Earlier this year, Southern Draw Cigars had a national launch for a new Ecuadorian Connecticut Shade offering known as Rose of Sharon. The Rose of Sharon is the company’s second Connecticut Shade cigar following up the QuickDraw Connecticut. While the QuickDraw Connecticut is a line that focuses on smaller, thinner connoisseur sizes, the Rose of Sharon offers a different blend in a box-press format utilizing what can be considered more traditional sizes for the U.S. market. Keeping to the company’s philosophy, Southern Draw has released the Rose of Sharon in small batches. Today, we take a look a the Rose of Sharon in the Toro size. Southern Draw Cigars has been a company building momentum in the market. With the Rose of Sharon Toro, Southern Draw once again brings an excellent cigar to market.
Rose of Sharon keeps to the theme of naming its core blends after flowering plants. Other flowers include Kudzu, Firethorn, and the soon to be nationally released, Jacob’s Ladder. When the Rose of Sharon was released, Southern Draw said it “selected the Rose of Sharon in part for its biblical expression that first appeared in the King James Bible in 1611, the Song of Solomon 2:1 ‘I am the rose of Sharon, the lily of the valley’ and to celebrate ‘the Belle’ of Southern Draw, Sharon Holt (wife of Southern Draw Chief Evangelist Robert Holt) whose calming hand, tireless devotion, and personal touch have defined the culture of the Southern Draw brand.”
Without further ado, let’s take a closer look at the Southern Draw Rose of Sharon Toro and see what this cigar brings to the table.
As with all Southern Draw Cigars, the Rose of Sharon is produced at AJ Fernandez’s Tabacalera Fernandez factory in Estelí, Nicaragua.
Wrapper: Ecuadorian Connecticut
Filler: Nicaraguan (Viso, Seco); Dominican Piloto Cubano (Ligero)
Country of Origin: Nicaragua (Tabacalera Fernandez)
At this time, the following three sizes are being made available for Southern Draw Cigars’ Rose of Sharon. These cigars are available in a semi box-pressed format.
Robusto: 5 1/2 x 54
Toro: 6 x 52
Gordo: 6 x 60
Other sizes planned include a Belicoso (5 1/2 x 50), Lancero (6 1/2 x 40), and two perfectos (5 x 58 and 6 x 56).
The cigars are available in 20-count boxes. There was an additional allocation of the Toro size made available in two-count pink wooden handcrafted pecatas (cigar cases).
The Ecuadorian Connecticut Shade wrapper of the Rose of Sharon Toro has a light brown color to it. While, there was a light coat of oil on the wrapper of the cigar, it still had more of a silky complexion. The cigar had some some visible veins and visible wrapper seams. The box-press itself was on the firm side with no soft spots. The cigar also featured a covered footer.
On one of the samples, the back of the cigar had a large “frog eye” on it. A “frog eye” is a green blemish often common to lighter wrappers and are not a sign of any damage. In fact, I think this adds a little charm to the cigar.
There are two bands on the Southern Draw Rose of Sharon. The primary band has a red, brown, gold, and black color scheme. The text “SOUTHERN DRAW” is in gold font over a brown/maroon background. The brown/maroon background has a gradient effect to a red color along the sides. Below the text is a gold ribbon-like design with the text “SOLI DEO GLORIA” (which is Latin for Glory to God alone) in a thin black font. The remainder of the band has red, black, and gold designs. Most notably to the left is the text “AGED” in white font on a red background. To the right is the text “HAND MADE” – also in white font on the red.
There is also a secondary band located just below the primary band. This features the text “ROSE OF SHARON” in gold font which sits on a pink colored background. There are also gold adornments surrounding the text.
Preparation for the Cigar Experience
I opted for my usual choice of a straight cut to remove the cap of the Southern Draw Rose of Sharon Toro. Once the cap was removed, I moved on to the pre-light draw phase. The cold draw delivered notes of cream, wood, and a slight fruit note. Overall I found the pre-light draw of this cigar to be very good. At this point, I was ready to light up the Rose of Sharon Toro and see what the smoking phase would have in store.
