The “no-frills” packaging and presentation of Henry Clay cigars harkens back to a time where cigars were simpler and substance was valued over style. These days you rarely hear the name Henry Clay, but it’s actually one of the oldest brand names in the business. Originating as a Cuban brand in the 1840’s, the Henry Clay cigar has survived right up to the present, with the current version being manufactured in the Dominican Republic and distributed by Altadis U.S.A., makers of Romeo y Julieta and H. Upmann, among others. Named for early American Kentucky politician Henry Clay, the brand was once one of the most well-known in the world, and has been referenced over the years in famous works by the likes of James Joyce, Rudyard Kipling, and Alfred Hitchcock. Despite the cigar’s rich history, it’s one that I had never smoked. Today I decided to amend that and pulled out a sample of the Brevas Finas (6 1/2 x 48) for evaluation.
The cigar’s creamy brown Connecticut Broadleaf wrapper had a particularly silky feel to it and was adorned with the classic red and gold Henry Clay band. No detectable flaws in construction were present, and after a quick snip of the cap pre-light draws gave off a mellow and woody tobacco taste.
The Brevas Finas opened up to an extremely laid-back profile with creamy and smooth flavors of earthy tobacco. The burn was off to a nice, straight start and the draw was appropriately firm. About an inch or so into the smoke I began to pick up a bit of leather on the finish.
In the second third the flavors grew more robust while remaining remarkably smooth, with a new note of nutmeg-like baking spice joining the earthy and leathery profile. The burn remained flawless and the ash was firmly hanging on for a couple of inches at a time.
The final third of the stick was the most full-flavored with the tobacco flavor now ramped up to a spicy richness, which played well against deep notes of earth and nuances of bread and cream. These flavors remained fairly consistent until I eventually ended the session.
I can see why the Henry Clay is still around after all these years. What this smoke lacked in complexity it more than made up for in consistency and easily enjoyable, “classic” flavor. By no means should you write this stick off as an “old man” cigar; even by today’s elevated standards the Henry Clay showed decent flavor transition and an excellent burn performance. I give the Henry Clay Brevas Finas a solid A grade and would smoke one again in a heartbeat. This cigar is proof that great quality never goes out of style.