The Themis Lancero is announced.

Pennsylvania (Thursday June 21, 2018) ——

Cubariqueño Cigar Co. announces the release of the Protocol Themis Lancero for the 2018 IPCPR. This is the company’s third lancero offering. Following the success of their prior lanceros which both took #1 Cigar of the year for 2016 on Cigar Federation and 2017 on Tiny Tim’s Cigar World, the company says they will continue with more lancero releases. The cigars are being produced at Erik Espinosa’s LaZona Factory in Estelí, Nicaragua. The Themis Lancero will be available in a 7 1/2 X 38 format in boxes of 10. The blend consists of a Ecuadorian Connecticut wrapper with Nicaraguan binder and Nicaraguan fillers. The Themis has been extremely successful for the company, with the Themis Toro giving the company their second #1 Cigar of the Year on Developing Palates 2017 Top 25 Cigars, along with placings on 12 other 2017 Top 25 lists across the collective cigar media outlets. MSRP is set at $10.50 per cigar & $105.00 / box of 10. Cigars are available now on and are shipping to retailers on July 1, 2018. Cubariqueño will be located inside the Espinosa Cigar booth this year at the 2018 IPCPR trade show.

Retail inquiries to Kevin Keithan National Sales at

Holding true to the previous 2 releases the Themis Lancero is one I have anticipated for some time and can’t wait to try it. I have no doubt, much like the 2 releases before it, it will not disappoint. As I stated when I reviewed the original release, I am not typically a Connecticut fan but this one is not your average Connecticut cigar. I look forward to trying one soon.

Southern Draw & Famous Smoke IGNITE

I am very pleased to see that the second release of the Ignite project. Southern Draw Cigars & Famous Smoke Shop to release Rose of Sharon Perfecto as they IGNITE some good! I am a big fan of both of these 2 great companies. Please support this amazing project.

Austin, Texas – APRIL 30, 2018. IGNITE project release #2 will be an exciting new size for the award winning Rose of Sharon. The medium bodied blend that was blessed as the 2017 #1 Cigar of the Year by Stogie Geeks (Joe D.) and Tuesday Night Cigar Club, #2 Cigar of the Year by Phillip Kohn a.k.a. the Katman with a perfect 100 rating, the #8 Cigar of the Year by HalfWheel – the Consensus, and 10 other Top 25 Cigars of the Year will now be offered in a special round format.

Each perfecto is 6×56 and will offer its own custom IGNITE band. The perfectos will be presented in two custom, limited edition humi-jars of 10 cigars each. The exclusive jars were authorized for use by founding sponsor Famous Smoke Shop, the nation’s #1 discount retailer of premium cigars online. The jars display the words “IGNITE SOME GOOD” along with a decal on the top representing the designated charity for the Rose of Sharon Perfecto. Operation Cigars for Warriors was selected by Famous Smoke Shop and Southern Draw Cigars. Inside each jar is an informational brochure about the charity, a coupon for a future order from Famous and a 2-way humidity packet supplied by Boveda, Inc. who is also a sponsor of the IGNITE project.

The official IGNITE Rose of Sharon release event will take place on Saturday, May 12th, 2018 at Leaf Cigar Bar & Restaurant located on the Famous Smoke Shop premises at 90 Mort Drive, Easton, PA 18040. Additionally, the new release will be available for purchase either online or in-store during the May 12 event. Details and a direct link to purchase the perfectos will be posted on event day for those that cannot attend the event and desire to support the charity and the new release.

“IGNITE release #2 holds a very special meaning at Southern Draw, as the Famous Smoke Shop family joins us once again this time to IGNITE some good as we bring another exciting new cigar to the market. Famous is the source of our custom branded IGNITE humi-jars and their dedication to charity and support continues to be a blessing to our growing little brand,” said Robert Holt, Chief Evangelist of Southern Draw Cigars. The Rose of Sharon Perfecto is the 5th new release of 2018 for Southern Draw following the most recent Jacobs Ladder Lancero, Firethorn and Kudzu Perfecto 6×56 box press and the Rose of Sharon Lancero.

Southern Draw Rose of Sharon IGNITE Perfecto

Factory: AJ Fernandez Cigar Co. / Esteli, Nicaragua

Strength: Medium Body / Medium Flavor

Size: 6 x 56 Perfecto

Wrapper: Ecuadorian Sun Grown Connecticut

Binder: Nicaraguan Habano

Filler: Nicaraguan Viso/Seco, Dominican Ligero/ Piloto Cubano

Famous prices: $9.99/cigar, $99.99/Humi-Jar (Initially Limited to 500 jars: 250 black/250 white)

Donations: Southern Draw Cigars & Famous Smoke Shop donate $7.50 total per jar produced.


