Cigar Review: Highclere Castle Petite Corona by Foundation Cigars

When one hears the words, Highclere Castle, the first things they do not think of are cigars. If they do happen to know what Highclere Castle is, the first thing that comes to mind is the television show, Downton Abbey, which uses Highclere Castle as its primary setting. Highclere Castle does have a long history of cigar smoking within its walls, as the characters reflect during the show. Foundation Cigar Company’s founder, Nicholas Melillo, and George Carnarvon, the current 8th Earl of Carnarvon (and owner of Highclere Castle), sought to create a cigar that would represent Highclere Castle’s cigar history and reflect historic flavor profiles and smoking styles that the Earl’s ancestors once enjoyed. The line currently has two regular production cigars, the Highclere Castle Victorian and the Highclere Castle Edwardian. They also have the Highclere Castle Senetjer, which was originally a limited release but was announced earlier in 2023 that around 500 boxes would be released annually during November. This particular review is centered around the Highclere Castle Edwardian, the mildest of the three. 

OVERVIEW

VITOLA:   Petit Corona
SIZE:   5″ x 42

ORIGIN:   Nicaragua
FACTORY:   Tabacalera AJ Fernandez Cigars de Nicaragua S.A.

WRAPPER:   Connecticut Shade
BINDER:   Brazilian Mata Fina
FILLER:   Nicaraguan (Jalapa Criollo & Ometepe Corojo)

STRENGTH:   Mild to Medium

SOURCE: 
Foundation Cigar Company

ENVIRONMENT

WHERE:   
Habano Cigar Lounge, Davenport, IA

WHEN:   
Mid Afternoon

DRINKS:   
Water

WEATHER:   
72°F inside, 81°F outside

HOW MANY CIGARS SMOKED:   
3

PRODUCTION

RELEASE TYPE  Regular Production

ORIGINALLY RELEASE DATE  September 2017

TOTAL PRODUCTION
Typical Box Size: Boxes of 20
Production Totals: Unknown

VITOLA BREAKDOWN

o  Churchill  (7″x48)
Toro  (6″x52)
o  Corona (5.5″x46)
o  Robusto (5″x50)
o  Petit Corona (5″x42)

BAND DESIGN

Each of the three Highclere Castle cigars have different bands. The Victorian and the Edwardian have the most similar bands, the primary difference being the Edwardian band being mostly white and the Victorian being red. At first look, the band is quite shiny due to the gold detailing. The two intertwined C’s of Highclere Castle’s crest take center stage in the middle of the band. The C’s stand for Comus Carnarvon, which you can see on the arms of the band. The band is outlined in gold, blue, and red, which can all be found in Lord Carnarvon’s coat of arms. The band takes up a quarter of the cigar, due to the small size of the petit corona. On the larger sizes the band does not take as much space. In my personal opinion, it is a perfect size, comes off easily, and is very elegant. 

PRE-LIGHT OBSERVATIONS

CONSTRUCTION

As this is my first time doing a review, please pardon my awful picture-taking skills. The Connecticut Shade wrapper does not appear too oily or shiny (the band is the shiniest part of the cigar), but there is a gleam present when light is shined directly on it. The leaf was very veiny, but not too rough and was actually quite smooth to the touch. Each of the cigars I had were somewhat firm, but had a little give to them. Not to a bad extent though. 

AROMA

The pre-light aroma was light, with the pleasant sniff of tobacco and a little bit of cedar.

COLD DRAW

The cold draw focused more on hay, with the hint of cedar still being present.

SMOKING EXPERIENCE

LIGHT & DRAW
Cut:  V Cut
Fire:  Vertigo Cyclone

The first draw was a burst of the hay and cedar, with a little pepper lingering on the tongue.

SMOKE

Throughout my smoking experience with this cigar, there was a constant stream of smoke coming the cigar, light and airy. The stream only stopped when I accidentally left it alone for too long. Even smoking constantly though, I did have to relight it once or twice. While smoking, the incoming smoke was thick and creamy, allowing me to get the full flavor profile of the cigar. Near the end of all three cigars though, the smoke became quite hot, leaving a burnt aftertaste and eventually taking over all other flavors. 

