You have heard of smooth operators, sharp dressed men, and smooth jazz. Today I am going to talk to you about Smooth Strength. That is how we at Stogie Press ultimately describe the new Southern Draw Jacobs Ladder, a cigar as unique as the man who created it. As you read the reason will become clear. The Jacobs Ladder is Robert Holt’s most recent creation and was introduced at this years IPCPR at the best boutique cigar booth at the show according to Stogie Press.
Of course this is not the first rodeo for Robert Holt as many of his past creations have received rave reviews and accolades ever since he introduced the Kudzu back in 2015. The Jacobs LAdder was a very personal project for project and the name is drawn from two references according to Robert. The first is a passage from the Book of Genesis 28:10 – as he explains:
“The Company selected the colloquial name for the connection between heaven and earth that Jacob, son of Isaac, dreamed about in the book of Genesis 28:10 whereas he “…had a dream, and behold a ladder was set upon the earth…”. A dream with angels ascending and descending upon the earth and a powerful story of how the Lord may indeed lead us to a place of desolation to preserve our holiness, we may need to come away from everything that pulls us away from the Lord and take a time of rest or prayer which is the case with how Southern Draw Cigars has come about. “
The second reference is to Ethan “Jacob” Holt, son of two of the Southern Draw Cigars founders:
“A strong, yet well-balanced young man who continues to contribute by offering sales and valuable technical support for the brand he will hopefully someday, as in the case of Jacob in the Bible, inherit and be a steward of in the years ahead. “
In order to create such a balanced and yet powerful cigar, the Robert sourced some very special leaf in the creation of the blend:
- Wrapper: Pennsylvania Broadleaf, Lancaster, USA
- Binder: Maduro, Ecuadorian
- Viso: Nicaraguan (confidential)
- Seco: Nicaraguan (confidential)
- Ligero: Nicaraguan Esteli, Jalapa
The Jacobs Ladder will be available in 3 vitolas and packaged in 20-count boxes.
- Robusto – 5.5 x 54 (MSRP $9.50)
- Toro – 6 x 52 (MSRP $9.99)
- Gordo – 6.5 x 60 (MSRP $10.99)
There is also a special 2-count Petaca Case that is available which contains two Toros and priced at an MSRP of $25.99.
For this review, the Stogie Press crew joined in and sampled the Jacobs Ladder Gordo and I also sampled the Toro. All cigars for this review were provided by Southern Draw for the purpose of reviewing on Stogie Press. I also passed a toro onto my friend Cigar Cartel friend Mike Holmes who also offered some notes for the review.
The Jacobs Ladder
The Southern Draw Jacobs Ladder is a magnificent cigar to look at. Right from the start it is a bold presentation with its dark almost black Pennsylvania Broadleaf wrapper. It is finished with a closed foot and a well applied cap. Under that closed foot is a proper Cuban bunching method which my friend Steve immediately noticed when smoking it.
There are two bands on the Jacobs Ladder that use a bright blue and gold motif which makes this cigar pop on the shelf. The primary band is the standard Southern Draw logo in gold on the blue background. The Secondary band declares this as the Jacobs Ladder in gold on a blue background. In addition to the bands there is a cedar sleeve that covers about half the cigar, up to the secondary band. There was a lot of pride put into the presentation of this cigar by Robert and the Southern Draw Cigar Company.
Moving onto the pre-light aromas, the foot exudes notes of nutmeg and pepper and the barrel had a nice fermented leaf aroma. It is an enticing cigar up to this point.
I sliced the cap while Steve went with a punch. The cold draw was earthy along with a buttery pepper note, and as expected from the closed foot, the draw itself was somewhat restricted.
So far so good, now it was time to climb the ladder and see what Robert is offering this year.
Cigar Review Notes
- As we torch the foot, I love how the leaf expanded out like it was alive and breathing
- The first puffs were more than a normal nasal opener – you are hit with strong pepper like jalapeños
- Pepper settles fairly quickly, but your nose, from the retro-hale, might disagree
- Alton noted that the initial draw had a velvety thick, rich pepper, on throat
- Espresso enters – Steve says it is much like an Italian espresso
- The draw is great – actually perfect, considering the gordo size
- Steve and I get a dark chocolate note and Alton described it as a chocolate pepper brownie
- Moving through the first third, Steve picked up banana peel – a very unique note for sure!
- Light to medium grey ash develops on a thick and even char line
- Walnut enters to add to that brownie – wow I feel like I’m in my mother’s kitchen
- Here is where the fun starts
- Mint comes in with the chocolate and hits the tip of the tongue
- Steve’s gets dry leather and lingering espresso on top of the mint
- Medium volume of smoke so far – you have to puff on it early to keep the ladder ignited due to the thick wrapper
- There is a cut oak aroma much like the smell when you cut an oak board
- This is a heavy cigar so far with a medium strength and rich flavors and we only got to the end of the first third
- The ash fell early and revealed a flat and centered burn cone
- Mint continues to be a core flavor and is now hitting the top of the palate producing a mouth-watering experience
- We all detected a touch of earth moving into the second third – Mike also picked up a cinnamon note
- We feel very mellow, as the strength gradually moves up
- A touch of sweetness entered the near the secondary band, which Mike described as sweet caramel – I agree
- Pepper starts to increase a bit
- Savory notes enter near the primary band – meaty and full body
- Strength continues to evolve. Steve describes it as a smooth strength
- The strength is not in your face like many other cigars. but you feel it slowly, gradually. It is carrying you up the ladder.
- Dry leather enters near the final third and the walnut enters again
- The burn line gets thinner here
- Moving towards the end, third there is a citrus note that dances with that lingering mint
- Total Smoking time for the Gordo was one hour and 45 minutes – the Toro clocked in around and hour and ten minutes.
- As we noted, the Jacobs Ladder is a full strength cigar and designed for the experienced cigar smoker.
Overall, the Southern Draw Jacobs Ladder may well be the best creation coming from Robert Holt. The flavors hit you most in the first half and then blend together with short and subtle nuances through the second half. While it teases the palate with those flavors, the strength is a slow and gradually delivered to the head. That smooth strength mellows you as you puff, it doesn’t make you woozy but you may find it hard to sleep shortly after. I would certainly recommend enjoying the Jacobs Ladder after a big dinner and not the last cigar of the night. I was thinking about what to pair this with and feel that a Highland single malt or bourbon would go best. Call me crazy, but I think an Islay Scotch would be too overpowering for this bold cigar.