About Southern Draw Cigars. Southern Draw Cigars – A Veteran Owned and Operated premium cigar brand that offers only hand crafted cigars from patiently aged, naturally fermented tobaccos. Produced in Estelí, Nicaragua and distributed from our home state of Texas. More information may be found at or Southern Draw Cigars on Facebook, @sdcigars on Instagram and Twitter.

About the IGNITE project. The IGNITE program is a creative way for Southern Draw Cigars to dedicate new release premium cigars to provide hope, morale and charity to those in need. Both Southern Draw and its partners have voluntarily agreed to support mutually agreed-upon charities and causes. According to Southern Draw Cigars founders, Robert and Sharon Holt, the primary focus of IGNITE will be serving active-duty, deployed, and veteran military personnel and their families, plus the needy, homeless, and hungry, many of whom are military veterans, as well as premium cigar rights and retail associations.

About Famous Smoke Shop. Famous Smoke Shop is the #1 American-owned discount cigar retailer, home to the lowest prices on the largest selection of premium cigars, humidors and cigar accessories in the country. With over one thousand cigar brands in stock, including Southern Draw, Acid, Davidoff, Macanudo, Romeo y Julieta, Ashton, Padron, Oliva and Perdomo cigars, cigar smokers shop at Famous Smoke Shop with confidence: every purchase is backed by the Famous Freshness Guarantee and award-winning customer service.

Please direct all questions, comments and requests about IGNITE or to inquire about our future sponsorship opportunities for retail partners to

For general information about Southern Draw Cigars, a list of retail partners and reviews, please visit us at

This is a great cigar from a great team of companies. Please go out and support this release!

#LongAshesFullGlasses friends. Be sure to post your photos on the CigarHawk Facebook Group. Follow us on social media. Check out our online store and be on the lookout for new merchandise soon.

Soli Deo Gloria!

Southern Draw Cigars to release Jacobs Ladder Lancero – Box Press

Southern Draw Cigars to release Jacobs Ladder Lancero – Box Press

Austin, TX. – Born from the new charitable strategy, IGNITE some good and produced at the A.J. Fernandez Cigar Co. in Esteli, Nicaragua, the Jacobs Ladder Lancero makes its debut in an exclusive box pressed format known as the TOP RUNG at Casa de Montecristo which coincides with the Texas Cigar Festival. The box pressed lancero in this award winning premium cigar blend is a limited exclusive release and will be available in a number of Casa de Montecristo retail locations.

“Blessed with an impressive resume since its 2017 release date, Jacobs Ladder, Lancaster 401 Broadleaf wrapper – double ligero has been honored with a number of Cigar of the Year awards including an impressive #1 Cigar of the Year by Houston’s own Toasted Foot, #2 Cigar of the Year – the Consensus by Half Wheel and #4 Cigar of the Year by Cigar Dojo, we wanted to offer a special size and an incredible representation of this bold but approachable blend as the initial release for our IGNITE charitable strategy. Let’s IGNITE some good!” said Sharon Holt of Southern Draw Cigars.

Southern Draw Cigars arrives in Houston for the Texas Cigar Festival with an announcement of this limited release. With rarity comes quality and consumers will certainly want to burn a few of these beautiful lanceros and experience the complexity and craftsmanship while they directly support the charitable cause, Operation Cigar for Warriors through generous financial and cigar contributions. Available only in the 10 count humidified jars under the IGNITE brand, the TOP RUNG is the first of five special releases scheduled for 2018.

“We are excited to partner with Robert and Sharon Holt and the Southern Draw family on the release of the IGNITE project. 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 IGNITE jars will be first available at our Texas Cigar Festival in Houston, TX on April 14th 2018. Shortly after, you’ll be able to purchase these at many of our 20 retail locations, including our newest additions in Tampa, FL. until our limited supply is gone,” stated Ernie R. Watson, Sr. Merchandise Manager, Casa de Montecristo Inc. Ernie also added an important note “We believe this is just the first of many steps in aligning Casa de Montecristo with trends and exciting projects that make this industry so unique.”

Southern Draw Cigars remains committed to providing the highest quality products to the market and just as its done with all cigars in their line, each IGNITE jar will contain a donated 69 – percent RH pack from Boveda. “Boveda is proud to be part of this exciting and innovative IGNITE project that Southern Draw Cigars has orchestrated. Boveda believes in supporting initiatives like these that serve our US military and its veterans, grass roots charities and premium cigar rights. Each of these unique jars will be packaged with Boveda’s 2-way humidity control from the factory, ensuring the customer is provided the best smoking experience by delivering the cigars in ideal smoking condition” added Tim Swail, Executive Vice President of Sales for Boveda, Inc. an IGNITE project sponsor and the global leader in 2-way humidity control.

