A couple weeks ago, I was moving some cigars around in a humidor and stumbled across a particular cigar that I hadn’t thought about in years: The Mason-Dixon Project. I made note of it, moved it to a different humidor and waited until it was time for another redux review.
In 2014, Crowned Heads introduced a pair of cigars that were destined to be regional releases. To be honest, I didn’t really remember much about the cigars other than there was another release—2015—and that the series hasn’t been seen since then. For the initial release, there were two 6 x 52 toros made at My Father Cigars S.A. in Nicaragua. The Southern Edition used an Ecuadorian Connecticut wrapper, while the Northern Edition used a Connecticut broadleaf wrapper. Both cigars had a Nicaraguan binder and Nicaraguan fillers.
- The Mason-Dixon Project—Limited Edition 2014 Southern Edition (6 x 52) — 1,250 Boxes of 20 Cigars (25,000 Total Cigars)
- The Mason-Dixon Project—Limited Edition 2014 Northern Edition (6 x 52) — 1,250 Boxes of 20 Cigars (25,000 Total Cigars)
Here’s what I said about the cigar when I reviewed it in November 2014:
The Mason-Dixon Project Southern Edition is definitely part of the new Connecticut crowd, a trend that has admittedly died down in the last 24 months, and it works. It’s a Connecticut you expect from the My Father factory and quite honestly, probably the best sans Cabaiguan.
- Cigar Reviewed: The Mason-Dixon Project—Limited Edition 2014 Southern Edition
- Country of Origin: Nicaragua
- Factory: My Father Cigars S.A.
- Wrapper: Ecuador (Connecticut)
- Binder: Nicaragua
- Filler: Nicaragua
- Length: 6 Inches
- Ring Gauge: 52
- Vitola: Toro
- MSRP: $9.85 (Boxes of 20, $197)
- Release Date: Oct. 22, 2014
- Number of Cigars Released: 1,250 Boxes of 20 Cigars (25,000 Total Cigars)
- Number of Cigars Smoked For Redux: 1
While the cellophane shows some signs of age, it’s not yellow, instead just a bit murkier. Once out of the cellophane, the cigar looks a bit weird. It’s not the prettiest shade grown wrapper you’ll see and there’s some noticeable discoloration towards the middle of the cigar. The aroma from the cigar is rather potent, at least for a few seconds, with barnyard, a cantaloupe-like sweetness and some rye bread. Interestingly, after about five seconds, it seems all of the aroma from the wrapper has disappeared. The foot smells both a bit sweet and a bit sour. There’s a generic sweetness and the cantaloupe flavor but they are contrasted by some pine and some sort of sour and acidic mixture I can’t really identify. Speaking of flavors that are hard to pinpoint, welcome to the cold draw. It’s not particularly pleasant and has a bit of a chemical sensation to it. The best I can come up with is something that reminds me of the smell of paste, which leads some fruitiness and a generic barbecue sauce flavor. Put it this way, if this was a cocktail bar, the drink would be sent back. But this isn’t a bar, it’s a cigar review.
There was nothing remarkable about the cold draw’s tightness, but the first puff is looser than I was expecting. As such, there’s not a ton of smoke that enters my mouth but I can taste some bread flavors, nuttiness and a creaminess that builds deep into the finish. While it’s apparent that the cigar tastes like a cigar that has spent some time in the humidor, the profile itself is very rich. It tastes like rye bread on top of some weird creaminess and tertiary flavors of coffee bitters and horseradish. The finish has both rye bread and nuttiness, though it’s now joined by herbs, pre-ground black pepper and touches of saltiness. The retrohales show off even more of the saltiness joining a different bread flavor—more like a sourdough—along with strawberries and a tiny bit of harshness. The finish of the retorhale is similar, though there’s a bit more meatiness and virtually none of the strawberry flavor. Flavor is medium-full, body is medium and strength is mild-medium. Construction is excellent outside of the somewhat open draw at the start.
The second third of The Mason-Dixon Project—Limited Edition 2014 Southern Edition continues to be led by the rye bread flavor, though predictably it’s now joined by toastiness and saltiness that seem to come over from the retrohale. There’s also a bit of a Thousand Island dressing flavor, though it’s a very distant secondary offering. The finish has more toastiness, a bitter creaminess, white pepper and black pepper. While it’s not particularly spicy, the pepper flavors do seem to stick around more than the other flavors on the finish. The largest change for me is that the flavor is now definitively in the full category with tons of richness. While the smoke production sometimes requires me to increase puff rates to prevent the cigar from going out, I’m able to correct the issue without the use of the lighter, at least until right around the point where I go to remove the band. By that point—the final third—the profile no longer has any bread flavors. Instead there’s a nutty mixture—sometimes leaning towards macadamia nuts—over grapefruit sourness and white pepper. The finish is a bit more vibrant with nuttiness, citrus rinds, a sweet creaminess and a black pepper that lingers on the front of my tongue for a minute or so. Retrohaling provides even more citrus notes joined by nuttiness, popcorn and a bit of meatiness. Interestingly, pushing the smoke out through my nose also leads to an even stronger black pepper on my tongue that once again continues for minutes.
While I’m not sure it’s a bonafide rule, I do think there are many cases where milder cigars turn out to be better aging candidates than full cigars. While this wasn’t a mild cigar, it certainly was the lighter of the two Mason-Dixon releases. It’s also aged wonderfully. Some of the flavors are still there, namely some of the classic Connecticut shade flavors—creaminess, nuttiness, black pepper—but it appears to be a rather different cigar than the one I smoked 76 months ago. Fortunately, it’s still quite good and has plenty of life left to it. I didn’t have any expectations going into this cigar, but it’s a pleasant surprise and a reminder that Connecticut shade cigars can be put down for a decent amount of time and produce great results.