The original S&R is one of my favorite all-time releases from James Brown & Black Works Studio, so when I learned earlier this year that it was being reimagined I was both curious and somewhat nervous. Would I enjoy it as much as the 2018 release? What if it sucked? What if I liked it more? I’m not a big fan of change so all this uncertainty left me shaken and disturbed, and all these questions kept coming up over and over again in my head like bubbles in a case of club soda. Then I realized that I’d have my answers if I just smoked a couple and wrote a review. So here we are…
Size: 5 x 50 (robusto)
Wrapper: Indonesian Sumatra
Binder: Ecuadorian Habano
Filler: Nicaragua & Dominican Republic
Price: $12.50 (while these samples were submitted to the TNCC for review, you can head over to Famous Smoke Shop right now and pick up a fiver or box of S&R 2023 and save $20 off by using promo code TNCC20)
The S&R 2023 features a barber pole wrapper with clearly defined edges surrounding the swirling Ecuadorian Connecticut shade-grown leaf. Rodeo aromas of hay and straw dominate while fresh cut grass and just a hint of sweetness are detected when sniffing the foot of the cigar directly. I carefully twist off the pigtail, cut what’s left of the cap, and experience a somewhat peppery cold draw which also includes a tiny essence of mint.
Potent wasabi-like spice burns the nose upon lighting the S&R on fire, it’s an awesome yet powerful introduction and you’ve been warned so prepare yourself for it. The draw is composed of lightly roasted coffee and cedar notes as we get things started. The wasabi burn dials down ever so slightly just before the 1” mark and that allows some mineral and a soft leather note to develop on the retrohale.
The spice/mineral/leather combination is playing nicely with the draw’s increasingly coffee heavy profile. The cedar element has dissipated leaving the coffee all alone like Ronald Miller at the high school house party after Cindy Mancini exposed him as a total fraud to Big John and the rest of the cool kids. How’s that shit for an obscure reference? I’ve been typing up these cigar reviews for almost a decade now so I’m having to dig deep these days…
We’re at the halfway mark now and the S&R’s ash just now finally dropped… right on my lap. What a totally amateurish Ronnie Miller move by yours truly. Construction overall has been outstanding with a super smooth draw and straight, solid burn. Thankfully the wasabi spice continues its dominance on the retro here in the second half, still backed up by the muted leather sans mineral. This cigar would pair beautifully with both a strong, high IBU double IPA or a creamy stout.
The S&R 2023 is a fast burning cigar, at least I think that’s the case and I’m not just smoking the hell out of it too quickly because I’m enjoying it so much. As the cigar nears the final third, the spice does decline a bit which is perhaps what allows the draw’s long absent cedar note (accompanied now by a hint of pencil shavings) to show up once again underneath the coffee. That profile continues until I’m forced, begrudgingly I might add, to bid adios to the S&R 2023 after 80 minutes of pure smoking pleasure.
This was actually my second round of attempting to smoke the S&R 2023 for review. I first lit up a sample several months ago and, honestly, I was taken aback by how different it was from the S&R 2018 in several ways. So much so that by the time I had wrapped my head around these changes to the blend, the cigar was nearly done. I let a few months slip by in order to go in to tonight’s review with a completely open mind, and this time around the latest incarnation of the S&R brand certainly benefited from it. While I miss the creaminess and yellow cake flavors experienced with the original, who wouldn’t?, this year’s offering has plenty of new qualities that allow it to proudly stand on its own. The S&R 2023 is a well constructed, spicy, flavorful cigar that I highly recommend you try for yourself. Just don’t be a water-sipping dork like me and have yourself a couple of tasty beers with it.