Lancero in the second third, with the same earth and cedar combination once again easily taking the top spot in the profile. There are other notes that flit in and out as well, including leather, barnyard, floral, dark chocolate and bread, all of which are strong enough to recognize without coming close to being strong enough to overtake the main flavors. While the spice on my tongue is long gone by the halfway point, the amount of black pepper on the retrohale has actually increased slightly and the dark cherry sweetness from the first third is close to the same level. Construction-wise, both the burn and draw continue to impress, while the overall smoke production has increased a touch in both density and amount. The strength increases a bit, but still ends the second third just a bit below the medium mark.

Unfortunately, the profile of the Southern Draw Lancero during the final third does not hold many surprises, although the black pepper on the retrohale does decrease slightly. The gritty earth and creamy cedar are still very much dominant on the palate, while other notes of leather, hay, asparagus, cloves and salted peanuts fill in the gaps. In addition, the cherry sweetness on the retrohale is still noticeable without being strong enough to make much of a positive impact and the black pepper on the retrohale has receded noticeably from its high in the second third. Both the burn and draw continue along their excellent path, while the overall strength finally breaks through the medium mark—albeit barely—just before I put down the nub with less than an inch left.

Final Notes

  • Perhaps the best-known cigar company charity is Fuente’s Cigar Family Charitable Foundation, which provides money and materials to school children in the Dominican Republic.
  • The most widespread charitable cigar are the Tobacconists Association of America (TAA) exclusives. Manufacturers are asked to donate $1 to the organization for each cigar sold as part of the TAA exclusive program.
  • I have always been a fan of some of the more interesting physical traits that cigar makers add to cigars, but the Jacobs Ladder Lancero might actually be going overboard: in addition to the box-pressed lancero vitola, the cigar features a covered foot, a cedar wrap, a small nub on top and a secondary band.
  • Both the burn and draw literally could not be better on two of the samples, which were virtually perfect in every regard. Unfortunately, the first sample I smoked had to be touched up multiple times; but even on that sample the draw was excellent.
  • The ash on these cigars is bright white, which contrasts even more sharply against the extremely dark wrapper.
  • There have actually been two different secondary bands on these cigars: one says “Jacobs Ladder” while the other reads “Last Rung.” According to Holt, while both cigars are exactly the same in terms of size and blend, the one with “Jacobs Ladder” was a prerelease version whose bands were hand cut at the factory, while the ones reading “Last Rung” are the production versions.
  • Interestingly, while the bands on the Jacobs Ladder cigars are sans the apostrophe, the Southern Draw website has it included in the name.
  • Cigars.com, JR Cigar and Serious Cigar—which are owned by the same company as Casa de Montecristo—all advertise on halfwheel.
  • The cigars smoked for this review were purchased by halfwheel.
  • Final smoking time averaged a relatively short one hour and 17 minutes.
  • If you would like to purchase any of the Jacobs Ladder Lanceros, the only place you can get them at the moment is Serious Cigars or Casa de Montecristo.
89 Overall Score

While not the most complex or nuanced of blends, the Southern Draw Jacobs Ladder Lancero is an easy smoking, nicely distinct profile that lovers of earthy and woody profiles will find particularly appealing. Construction was close to perfect on two samples, and while the third cigar had some burn issues, it was not enough to detract from the overall experience all that much. Yes, the Rose of Sharon is the better blend, but the Southern Draw Jacobs Ladder Lancero is an enjoyable cigar in its own right and the fact that it is helping such a worthy cause is just icing on the cake.

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Brooks Whittington
About the author

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.

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