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Placing large amounts of tobacco varietals in cigars has become someone of a theme of late. Perhaps the most notable is the Alec Bradley Fine & Rare, which has 10 different types.

The Surrogates 7th Sam doesn’t have as many, but it does have a name that makes the achievement more obvious. Inside the 6 3/4 x 48/52 are seven types of tobacco:

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  • Ecuadorian Sumatra wrapper
  • Nicaraguan binder
  • Connecticut broadleaf filler
  • Mexican filler
  • Nicaraguan filler
  • Nicaraguan filler
  • Nicaraguan filler

It’s the latest size for the Surrogates line, which is sort of a mishmash of cigars, all featuring a secondary that reads Surrogates, but with little relation to one another, which was the intent of the line. By my count this is the 11th Surrogates vitola and the fourth different type of wrapper used.

Surrogates—of course—started like all good things do, with a bit of a lie, or rather, a misdirection.

It was launched by New Havana Cigars (NHC) in 2011 with two cigars that looked very similar to Viaje’s Skull and Bones. It took about a week before Dan Welsh, the owner of the Ohio-based online retailer, had to put out a statement regarding Viaje. Welsh claimed that the cigars were from a “new source” to him, though he declined to say which one because he just wanted people to smoke the cigar.

The only problem was that, it wasn’t really true. As we would find out a year later, Surrogates was part of a new company called L’Atelier Imports of which both Welsh and Pete Johnson of Tatuaje, which was NHC’s largest vendor, were partners, along with Pete’s brother, K.C. Johnson.

Since then, L’Atelier Imports has grown to six separate lines, including the aforementioned 11-vitola Surrogates.

  • Cigar Reviewed: Surrogates 7th Sam
  • Country of Origin: Nicaragua
  • Factory: My Father Cigars S.A.
  • Wrapper: Ecuadorian Sumatra
  • Binder: Nicaragua
  • Filler: Connecticut Broadleaf, Mexico & Nicaragua
  • Length: 6 3/4 Inches
  • Ring Gauge: 48/52
  • Vitola: Salomon
  • MSRP: $11 (Boxes of 20, $220)
  • Release Date: July 2017
  • Number of Cigars Released: Regular Production
  • Number of Cigars Smoked For Review: 3

While it only represents about 7 percent of the cigar’s length, the half-inch is pretty noticeable. A typical salomon is 7 1/4 inches, this is 6 3/4 inches and as such, not 7 1/4 inches. The 7th Sam looks nice with a reddish wrapper covered by the two black bands. Aroma off the wrapper is medium-full to full with sweet chocolate and some spices. It reminds me of Nicaraguan cigars of yesteryear, much like what many of them smelled like when people on the internet were still trying to figure out where New Havana Cigars’ Surrogates brand was being made. The foot continues the pungent run, sweet brownie chocolate and some red pepper.

The Surrogates 7th Sam starts with some chocolate, roasted flavors, wheat and a bit of creaminess in the mouth, though the most notable part of the cigar is the plethora of spice around the lips. Fortunately, that spice disappears which allows me to focus on the core flavors. While the flavors rearrange themselves a bit, they are largely the same for the first third: toastiness, charcoal, some floral sweetness, a generic creaminess and the wheat flavors. The flavor is medium-full, body is medium-plus and strength is medium. If there’s one area where the 7th Sam shines it’s balance—so smooth, it also masks any sort of sense of boldness.

Things get a bit weirder in the second third, notably that I start to pick up something that tastes like pineapple right after the halfway point. It’s somewhat sweet, very acidic and a bit sour. Joining that odd sensation is oak, creaminess, a much more prominent floral flavor, a touch of sourdough and a thicker creaminess that reminds me of creamer. There’s a little bit of spice on the tip of the tongue, but it’s nowhere close to the levels of what I experienced in the opening puffs on my lips. Flavor is medium-full, body is medium-plus and strength is medium.

The final third of the Surrogates 7th Sam also produces somewhat of a bizarre flavor and physical sensation: saltiness under the back of the front of my teeth. It’s not there for very long, but it’s quite potent for the 10 or so minutes that it is present. Charcoal is the dominant flavor accented by some apple skin, roasted flavor and a buttery creaminess that reminds me of a roux. There are times in which the strength really seems to pick up, but it never lasts more than a few puffs and I’d say it finishes right around medium-plus in that regard with a medium-full flavor and medium-plus body like the second third.

Final Notes

  • The name reminds me of when CAO was going to call a cigar Uncle Sam. Fortunately, they didn’t.
  • The symbol used is the Japanese kanji for seven. Apparently it’s Japanese week for my reviews.
  • This was the first cigar I smoked at the 2017 IPCPR Convention & Trade Show. I don’t really remember much about it, other than the ash held on for a very long time and Jamie Rosales was very concerned it would fall on the carpeting of the RoMa Craft Tobac hospitality suite.
  • The sample I photographed had an angular cut, i.e. a Dickman cut. This isn’t my preferred method of cutting a cigar, but I could feel and see the cap cracking when I cut this sample, so I shifted my angle a bit in an attempt to reduce the impact of the crack, which was pretty successful.
  • Speaking of cutting the cigars, I found cutting the cigar a bit deeper, close to where it gets to be 46-48 ring gauge, created a much better experience.
  • Since we are in this area of the cigar, my notes regarding the cold draw accidentally got typed over. I should have stuck to pen and paper.
  • This doesn’t really taste like the rest of the Surrogates line in that it’s milder and not as sharp. It’s a particularly far cry from the aforementioned cigars that were sold through New Havana Cigars before the brand was announced as a L’Atelier Imports project.
  • This is the same size as the Avion 11 except that it’s not box-pressed. Speaking of Avion, I completely forgot about the line as we haven’t seen any updates to it in four years.
  • L’Atelier Imports advertises on halfwheel.
  • Cigars for this review were purchased by halfwheel.
  • Final smoking time was two hours and 20 minutes.
  • Site sponsor JR Cigar lists the Surrogates 7th Sam in stock.
91 Overall Score

I’m a fan of the salomon vitola, though it’s not something that is commonly found in the large repertoire of cigars offered by Pete Johnson, and that’s a shame. This is certainly a calmer version of the cigars I typically think of when I see the Surrogates band, but I have a feeling that fans of the line will still find it enjoyable—because it’s a good cigar. My only complaint is the sweetspots come and go and are a bit short, but when it’s on, the 7th Sam is on.

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Charlie Minato
About the author

I am an editor and co-founder of halfwheel.com/Rueda Media, LLC. I previously co-founded and published TheCigarFeed, one of the two predecessors of halfwheel. I handle the editing of our written content, the majority of the technical aspects of the site and work with the rest of our staff on content management, business development and more. I’ve lived in most corners of the country and now entering my second stint in Dallas, Texas. I enjoy boxing, headphones, the Le Mans 24-hour, wearing sweatshirts year-round and gyros. echte liebe.

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