New Havana Cigars (NHC) Surrogates

The inspiration behind the Surrogates, a new line offered exclusively by New Havana Cigars, was to create a special smoke that would be available on a consistent basis, as opposed to a limited edition that you might fall in love with, but which you’ll never be able to get your hands on again. A full-bodied cigar, the Surrogates comes in two vitolas: a 5.25×54 parejo and a 5.25×52 belicoso, though the blend is the same in both. Very little information has been released about the tobacco in these cigars, or who actually rolled them, so for now, all I know is that the wrapper is some sort of broadleaf of unknown origin. The boxes themselves are enigmatically stamped with the words, “Made in Central America,” so it’s safe to say there’s a shroud of mystery surrounding the NHC Surrogates.

Carrying branding that prominently features skull and bone icons, and with the provenance kept tightly under wraps, one cannot be blamed for making the assumption that the Surrogates are possibly made by Viaje, or at least intended to be clones of the limited edition Skull & Bones. However, Dan Welsh, the man behind NHC, assures us that any similarity was completely unintended, and that there is absolutely no connection between the Surrogates and the S&B series.

NHC Surrogates by the numbers:
Vitolas: Bone Crusher & Skull Breaker
Size: 5.25×54 & 5.25×52 (belicoso)
Wrapper: unknown Broadleaf
Binder: unknown
Filler: unknown
Strength: Full
Factory: unknown
No. smoked for review: 4 (2 of each vitola)
Duration: 60 minutes
Source: review samples
Est. Price: $7.50
Twitter: @SurrogatesCigar & @NHCDan

The wrapper reminds me of milk chocolate in appearance, and is a bit rustic-looking with a few veins, while it gives off a chocolatey aroma, along with some hay, spice, and possibly dark fruit. The foot presents you with more chocolate, along with some red pepper, and the cold draw is nice & open with lots of tangy spice.

In the first third, I got plenty of pepper that lingered on the palate through a long finish, together with a sweet chocolate undertone. Some woody and nutty notes were detected as well, with maybe a hint of salt. The draw was perfect and consistently produced a great volume of smoke, while the burn was typically well-behaved… except in the video.

The peppery spice and woody notes continue in the second third, with an increasing sweetness of a graham or toffee variety. Again, except in the video, the light gray ash was nice & tight, and dropped off in solid chunks.

The flavors started to fade a bit in the final third, as the strength seemed to overpower the rest, resulting in a loss of overall balance. I picked up some natural tobacco, with maybe a bit of the chocolate and spice remaining. The nub was cool & firm.

I definitely felt the strength in these Surrogates, so I’d recommend taking your time with these and pairing the cigar with something slightly more substantial than water, and avoid smoking these on an empty stomach if you’re new to full-bodied smokes.

Be sure to check out the video in which I run into a bit of trouble burn-wise with one of the Surrogates samples, though the other three that I smoked burned just fine:

(Video length: 15:42)

Soundtrack: “Unstoppable” by Thomas Hogan (used with permission) |

I keep going back & forth as to whether I prefer the Bone Crusher or the Skull Breaker vitola. I didn’t detect much of a difference flavor-wise between the two formats. As someone who doesn’t reach for a full-strength cigar on a daily basis, I preferred the more subdued smoking experience of the Skull Breaker over the hit-you-upfront power of the Bone Crusher, though the delayed nicotine hit from the Skull Breaker really didn’t do it for me either. So, for me, it’s essentially a toss-up… I recommend giving each of the NHC Surrogates a try and arriving at your own conclusion.

About Charlie:
Charlie has been enjoying cigars since 2000 and generally prefers a medium-bodied, full-flavored smoke. A USAF vet, he is currently pursuing a PhD in computer science, focusing on artificial intelligence and computational linguistics. Originally from Connecticut and now residing in Delaware, Charlie is also a fan of football, science fiction, political philosophy, and single malt scotch. You can contact Charlie on Twitter @greenbacker