Man, was it a cold day to be smoking a Churchill. It was around 30 degrees out and was just windy enough to cut right through the three layers I had on, including the fleece. I’m typing as my hands warm up, and luckily I had gloves on, or I wouldn’t be typing this for another hour or so.
Anyway, onto the cigar—Nick’s Sticks is a Perdomo cigar brand that was originally exclusively sold at their factory in Little Havana, Miami in the mid 90’s. The brand was resurrected in 2010 as an affordable line of hand-rolled, all-longfiller smokes.
Being a fan of darker-wrapped cigars, I opted for the Nick’s Sticks Churchill Maduro, which was a looker of a stogie. The wrapper was a dark reddish-brown with lots of veins and very appealing toothiness. It had good weight to it and provided a totally effortless draw, which made me think that I may have cut too much of the cap off, but it turned out that the smoke was smooth enough to make the draw manageable. Pre-light, I got some sweet chocolate and a bunch of pepper that tingled on the back of my throat.
I lit the stogie up with a triple-torch flame and went to work on it—the first few puffs were all black pepper, though I still wouldn’t put it anywhere near full-bodied. After the initial pepper blast, the smoke started to mellow out a little bit, hinting at chocolate and black coffee.
One thing that set this apart from other comparably priced stogies was the burn. Around and inch in, the cigar started to canoe a little, probably due to the wind. But sure enough, a few puffs later, the burn line corrected itself. I literally did not have to touch up the cigar once, which is more than I can say for a lot of much pricier smokes.
About two inches into the smoke, just as the wind began to cut through my gloves, the pepper backed off almost completely and gave way to very sweet chocolate. Every time I took a sip of my coffee, the smoke from the cigar got a bit sweeter. Halfway through the stogie, the vitamin N crept up on me and kicked me square in the head—the combination of the caffeine buzz from the coffee and the nicotine buzz from the cigar had me all too aware of how cold it was outside. My Scottish, Nordic, and Russian ancestors laughed at me as I shivered.
Just past the halfway point, the spice started kicking in again, though the chocolate sweetness remained. I started getting boozy warmth in my sinuses that reminded me of bourbon—peppery, sweet, and (obviously) smoky. I don’t know what it is about Perdomo’s smokes that makes me think of booze (see my review of the Perdomo Reserve 10 Year Anniversary Champagne Robusto), but I love it. For this reason, Perdomos are some of my favorites to smoke at work, as their boozy halfway point makes me feel a little bit better about not being allowed to drink on the clock. This bourbon warmth harmonized nicely with the classic Maduro taste and lasted until I put the cigar down.
The Nick’s Sticks Churchill Maduro was not a very complex smoke; it offered the typical Maduro notes of chocolate and coffee with intermittent peppery waves. It also had that bourbon note, though, which was awesome for smoking in the cold. The maintenance-free burn was a huge plus also, and is generally unheard of for a stick that costs just over $3. I’ll definitely be keeping a few of these in my stash for everyday smoking, particularly for when it’s cold and windy out.