Diesel is different now. No longer simply a serviceable, discount catalog/auction offering, Diesel became a full-fledged General Cigar brand in 2017, moving the Diesel Grind brand under the General Cigar umbrella. So it’s understandable that you may think to yourself, “I’ve been smoking Diesels for years, how is it that this is the second Diesel blend?” Well, let’s just say Diesel grew up and reached legal drinking age… In 2018 we saw the release of the first iteration of the new brand, Whiskey Row, made in partnership with Rabbit Hole Distillery. One year later, we are presented with the second round, featuring another barrel-aging process: a Brazilian Arapiraca binder leaf that has been aged in a barrel (or cask) that was used to age Rabbit Hole’s Dareringer bourbon, which had previously been used to age PX (Pedro Ximénez) sherry from Spain. So, while these cigars are referred to as Sherry Cask, we should remember that there’s a bourbon in between the sherry and cigar.
Whiskey Row Sherry Cask Robusto Breakdown
- Wrapper: Connecticut Broadleaf
- Binder: Barrel-Aged Brazilian Arapiraca
- Filler: Nicaraguan Habano
- Factory: Tabacalera A.J. Fernandez Cigars de Nicaragua (Nicaragua)
- Production: Regular Production
- Vitola: 5″ × 52 (Robusto)
- Price: $8.49 (MSRP)
The wrapper has a buttload of veins, and has a sort of dry, crunchy looking appearance with the slightest hint of sparkling tooth. It’s pretty uniform in color, that being an extremely rich red-hued brown—nearly black. The wrapper is cut just a hair short, exposing a hint of the peanut butter brown binder beneath. The double cap is neatly applied, although I can’t say the same for the glue (emanating from either the wrapper or the label, I can’t tell which). The 52 ring gauge seems slender; I would’ve guessed this to be a 50. The cigar has impeccable construction in terms of seams, fill, cap, roundness, etc. There’s a whole lot of branding amongst the excessive labels. The primary band features the classic “d” and “diesel” logo, with the “WHISKEY ROW” beneath, positioned over a large burgundy chevron shape that features Rabbit Hole Distillery’s rabbit logo. The foot band is redundant, featuring both “Rabbit Hole PX Sherry Cask” and “Diesel Whiskey Row Rabbit Hole PX Sherry Cask Aged.”
Immediately out of the cellophane this cigar has one of the biggest aromas of any cigar I’ve ever had. It’s nigh unbelievable how intense this is, with notes of chocolate scratch-n-sniff stickers, pepper, coffee, and earth. It almost smells too good. The foot smells of more of that not-quite-chocolate chocolate, in this case coming across as brownie mix (the powder before it becomes batter). Behind that is something meaty, some rich tobacco, and something a little boozy. There is a raisiny sweet cold draw, some banana notes, vanilla, and orange rind—impressive. The draw is virtually perfect using a punch cut.
The first draw has a huge dose of orange sweetness, a la triple sec, with a backbone of peppercorn simple syrup. Dried coffee (Nescafé) has the chocolate flavor stowed away in its baggage. And somewhere amongst all that I find something that I associate, not with booze itself, but another popular cigar which features a Connecticut Broadleaf wrapper aged in cognac barrels: the Fuente Añejo. In fact, it reminds me of some very well-aged Añejos that I received as a gift last fall, which were night-and-day better than new, fresh-released Añejos. The finish on this is so long that I found myself, more than once, having to relight the cigar as I was so enthralled with the drawn-out experience. Twenty-two minutes sums up the first third, with the cigar’s flavor and body standing out early in big medium-plus territory; the strength seems about to go big time as well.
The second third has a big hit of raisiny sweetness added to the mix. It’s what sets this apart from the cognac-aged flavor of an Añejo. Cognac is distilled from grapes, while sherry is a fortified wine, but it’s still grapes. This is brighter and fruitier, but seems to envelop and awaken the palate in a very similar fashion. I experience a pretty big runner before I get to the halfway point; a touchup is required… which, in turn, requires me to take off the main band. It seems too soon, which makes the band seem too big and, when coupled with the even larger foot band, has me feeling there’s simply too much bandage. I notice a couple minute cracks where the band used to be. The glue they use is pretty strong. I can see there being issues with removing them for many. Also, this cigar is going for a gut punch of nicotine strength, although it is still a smooth blend on the palate.
There’s lots of cherry sweetness standing out here in the final portion, with black pepper, vanilla, oak, orange zest, and chocolate. The big thing that I find myself focusing on is that booze-barrel-aged taste. Not so much sherry or bourbon itself, but definitely some flavor from the barrel. There’s a big salty note that appears, reminding me of briny oysters. This sensation is very nice, yet very fleeting. Following that addition, the blend turns more towards smoky oak, coffee, and some bitter cocoa powder. A second touchup is required to fix another runner with an inch to go. Normally I would just be done at this point, but this is too good to put down. Rounding out the experience, the strength folded back into the smoothness of the blend, mellowing to medium-plus, with flavor and body being about the same.
Would I Smoke This Cigar Again?
100% yes. Clearly something comes across from the barrel aging. As I mentioned, this cigar reminded me of a well-aged Añejo. Although both have barrel aging, there are differences: one has a cognac (spirit) aged wrapper, the other has a bourbon/sherry (wine) aged binder. But the effect imparted is strikingly similar, to me. While I wouldn’t call this an infused cigar, there is certainly something happening from the barrel aging, and it is delicious. And considering these are much more affordable than the lauded Añejo, well, count me in.
- Flavor: Medium / Full
- Strength: Medium-plus / Full
- Body: Medium / Full
- A) That barrel-aged something or other
- B) Orange zest and cherries
- C) Cocoa & coffee
- D) Oaky sweetness
- Smoke Time: 1 hour, 20 minutes
- Pairing Recommendation: Water. Just enjoy it for what it is. If you really must, it’d go great with an old fashioned cocktail, or try it with its namesake bourbon, neat.
- Purchase Recommendation: At this price—box worthy
- Unique, well-balanced, remarkable flavors
- Great expression of creative technique
- Excellent value at this price point
- If you’re not into the barrel-aging thing, this would be a pass
- Excessive bands and glue