Southern Draw Cigars, Casa De Montecristo and Boveda Inc. have selected Operation Cigars for Warriors ( as the initial beneficiary of the IGNITE project.


Please direct all questions, comments and requests about IGNITE or to inquire about our future sponsorship opportunities for retail partners to

For general information about Southern Draw Cigars, a list of retail partners and reviews, please visit us at

Soli Deo Gloria!

Southern Draw Cigars launches new charitable strategy.

Southern Draw Cigars launches new charitable strategy.

April 6th, 2018 – Austin, Texas

Teaming up with premium cigar retailers and sponsors to help select charities, Southern Draw Cigars is proud to announce its new charitable strategy as we endeavor to IGNITE some good.

Our Vision.

IGNITE, is a creative way for Southern Draw Cigars to dedicate NEW release cigars to provide hope, morale and charity to those in need. Southern Draw Cigars with its partners will join together by voluntarily assisting in all lawful ways, to support mutually agreed upon charities and causes. The primary focus will be serving:

  1. Active-duty, deployed, military veterans and their families;

  2. Premium cigar rights and cigar retail associations; and

  3. Our community’s needy, homeless and hungry, many of whom are US military veterans.

Our Values.

  1. Ambition – IGNITE partners and sponsors will be demanding of ourselves, providing our first and best cigar offerings and are each committed to increasing annual contributions for every cause we agree to support.

  2. Collaboration – INGITE partners value one another, thrive on our united resources, and will work to leverage our combined strength in making a difference, without placing the financial burden on any single party regardless of their own resources.

  3. Creativity – IGNITE is a new idea, a new approach in overcoming federal, state and local restrictions that have proven somewhat prohibitive for the premium cigar industry, to take a disciplined approach to develop sustainable options to best support our causes.

  4. Accountability – IGNITE partners take responsibility for using our combined resources effectively and efficiently, achieving quantifiable and sustainable results and being accountable to one another, and most of all, to the causes we support.

What is IGNITE?

Southern Draw has initiated the following charitable strategy for 2018:

  1. Produced five NEW cigar offerings with custom IGNITE bands;

  2. Partnered with FIVE different premium cigar retailers;

  3. Produced 5,000 custom “IGNITE some good” jars, ½ black and ½ white each with the charities’ sticker on top and informational brochure insert;

  4. Allocated $3.75 per jar to select charities (x 5,000 jars);

  5. Retail partner commitment of $3.75 per jar to select charities (x 5,000 jars) and optional coupon for future savings;

  6. $37,500 to charities ($3.75 x 5,000 from SDC + $3.75 x 5,000 from retailers) = $37,500).

Southern Draw Cigars will provide complete transparency regarding the identity of each partner, sponsor and the amount of all contributions and the frequency of the offerings.

Current Partners and Sponsors.

Each IGNITE jar has been optimized for delivery with Boveda’s ( patented 2-way humidity control and a freshness seal, each donated by Boveda as they increase their already generous charitable giving program.

Southern Draw Cigars and three retail partners have selected Operation Cigars for Warriors ( as the initial beneficiary. This is a concerted effort to increase the cigar donations and monetary contributions that have seen a significant decrease since the 2016 FDA Regulations. Stockpiles of donated cigars and funds to ship the cigars to our deployed military personnel have diminished to all-time lows.

April 14 – IGNITE release #1 during the Texas Cigar Festival.

Serious Cigars and Casa de Montecristo have partnered with Southern Draw Cigars for the 1st IGNITE release, details on the NEW cigar to be announced on April 9th.

May 12 – IGNITE release #2 at Famous Smoke Shop & Leaf Cigar Bar.

NEW and exciting cigar release in Easton, PA, details to be announced soon.

Date TBD – Cigars International has selected two unique releases under the IGNITE banner, along with scheduling wo exciting events in September and November.

TBD – Q3 – 2018 IGNITE release #4 is available for retail partnership, 1,000 jars and a NEW Southern Draw Cigars release.

TBD – Q4 – 2018 IGNITE release #5 is available for retail partnership, 1,000 jars and a NEW Southern Draw Cigars release.


Please direct all questions, comments and requests about IGNITE or to inquire about our future sponsorship opportunities for retail partners to

For general information about Southern Draw Cigars, a list of retail partners and reviews, please visit us at Soli Deo Gloria!

