The other day in a Facebook conversation about box-press Cigars on the Two Guys Smoke Shop page, Mr. Jonathan mentioned the Hermitage being one of his favorite box-pressed cigars. As luck would have it Erik Wentworth from Hammer + Sickle cigars stopped by and handed me the cigar that will be used for today’s review.
According the their website, “A medium to full body cigar Hermitage No.1 delivers distinct complexity, and is truly a smoke that will appeal to the sophisticated palette of a seasoned cigar smoker. It boasts a powerful interplay of rare spice and leather flavors with a rich, sweet earthiness only delivered by Nicaraguan tobaccos.
Grown in volcanic soil at the base of the Andes Mountains, the authentic Ecuadorian Habano Wrapper is silky smooth. The local farmers call this tobacco “cloud grown,” as the consistent broken cloud cover caused by the mountains protect the leaves from an overabundance of harsh, direct sunlight. This protection results in a succulent less veiny wrapper, which we believe is the perfect finish for the blend of Nicaraguan tobaccos that lie beneath.”
Cigar: Hermitage No.1
Size: Churchill (7 x 56)
Wrapper: Ecuador Habano
Source: Klin Tobacco (Hammer + Sickle)
The Look: First off, to call this a Churchill makes me scratch my head. A Gran Toro or Double Toro would work better due to the 56 ring gauge. As a traditionalist the size name bothers me but I digress. The caramel color wrapper has a significant number of veins. The cigar is rolled and boxed flawlessly and the band has a nice old world style about it. In the hand there are no soft sports with a slightly porous foot. In the hand the wrapper is silky smooth and the cigar is of an average weight.
The Notes: The cold draw of the Hermitage No. 1 has a hickory note it with and abundance of sweetness. The foot of the cigar has a leather like aroma, much like a high-end leather coat, I kid you not. I’ve tasted leather before but I have never smelled it off of the foot.
Once the cigar is lit I am rather impressed by how incredibly smooth it is on first light. There is virtually no pepper through the nose either and I feel like comparing the cigar to Mel Torme, aka The Velvet Fog as the cigar triggered thoughts of the TV show Night Court. There are subtle notes of leather and wood with a hint of nuts that develop further at the 1st third comes to a closed.
The second third of the cigar saw the development of nuts and sweet notes that border on cocoa. The leather has left the building and the smoke continues to be incredibly smooth with some hints of cedar.
The last third of the cigar of the cigar develops some notes of leather once again with a continued base of nuts and wood on the incredibly smooth finish.
The Burn: The draw to me on a box press can make or break the cigar, and for me it was perfect from start to finish. The darker color ash dropped at less than an inch mark before holding on for more than a third at a time. The burn line was thin and even with no touch ups needed and it remained lit from first light to last puff.
Overall: The Hermitage for me is a line that slips under the radar from Hammer + Sickle. The cigar smokes like velvet in the sense that is incredibly smooth and flavorful. Subtle complexities and an enjoyable flavor profile the cigar is definitely worthy of space in your humidor.