Gold Strike by Royal Gold Cigars

As part of our on-going previews of 2013 releases, we’ve been paying considerable attention to Royal Gold Cigars.  Earlier this year, it was announced that Swisher International was getting back into the premium cigar market game with the launch of Royal Gold.  As a part of this comeback, the company planned three premium cigar releases by teaming up with some of the better well-known cigar-makers – Casino Gold HRS (Plasencia), Kismet (Augusto Reyes), and Nirvana Cameroon Selection (Drew Estate).  Preceding these three releases would be a mixed filler cigar called Gold Strike.  Gold Strike is a cigar made in Nicaragua at J.C. Newman’s Nicaraguan American Cigars (NACSA) factory.  I recently had an opportunity to smoke the Gold Strike.  I was actually very surprised in terms of what this cigar delivered.  For a cigar that is going to sell for under $3.00 and be mixed filler, this provided a decent cigar experience.

Swisher International has actually been a consumer of utilizing premium cigar tobaccos from the large cigar factories for many years for its machine-made end of the business.  Therefore, one shouldn’t be surprised that they would continue to do this, but go for a hand-made Cuban sandwich cigar under their new premium cigar line.  To blend the Gold Strike Omar Ortez and Carol Jean Llaneza (the late Frank Llaneza’s daughter) were brought in.

Without further ado, let’s break down the Gold Strike and see what this cigar brings to the table:

Blend Profile

The Gold Strike uses an unorthodox blend for what a major handmade cigar company is using.  It uses an Indoensian Sumatra wrapper and a binder from Besuki.  Besuki is located in the East Java province of Indonesia – located on the east end of the island of Java.   The fillers are Nicaraguan.

Wrapper: Indonesian Sumatra
Binder: Besuki (East Java, Indonesia)
Filler: Nicaraguan

Vitolas Available

The Gold Strike will be offered in two sizes.  Both of these sizes will be available in bundles of fifteen or resealable fresh pouches of 3.

Churchill: 7 x 48 (SRP $26.95 for bundle, $6.99 per pouch)
Toro: 6 1/4 x 50 (SRP $25.45 for bundle, $6.75 per pouch)

Appearance

For this cigar experience, I smoked the Gold Strike Toro. The Gold Strike isn’t going to be the most elegant wrapper, but it isn’t going to be a bad looking one either. The Indonesian Sumatra wrapper is medium brown with some darker marbling to it.  The wrapper isn’t oily and has a coarse feel to it.  It is slight bumpy with visible veins and visible wrapper seams.  Overall I would say the Gold Strike has rustic look to it.

The band has a green background.  There is a circular design surrounded with a gold and black border. On that circular field is the text “GS” in gold font.  To the left of the circle is the text “GOLD” in white font.  To the right of the circle is the text “STRIKE” in white font.  The remainder of the band has a gold and black border to it.

Preparation for the Cigar Experience

For my smoke of the Gold Strike Toro, I went with my usual choice of a straight cut to remove the cap.  Sometimes with Cuban Sandwich cigars, I don’t get a clean cut and the short filler can cause a problem, but no such case with the Gold Strike. I then proceeded to the pre-light draw. The cold draw produced some good flavors – earth, chocolate, and a slight floral spice. Overall it was a solid pre-light draw.  At this point I was ready to light up the Gold Strike and see what the cigar experience would bring to the table.

Flavor Profile

The start to the Gold Strike had mild pepper with some earth flavors.  The flavors expand to include chicory and coffee.  For about the first five percent of the Gold Strike, there really was no dominant flavor that overtook the others.  As the Gold Strike moved through the first half, the coffee flavor got a little richer and it moves out to become the dominant flavor.   The chicory, pepper, and earth notes gave the flavor profile some other dimensions during this stage of the smoke.

The second half saw a change in the flavor profile.  The pepper spice got stronger and a mineral component surfaced.  These flavors became the primary flavors in the second half.  At the same time, the coffee and chicory notes significantly diminished.  In the early part of the second half, the mineral and pepper flavors were on the smooth side.   It was in the last third where the flavors tended to get harsher.  For the most part, the flavors were rather good until the last third of the cigar.  The resulting nub was soft to the touch and cool in temperature.

Burn and Draw

For a Cuban Sandwich cigar, I was very surprised how well the Gold Strike burned.  The burn line remained relatively straight from start to finish. The resulting ash was tight with a white color. There were a couple of points where there was a tiny bit of flowering, but overall this is one of the firmer ashes I have gotten on a Cuban Sandwhcih cigar. The burn rate and burn temperature were ideal.

Burn of the Gold Strike by Royal Gold Cigars

Overall the draw was excellent on the Gold Strike.  It wasn’t too loose and it wasn’t too tight.  Like the pre-light, there were no issues with short filler getting into my mouth while while smoking.

Strength and Body

The Gold Strike is not going to overpower you from a nicotine standpoint.  I found this to be a mild to medium strength cigar from start to finish.  The flavors to the Gold Strike fell right in the middle of the medium-bodied range of the spectrum.  The Gold Strike will be the type of cigar where the body is going to have the edge over the strength.

Final Thoughts

I’ve mentioned many times that we do not factor price into our assessment ratings or scores.  In the case of the Gold Strike, there is no doubt that the under $3.00 price point is good value.  As I mentioned I found the first two thirds of the cigar flavorful, but didn’t enjoy the last third as much.  I also liked the flavors in that first two thirds that the Indonesian wrapper and binder produced on this cigar.  Overall, it’s really a cigar that I would encourage you to check out and see what you think.  It’s a cigar I’d definitely recommend to a novice cigar enthusiast who doesn’t want to shell out a lot of money.  For the experienced cigar enthusiast, this is going to be more of a niché smoke – namely one that is a milder and budget friendly cigar.  As for myself, while it’s not regular rotation cigar, it can still fill a void from time to time – especially when I don’t want to overanalyze a cigar.

Summary

Burn: Excellent
Draw: Excellent
Complexity: Medium
Strength: Mild to Medium
Body: Medium
Finish: Fair
Assessment: See What You Think
Score: 87

Source:  The cigars for this assessment were provided by Royal Gold Cigars.  These samples were initiated by Royal Gold Cigars in order to provide feedback.  Cigar Coop is appreciative for the samples, but in no way does this influence this write-up.