Beginner Bourbon Series Part 2…Buffalo Trace

Special thanks to my buddy Gonzo for another great contribution. I am a day late getting this posted. My fault. Adulting tends to get in the way sometimes. As we continue our Beginner Bourbon Series, we take a look at one of my personal favorites as well, Buffalo Trace. Hope you enjoy. I am hoping to start doing a pairing series with Gonzo this summer so stay tuned for that. Feel free to leave your thoughts, comments, suggestions and even request here. Full glasses friends, Cheers!

Happy Whiskey Wednesday Cigar and Whiskey Hawks!

In part two of our beginner bourbon series, I will be reviewing one of my all time favorite daily drinkers. Buffalo Trace!

Buffalo Trace is the one of many amazing bourbons from the Buffalo Trace distillery. With bourbons such as Pappy Van Winkle, Weller’s, Blanton’s, and many more being distilled there, it’s no wonder how they are one of the best at what they do. Making great bourbons!

Buffalo Trace is a no age statement bourbon, that is rumored to be aged 7-9 years.

Mash bill- I wasn’t able to find the exact numbers for Buffalo Trace, but we do know it is the distillery’s mash bill #1, which is a low rye, high corn profile.

Price- Prices range anywhere between 17-45 dollars for this bourbon. Here in NC, it’s 29.99. However, I have seen it on cruise ships in 1 L bottles, for 2 for 22 USD (I bought a lot😀).

Color- Using my snazzy Whiskey journey I got off eBay, I was able to determine that the color of Buffalo Trace is close to Tawny Orange (fancy right?).

Nose- I’m using my new Glencairn glass, and wow it really brings out a incredible nose on this whiskey. Same typical bourbon notes of vanilla, caramel, honey, and even cinnamon, but I also get hints of raisins and dried fruit.

Tasting- Wow! I still love this bourbon after all these years. It’s simple, yet slightly peaks into the complex flavors. You immediately get charred oak, caramel, and a unbelievably sweetness (no doubt from the high corn content), but I also get brown sugar, cherries, and toffee.

Finish- Buffalo Trace has a medium finish that last a decent amount of time. It starts with the oak and caramel, and ends with a vanilla fruity taste. At 90 proof (45%ABV), it very little burn and is incredibly smooth on the tongue.

Final thoughts- There is a reason Buffalo Trace has been around as long as it has been. It’s good! It’s an enjoyable bourbon that is easy on the wallet, but maybe a little harder to find in certain areas. Here in NC, our stores get allotted only a few cases a year. I find this to be an excellent beginner bourbon, and even enjoyable for the more well defined bourbon drinker.

As with Larceny, I didn’t see a need to drop water in it, or add ice. It was quite tame and had a nice well rounded taste without any assistance.

I must say, my wife took some amazing photos for me!

Famous Smoke Shop Unleashes Cigar Monster 2.0

Famous Smoke Shop Cigar Monster 2.0

Famous Smoke Shop Unleashes the Upgraded Cigar Monster 2.0

Leading Online Retailer Releases New & Improved Daily Cigar Deal Website

EASTON, PA – Famous Smoke Shop, the leading online distributor of discounted premium cigars, specializes in offering the web’s widest selection of cigars at the lowest prices. Famous has just announced the release of its new and improved Cigar Monster website. The release marks 10 years of growth and success for the company’s beloved sister site and price eating monster. Famous Smoke Shop has now utilized its advanced technological offerings to make using Cigar Monster easy and fun, all while saving its customers money.

Features Improved

Aside from a dynamic new look, cigar smokers will find several new and improved features, chiefly “Make Your Offer’, ‘Featured Monster Deals’ and ‘Daily Deals’. Formerly known as ‘Name Your Price’, Make Your Offer brings a little excitement to shopping for deals with new animations. Customers will get three attempts to make a deal, so they must choose wisely. The Cigars page is now simpler to use and features the daily deal as well as all featured deals. “Visiting the page is like a never-ending trip of deals. Monster lovers are going to love this new site,” says Fred Lunt, copywriter for Famous Smoke Shop.

A Farewell to the Cigar Monster App

Like all good things, they must one day come to an end. Due to imposing restrictions in the app market, the Cigar Monster App will no longer be active on IOS and Android app stores. While the app, debuted in 2015, has been a faithful companion to customers everywhere, it was time to move on. However, Cigar Monster’s mobile site received a generous bump and is now better than ever for customers who shop on smart phones and tablets.

To see Cigar Monster 2.0 click here:

About Famous Smoke Shop
Famous Smoke Shop is the nation’s #1 discount retailer of premium cigars online, offering one of the largest selections of handmade cigars, machine-made cigars, cigar humidors and accessories. Famous offers the web’s lowest prices on a wide selection of cigar brands including Acid, Davidoff, Macanudo, Romeo y Julieta, Ashton, Padron, Oliva and Perdomo cigars, and many more. Famous offers their customers the best prices on all premium cigars as well as friendly and knowledgeable customer service.

