At the 2015 IPCPR Trade Show, Global Premium Cigars introduced its first limited production line known as the 1502 XO. This was an ambitious project by company CEO Enrique Sanchez Icaza in that he built a blend around 18-year-old tobacco that he was able to secure. The cigar was first launched in a Toro size, and early in 2016 that first batch of the 1502 XO Toros hit the market. Plans were to introduce additional sizes in a gradual fashion. Fast forward to the 2016 IPCPR Trade Show and, with the implementation of the FDA Deeming Regulations on the horizon, Sanchez made the decision to showcase the entire 1502 XO line, which featured seven additional planned sizes. These sizes were put into limited distribution and Sanchez would resume his plan of slowly introducing each of the sizes into wider distribution. At press time, there have been four sizes that have fallen into that category. Today we take a look at the second size introduced, the 1502 XO Churchill.
Given the fact that the 1502 XO utilizes 18-year-old tobacco, it is a gating factor for why the line has a limited production. This aged tobacco also makes the 1502 XO the most premium offering by Global Premium Cigars to date (the four sizes range from $16.00 to $22.00 SRP). As for the 1502 XO Churchill, it was Global Premium Cigars featured release at the 2017 IPCPR Trade Show – and subsequently would be released to its retailers.
Without further ado, let’s break down the 1502 XO Churchill and see what this cigar brings to the table.
Other than the fact that the cigar utilizes 18-year-old tobacco and is made at the Plasencia factory in Estelí, Nicaragua, Sanchez had remained tight-lipped on what the actual blend components are.
Wrapper: Not Disclosed
Binder: Not Disclosed
Filler: Not Disclosed
Country of Origin: Nicaragua (Plasencia SA)
Currently, Global Premium Cigars has introduced four sizes of the 1502 XO into widespread commerce. Consistent with the majority of cigars in the 1502 brand’s portfolio, these are all box-pressed sizes.
Toro: 6 x 50
Churchill: 7 x 49
Salomon: 7 x 58
Lancero: 7 x 40
Other sizes introduced into limited distribution include: Perfecto, Conquistador, Robusto Gordo, and Torpedo.
The 1502 XO Churchill is a cigar that is presented in ten-count boxes.
The wrapper of the 1502 XO Churchill had a color that was a cross between a roasted coffee bean with a Colorado red tint. There was a nice amount of mottling on the wrapper. There was also some oil present on the wrapper. The wrapper also had some visible veins and the darker color of the wrapper did a nice job at hiding the seams.
The box press itself was a softer style Cuban press. The cigar also features what Sanchez calls his “cigar lock” – a partially covered footer around the edges.
The band to the 1502 XO has an all-new design for the 1502 brand. The upper portion of the band is gold trimmed with black. On the center of the gold background is a large red “XO”. Inside the “O” is the gold Columbus-era cross logo seen on other 1502 cigars. Above the “XO” is the text “1502” in black. Below the “XO” is the text” AGED 18 YEARS” in black font with the “18” in a larger font. To the left of the “XO” is the text “Extra” embossed in gold cursive font. To the right of the “XO” is the text “Old” embossed in gold cursive font (XO stands for Extra Old). The gold background also features several other embossed gold adornments. To the far right is a small gold shield with black trim and the text “GPC” in black font.
The lower portion of the band is black. The unique serial number of the band is found on this section in gold font. For one of the cigars I smoked, the serial number was “160110”. To the left of the serial number is the text “Handcrafted” in gold cursive font. To the right of the serial number is the text “Nicaragua” in gold cursive font. There are also two gold pinstripes above all of the text on this section of the band.
Preparation for the Cigar Experience
I commenced my experience with the 1502 XO Churchill by placing a straight cut to remove the cap. I then moved on to the pre-light draw phase. The cold draw delivered a mix of floral and cocoa notes with a slight tingly spice. Overall I considered this to be a satisfactory pre-light draw. By now, I was eager to light up this cigar and see what the 1502 XO Churchill would bring to the table.
Out of the gate, the 1502 XO Churchill delivered a mix of cedar, natural tobacco, chocolate, and red pepper. Early on there was no dominant note, but by the midway point of the first third, the natural tobacco and chocolate notes emerged as the primary flavors. The cedar and red pepper settled as secondary notes on the tongue, however, the red pepper was quite prominent on the retro-hale.
Later in the first third, the cedar notes began to gradually increase. As the 1502 XO Churchill was burning through the second third, the cedar joined the natural tobacco in the forefront. At this point, the natural tobacco had a slight fruit sweetness quality to it. There was a decrease in the chocolate notes. As the cigar crossed the midway point, there was an increase in the red pepper notes.
By the last third of the 1502 XO Churchill, the cedar became the main primary note. The natural tobacco sweetness was now a close secondary note. Meanwhile, the pepper was now more prominent on the tongue than at any other point during the smoking experience, but it still was a secondary note. By this point, there was no more in the way of chocolate sweetness. This is the way the 1502 XO Churchill came to a close. The resulting nub was slightly soft to the touch and cool in temperature.
Burn and Draw
The 1502 XO Churchill maintained a straight burn path and a relatively straight burn line. Along the way, there were some touch-ups required to keep the burn straight. The resulting ash wasn’t overly firm, but it wasn’t loose and flaky either. This was an ash with a salt and pepper color scheme to it. Meanwhile, the burn rate and burn temperature were both ideal.
The draw to the 1502 XO Churchill was on the open side, but it was not a draw that was loose or flaky. It had the right amount of resistance of what I would expect from a box press. In the end, this was a cigar that was low maintenance to derive flavor from.
Strength and Body
In terms of strength, I found the 1502 XO Churchill delivered a medium strength cigar from start to finish. There was a nominal increase in strength along the way, but in the end, the cigar still remained in the medium range. When I had smoked the Toro, I noticed a spike in strength toward the last third, but this wasn’t the case with the Churchill.
The body also started out in the medium range. I found the body increased at a quicker rate than the strength and by the second half, the 1502 XO Churchill was in medium to full-bodied territory. Toward the last third, I found the increase in body leveled off.
When looking at strength versus body, I found the body had the edge throughout the smoking experience.
The 1502 XO Churchill is quite an impressive cigar. Like the Toro, the 1502 XO Churchill is not a cigar that is going to undergo radical flavor transitions, but the flavors delivered are quite good. In terms of overall experience, the 1502 XO Toro provided the better experience, but that should not be construed as a negative. Part of the fun of going through a line of cigars is finding that favorite vitola, and the 1502 XO series provides that opportunity.
This is a cigar I could recommend to the experienced or novice cigar enthusiast. It is a pricier cigar at $20.00 per cigar, but it does deliver a very satisfying experience – and for that, it gets a buy recommendation from me.
Key Flavors: Cedar, Natural Tobacco, Fruit, Chocolate, Red Pepper
Burn: Very Good
Draw: Very Good
Complexity; Medium Plus
Body: Medium (1st Half), Medium to Full (2nd Half)
Finish: Very Good
Value: Buy One
News: 1502 XO Churchill Launches at 2017 IPCPR
Brand Reference: 1502
Photo Credits: Cigar Coop, except where noted