In the summer of 2019, Southern Draw Cigars celebrated their fifth anniversary with the Kudzu Lustrum. A Latin term, lustrum is defined as “a period of five years.” Not one to let a commemorative occasion go unnoticed, company founder Robert Holt and the team at Southern Draw Cigars decided Lustrum would be an appropriate name for a release to celebrate that milestone.
Southern Draw Kudzu Lustrum Belicoso Fino Breakdown
- Wrapper: Nicaraguan Habano Medio Tiempo
- Binder: Nicaragua (Ometepe)
- Filler: Nicaragua
- Factory: Tabacalera A.J. Fernández Cigars de Nicaragua (Nicaragua)
- Production: Limited Edition (2,500 bundles of 10 cigars)
- Vitola: 5½″ × 52 “Belicoso Fino”
- Price: $11.90 (MSRP)
The cigar debuted at the 2019 IPCPR/PCA Trade Show and Convention, with Cigar Dojo getting exclusive coverage as it was unveiled for the first time. Honoring the company’s beginnings, the Lustrum is appropriately based on their first release: Kudzu. However, the Lustrum differs from the Kudzu’s multi-national blend, instead boasting a select Nicaraguan puro recipe. This includes a Nicaraguan Ometepe binder and vintage Nicaraguan long-leaf filler tobaccos. These are wrapped in a gorgeous medio tiempo Nicaraguan Habano wrapper, which, due to being the highest priming from a rare number of tobacco plants, is still relatively unheard of for wrapper-grade tobacco.
The belicoso fino-shaped cigars are packed in a paper camo bundle with plenty of graphic symbolism, depicting the family’s military heritage and “IPCPR 2019” identifiers in the upper corners, among others.
The cigars themselves look like works of art. The medio tiempo wrapper has a deep oily sheen, making the box-pressed cigar almost appear like a gourmet chocolate bar. The seams are virtually invisible, the veins are hardly noticeable, and there is just the slightest amount of tooth visible to remind you that this is indeed a cigar, not a luxury chocolate bar. The box press on this cigar is very defined and crisp—when combined with the graphical, color-coordinated primary and secondary bands, makes for a very photogenic cigar!
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The aroma from the foot is a combination of black coffee and natural tobacco, with a creamy sweetness lingering in the background. The pre-light draw, which had just the right amount of resistance, consisted of the coffee and natural tobacco aromas I found in the foot, but the creamy sweetness was not present.
The first few puffs gave notes of earth, natural tobacco sweetness, black coffee, and pepper. The first retrohales were pretty tame, with a nice mix of pepper and coffee. As the cigar started to warm up, cayenne pepper took over as the dominant note on the retrohale and really snapped my palate to attention, putting the strength and body right towards the upper side of medium-plus. Getting further along in the cigar, the pepper was a little more subdued and the creamy sweetness that I detected from the foot appeared in the finish. Combined with the earthiness, natural tobacco, and black coffee, this was a very pleasing experience to the palate. The overall sensation is very bold, well balanced, and full of flavor, yet not quite knock-your-socks-off powerful. The burn was straight and true and the smoke output pretty heavy—almost chewable—which really helped the flavors shine.
Moving a little farther along, the sweetness faded into the background and the pepper and coffee come to the forefront. There was still a substantial amount of cayenne pepper on the retrohale, but it was pleasant and not overpowering. I also started to get a slight hint of cedar hitting all across the front and the very middle of my tongue, giving a slight sweet/bitterness to the finish. This was an interesting development in the flavor profile and it played well with the coffee character.
Coming to the finish, the black coffee is by far the dominant note, with the sweetness from the natural tobacco and pepper making it slightly more spicy than bitter. The cigar remained cool throughout, never getting hot or turning harsh. I sometimes worry when I cut a belicoso that I will get the cap cut slightly off-kilter, affecting the draw. I got this one right and the Lustrum had an exceptional draw and burn throughout.
Would I Smoke This Cigar Again?
All I can say is, if you have these in your collection, don’t leave me unsupervised in front of your humidor! This cigar was right in the zone for me from the start, with great transitions all the way to the nub.
- This cigar is also available in a 6″ x 52 toro in 20-ct boxes from JR Cigar and Casa de Montecristo.
- Southern Draw was founded by Army and Navy veterans and is a brand that is all about such close familial bonds.
- Southern Draw contributes regularly to charities and is family oriented at its core.
- Southern Draw plans to release Lustrum blends once every five years moving forward, with each Lustrum said to offer unique spinoffs of existing Southern Draw cigars.
- The Kudzu Lustrum was listed as No. 1 on Cigar Dojo’s 9 Hidden Gem Cigars at IPCPR 2019 list.
- This cigar’s wrapper is of the medio tiempo tobacco priming. This is significant, as this priming is only found on roughly one out every 12 plants at Fernández’s farms in Nicaragua. It’s a leaf that is sometimes referred to as a rare offshoot, growing above the conventionally-highest ligero priming. Because of this, medio tiempo is usually only seen in a cigar’s filler, adding potency to some of the more luxurious cigars and limited releases. It is then all the more rare to find this leaf as the wrapper ingredient, which undergoes a higher level of scrutiny for appearance and elasticity. Interestingly, medio tiempo debuted on two cigars in 2019 (Kudzu Lustrum and H. Upmann 175 Anniversary), each coming out of the Tabacalera A.J. Fernández factory.
- Flavor: Medium-full
- Strength: Medium-full
- Body: Medium-full
- Natural tobacco
- Charred oak
- Black pepper
- Cayenne pepper
- Smoke Time: 1 hour, 25 minutes
- Pairing Recommendation: Barrel-strength bourbon | Lager beer | Black coffee | Root beer
- Purchase Recommendation: Bundle—no question
- Excellent representation of a box-press
- Engaging transitions
- Great power in the flavor without the need for a ton of nicotine
- Pepper might be a little overpowering on the retrohale for some
- Smoked a little fast for its size