Cigar Review: Sterling by Nat Sherman

Sterling-bandVitola: Dallas (Lonsdale)
Size: 6.25” x 43 ring gauge
Price $14.30
Purchased at Burns Tobacconist

Background

In September, Mike and Ike from Nat Sherman came to Burns for a blending seminar. It wasn’t the first seminar of this type that I’ve gone through, but it was educational and it’s always good for someone that thinks they know a lot to work their way through one of these seminars so they can discover just how little they really know. We worked through 4 elements of the Timeless blend, then smoked a 56 ring gauge Timeless; not usually my favored vitola, but it did help to highlight the different tobaccos we smoked individually better than a smaller ring gauge smoke (where the focus would have ended up being the wrapper). It also made for a good opportunity to pick up a variety of Nat Sherman smokes to get caught up on some of their recent releases.

Sterling was part of the 2013 IPCPR releases, showing up at Burns late last year (or maybe very early this year…I can’t remember for sure). I smoked one when they first came in and did enjoy it, but for some reason never got around to reviewing it. Here’s what the Nat Sherman website had to say about the Sterling:

The Nat Sherman Sterling redefines elegance. A collection of sophisticated vitolas, these cigars combine aged Dominican fillers, with a Dominican binder and a stunning Ecuador-grown wrapper. Their medium to full body provides a creamy smoke along with complex yet mellow flavors and a long finish. The cigars are packed in wheels of 25 cigars in traditional slide-top cabinet boxes.

They call this a “collection of sophisticated vitolas” and although that’s a bit of “marketing-speak” it’s true, too…nothing in this line is over 46 ring gauge, a rarity in today’s cigar marketplace, and quite welcome to people those of us that have graduated beyond the “more is better” mindset that fuels much of the big ring gauge sales. The Sterling is made for Nat Sherman by Quesada in the Dominican Republic.

Sterling-footbandPrelight

The presentation of Sterling is simple and elegant. Two bands adorn the cigar at the traditional location and the foot. Both seem to be rendered in a dull satin-finish silver foil, with additional highlighting in high-shine foil, as well as a bit of black print and an emboss motif that makes me think of the art deco style used on the covers of some of my Ayn Rand novels. The leaf around which the bands are wrapped was a beautiful example of Ecuadorian Connecticut, slightly darker than some I’ve seen, yet lighter than, say, the “Dark Connecticut” used by Caldwell on their Eastern Standard. It had a slightly oily feel under my fingers, though like most Connys, very little in the way of visible oiliness. The aroma from it was clean, sweet hay; the foot had more grassiness and a bit of earthiness to it.

The straight cut applied to the Sterling resulted in an unobstructed draw with just a bit of resistance. The cold flavor was slightly sweet, a bit grassy, and had just a touch of cedar.

Flavor

With a small ring gauge and single torch flame, it took little time to get the Sterling evenly lit. Once there, the flavor started of on a mostly grassy note, although the more I puffed on it, the more I noticed…subtle lemony citrus, mildly sweet hay, touched of earth and wood. The retrohale had notes of toast, roasted nuts and just a bit of white pepper. As I continued through the first third, I did pick up a slight saltiness and a dry graham sweetness on the palate.

In the second third, I really started noticing the smooth, creamy elegance of the Sterling. It had a hint of pepper bite at times, but never much. I still got plenty of hay, graham and toast notes.

The last third of Sterling showed more earthiness, cedar and pepper spice, while the hay and graham notes were played down.

Sterling-angleConstruction

As expected from a more luxury-oriented cigar, construction was perfect. The draw had just the right amount of resistance, the ash was rock solid, and the burn line needed no touch-ups.

Value

The Sterling provides a luxury experience on par with some famous cigars with a white label, but at about 2/3 of the price. I’d call that good value.

Conclusions

The first time I smoked one of these, it was hard not to compare it with some kind of white label luxury cigar (you know who I’m talking about), and the comparison still stands with the second smoking. The Dominican blend with a Connecticut Shade wrapper is shared by both as is the general flavor profile produced by the well-aged leaf. The Sterling definitely has what Michael Herklots called “Roundness” at the blending seminar…it has exquisite balance, pleasing complexity and no harshness or sharp corners. It was medium in body and strength, very mellow and relaxing in flavor and the experience it delivered.

By-The-Numbers

Prelight: 2/2
Construction: 2/2
Flavor: 4/5
Value: 1/1
Total: 9/10

David Jones

David has been smoking premium cigars since 2001. He is co-founder and editor-in-chief of Leaf Enthusiast. He is a full-time retail tobacconist, working for Burns Tobacconist in Chattanooga, where he has also organized the Chattanooga Tweet-Up for the last four years. He is also an independent graphic designer and typesetter. Twitter: @dmjones1009

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  • Mark VanSledright

    Wow, great review and high praise indeed.

  • Texican

    Sounds like a very enjoyable cigar. Great review.

  • dale427

    Maybe I’m missing some of the reviews but it seems like you only review good cigars. Do you have a list of the worst?

    • dmjones1009

      Dale, that’s actually by design…anymore there are so many cigars out there that I have to narrow the field that I can write a review on. One way I do that is by smoking samples ahead of time. When I’m working at Burns, I’ll try to smoke (or buy to smoke later) anything new that comes in. If I like it the first time, I’ll buy another to write a review on. If I don’t…well, life’s too short to smoke cigars you don’t like! So, Yes…the reviews we post here are usually quite positive…if we review them, mostly it’s because it’s something we like and want to draw attention to. I generally don’t like to bad-mouth or diss blends that don’t appeal to me…just because I didn’t doesn’t mean someone else won’t.

      All that being said, there are times when “less positive” or “negative” reviews will come through. If I’m sent cigars by a company for review purposes…I will usually review them and post it. If it’s a time of year when nothing new is available, I may just grab something I haven’t reviewed before and review it regardless of outcome.

      But maybe I should list some cigars I just didn’t care for, just to show that I’m actually smoking them…the original Foundry blend (with the gear for a ring) was my least favorite blend in the last 5 years or so; I’m not a big fan of Tatuaje Havana VI (red label); I did not care for the EPC Inch in any format (natural or Maduro or Short Run). That’s a few…and they all have fans…maybe I’ll do a post talking about cigars I don’t like.

  • Miguel Rocha

    I guess I need to stop being such a tight wad and pick one up! Thanks for the review!

  • dale427

    Here’s what a couple of my buddies did https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=92zQOST2hvo

  • Mr Bill

    I got to have a super lancero at an event and though it was good, not as good for me as the Timeless DR SL but a very nice smoke.

  • czerbe

    I have had the Timeless by Nat Sherman and I really enjoyed it but I haven’t had the Sterling I will pick one of these up next time I’m at CI

  • Craig Bowden

    This sounds like a pretty good cigar. Will keep my eye open for them.

  • atllogix

    One cigar brand that’s been around for a while that I have never tried. The blending seminar sounds very appealing.

  • http://jason-scotchreviews.blogspot.ca/ Jason Debly

    Not sure this presents a great value for money proposition when you consider LA Aroma de Cuba Edicion Especial for half the price or My Father CT. The Sterling is a fine cigar but priced about double where it should be.

    By the way, I am a Nat Sherman fan. I think they are producing great sticks for the mild to medium palate.