(Courtesy of Email Press Release Famous Smoke Shop)

2017… A look back and looking forward

2017 was a wild and crazy year for my personal life. An unexpected job transfer to a new state, selling our home, and a number of other things that really took me away from doing what I love, cigar reviews. I did not have the time, and now being in an apartment while our new house is being built, I had no place to really do reviews like I wanted. I suspect this summer will be different once we move into the new home and get settled in. For these reasons and a few others, I am not doing a traditional Top Cigar List this year. I think this will probably become a trend for me in the future.

One thing I changed this year was adding a ratings system and scoring cigars. The crazy thing about cigar reviews is that they are highly subjective and no one will ever have the same experience so rating a cigar is a super difficult thing to do. When I started doing reviews, I never scored anything. And now I know why. When you assign a score to cigar and put a number on it, you are setting expectations. Score it too low and people say “Bro, you are crazy” score it too high and people say “Bro, you are crazy”. I have decided to go back to what works for me and that is an honest write up about the cigar, accompanied with quality photos and that’s it. So many cigars consistently score in that 90 – 93 range and many are much more deserving but will never get the score they deserve. With as many scores as I see in that range, what sets any of them apart? Opinions. That’s all that ever sets any product apart from each other. So once and for all I have decided that the rating system will be retired for me and I will leave that up to the trusted sites that have established themselves. I see forums and post in regards to bloggers and reviewers and most people aren’t influenced by the score but they read the content. That is what worked for me and I look forward to getting back to it.

I debated on putting this list out at all this year. I don’t feel that I was able to really contribute enough to the process to do it justice and make it relevant. I decided tonight that I would but I am going to do things a little different.

This was an amazing year for some incredible releases. I have decided to break them down into categories.


I am not a regular Connecticut cigar smoker. I rarely go to them unless it is early morning or the first of a multiple cigar evening. Nothing against them and I know there are some fantastic cigars out there. For me, my palate leans towards heavy, bold flavors. Red wines, bourbons, maduro/oscuro cigars, etc.

This year was a real standout for some great Connecticut’s. (See Top 5 list below)

Kolumbus K-Azul

Kolumbus is new to me and I only recently tried them during the past week. These are only available through SmoothDrawCigars and are made in La Palma, Spain. This Connecticut really impressed me. Not many people know about this brand, but they should. A terrific smoke anytime of the day or night.

Protocol Themis

The Protocol Themis is the first shot at a Connecticut by Cubariqueno Cigar Company and they absolutely crushed it. These guys just don’t miss. 3 releases and 3 incredible cigars. LaZona and Cubariqueno are simply on fire when it comes to producing great cigars. More of a mild plus – medium body, this is a terrific cigar and the price point is below what I would expect from a cigar this good. But I am not complaining about that!

Highclere Castle

The Highclere Castle is an incredible project and wonderful cigar. This is one that I would smoke as a first smoke at any high end event or special occasion. The price point is a bit steep but when you consider what you are smoking, the price fits the quality. Incredible cigar and another terrific project from Foundation Cigars.

All the rest:

Where do I even start on this list? There were so many absolutely incredible releases this year from so many great companies. There is no way possible that I could include all of them on this list otherwise I would be here until tomorrow. While I enjoyed many great cigars this year some really stood out to me.

Dunbarton Tobacco & Trust made a HUGE impact in my humidor. Steve Saka and team released some absolutely incredible projects and as they are aging, I find them getting more complex and better each time I smoke them.

Sobremesa – Incredibly complex. So many flavor profiles all wrapped into one amazing cigar.

Mi Querida – Another one of my favorite sticks this year.

Todos Las Dias – Spicy, unapologetic and down right good.

Umbagog – For the money, you can’t beat this cigar.

I have not had the pleasure of trying the Muestra de Saka, Sin Compromiso, or the Altemose. The Muestra de Saka is high on my must have list and I read that he is releasing the Unicorn. A true master of cigars, there is no wonder that everything he makes is fantastic.

Foundation Cigars is another company that has solidified a spot on my go-to list of cigars. Nick Melillo has created some of the best cigars on the planet. Last years releases scored very high on my list and this year the trend continues. The Tabernacle is still on my favorites list and now add the Highclere Castle and the El Güegüense Maduro.

Wise Man Maduro was a game changer for me. The original release of the El Güegüense was terrific but the maduro is on another level. One of the best cigars I had this year.

The addition of the Highclere Castle this year really rounded out the already impressive portfolio. This is my choice for my personal Cigar of the Year.

