NHC Surrogates – Skull Breaker

When it comes to online retailers, New Havana Cigars has built a reputation that separates them apart from many other online retailers.  The focus on New Havana Cigars has been around some of the more popular indie/boutique cigars on the marketplace (e.g. Tatuaje, Illusione, Viaje).   They fill a niche by providing an avenue to get those hard to find limited edition cigars that often fly off the brick and mortar shelves – or never make it there.  At the same time, they also built a reputation for getting retail exclusive cigars from the manufacturer (e.g. MUWAT Bait Fish).   One other avenue New Havana Cigars has explored has been around their own house blend – and that’s the role filled by the NHC Surrogates cigar.  These cigars have been getting some buzz from cigar enthusiasts.  Overall, while I wouldn’t call this a cigar of the year candidate, it does provide a nice smoke – especially if you like some power in your cigar.

The goal of the NHC Surrogates was to produce something as special (and with the quality) of a limited release/edition cigar, while making the cigar available to get on a consistent basis.  Let’s take a closer look and see some of the details around this cigar.

Blend Profile

The binder information for the NHC Surrogates was not published on the web-site.

Wrapper: Broadleaf
Binder: Unknown
Filler: Nicaragua

Vitolas Available

The NHC Surrogates is currently available in two sizes:

Bone Crusher: 5 1/4 x 54
Skull Breaker (Belicoso): 5 1/4 x 52


For this cigar assessment, I went with the Skull Breaker (Belicoso).  The NHC Surrogates Skull Breaker has an oily feel to it.  The wrapper is chocolate colored.  It has some toothy veins on the wrapper.  The aroma of the cigar has feint scents of coffee to it.

The Skull Breaker features two bands.  There is a black background on each. The top band has a red skull flanked by the words “Skull Breaker” on each side of it in white font.  The second band has “Surrogates” written in more of a classic font.  (Note: The Bone Crusher top band features a white milk bone as opposed to a red skull and says “Bone Crusher”).

The oily wrapper and the banding does have a close resemblance to the Viaje Skull and Bones series.  The NHC Surrogates cigars are longer in length than the Skull and Bones.

Preparation for the Cigar Experience

For my NHC Surrogates Skull Breaker, I defaulted (as I do for all belicosos) for a straight cut into the tip.  I commenced with a pre-light draw in which I detected notes of leather, coffee, and a touch of pepper.  Overall, the dry draw flavors were satisfactory.  It was now on to toast the fut of my NHC Surrogates and see what the smoking experience would bring to the table.

Flavor Profile

After lighting my NHC Surrogates Skull Breaker, I was treated to notes of leather with that touch of black pepper in the background.  Around five percent into the cigar experience, I started to detect some notes of chocolate.  The chocolate did ncrease in intensity and was on par with the leather notes for a good part of the smoking experience.

This  flavor profile holds for the majority of the smoking experience.  Along the way the chocolate did get slightly sweeter, but did not get overly sweet.  The pepper spice that existed did not get overwhelming – although along the way it does increase through the nostrils.

The finish to the cigar was a little harsher than I would have liked.  The nub was also soft and warm – a little less than ideal for a finish.

Burn and Draw

The NHC Surrogates proved to be a well-constructed cigar.  The only shortcoming in this area was that the burn did require a little more work than I would have liked to keep it straight.   The burn rate and temperature were ideal for a good duration of the smoking experience.   As for the draw, I was impressed.  Normally, I don’t gravitate toward torpedoes or belicosos because I don’t often get a good draw.  The NHC Surrogates Skull Breaker did very well in the area of draw for this type of vitola.

Strength and Body

There were two things the NHC Surrogates was advertised as: 1) a cigar with a lot of strength; 2) a cigar with a lot of flavor.  As for the strength category, this is a strong cigar and definitely delivers a full-strength cigar experience from a nicotine standpoint.    As for the body, I did not find the depth of the flavors that I would have liked.  The flavors did not have the depth I would expect – and in the end, I assess the NHC Surrogates to be medium-bodied.  As for balance, the strength seems to get the best of the flavor depth.

Final Thoughts

Overall, this was not a bad smoking experience.   There are some cases where I don’t mind a cigar that has an edge in strength over body.  However, if the flavors had some more depth – and if there was more in the way of complexity, this has the potential to be a very good smoking experience.   This is a cigar I’d probably only recommend to an experienced cigar enthusiast who can handle a full-strength smoke.   As for myself, I would not mind having a few of these in my humidor.


Burn: Good
Draw: Excellent
Complexity: Low
Strength: Full
Body: Medium
Finish: Fair
Assessment: Nice to Have
Score: 86

Source: While this cigar was obviously purchased from New Havana Cigars, this was gifted to me by a friend.