Country of origin: Dominican Republic
Ring gauge: 50
Wrapper: Connecticut Shade (5-year aged)
Binder & Filler: Dominican (3-year aged viso & ligero)
As of a month ago, I had no idea that Hammer + Sickle cigars existed. I've never seen the brand in any cigar shops, the brand's Facebook and Twitter pages are inactive, and the brand is non-existent on Instagram. I can't recall exactly how this brand caught my attention; however, I was intrigued upon seeing cigars with bands adorned with the communistic symbol. My initial thoughts: Are these some new Cuban-branded cigars on the market? When did Russia start manufacturing cigars? But I quickly dismissed these silly thoughts. I perused the company website, and out of curiosity submitted an e-mail inquiry regarding the availability of their cigars. After trading a few e-mails with Eric Hanson, Executive Chairman and Chief Strategy Officer of the Klin Groupe (makers, importers, and distributors of Hammer + Sickle vodka and other brands of wine), I graciously received a sample of each of the five cigars in the company portfolio. Hammer + Sickle cigars are distributed by Klin Tobacco, a division of Klin Groupe based in North Chelmsford, Massachusetts.
So what's with the branding? Although historically associated with the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR or the Soviet Union) and the Chinese Communist Party, according to the company website, the hammer and sickle icon was chosen as the company's story "uniquely matches the history of the icon itself". As the hammer was the symbol of the industrial proletariat and the sickle was the symbol of the peasantry, the overlapping of the tools symbolized the unity between industrial and agricultural workers. Klin Tobacco believes that "cigar-making is also a perfect marriage between agriculture and industrial knowhow".
Had enough history for one day? Well, let's get to the smoke...
Not knowing anything about this portfolio of cigars, and not knowing anyone who actually smoked any of these cigars, I had no preconceptions. I must say that I was pleasantly surprised with the Hammer + Sickle Tradicion Serie robusto, Klin Tobacco's first cigar which was launched in November 2009. (Huh? Yeah, it's been 4 years and I'm just becoming familiar with the brand.) I only had one cigar to smoke, so I was hoping for some goodness! This double capped cigar appears to be well constructed. The wrapper has a uniform colorado color and is full of flat, tiny veins - not oily, but has a rather smooth silky feel.
The wrapper has a nice leathery aroma; the foot emanates a pleasantly sweet earthy tobacco aroma. Cold draw was easy, but did not provide any preview of flavors to come. The cigar was easy to light and burned relatively even throughout the smoke. No touch-ups or relights were required, and ash production was pretty tight.
The Tradicion Serie robusto is a medium strength, medium-full bodied cigar that freely provides mouthfuls of thick aromatic smoke. It is a very flavorful cigar with a very smooth creamy texture. This cigar is really a tale of two halves, as there was a discernible change in flavor and depth of flavor at the midpoint of the smoke. The first half was medium in body, dominant with leather and a charred woodiness. There was a mild spiciness present. There was a great coffee flavor that coats the palate with a hint of sweetness, which reminded me of amaretto coffee (so there was a subtle touch of almond nuttiness that hit me). By the midpoint of the smoke, the cigar took on a fuller body, as the depth of the flavors intensified a bit. The flavors morphed nicely into a much more dominant woody (more cedar in nature) flavor combined with an earthy tobacco flavor. Although still present, the leather and sweet coffee flavors diminished, as well as the spicy tinge. The earthy tobacco flavor coats the palate during the second half and through the finish, leaving great aftertaste behind the smoke. Total burn time: 1:10.
The Tradicion Serie is also available as a 6" x 50 Toro, 7" x 48 Churchill, 6.5" x 52 Torpedo, and 6.75" x 46 Corona Gorda - it is also packaged in a cool handmade, clear etched glass piece housing 20 cigars. The other lines available in the Hammer + Sickle portfolio include:
Moscow City - launched July 2011
Berlin Wall - launched August 2011
Hermitage No. 1 - launched July 2012
Icon - launched July 2013
I've now sampled the entire portfolio; however, the Tradicion Serie is my favorite line by far - truly a great smoke. At the time of this post, it appears that Klin Tobacco is on the cusp of launching TVER, a limited edition maduro in a 6" x 50 Toro packed inside a beautiful black tube (will only be available at select retailers in Texas). For more information about Hammer + Sickle cigars, check the website at http://www.hscigars.com/index.html - they are also on Twitter (@HSCigars) and can be found on Facebook (Hammer + Sickle Cigars).
★★★★ Very Good