Black Label Trading Company / Black Works Studio

What can I say about what’s going on and coming out of Fabrica Oveja Negra? I am so impressed with what James, Angela and crew have done over the past few years. The growth of the company is a tribute to the work being done there. Every year it seems the new releases get better and better. With too many cigars to put on the list I am going to limit myself to just a few.

Boondock Saints – This year was my first year getting these and the hype is real. Not just a cult following for the movie, this cigar has it’s own cult like following. I would smoke them more often if not so hard to come by. A year is a long time to wait.

2017 Bishops Blend – Right from the jump I knew this years release was on another level. I didn’t think it could get any better until I let them rest in the humidor for a few weeks and tried it again. This cigar is just incredible. Clearly one of the best of the year for me.

Last Rites Lancero – The name is certainly fitting of this cigar. If you are on your death bed and can have one last smoke, this one would be a great one to ask for. One fantastic lancero for sure.

I could go on and on about these 2 companies but all I can say is, if you like bold, complex cigars, these are a must try.

Cubariqueno Cigar Company

The new kids on the block (kind of). Last years Cigar of the Year winner on Cigar Federation with the original Protocol, they are back again with 2 more strong showings. Working with La Zona and creating some of the best cigars on the market, people are discovering the Power of the P!

Probable Cause Lancero – Following in the footsteps of the original, this lancero is nothing short of spectacular. Juan, Bill and team have found a recipe for success in this vitola. Easily one of the best cigars I smoked this year.

Themis – See Above

These guys just continue to impress and I look forward to what 2018 brings!

Felix Assouline

I have been smoking these for over a year now and I was impressed with everything he produced. This year more and more people are discovering his great portfolio. I am very happy to see FAC when I walk into Famous and my local lounge. I truly expect more and more people to discover the wonder cigars he produces. This year we saw the release of the Blackcat and something new from the EGO line.

The EGO Black is available in 5 sizes at retailers and is another terrific addition to the already strong EGO portfolio.

The EGO Black Dark Lord. This cigar is simply amazing. I will need to smoke another one and really take my time with it to try and sort through the flavor profiles again but this is unlike anything I have ever gotten my hands on. The price point is up there ($30 each) but once you smoke it, you begin to understand why. I would have a hard time finding another cigar that I could even begin to compare it to flavor wise. I do not think there is anything out there that I have tried that comes close. You have to smoke it to understand. Supplies are limited.

There were many other brands that made an impact on me this year but for the sake of keeping this manageable I will defer and stop here. If you stop and think about that for a second, I hope you realize what an amazing time we live in when it comes to cigars! Anyone that makes a cigar list could easily have a Top 25 and there are legit 50 or more cigars that could end up on it. And that is probably being conservative.

Again, I did not get the opportunity to review as many cigars as I would have liked to. Hopefully that changes soon. I look forward to jumping back in again in 2018 without a rating system and just honest, open reviews.

My favorites for this year:

#12: Serino Royale Maduro XX – Serino Cigars

#11: Neanderthal HS (new size for the blend this year) – Roma Craft

#10: Jacob’s Ladder – Southern Draw

#9: Corojo Oscuro – Mbombay

#8: Umbagog – DTT

#7: Sindustry – BWKS

#6: Todos Las Dias – DTT

#5: Sobremesa – DTT

#4: Last Rites Lancero – BLTC

#3: Protocol Probable Cause Lancero – Cubariqueno

#2: Mi Querida – DTT

#1: El Güegüense Maduro (My personal favorite this year) – Foundation

Top Limited Release Cigars of 2017

#3: Boondock Saints

#2: Bishops Blend 2017 release

#1: Ego Black Dark Lord

Top Connecticut’s for 2017

#5: AVO Syncro South American Ritmo

#4: Kolumbus K- Azul

#3: Southern Draw Rose of Sharon

#2: Protocol Themis

#1: Foundation Highclere Castle

I had a shelf in the humidor of cigars I wanted to review and didn’t get the opportunity. I am sure many of them were deserving of being on the list as well.

I really enjoyed these incredible cigars. Many of them will be staples in my humidor. We are extremely lucky to have so many great cigars available to us. Here’s to a fantastic 2017 and an even better 2018! I cannot wait to see what this years releases bring! Until next time folks…long ashes and full glasses.

Interview with Garrett Johnson of Smooth Draw Cigars

Today we are interviewing the owner of Smooth Draw Cigars, Garrett Johnson. For those that don’t know, Garrett reviewed ultra boutique cigars on this Smooth Draw Reviews site and recently expanded to an online store selling these ultra boutiques, some of which he is the only distributor for. Hope you enjoy the interview and will check out his site and cigars.

Tell us a little about yourself.