FIRST THIRD
>> Pepper, Leather, Cedar, Hay, Citrus

The pepper definitely becomes more prevalent as the first third of the cigar continues. However, its not so prevalent that it makes you want to sneeze, but just enough to make the tongue tingle a bit. What truly starts to make the mouth water is the hay, leather, and cedar, which are the first things that hit the palette through the first third. At the very beginning, we have the hit of hay, with the leather coming in around the 2nd to 4th puffs to round it out. Deeper into the first third, as the smoke leaves the mouth and the taste settles, there is an aftertaste of citrus, almost like if someone walked by and had a citrus perfume on. Doesn’t linger too long, but definitely makes an impression. Throughout, the smoke remains steady and creamy. The ash was mottled gray, black and white. I went to take a picture with the ash intact, unfortunately when I put it down the ash fell. The ash itself remained intact.

SECOND THIRD
>> Hay, Citrus, Leather

Going into the middle of the cigar, the citrus becomes more prevalent with every puff, continuing to brightly linger on the palette. The pepper remains present, but for me, it seemed more to amplify the other flavors as opposed to standing within its own right. The hay and leather remain the overwhelming flavors, mixing with the citrus to become an interesting and engaging mix. Because of this, the cigar profile continues to hold attention, and not become boring or repetitive. Very near the half point of the cigar, I go to take a puff and the ash falls to the floor, remaining decently intact even though the impact with the floor make it break apart a bit. At this point, relighting became necessary.

FINAL THIRD
>> Leather, earthiness, almond, citrus

Going into the final third, the leather starts to overtake all other flavors. Because of this, the taste that lingers in the mouth becomes more earthy, and the hay turns into more of an almond taste. However, the almond taste becomes quite bitter as the end of the cigar is in sight. My fingers also started feeling the heat of the burn just after the halfway point. The leather and almond become so prevalent that the citrus makes a valiant attempt to cut through it, but becomes a barely discernable aftertaste. At this point in the cigar, it is no longer solidly mild, very much leaning more towards medium. At the end, to near the band was placed, each puff starts to leave a burning taste, with the heat overwhelming the palette and drowning most of the taste. That doesn’t particularly bother me, but most smokers would probably stop at this point. 

RATING & FINAL THOUGHTS

FLAVOR PROGRESSION

Overall, the flavors were pretty balanced until the final third. All of the notes complimented each other. The only problem I had was everything getting essentially burned out towards the end of the cigar. For a mild to medium cigar, it was complex and interesting enough to entice even the fuller bodied smokers. 

BURN EXPERIENCE

All three cigars I had for this review burned evenly, with very little or no cone in the middle. At some points they started to burn unevenly, but eventually evened out on its own. There was a steady burn throughout, with a relight needed only once or twice as long as I didn’t leave it too long. The cigar did get way too hot near the end, but I attribute that to the petit corona vitola. 

RATING BREAKDOWN
0.70 / 0.80 … Craft & Aesthetic
0.40 / 0.50 … Pre-Light Characteristics
0.50 / 0.50 … Lighting Process
7.20 / 7.70 … Smoking Experience
0.45 / 0.50 … Personal Enjoyment

COMPLIMENTS & CRITIQUES

Elegant and Tasteful

While I do enjoy different cigars, I usually start my day off with a mild cigar. A lot of customers that come into my store are brand new smokers or are not too familiar with them, so I usually start them off with a mild cigar. As far as mild cigars go, I would not say the Highclere Castle Edwardian is appropriate for someone having their very first cigar. This one does start to have a kick to it halfway, which can be off putting for brand new cigar smokers. I would, however, definitely say that this could be an option for someone who has had a couple of mild cigars and is ready to start trying stronger ones. I would consider this more as a bridge cigar, to start the process of graduating into more medium body cigars. On the flip side, for the more experienced cigar smoker, this is a great option for their first cigar of the day, with their morning coffee and breakfast, or for people like me who don’t eat until late and don’t want to start off with something strong. It’s smooth, creamy, and has a great profile to keep the smoker entertained enough. 

SIMPLY STOGIES RATING:  9.25 / 10.0

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *