Southern Draw Rose of Sharon Desert Rose Lonsdale

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When a new cigar gets its first line extension, it’s often by way of simply changing the wrapper and generally calling it the Cigar X Maduro.

Yet in the case of Southern Draw’s Rose of Sharon line, its first line extension came with a modified blend and a name that has a fairly creative backstory.

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The original Rose of Sharon line debuted in the summer of 2016, a line that once again drew on the company’s theme of naming its cigars for flowering plants, while also tying into the Christian faith of its founders and being a nod to company co-founder, Sharon Holt.

That blend uses an Ecuadorian Connecticut wrapper, Nicaraguan binder and fillers from Nicaragua and the Dominican Republic. It was released in seven sizes, ranging from a lancero to a gordo and including a pair of thick perfectos.

Three years later, the line would get a line extension with a modified blend, the Desert Rose.

The Desert Rose blend made its debut at the 2019 IPCPR Convention & Trade Show, with Southern Draw using the show’s location in Las Vegas to provide a tie-in to the name. As for the modified blend, the wrapper is said to be a bit heartier, while the binder is a habano leaf that comes from Nicaragua’s Condega region and the filler is made up of Honduran corojo 99 and Dominican piloto cubano.

It was “a symbol of the family as we stand our ground and confront the changing seasons and mounting challenges that we continue to encounter as we execute our mission of unity, charity and the service via this little brand,” according to Sharon Holt.

The Southern Draw Rose of Sharon Desert Rose debuted in a 5 1/2 x 52 box-pressed torpedo, and while it would be an ongoing and fairly regular production line, only 75,000 cigars would be produced that first year. That number was scheduled to double to 150,000 in both 2020 and 2021, though was since revised to about 80,000 cigars per year.

It would be just over a year until the Rose of Sharon Desert Rose added two new sizes. In September 2020, the company announced that it was sending a limited edition 6 x 52 to Famous Smoke Shop in Pennsylvania as an exclusive size for that retailer, while also adding a 6 x 44 lonsdale that would be available to all of its accounts. This new size is priced at $9.99 per cigar and offered in boxes of 12, with production being capped at 4,000 boxes per year.

The line is made at Tabacalera AJ Fernandez Cigars de Nicaragua S.A. in Estelí.

  • Cigar Reviewed: Southern Draw Rose of Sharon Desert Rose Lonsdale
  • Country of Origin: Nicaragua
  • Factory: Tabacalera AJ Fernandez Cigars de Nicaragua S.A.
  • Wrapper: Ecuador
  • Binder: Nicaragua (Habano)
  • Filler: Dominican Republic (Piloto Cubano) and Honduras (Corojo 99)
  • Length: 6 Inches
  • Ring Gauge: 44
  • Vitola: Lonsdale
  • MSRP: $9.99 (Box of 12, $119.88)
  • Release Date: October 2020
  • Number of Cigars Released: Regular Production
  • Number of Cigars Smoked For Review: 3

I knew the Rose of Sharon line had pink-hued bands, but for some reason I envisioned a darker wrapper than the lightly tanned Ecuadorian claro leaf it wears, though that is nothing other than a recall error on my part. It’s a leaf that is very smooth to the touch, almost buttery despite not being glossy with oils. It’s easy to feel both its thinness and its elasticity, and I have to imagine it would be an interesting leaf to see in its unrolled state. Veins are small and almost vanish into the leaf, and as expected there is no tooth. The cigar has a bit of give to it, at least compared to what seems to be the average these days, and has me utter the word Cubanesque as I have been prone to do. Each of the caps are constructed well with the little twist of tobacco reminding me of a trimmed candlewick. The foot offers a soft, fairly neutral aroma of white breads, almost as if I was smelling the centers of various types of dinner rolls. There is some refined sweetness in the background, but hardly any pepper to be found. Even with the covered foot, there isn’t much resistance to the airflow, but I’d hesitate to call it loose or open. If the aroma was the center of dinner rolls, the cold draw has a bit more the crust, still mild but distinct. There’s a bit of butter in there as well, with about the same minimal hints of pepper as in the aroma.

The Southern Draw Rose of Sharon Desert Rose Lonsdale opens with a smooth and creamy profile out of the gate, not showing much if any of the bread flavors and aroma that were prevalent before lighting. There’s a bit of earthiness to be found, and when it does show up, it is the woodier, slightly dustier notes of Honduras that stand out most. It’s a good opening combination, familiar and flavorful with only one sample slightly overdoing the earthiness. As the ash builds to the point where I start thinking about snapping the first photo, I get some strength on my palate, a surprisingly deep and potent pepper that reminds me of ligero though it isn’t slamming itself onto my taste buds. Rather, it’s more on the finish, which is both interesting and enjoyable, as well as keeping this an approachable cigar for early in the morning. It’s also a rather quick flavor, shifting into a campfire aroma that seems to draw from the binder and filler more than the wrapper though there is still some creaminess in the profile. It’s a combination that at first taste is very good and shows promise for the upcoming puffs. The draw is incredibly smooth and has eased any concerns as I might have had from the cold draw, while the burn line and smoke production are both solid. Flavor is a sneaky medium-plus, body is medium-plus, and strength is closer to medium, at least for the time being.

