Cigar Review – Nat Sherman Epoca Prince
“Epoca” was the first cigar brand owned by Nat Sherman upon his acquisition of the New York-based Schwab Bros. and Baer company in 1929. As a nod to this important piece of their brand history, the company has resurrected the Epoca brand for 2014.
Originally a “Clear Havana” cigar – a blend of Cuban tobaccos manufactured in the United States, the newly re-launched NC Epoca is rolled at the Quesada Cigar Factory in Licey, Dominican Republic using a blend of Nicaraguan and Dominican-grown Cuban seed tobaccos under an Ecuadorian wrapper. Although this is an entirely new blend for the vintage trademark, Nat Sherman has opted to release the new Epoca in packaging that is nearly identical to that of the original pre-embargo Epoca (see photo below), a very cool move if I do say so myself. For today’s review I broke out a sample of the Prince (6×50) vitola.
As mentioned above, the Epoca’s look stays true to its Clear Havana predecessor, right down to its understated, Cuban-like red and gold bands-ala-Henry Clay. The cigar itself had a simple and classic appeal to it, with its clean-yet-rustic wrapper leaf giving off an inviting oily sheen. After snipping the cap, pre-light draws tasted of cold brimstone, Norwegian oak, and dried mistletoe. Just kidding. Creamy-sweet cedar and light pepper.
After an easy light this cigar went to work right away showing off its creamy, sweet, and woody character, punctuated by a pinch of pepper on the end of each pull. The burn was off to a lopsided start and the draw was pretty firm here, but I was still getting plenty of smoke with every draw. About an inch in, the pepper began to gradually move from the finish into the main profile of the cigar, but the dominant flavor was of a sugary sweetness over a dry, woody taste.
New dimensions of hay and mellow tobacco spice appeared in the second 3rd, and a neat grey ash was now hanging tight under a heavy black burn-line. Flavors here were thick and juicy, leaving me with a pleasantly potent aftertaste between puffs. A fresh dose of smooth cream and some smoky leather showed up just as I burned into the final third.
The final portion of the Epoca remained pretty consistent, with hearty flavor pouring through every draw. This was easily the spiciest part of the smoke, with the natural zing of the tobaccos mixing with a perceived pepper note to create one zesty, lip-smacking taste. The heaps of sweet creaminess also kept on comin’, effectively taking the edge off of the strong spice and helping to balance out the profile.
Promotional materials for the Epoca on Nat Sherman’s website state that “The blend for Epoca is a tribute to the experience of what it was like to smoke premium cigars in the 1920s and ‘30s.” I’ll buy that. This smoke was about as “classic” as it gets, in both taste and appearance. Does it compare to the original Epoca? I have no idea, obviously, but while I was smoking I kept imagining that this was the kind of stick that my grandfather would have enjoyed in his heyday. If you’re looking for “new school” blending and mind-blowing complexity, keep looking, this ain’t the one for you. However, if you want to wet your whistle on a high quality, rich, and deeply flavorful smoke that pumps out classic woody-sweet flavor from start to finish, you need to try the Epoca. Based on today’s smoke I give it a solid A grade and I urge you to check out the full Epoca line-up here.