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Staff Reviews

Southern Draw Kudzu Staff Review

Zack D. D's picture

Zack D.

When the weather warms up and the water’s back in the pool, it’s grillin’ time in my backyard, and that means I need a steady surplus of cigars I can smoke casually that won’t bankrupt my vacation budget. On the docket for today is Southern Draw Kudzu, and I’m smoking a 6-by-52 Toro. For just over two hundred bucks for a 20-count box, Kudzu is a littler pricier than I’ll normally spend on an everyday cigar, but since I’m doing a review, this one is technically on the house – and that makes it great fodder for finding out if I should invest in a whole box.

Southern Draw is a boutique brand started by a couple down in Texas, but the cigars have always been made in Estelí, Nicaragua, by renowned cigar-maker AJ Fernandez, who produces a number of cigars for big Cuban-legacy brands as well as smaller companies like Southern Draw. I’ve reviewed plenty of Southern Draw cigars before, including Jacob’s Ladder Brimstone, Rose of Sharon, and Cedrus, and I generally have plenty of good things to say about them. AJ Fernandez has proven time and again he can crank out high-quality, consistent cigars for just about anybody, and you don’t have to shell out an incredible fortune to smoke them. 

Southern Draw Kudzu is blended from an oily Oscuro wrapper leaf grown in Ecuador from Cuban seeds. Inside is a hearty core of Nicaraguan long-filler tobaccos harvested on AJ’s extensive network of farms. The Toro I’m smoking is box-pressed and comes dressed in a pair of classic Southern Draw bands at the top. The critics in Cigar Aficionado were pretty impressed with Kudzu cigars when they first reviewed them in 2019. Semi-sweet aromas of cedar, nuts, and fresh tobacco offer a nice bouquet when a new box is opened.

When I remove a Toro from the top row, I can’t say the wrapper is as dark as I normally would expect for an Oscuro leaf, which are generally very dark brown or almost black in the color-grading process. Nonetheless, the wrapper is seamless and possesses a fair amount of oil, which I interpret as a sign the cigar should offer lots of flavor.

When I clip the cap with my Xikar Enso Cutter, an excellent preview of brown sugar and coffee bean layers my palate. There’s also an elegant spice in the background. After gently toasting the foot of the cigar for a few minutes, earthy notes of toffee, walnut, and wood establish the profile while mellow spices make their way through my nasal cavity. The draw is fluid; the ash is stable; and the cigar’s peppery tendencies take a back seat to its underlying sweetness.

Kudzu is less intense than I originally anticipated but in a good way. The profile doesn’t pump out an abrasive blast of pepper. Instead, I’m getting a medley of wheat toast, nougat, and caramel tasting notes. Because Kudzu is a touch sweet, I believe it will appeal to folks who prefer milder cigars, even though the blend is technically medium to full bodied. It progresses with an even burn that hasn’t required any major touch-ups too.

Creamy notes of coffee bean and milk chocolate leave a favorable impression as the second half of the cigar gets underway and the spices increase in intensity. Southern Draw Kudzu is easily a cigar I can smoke while I’ve got some barbecue on the grill. I find its sweet and smoky taste is satisfying and a natural primer for any meat I’d be preparing. Plus, this is a great cigar to enjoy with an ice-cold beer. After the bands are off and I’m powering through the nub, I haven’t encountered any bitterness or soft spots. Southern Draw Kudzu isn’t an over-the-top, complex smoke, but it’s a reliable handmade you can add to your summer rotation without second-guessing yourself. Order a few singles to see what you think before you jump on a box.


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