Hooten Young Cigars may not ring a bell with you, and that is OK. Many small brands start out fairly unknown before they grow and spread across the cigar world. Hooten Young are a small cigar brand located in Central FL but have a great story to tell. We all like stories of new brands right?
Hooten Young Cigars was founded in 2018 by former Delta Force Master Sergeant Norm Hooten and friend Tim Young. As the story goes, the two were sitting around a campfire, one chilly winter night, swapping tales about old friends and days gone by. The colder the night became, the sips of whiskey grew along with the puffs on their cigars. The stories of brotherhood continued and that is when the spark hit, and Hooten Young was conceived.
Now one thing you should know about this young company, they are not just a cigar company, they also partnered with Master Sommelier George Miliotes to distill whiskey under the same brand name.
According to the Hooten Young website:
“Hooten Young is more than just great tasting cigars and expertly crafted spirits. It is a brotherhood bonded in the love of freedom, family, and honor…
…Hooten Young was created to help people slow down, bond with the people around them, remember those that are no longer here and to celebrate the selfless acts of servicemen and servicewomen.”
I came upon Hooten Young cigars, when I reached out to my friend Mario Medina, owner of the Cigar Life Lounge in Lakeland, Florida. I called to order some cigars the other week, and asked him what he had new in the shop. Mario asked me if I ever had a Hooten Young cigar. I told him no, but why not add some to my order so that I can try them out. Two blends were part of my order, the Overlord Churchill which is an Ecuadorian Connecticut wrapped cigar and the Gothic Serpent, which is the subject of today’s review. We will get to the Overlord later this month.
Hooten Young explains the inspiration for the Gothic Serpent:
“On October 3rd, 1993, U.S. Forces were ordered to capture Somali warlord, Mohammed Farah Aidid and high-ranking members of his faction as a part of Operation Gothic Serpent. A force of fewer than 200 Rangers held off thousands of Somali militiamen who flooded the streets of Mogadishu. Intended to be a mission lasting no more than an hour, the Battle of Mogadishu turned into the most intense combat operation that U.S. troops have engaged in since the Vietnam War. By the end of the 18-hour firefight, U.S. Forces lost two Black Hawk helicopters, 70 soldiers were wounded, and 19 men gave the ultimate sacrifice.“
Let me stop here …and ask you to take a moment of silence to remember the brave American Soldiers and their fallen, from that day, and thank them for their service to our great nation.
Thank You, now let’s talk about the Gothic Serpent from Hooten Young. The first thing about this cigar is that it is hand-rolled in the United States. It has a blend described as:
- Wrapper – Ecuadorian Habano Oscuro
- Binder – Nicaraguan
- Filler – Nicaraguan
The Gothic Serpent is express in two vitolas, each packaged in 10-count wooden boxes:
- Gothic Serpent Torpedo – MSRP $15.00/cigar
- Gothic Serpent Toro – MSRP $15.00/cigar
For this review, I sampled two of the Hooten Young Gothic Serpent Torpedoes, which I purchased from Cigar Life in Lakeland, FL.
One thing is for sure, if nothing else, before I sniff, cut, taste, and light this cigar, it is in the running for the best dressed cigar of the year. This is a fine looking torpedo with a reddish-brown, silky smooth wrapper, with all but invisible veins. It has a well finished torpedo cap and is solidly packed from foot to head.
The Gothic Serpent by Hooten Young is neatly adorned with two elegant bands. The primary uses a white and gold motif and displays the company’s logo. The logo is simple but nicely designed with a gothic “Y” laying over a gothic “H“. The secondary band is placed just below and declares this as the 25th Gothic Serpent which indicates 25 years since the operation in Somali.
Like I said, this is a well dressed, fine looking cigar. But we have to take it on a journey and the next step was to see what pre-light aromas it had. Running the cigar across the nose, I picked up a nice sweet and spicy fermented leaf aroma along the barrel while the foot offered fruit like notes.
I used a double blade cutter and sliced it straight about 1/4 inch down. The draw was perfect and offered a touch of peppery spice which grows the more you puff on it, along with a buttery and fruit note. The more I roll this about I noted the complexity even before I set the flame to it.
Speaking of flame, I used a double flame torch to warm the foot and bring it to even orange glow. The first lit puffs offered a light pepper note to get things started. Follow along as I burn the Gothic Serpent to ash.
Cigar Review Notes
- First light offers pepper on the palate and retro-hale
- Light grey-white ash forms on a thick and wavy char line
- Cedar notes brighten the profile as the pepper pulls back
- Full volume of smoke is being delivered on every puff
- Cream notes with a back note of sweetness after an inch
- Salty notes move in off the head
- Long ash fell revealing a decent ash cone
- Slight off burn develops
- Strength moves up
- Touch up required
- Delectable cocoa aroma fills the air around me
- Citrus and spice with a undertone of sweetness takes it down to the finish
- Medium to full in strength
- Total Smoking Time was 1 hour and 45 minutes
Overall, the Hooten Young Gothic Serpent was a pleasurably elegant smoke that once the early pepper notes toned down, settled into a mildly complex array of delectable notes. The transitions were smooth and there was a delicate undertone of sweetness throughout the 1 hour and 45 minute journey. There was a slight off burn that required a mild touch-up that was all it needed to burn down to the nub. Pick up a fiver of these and enjoy them. I rate this a 92. I need to get some Hooten Young whiskey to pair my last one with.
Point Deductions: (-1) Wavy Burn; (-1) Off Burn; (-1) Touch-up Required
Bonus Points: (+1) Long Ash