If you followed our 2019 IPCPR Trade Show coverage, once of the most active of the smaller cigar companies in terms of delivering new product was Southern Draw Cigars. In the five years Southern Draw has been in business, it has built a solid portfolio of cigars. The 2019 cigar releases by Southern Draw followed a unique strategy that I had not seen before. In many of the previous years, the company would introduce new lines and new brands, but 2019 saw the company take a unique approach. Instead of introducing a new brand, it made some key blend and vitola extensions to its highly successful brands. One of the extensions would be to one of its most popular lines, Rose of Sharon. The extension was called Rose of Sharon Desert Rose and it’s the cigar we are taking a look at today.
Rose of Sharon was introduced nationally in 2017 by Southern Draw Cigars. At the time it was released, the company had already built up a nice following. It was a line that was introduced as a tribute to owner Sharon Holt, who Southern Draw Chief Evangelist Robert Holt refers to as “boss lady.” Rose of Sharon was introduced as Southern Draw’s premium Ecuadorian Connecticut shade line. Desert Rose utilizes a modified blend featuring a thicker, heartier Ecuadorian Claro wrapper the company calls “Cloud Grown.”
Cigar Coop covered the formal unveiling of the Rose of Sharon Desert Rose at the 2019 IPCPR Trade Show. Now, let’s break down the Rose of Sharon Desert Rose.
Blend and Origin
In addition to the Ecuadorian cloud-grown Claro wrapper, the Desert Rose features a Nicaraguan Habano binder from Condega. The fillers are a combination of Honduran Corojo ’99 and Dominican Piloto Cubano. As with all Southern Draw Cigars, production comes from AJ Fernandez’s factory in the Dominican Republic.
Wrapper: Ecuadorian Claro
Binder: Nicaraguan Habano (Condega)
Filler: Honduran Corojo ’99, Dominican Piloto Cubano
Country of Origin: Nicaragua
Factory: Tabacalera AJ Fernandez de Nicaragua
The Rose of Sharon Desert Rose was released in one size – a 5 1/2 x 52 box-pressed Belicoso. The cigars are packaged in ten-count mazos. At the time it was released, plans were for a total production of 75,000 cigars in 2019 with full production to increase to 150,000 cigars in subsequent years.
The Ecuadorian Claro wrapper of the Rose of Sharon Desert Rose had light brown color to it. The wrapper was relatively smooth. While there were some visible wrapper seams, the surface of the wrapper was relatively smooth. The Belicoso tip had a moderate taper to it.
There are two bands on the Southern Draw Rose of Sharon. The primary band has a pink background with a black and gold frame. On the band is the text “SOUTHERN DRAW”. 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 dark black font. The remainder of the band has gold adornments. On the left side of the band is the text “AGED” while on the right side of the band is the text “HAND MADE” – both in black font.
The secondary band of the Desert Rose is unique to that cigar. It has a pink background. On a black field sitting on the background is the text “DESERT ROSE” in gold font. There are also gold adornments on the secondary band as well.
A straight cut was used to cut the belicoso tip of the Desert Rose. A little more than 1/2″ was a cut and this was done to preserve the tapering of the cigar. From that point, it was on to the pre-light draw. The cold draw delivered notes of cream, wood, and a slight underlying sweetness. To me, this was a satisfactory pre-light draw. Now, it was time to light up the Desert Rose and see what the smoking phase would have in store.
Thee Desert Rose started out with notes of cream, berry, classic wood, and hay. Early on the cream notes moved into the forefront. The berry, wood, and hay notes settled into the background. By the midway point, the berry notes surfaced and displaced the cream notes. By this point, some black pepper and toast notes surfaced replacing the classic wood and hay notes. Meanwhile, there was a combination of cedar and black pepper on the retro-hale.
As the Desert Rose moved through the second third, the berry notes remained grounded in the forefront. During this time the cedar and pepper notes started to increase in intensity. Toward the midway point, the cedar joined the berry notes in the forefront. By the end of the second third, the toast and cream notes had dissipated.
By the final third, the cedar notes took over as the sole primary note. The pepper notes were close secondary notes with the berry notes. This is the way the Desert Rose came to a close. The resulting nub was slightly soft to the touch and cool in temperature.
The burn of the Desert Rose scored very well. This is a cigar that maintained a straight burn path and relatively straight burn line. This is a cigar that did not require frequent touch-ups. The ash of the Desert Rose was firm with a charcoal gray color. As for the burn rate and burn temperature, both were ideal.
Keeping to Southern Draw’s mantra, the draw of the Desert Rose performed quite well. The cigar struck a nice balance of openness to it. The belicoso tip stayed relatively throughout the smoking experience.
Strength and Body
The Desert Rose is a cigar that started out mild to medium in strength and medium in body. Both the strength and body increased in intensity along the way. By the second half, the strength progressed to medium. The body also increased but didn’t get out of the medium range.
In terms of strength and body, the body maintained an edge throughout the smoking experience.
What an addition the Desert Rose is to the Southern Draw Cigars’ portfolio! This is a cigar that fires on all cylinders- flavor, complexity, and construction. While it was billed as a bolder alternative to the original Rose of Sharon line, I found this applied more to the depth of the flavors as opposed to the strength level. This was also a blend that aligned nicely with the box-pressed vitola format. This is a cigar I could recommend to any cigar enthusiast, any time of the day. It’s a cigar I would smoke again and would not hesitate to buy a ten-pack mazo of.
Key Flavors: Cream, Berry, Cedar, Classic Wood, Black Pepper, Toast, Hay
Complexity: Medium to High
Strength: Mild to Medium (1st Half ), Medium (Remainder)
Value: Box Purchase
Photo Credits: Cigar Coop