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Staff Reviews

Southern Draw Rose of Sharon Desert Rose Staff Review

Zack D. D's picture

Zack D.

I don’t smoke a cigar every morning, but when I do, I’m particular about what I pull from my humidor, and the 5.5-by-52 Belicoso Fino in the Rose of Sharon blend from Southern Draw fits the bill for a mellower smoke you can savor with coffee when the sun is coming up.

I’ve got a young family at home, so I hit the hay early. That way I can be up at the crack of dawn to get my workout in and, God willing, get enough time to myself to smoke a cigar on my front porch on occasion. I’ve reviewed a few cigars in the Southern Draw portfolio so far, including Jacob’s Ladder, Cedrus, and the original Rose of Sharon. The Desert Rose is a limited-production version of Rose of Sharon, and it’s available in a handful of sizes, including the Belicoso Fino. Like all Southern Draw cigars, the Desert Rose is blended by AJ Fernandez and handcrafted at his factory in Estelí, Nicaragua.  

The tobaccos in the Desert Rose have been slightly tweaked from the original Rose of Sharon blend, although they’re from the same regions. An Ecuador Connecticut wrapper covers Nicaraguan binder tobaccos, grown in Condega, while the center is comprised of Dominican and Honduran long-fillers. The golden-blond color of the wrapper leaf looks especially smooth under the cigar’s black-and-pink cigar band with gold lettering. The wrapper is soft and seamless, and the box-pressed Belicoso Fino is especially attractive when I slide the cellophane off.

When I clip the tapered cap and test the draw by taking a few cold puffs of the Desert Rose, earthy notes of fresh hay, cedar, and graham cracker create a nice first impression. Hints of spice add complexity, and the draw is as clear as a bell when I toast the foot of the cigar with my ST Dupont Maxi Jet Torch. Southern Draw cigars exhibit the same consistency as dozens of other brands produced in AJ’s Nicaraguan cigar factories, thanks to his high quality-control standards. Southern Draw brand owners Robert and Sharon Holt contracted AJ to make their cigars before launching their company in 2014.

The binder, filler, and wrapper combust at an even pace as the Desert Rose progresses. In the first minutes, the cigar’s spicy characteristics rush to the front with more intensity than I expect. Strong notes of crushed red pepper and earth wake my taste buds while a sharp aroma fills my nostrils. Luckily, a creamy foundation of cedar provides balance. Southern Draw Desert Rose appears mild, but it’s actually classified as a medium-bodied cigar.

The cigar’s peppery taste retreats in the first fifteen minutes, giving way to a more balanced profile with notes of fresh bread and leather. I pick up hints of citrus in the retrohale which goes along well with the La Colombe coffee I’m sipping. Desert Rose is a toasty cigar overall. It wavers between velvety and zesty flavor. Despite its spicy taste, I can handle it as a morning smoke because I’m accustomed to smoking stronger cigars in general. It burns for close to an hour, too.  

The finish unfolds with a mix of black pepper, leather, and graham cracker with a good amount of heat, thanks to the cigar’s tapering head. The draw is superb throughout the final puffs, however the ash was wavy in a few spots, which I touched up with my torch. For my final thoughts, I’m giving the Desert Rose from Southern Draw a respectable 89 points, and I prefer this blend over the original Rose of Sharon by a hair. I will smoke this cigar again soon to see how a second one performs. If you’re a fan of the Desert Rose from Southern Draw, check out our list of other top-rated Belicoso cigars.


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