The Southern Draw Rose of Sharon Toro kicked off with notes of cedar, cream, and mixed fruit sweetness. The cream and fruit sweetness became primary notes early on. The cedar notes settled in the background. The retro-hale of the Rose of Sharon added a subtle layer of black pepper as well as some additional fruit sweetness.
Later in the first third, there was a slight increase of the cedar. In addition, a nut component also surfaced in the background. As the Rose of Sharon Toro moved into the second third, the cream notes took over as the primary note. The fruit notes joined the cedar in the background. Both of these notes delivered a nice balance of sweetness and spice in tandem.
Toward the later part of the second third, the cedar notes began to increase in intensity. By this stage, the nut flavors had fallen out of the profile.
By the last third of the Rose of Sharon Toro, the cedar notes were now primary. There was also some black pepper that was present on the tongue. While there was some more spice during this phase, it was not overpowering. There also was some cream and fruit sweetness that continued to balance out the flavor profile. This is the way the Rose of Sharon Toro came to a close. The resulting nub was firm to the touch and cool in temperature.
Burn and Draw
Box Pressed Connecticut Shade cigars are not common because of the fragility of the wrapper. However, I found the Rose of Sharon Toro wrapper performed very well once the cigar was lit. The cigar maintained a straight burn path from start to finish. There was some occasional jaggedness on the burn line, but this did not result in an excessive amount of touch-ups. The resulting ash was tight and firm. This was an ash that had salt and pepper color scheme. The burn rate and burn temperature were ideal.
The Southern Draw Cigars company prides itself on the draw of its cigars. In the past, I have found this company has lived up to its reputation and the Rose of Sharon Toro does it no disservice. Sometimes with box-pressed cigars, the draw can be a little loose, but with the Rose of Sharon Toro I found this to be in a sweet spot – namely not too loose, nor too tight.
Strength and Body
Strength-wise, I found the Rose of Sharon Toro to start out mild to medium. There is a gradual increase of strength during the first half and by the midway point, I found the strength to cross the threshold into the medium range of the spectrum. During the second third, I did find the increase in strength to level off.
Meanwhile, I found body-wise, the Rose of Sharon Toro is a little bolder than what might be considered a traditional Connecticut Shade offering. This is a cigar that started out medium-bodied. I also found this cigar gradually increased in intensity and by the final third, the flavors had just enough depth to be considered medium to full-bodied.
In terms of strength versus body, I found the body had the edge throughout the smoking experience of the Rose of Sharon Toro.
The partnership with Southern Draw Cigars and Tabacalera Fernandez has been an excellent one. As a result, Southern Draw Cigars has been able to establish a solid portfolio in a short amount of time. However, when it comes to the Rose of Sharon Toro, this cigar takes Southern Draw to another level. This Rose of Sharon Toro is a cigar that excels in what is probably the most important area when it comes to assessing a cigar – flavor. What I also liked about this cigar is how the flavors balance it other very nicely – the cigar doesn’t get too sweet, too spicy, or too bitter.
Finally, I found this is a cigar that can appeal to not only the novice or experienced cigar enthusiast, but to either a classic or contemporary cigar enthusiast. The dialed-back strength of this cigar can appeal to those who prefer a classic profile while there is just enough body to keep those contemporary cigar enthusiasts who like a cigar where the flavors have more body. As for myself, this is a cigar I would smoke again – and it’s worthy of a box purchase.
Key Flavors: Cream, Cedar, Fruit, Pepper, Nut
Strength: Mild to Medium (1st Half), Medium (2nd Half)
Body: Medium (1st 2/3), Medium to Full (Remainder)
Assessment: 4.0-Box Worthy
News: Southern Draw Cigars Announces Availability of Rose of Sharon
Price: $9.50 / Cigar, $25.00 Pecata
Source: Southern Draw Cigars
Brand Reference: Southern Draw