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Cigar Review: NHC Surrogates Skull Breaker

29 Aug 2012

If you ever wanted to smoke a cigar that projects the “I’m a total badass” image, you could do worse than to choose the Surrogates Skull Breaker.

This intimidating stick, which is made for Ohio-based online retailer New Havana Cigars (NHC), has a menacing name, the look of a rustic rifle shell, and a dark, frightening band that could be flown from the mast of a pirate ship. But the price—$7.50 for the Belicoso (5.25 x 52)—is intended to be more approachable.

Like the Bone Crusher, the Skull Breaker is called “Surrogates” because it’s supposed to be a premium cigar that’s “consumer price conscious,” one that could be a replacement for an expensive, limited release. “Created to bring the excitement of a limited edition stick at a consumer-conscious price point and be readily available,” reads the NHC website, “these vitolas answer the question of whether to save it or smoke it with a blaring ‘Smoke it! Every day!’”

That’s a tall order. The folks behind Surrogates, though, are some of the best in the business. The line is blended by Pete Johnson of Tatuaje and crafted by the Garcias at their My Father Cigars factory in Estelí, Nicaragua. Other than that, not much is revealed in terms of details, except that the cigar’s wrapper and filler are Nicaraguan.

Aside from its double bands and dark, mottled leaf, the first thing I notice about the Skull Breaker its rough, somewhat sticky cap. I also find a nice pre-light aroma of cocoa powder. Once clipped, the cigar displays a good draw with only the slightest resistance.

While toasting the foot, the sweetness of the pre-light aroma turns into a powerful earthy smell that reminds me of campfire. Fortunately, though, the actual taste of the cigar is more complicated, and it captures some of the anticipated sweetness. Chocolate is apparent when smoked slowly. But if you puff too quickly, the full-bodied base flavors of leather, espresso, and black pepper will drown out any cream or sugar, rendering this smoke too bold and too monotonous.

As Skull Breaker winds down, I can’t help but notice some occasional profile similarities to Drew Estate’s outstanding Liga Privada No. 9 blend—particularly in the Flying Pig format. I’ve smoked a fair number of Flying Pigs this year, and each has a unique flavor, distinctive resting smoke, and chalky texture that I love. While it’s no replacement, the Skull Breaker does remind me of the Flying Pig at times, albeit with less complexity.

You don’t have to take my word for it, though. Go ahead and pick up a single or a five-pack from NHC and try out the Skull Breaker for yourself (or wait a bit until Pete Johnson’s new L’Atelier Imports brings Surrogates national, which is expected shortly, and you my find this cigar in a shop near you). With excellent construction, an interesting taste, and a bold yet controllable body, this cigar earns three and a half stogies out of five.

[To read more cigar reviews, please click here.]

Patrick A

photo credit: Stogie Guys

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