During a visit to the characteristic town centre of Chester I managed to sample the new Highclere Castle Toro cigar thanks to a sampling session at Turmeaus Chester along with Tor Imports.
Highclere Castle is renowned for its appearance as the iconic building for the popular TV series Downtown Abbey. The building is currently owned by the 8th Earl Carnarvon George Herbert who wanted to recreate the style of cigars enjoyed in the early 19th Century. To achieve this the Earl joined forces with Nick Melillo, the owner of Foundation Cigar Co. This gave rise to the birth of the Highclere Castle Company.
A.J Fernandez the legend of Nicaraguan blends supervises the blending and rolling of these cigars to create a mellow smooth cigar with the appeal to the British market. Each cigar is made using tobacco which has been aged for at least 3 years. They are hand rolled in Esteli situated in Nicaragua using Connecticut hade wrapper. Mata Fina is the selection for the binder then finalising the cigar using an exclusive hybrid seed the company has named Nicadan.
Cigar Tasting Session
I was fortunate to secure a ticket for the Wednesday night tasting session at Turmeaus Chester. This is the first time I have visited this wonderful shop. At first the store seems quite small and intimate with pure gems highlighted across the walls and display cabinets. Whiskies and other luxury spirits surround a gathering of inviting leather chairs and tables. Around the corner features a small bar where customers can choose and sample a variety of whiskies whilst they enjoy a cigar of their choice. Adjacent to the bar is where are the magical cigar brands are displayed along with a large walk humidor.
When the tasting session commenced, we were greeted by several staff and guest speakers and made to feel very comfortable and excited to try the Highclere castle cigar. Starting with a black coffee to cleanse the palate we introduced ourselves to those we sat. The session was presented by Scott Vines of Tor Imports who started to tell us the story of Highclere Castle whilst our cigars where carefully toasted and lit for us by Callum (very friendly Turmeaus staff member!)
The appearance of this cigar is quite regal and just by looks alone can tell you are handling a ultra-premium cigar. The band showcases the Highclere Castle logo which is embossed in gold on a cream background. The words ‘Hecho A Mano’ stretch across the bottom of the band meaning ‘Made by Hand’. For a brand born out of such elegance I feel that the band used is fairly plain and basic and would like to see something more elegant in its place.
With a pale golden brown colour this Toro is quite striking with a smooth wrapper with slight veins protruding. A rigid feel with no oils present in the wrapper. Leather and cedar aromas on the nose with strong earthy smells.
First impression was ‘wow! What a great draw’. An easy smooth cool draw with lots of smoke. The initial flavours where creamy with a lot of pistachio, espresso and slight floral sweetness. I was surprised as a lot of Nicaraguan Cigars start of quite feisty with a heavy peppery and spicy smoke. Not this cigar, the Highclere Castle Toro was smooth to the core on appearance and smoke.
On the second third the citrus flavours developed more leaving a slight tang in the mouth with slight saltiness. Halfway brought about white pepper on the taste buds especially on the retrohale. The cigar remained a steady even burn and the ash stay intact illustrating how well it had been made. This cigar is mild to medium and in my opinion something new to the table in the Nicaraguan range of cigars on the market in terms of smoking experience.
The cigar got stronger moving into the last third as the fiery notes adventured out with slight cedar and strong grassy notes. An impressive draw throughout and proved to be a long smoke. The cigar lasted 2 hours 10 minutes.
These cigars are not cheap but I feel that they back up their price tag and deliver something distinct and different. I am not saying these are something spectacular as I am more inclined to enjoying a stronger cigar but there is no dismissing that these are well made great tasting cigars.
A fantastic cigar enjoyed with a great bunch of cigar loving individuals made even better by the knowledgeable staff at Turmeaus Chester and Tor Imports. I would definitely purchase the Highclere Castle Toro again in the future and I plan on attending as many tasting sessions as possible at Turmeaus venues across the UK to hopefully undercover some more unique cigars.