A while back, Casper Johnson sat down with us for the first installment of the short-lived HALFWHEEL X and told us about one new product in the works: small cigars packaged in soft five-packs to add to the L’Atelier Imports portfolio.
At the IPCPR Convention & Trade Show last year, we got our first look at what Johnson was talking about. Each of the company’s four brands—L’Atelier, Surrogates, El Suelo and Trocadéro—received a new 4 1/2 x 38 size. They were packed in soft-packs of five, which in turn were sold in sleeves of 10 five-packs.
As for the Surrogates rendition, it’s called Cracker Crumbs and it is predictably a scaled down version of the company’s Animal Cracker (6 x 60). The cigars began shipping last month.
- Cigar Reviewed: Surrogates Cracker Crumbs
- Country of Origin: Nicaragua
- Factory: My Father Cigars S.A.
- Wrapper: Ecuadorian Habano Oscuro
- Binder: Nicaragua
- Filler: Nicaragua
- Size: 4 1/2 Inches
- Ring Gauge: 38
- Vitola: Petites
- MSRP: $2.90 (Packs of 5, $14.50; Sleeves of 50, $145)
- Date Released: Jan. 23 2015
- Number of Cigars Released: Regular Production
- Number of Cigars Smoked for Review: 3
While the outside packaging is fantastic, once out of the soft packs I feel a bit left down by the overly simplistic bands on the Cracker Crumbs; it just does not really fit the rest of the Surrogates profile. The cigars themselves appear well-rolled, although there was one cigar in each of the two packs I’ve purchased that visually seemed to be off as far as the bunching near the foot. The wrapper is dark with a consistent color. From the foot I pick up aromas that reminds me of a lot of Nicaraguan cigars circa 2009-2010: really big cedar, red pepper and some sweet chocolate. As for the cold draw, there’s white pepper around the lips with fruitiness, hickory and spiced apple cider inside.
Despite a lively cold draw, the Cracker Crumbs starts out fairly pedestrian with some cedar up front, fruitiness and buttered toast on the finish. As the cigar burns down, it becomes very toasty, some saltiness, earth and dark cocoa. It’s full in flavor and body with a fair bit of edge. As for construction, the pre-cut draw is great and the cigar is able told hold an inch of ash. This is definitely a sample of a cigar that wants to be smoked a bit warm.
Into the second third and the Surrogates is continuing its toasty core with deep nuttiness and a bit of perfume; otherwise, the core is rather similar to the first third. I should be clear: it’s still quite lively and rather interesting, but it’s just building on the previous flavor. The finish is long and produces lots of salivation. Flavor remains full while the strength is somewhere around medium.
The pepper notes are more prevalent, but the core of the Cracker Crumbs is still toasty with nuttiness around it. Things are honestly pretty similar to the second third, albeit the perfume flavor that was on the outside of the tongue is gone and the cedar is showing itself more. With an inch and a half left I pick up some added creaminess and there’s raw pepper on the mid-tongue. The changes are small, but not subtle, yet add to what is easily the best third of what has been a very good cigar. At the one-inch mark things start to get to a bit harsh and I set the Surrogates down.
- This cigar was pre-cut, which is not something we see every day. For those wondering, the draw on each cigar I smoked was great.
- At one point I was told these were shipping in September, at the trade show we heard November and they arrived in January. While it’s not odd for things to be delayed two months, it is odd when something is shown off at the trade and not shipped until the following year.
- The soft packs are not the easiest things to open due to the use of heavy tape on both the top the bottom.
- For those thinking that the Cracker Crumbs is a “short smoke,” the first inch should lead you on a different path. While it definitely enjoys being smoked quickly, it burns quite slow.
- And if you are wondering about HALFWHEEL X, we actually shot a few more interviews but the work needed to edit footage is something we ultimately realized was not reasonable given our other publishing demands.
- Final smoking time was one hour and five minutes.
- Cigars for this review were purchased by halfwheel.
- Site sponsors Elite Cigar Cafe (972.661.9136), JR Cigars & Lone Star State Cigar Co. (469.342.3418) list the Cracker Crumbs in stock. Cigar Hustler is currently sold out.
The best way to describe the Cracker Crumbs is “always on.” I’ll be honest, when I first entered all the scores into the formula we use to calculate scores, I was a bit surprised at how well this did. It’s a good cigar, a very good cigar, but it’s not the layers of complexity that cigars that score this high normally have. Rather, it’s a consistent core of flavors that build upon each puff and really only get better until the finish.