What happens when the son of Hendrik Kelner, Sr., the master blender for Davidoff breaks out and creates his own cigar? Well you get 29 years of experience at Davidoff, a lifetime of mentoring from the father of premium cigars, and one very special cigar. I am talking about Hendrik Kelner Jr. and his 2013 debut cigar the Smoking Jacket. Hendrik, like his father is a very down to earth man who has a passion for cigars. I had the privilege of meeting with him this year at his small boutique factory in Tamboril on a trip to Santiago, Dominican Republic. The factory is one of the smaller ones we visited on our short visit but size is not important in this business, quality is, and the Kelner Boutique Factory (KBF) is an operation committed to the quality production of cigars. Hendrik Jr. even noted:
In tobacco you never stop learning and improving, especially when you have someone from whom you can learn so much.
While at the factory he gave us the grand tour and one noticeable observation was they did not use draw machines like other factories we visited. Instead, because they have some of the finest Torcedors in the country, KBF chooses to weigh every cigar rolled to ensure the right amount of leaf is rolled in each blend. KBF produces 1,000 cigars a day. They are also the house that rolls the Suriel cigar line of Uriel Suriel. Having smoked a few of each these line, I have to say the roll is impeccable so weighing makes a lot of sense from a quality control perspective. After our visit, Hendrik presented us with samples of the Smoking Jacket Favoritos cigar, which is his personal favorite in the line.
Having rested a for a little more than 2 months in my humidor it was time to turn the Smoking Jacket Favoritos to ash, but before we do that, lets talk about this fine premium cigar from the son of the master.
The Smoking Jacket cigar brand was released to the US market back in September 2013. They were an extremely limited production with only 75 store carrying them. I have noticed that JR Cigars carry these and have some very decent prices on them. According to the Smoking Jacket Facebook Page:
The line consists of 4 cigar sizes, each with it’s own blend, to offer a unique smoking experience .
- Favoritos – 46 x 6. The filler is 60 % Dominican , 20 % Nicaraguan and 20 % USA Broadleaf. The Wrapper is 9 year old Dominican.
- Robusto imperial – 52 x 5 . The Filler is 40% Dominican , 40 % Nicaraguan and 20% Peruvian Pelo D oro. The wrapper is Brazilian Cubra.
- Toro Magno – 50 x 7. The Filler is 40% Dominican , 40 % Nicaraguan and 20% Pennsylvanian . The wrapper is Brazilian Cubra.
- Short Robusto – 56 x 4 1/2 . The filler is 60 % Dominican , 40 % Nicaraguan and 20 % of a Kelner Family Reserve Tobacco. The Wrapper is 9 year old Dominican.
Examining the Smoking Jacket Favoritos you will be impressed with the solid construction with the medium brown Dominican Cotuí wrapper, decent seams, and just a few veins. It feels firm to the touch and is packed well. There is a sweet fermented aroma along the barrel and a black tea scent on the foot. The Favoritos, like all Smoking Jacket blends is adorned with a simple red, black, and gold band that has the Smoking Jacket logo (representing the lapel of a jacket) in the center. The back of the band has the word “Smoking Jacket” in white script on a red gradient background.
I used a Xikar cutter to slice the cap and the cold draw offered a cornucopia of flavor – butter, hay, pepper and dry leather. I don’t know if I should smoke this or just chew it!
Using a single torch lighter I heated the foot and was detecting an early spicy aroma to start. A few puffs and my palate is graced with a balance of pepper, fruit and coffee notes. I settle back in the couch put my feet up and start the journey that Hendrik has created. As it burns, a perfect medium grey ash forms along a thin char line. The Smoking Jacket Favoritos is certainly a most delicious cigar so far.
There are some unique tastes that I can not put my finger on but they rest on a smooth buttery background. This cigar is a slow burner. The ash holds on for roughly an inch and a half before falling. The aroma is spicy still.
The second third brings a coffee and dried cherry note to the profile and spice begins to fill out the background. The retro-hale has been clean throughout, the smoke volume is medium, and the strength is on the upper end of medium at this point.
The final third brings a shift to a nut aroma with an increased spice and a touch of cedar as i smoked this one down to the nub. It actually has a kind of Cubanesque flavor at this point and finishes with another aroma shift to floral as the strength ended up medium to full.
Overall, the Smoking Jacket Favoritos was on outstanding cigar that gave a just over an hour of slow burning, flavorful and aromatic smoke right down to the nub, with no hot spots along the journey. It is a medium to full strength cigar that should be enjoyed by any cigar smoker. After this experience I am certainly going to order a box of these from JR Cigars at $126.00 a box of 20 – it’s a “no brainer” in my book. I would like to thank Hendrik Kelner jr. for the sample and his gracious generosity when we visited his factory. If you ever get a chance to visit the Dominican Republic be sure to include KBF on you agenda.
As a side note, the reason for selecting the name Smoking Jacket was because Kelner always sympathized with smoking jackets. He describes them as “A long lost tradition of elegance and good taste”. I have to agree, this is an elegant cigar for sure!