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Staff Reviews

Southern Draw Firethorn Staff Review

Tom O. O's picture

Tom O.

I’m smoking a cigar from Southern Draw, called the Firethorn, in a 6-by-52 Toro today. I’m heading out for a quick vacation, and I wanted to smoke something new, so I tossed a few singles in my travel humidor. Before I step off the plane and make a beeline for the beach with my windproof torch and cigar cutter, let’s fire up a Firethorn and find out how it smokes.

Southern Draw Cigars is a boutique brand based in Texas. Robert and Sharon Holt own the brand, and the husband-and-wife founders tapped AJ Fernandez to produce their brand about ten years ago. As AJ’s own portfolio of premium cigars has exploded in popularity, he’s worked diligently to grow the collection of cigars he makes for Southern Draw. The brand is handmade in Estelí, Nicaragua, at one of AJ’s main cigar factories. 

Southern Draw Firethorn cigars come in red-and-black boxes and bands with gold lettering. I’m curious how Firethorn will compare to the review my compadre, Zack D., wrote of Southern Draw Jacob’s Ladder. A lot of cigar lovers who enjoy the AJ Fernandez collection eventually gravitate towards Southern Draw when they want to smoke something new. Firethorn has much to offer with its Ecuador Habano wrapper, a spicy blend of Cuban-seed long-fillers grown in Nicaragua, and a binder from San Andrés. Technically, the wrapper is a Rosado, so there’s a reddish hue to its complexion.

When I pull a Toro from a fresh box, Southern Draw Firethorn reveals an intense aroma of wood and pepper. The unlit foot penetrates my nostrils when I inspect the cigar closely. The medium-brown wrapper shows a few veins, but you can tell the cigar is made to the same level of quality and consistency as the best AJ Fernandez cigars.

After I cut the head with my Lotus Jaws V-Cutter, I can pull easy streams of air through a nice deep groove, and the cap has stayed intact after the cut, indicating the cigar is very well constructed. Hearty notes of hickory and black pepper mingle with a touch of cayenne in the first draws when I’m toasting the foot of the Firethorn Toro. It’s not an overpowering cigar, but it’s also not mild. I wouldn’t smoke it too early in the day or on an empty stomach.

Because the binder is from San Andrés, Firethorn develops with a dark, sweet taste as well as a nutty impression. I detect hints of cardamom, dark cocoa, caramel, and almond. The first fifteen to twenty minutes are particularly complex, while the texture is creamy and rich. The draw pulls tight for a moment but reconciles as I puff my way into the second half. The ash is stable and emerges with a charred, white-gray color. 

I would smoke this cigar with a stiff bourbon. Overall, it’s medium-bodied, but it shifts between sweet and spicy tasting notes effortlessly, making it a cigar I would love to pair with Blanton’s Single Barrel, preferably in front of a roaring campfire. Hints of cocoa and nuts continue into the final third, but the dominant tasting notes are hickory, cedar, and earth. The finish is woody and succulent.

Southern Draw Firethorn earns an 89-point rating in my book. Explore this brand’s small-batch portfolio, especially if you already like AJ Fernandez cigars. Southern Draw offers another avenue to travel when you’re looking for good Nicaraguan cigars that don’t cost a fortune.


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