Oklahoma Native. I have a beautiful wife and two dogs. I’m an identical twin. To add more of a whoa factor, my dad is a triplet—no joke!

When did you get into cigars?

My dad gave me my first cigar when I turned 18. I remember not knowing anything about them but being very curious how they make them, the details and processes involved, and what makes a great cigar.

What was the first cigar you smoked?

I believe it was a Macanudo Court Tube.

Were you immediately hooked or did it grow on you?

Oh yeah! I smoked cigars on special occasions and occasionally with my dad and brother.

Before you opened your store, you did cigar reviews at Smooth Draw Reviews, what are some of the top cigars you have reviewed?

I’m going to sound like a typical business owner and say that all of them are top cigars to me. Going back to the brand recognition and exposure goal, I’ve had a lot of fun sharing Kolumbus Cigars—from Spain, Om Mani Gold Label, and Gloria Bendita from the Domincan Republic. These three are dear to me because of the relationships with the business owners. More importantly, they aren’t sold ANYWHERE else in the USA. That makes them very special to me as a business owner knowing the level of trust with the brands and their owners.

Exclusive cigars only at Smooth Draw Cigars. That’s awesome.

You are known for reviewing ultra-boutique cigars. How did that start and how do you find out about these brands?

The internet is full of cigar reviews. At that time, all of the reviews I was reading and watching on YouTube were all what I call “main-stream” cigars (the popular and well-known brands). Curiosity got the best of me a few years ago as I tried to search rare and unheard of cigars. One day after speaking to a few small batch cigar companies, I decided I wanted to review some rare cigars. My goal was two-fold. 1. I set out to discover amazing unheard of cigars. 2. I wanted to be able to provide more exposure for them. Build recognition and familiarity they might not otherwise have.

I literally just researched rare cigars online. I love the ease of Instagram and would often message these small brands, tell them about my blog and reviews, and tell them I’d love to review some of their cigars.

I knew I was doing something right after just a couple of months when I no longer had to reach out to these brands. Instead, they contacted me.

What made you decide to open your own online business?

After reviewing rare and ultra-boutique cigars for about a year and a half, I discovered several of these businesses relied on retailers. Many of whom did not sell their own cigars on their website. Several of the business owners encouraged me to become a retailer. We had developed a high level of trust and support for one another and it only made sense to take what I was doing to the next level. Reviewing the cigars was great, but I knew I could provide even more exposure and sales if I sold the cigars myself. Another huge factor was definitely the support from my friends, followers, and viewers. As I spoke with them, they were all very excited for me and probably more enthusiastic about the idea of me starting my own online store than I was! Many of them smoked the cigars with me and wanted to have an easy outlet to get their hands on the cigars.

When did you open?

The website officially opened June 1st, 2017

Tell us about Smooth Draw Cigars.

We are an online cigar store that specializes in the sale of rare, exotic, and ultra-boutique cigars. You won’t find any main-stream selections on our site. We are the only retailer in the United States that sells the following cigars: Kolumbus Cigars from La Palma, Spain, Om Mani Gold Label, and Gloria Bendita of the Dominican Republic. Unlike many online cigar companies, quality customer service is our #1 priority. All cigars we sell are 100% handmade, have long filler tobacco, and are shipped after being properly humidified to ensure they are in smoke-able conditions.

What makes your online store unique?

3 things:
Our Prices: One aspect of our company which all of our customers appreciate is our prices. Most companies who sale boutique cigars have bogus margins—that’s a new economic term 😊) They understand that what they have is rare and increase their prices and make you spend a minimum per order. My goal with our company was to offer super affordable prices and allow our customers to purchase single cigars—so they can mix and match and try new ones. In my mind, that puts my customers first.
Our selections: As mentioned before, we don’t offer any mainstream cigars. Our goal is not to compete with your local brick and mortar stores. We simply want to provide a new experience for them.
Our customer service: Two years ago, I purchased a cigar sampler on a very popular cigar website. The order came in the mail and the cigars were extremely dry, cracked, and not smokeable. After several attempts trying to rectify with their customer service line which just constantly rang and an email address that probably was never checked, I gave up. When I opened SDC, I vowed to have the best customer service. Sure, we’ve messed up—we’re human too, but we’ve been sure to correct the mistake plus one.

What are some of the brands you currently carry?

Alpha Cigars, Kolumbus, Gloria Bendita, Om Mani, Opalo 1979, Isabela, ChaliceGod13th, Providencia Cigars, and Monte Blanc. More recently added the Lincoln Bourbon by BattleGround Cigars and the Cala Habano by Cala Cigars.