I’m impressed by both the body and creaminess of the Southern Draw Rose of Sharon Desert Rose Lonsdale as it gets into its second third, as they coat the palate with each puff and are easily the most noticeable aspects. The earthiness has settled down a bit but is still part of the equation as the cigar picks up touches of black pepper and warm mixed nuts, both of which come into the profile seamlessly. There is a bit of woodiness from time to time though it’s not quite enough to call it a staple component, at least not yet. Retrohales put the black pepper a bit more front and center, tingling the nostrils with an expression that is a bit thin but unmistakable nevertheless. Around the midpoint a bit of a campfire aroma emerges, blending the woods, nuttiness, pepper and just a bit of char together for a very familiar and enjoyable aroma and thus far the high point of the cigar. There’s a distinct nuttiness in the back half of the second third, as well as some building black pepper that tingles the front half of the tongue. Flavor is a solid medium, body is medium-plus, and strength is medium minus. Construction has been very good and problem-free thus far.

If I were to draw an arc of the flavor profile to this point, it would definitely show a peak close to where the second third ends and the final third begins. Once that campfire aroma emerges, it seems like all of the tobaccos are doing their thing in harmony with the others. It’s also a fairly extended plateau, which is always a good thing to note as some cigars have all to abbreviated high points. When the peak finally ends and the cigar begins its descent, a bit of sour chalk comes into the profile, a flavor that registers distinctly on the front of the tongue as well as on the lips. There is a bit more of the ligero-like pepper and strength in the final puffs of the cigar which gives the front of the tongue a bit of a bite but doesn’t derail the overall experience. Technical performance has been very good with no relights needed or other issues of note. Flavor finishes just shy of full, body is a steady medium-full and strength is around medium.

Final Notes

  • This makes four out of five cigars that I have reviewed recently to have a covered foot. This one seems to stick out a bit more than average, but it’s nothing concerning or problematic, especially for something that’s going to be burned through.
  • There is something quite impressive about the tactile sensation of this wrapper leaf; it’s not something I usually bring up but this one is truly buttery.
  • As I think all of us at halfwheel do, I try to avoid looking at blend details or other suggestions as to what the cigar might taste like prior to smoking it. Based on the first cigar, I would have never guessed this had Honduran tobacco in it, while with the second cigar it was almost unmistakable.
  • If you’re a fan of the singer Sting, he has a song called “Desert Rose” that came out in 1999.
  • For the green thumbs and plant lovers out there, here’s a link to Wikipedia’s entry on Adenium obesum, or the desert rose. It’s a poisonous plant and its toxins have been used to hunt large game in Africa.
  • While Southern Draw has some cigars in its portfolio that pack a nicotine punch, the Southern Draw Rose of Sharon Desert Rose Lonsdale didn’t.
  • The cigars for this review were provided by Southern Draw Cigars.
  • Final smoking time was one hour and 20 minutes on average.
  • Site sponsors Atlantic Cigar Co. and Famous Smoke Shop, carry the Southern Draw Rose of Sharon Desert Rose Lonsdale.
89 Overall Score

The Southern Draw Rose of Sharon Desert Rose Lonsdale is a very impressive cigar: smooth, balanced, and with a blend that has the ability to hit a pretty impressive level of complexity in both flavor and aroma. It's hard to find a lot of fault with the cigar, and after three of them about the only thing I could point to is the Honduran filler being a bit out of balance in one sample. It may not be the most complex or flavorful cigar that I have ever smoked, but what it does offer is very enjoyable from the first puff to the last, capped off by very impressive construction and combustion. Between its profile and performance, it is a cigar for seemingly any part of the day and nearly every palate, and one that is easy to recommend.

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About the author

I strive to capture the essence of a cigar and the people behind them in my work – every cigar you light up is the culmination of the work of countless people and often represents generations of struggle and stories. For me, it’s about so much more than the cigar – it’s about the story behind it, the experience of enjoying the work of artisans and the way that a good cigar can bring people together. In addition to my work with halfwheel, I’m the public address announcer for the Colorado Rockies and Arizona Diamondbacks during spring training, as well as for the Salt River Rafters of the Arizona Fall League, the WNBA's Phoenix Mercury and the Arizona Rattlers of the Indoor Football League. I also work in a number of roles for MLB.com, plus I'm a voice over artist. I previously covered the Phoenix and national cigar scene for Examiner.com, and was an editor for Cigar Snob magazine.

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