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Staff Reviews

Southern Draw Jacob's Ladder Staff Review

Zack D. D's picture

Zack D.

I’m smoking a 5.5-by-54 Robusto from Southern Draw in the Jacob’s Ladder line. Southern Draw is a relatively new brand of cigars with about seven years under its belt. Brand founder Robert Holt started the company as a venture among family and close friends. The Texas-based owner stresses Southern Draw’s roots as a U.S. veteran-owned-and-operated company. Robert Holt’s genuine, down-to-earth personality and patriotism have made his small-batch brand popular with retailers and cigar lovers, but another factor in Southern Draw’s success is cigar-maker AJ Fernandez, the man who blends and produces the Southern Draw portfolio in Estelí, Nicaragua.


Southern Draw has grown steadily in recent years, and Jacob’s Ladder is a cigar that serves as a solid introduction. The name, Jacob’s Ladder, is both a biblical reference and a reference to Robert and Sharon Holt’s son, Ethan Jacob Holt, who joined the company full-time in 2021.

Jacob’s Ladder cigars are wrapped in dark-blue cigar bands with gold lettering and matching boxes. A cedar sleeve shields the lower half of every cigar, and when I remove it from the Robusto I’m about to smoke, I pick up sweet notes of earth and chocolate from the unlit foot which is closed by the wrapper leaf. The cigar is dark, oily, and well made with no soft spots or bulging veins. A succulent Pennsylvania Broadleaf wrapper covers a hearty blend of Nicaraguan long-fillers tucked in an Ecuador binder.

After clipping the cap and taking in a few cold draws, the sweetness of Jacob’s Ladder comes to life with luscious notes of German chocolate cake, coffee bean, and black pepper. A nice dose of the cigar’s naturally sweet taste characterizes the first draws thanks to the covered foot and the extra flavor you get from the wrapper.

Jacob’s Ladder burns easy and delivers a dense, balanced taste. Gritty notes of earth, charred oak, and smoked meat come into play once the Robusto heats up. The retrohale is a little shocking. Loads of pepper layer my nostrils in the first inches, but the Robusto settles into a nice smooth profile of chocolate and leather.

As the middle of the cigar develops, the retrohale is less intense but still noticeably spicy. After roughly twenty-five minutes, the second half of the cigar reveals bold notes of black coffee and oak with an earthy finish wrapping up each draw. The Pennsylvania wrapper imparts a continuously sweet taste which is different from your typical Connecticut Broadleaf. Chocolaty nuances save Jacob’s Ladder from veering off into an overly potent profile.

After fifty minutes, a good amount of pepper layers the palate right up until the end. I’m happy to smoke through the nub because the Robusto maintains enough sweetness and complexity with crisp and slightly floral notes. I recommend smoking this cigar with a dark beer like Duck-Rabbit Porter or the Maple Bacon Coffee Porter from Funky Buddha Brewery.  

If you’re new to Southern Draw, Jacob’s Ladder is a bit strong to start with, but its smooth taste and construction meet my expectations for a premium handmade in the $10-12 range. If you’re familiar with other AJ Fernadez cigars like Last Call Maduro and New World, Jacob’s Ladder will be right up your alley.  My advice: eat a hearty meal first and smoke slow. The cigar’s aroma of charred wood and barbecue is a plus, and the finish is decadent and sweet.


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