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Staff Reviews

Southern Draw Rose of Sharon Staff Review

Zack D. D's picture

Zack D.

While it’s tough to keep track of all the cigars blended by AJ Fernandez to smoke these days, I’m reviewing another small-batch creation from the Southern Draw portfolio, Rose of Sharon, in a 5.5-by-54 Robusto. The Southern Draw brand is based in Texas, but brand founders Robert and Sharon Holt have been working with AJ Fernandez to produce their cigars in Nicaragua since their company’s debut seven years ago.

Rose of Sharon is named for Sharon Holt, and it’s one of the milder cigars from Southern Draw. Dual pink-and-black cigar bands with gold lettering adorn a light-tan Connecticut-seed wrapper grown in Ecuador. Under the wrapper, long-fillers from the Dominican Republic and Nicaragua fill out a Nicaraguan binder. Previously, I’ve reviewed Southern Draw Jacob’s Ladder, a full-bodied smoke finished in a dark and oily Pennsylvania Broadleaf wrapper. Let’s visit the other end of the spectrum from the folks at Southern Draw and taste a milder profile blended and handmade at the AJ Fernandez factory in Estelí, Nicaragua.

Rose of Sharon is box-pressed and looks impressive at a glance with its firm structure and a somewhat veiny wrapper leaf. Rose of Sharon cigars retail for around $10 to $12 apiece and come in 20-count boxes. When I slide a Robusto from the top row of a new box and slip the cellophane off, a noticeable aroma of hay perfumes my nostrils with hints of earth and cedar. After I deliver a razor-sharp cut to the cap and take a few cold pulls, notes of black coffee, pepper, and milk chocolate layer the palate before the cigar is lit.

The draw is clean and creamy when I toast the foot and fire up the Robusto. Rose of Sharon is leathery and begins with notes of white pepper and hay that mirror the cold draw, while hints of white bread and earth create a luscious foundation. Toasty and nutty notes of coffee with cream and leather develop throughout the first half while the cigar’s initial spices settle and are relegated to the retrohale.

The Rose of Sharon shifts to a sweeter profile with a consistent background of roasted nuts and leather throughout the second half of the Robusto. The draw is just right, but the ash is flakey. Keep an ashtray handy to catch any flakes that flutter off the foot while you’re maneuvering the cigar in your hand. Bittersweet notes of coffee bean mingle with traces of nutmeg and graham cracker after I peel off the bands and prepare to power through the nub.

Although I’m accustomed to stronger cigars, Rose of Sharon is a smooth and steady smoke you can enjoy any time of the day. It’s an ideal cigar to go with your coffee in the morning. The finish won’t overpower your palate but surprises with its nutty sweetness. Although the draw was immaculate, the messy ash required some compromise, so I’m knocking a point or two off. Otherwise, I say give the Rose of Sharon a shot, especially if other Connecticut-wrapped cigars from AJ Fernandez, like New World Connecticut, appeal to you.

As a U.S. veteran-owned brand, Southern Draw continues to amass a solid audience of proud and patriotic cigar lovers. Put a few singles of Rose of Sharon in your next order and decide if you like it enough to add a box to your collection. 

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