The Alpha Cigar Company Absinthe Infused that you carry really made an impression on me. I had no idea about Absinthe and never really reviewed infused cigars. Do you have any cigar/s that caught you off guard like that and made a lasting impression on you?

That’s great to hear, Scott! The Absinthe Infused Maduro certainly caught me off guard as well. I want to have as authentic of a review as possible so I do not read anything about them prior to the review. So, experiencing that many notes and flavors in one cigar was quite a ride! The cigar has 15 different herbs and notes which is a pretty fun experience for the first time.
Isabela Guerrila had the same shock value for me. It’s a bigger ring gauge and packs a punch, flavor wise.

Some of these cigars are super rare in terms of U.S distribution. Can you talk a little about that?

I’d love to. We are thrilled to have three brands on our “shelves” so to speak that are not sold anywhere else in the US. That means no other store carries them and they are exclusive to I’m not speaking for any particular brand, but something I found out early on in this business is that a lot of small batch brands don’t want to sell their cigars in stores. As crazy as that sounds, it makes sense if you think about it. Think about your personal experiences in a shop. Most consumers go to their brick and mortar store to pick up cigars they are familiar with. Even folks who don’t smoke on a regular basis typically don’t buy cigars they’ve never heard of before. This is the advantage we have as an online store. Many of our [future] customers have never heard of the brands we sell. We are confident that once they try them, they will fall in love and want to try them again.

Any cigars out there you are looking to try?

I’m always willing to try new cigars on a regular basis. I have a list of some cigars from Battleground Cigars that are in the que for reviews. I also have a few really rare cigars from Felipe Gregorio Cigars such as the Pelo de Oro Torpedo and the 1957 Series FG56 that are calling my name in my humidor.

What are some cigars you enjoy on a regular basis?

If I say all of them, am I a cop-out? Haha. I regularly smoke several of the brands we carry. Aside from boutiques, some of my go-to cigars are the Liga Privada #9, anything my buddy Jorge Nichols rolls from JNV Cigars, La Gloria Cubana Series N, and Nubs.

How have you been received in the community?

Let me ask my mom…. J I think most spectators are very skeptical. It’s challenging selling cigars no one has ever heard of before. It’s even more challenging selling rare cigars and competing with the mainstream brands. However, there is nothing more satisfying than having a customer contact us to let us know how much they enjoyed the cigars they purchased—which I can confidently say it happens all the time!

You have done some recent live events, care to discuss some of those?

Definitely! To create more exposure of our rare cigars, events are key. I’ve recently attended a clay shooting tournament for a local organization here in Oklahoma. They had nearly 300 shooters in which a sponsoring company purchased several cigars and allowed me to pass them out and talk to attendees about our cigars. Most recently, I teamed up with a local winery for a Cigar and Cabernet pairing event. We’re always looking for opportunities to get involved with the community. My goal is to get connected with a few golf courses in the near future to provide cigars for tournaments and charity events.

That’s great stuff. Wine and Cigars never really crossed my mind until I paired them and often I find myself pairing a great red wine with a nice cigar and it’s always been good.

What do you see happening in the future for Smooth Draw? Any projects you care to talk about?

We are currently working on a referral program that I’m extremely excited about. As a consumer myself, I love being rewarded for promoting businesses. So, we are working on a program that we think our customers will really love and truly benefit from.

We’ve also recently joined forces with a non-profit organization called Warriors for Freedom. They host events to help service members, veterans and their families reconnect with their community, provide peer to peer support and camaraderie. I’m really excited to announce we’ve added a way for our customers to donate cigars to the troops on our website. We are also assisting with their annual fundraiser in February. We’ll donate several boxes of cigars to hand out and allow all attendees to have a relaxing and enjoyable evening with a cigar.

I am personally looking forward to trying many of the cigars you carry. I have been intrigued by many of the cigars you carry for some time. What are some must try cigars in your opinion?

Definitely the ones you can’t buy anywhere else. I’d recommend trying all three of the Kolumbus Cigars. You can’t go without at least trying all of the Absinthe Infused and Defuser series from Alpha.

I appreciate your time and before we go, do you have anything else you care to discuss?

I’d encourage everyone who reads this interview to go to our site. Take some time reading the reviews, seeing what others have to say about them. If you have any questions, I encourage you to contact me. Our contact information is on our website. We love answering questions for beginners or providing suggestions based on your personal preferences. As always, thank you for supporting us and all of the small-batch and boutique brands we work with.

I encourage all of you to visit and check out the rare boutique cigars available. I want to thank Garrett for his continued support and doing the interview.

If you have any questions or comments, feel free to leave them here or contact Garrett on his site.

I hope you enjoyed the interview. If you have anyone that you would like to see an interview with, let me know. Until next time, long ashes and full glasses friends!