Every now and then a cigar comes out of nowhere and in short order seems to be everywhere. And if not physically everywhere, the topic of enough conversation it you’d think it had been in the cigar shops for years. It’s a bit of exaggeration to say this applies the K. A. Kendall’s 7-20-4, but it seemed like no sooner did I have time to think “what an odd name for a cigar” than I was getting email from shops selling it, and tweets from people asking for an opinion on it. It wasn’t until a trip to New York last month that I actually saw the cigar, and by that time, it seemed like I had been waiting to try it for ages. It goes with out saying I bought some.
It could just be the cigar’s unusual name making it stand out more when mentioned. As you may have already heard, the 7-20-4 is a revival of an old cigar line made by the R. G. Sullivan cigar company from 1875 until it closed in 1963. In it’s heyday, R. G. Sullivan was the largest seller of 10 cent cigars in the nation, making at least 54 million annually in the early years of the 20th century. And reportedly, R. G. Sullivan had the largest tax bill of any business in America for at least one of those years. (Could you imagine how many cigars you’d have to sell today to have that dubious distinction?)
The numerical portion of the name appears to be a tribute to the original R. G. Sullivan factory, which was located at 724 Elm Street in Manchester, New Hampshire. The rest is an abbreviation of the current brand owner’s name, Kurt Kendall, and subtle nod to the previous owner. And now it’s my turn to pay tribute by lighting it up!
Size: 5 5/8 x 46
Wrapper: Brazilian Mata Fina
Filler: Undisclosed (Probably Nicaraguan, Mexican and Honduran)
Smoking Time: 1 1/2 hours
Price: MSRP $6.75
Based on the results of my internet search for the original 7-20-4 line of cigars, it appears that Mr. Kendall did a fine job of recreating the original artwork on the cigar’s band. It’s both sharp looking, and at the same time has the appeal of a vintage cigar advertisement. The cigar itself is a little odd looking with that chunky pigtail cap. The “pigtails” look more like stems, hinting that perhaps these cigars were recently plucked from some miraculous cigar tree.
The wrapper itself is a rustic, dark reddish brown, with a few larger, somewhat twisted veins tracing its length. One of the cigars did have wrapper damage at the foot, which is one of the dangers of being without cellophane protection. (But probably due to my handling.) The cigars were pretty firm to the touch, but I did notice a bit of inconsistency in some sticks. Not quite soft spots, though.
The scent of the wrapper was a potent combination of sweet honey and compost, but the cold taste produced slightly sweet chocolate and coffee.
It’s such a relief to not have to recount the horrors of a bad burn this week. The 7-20-4 drew perfectly, burned evenly (for the most part), and produced an attractive, solid white ash. A few touch-ups, but no re-lights or any other extra-curricular lighter activity were required.
The first couple of puffs off the 7-20-4 coated my mouth with a rich combination of creamy cedar, coffee and cocoa. Before the first third of the cigar was done, the profile seemed to settle into a long lasting, slightly sweet combination of chocolate, coffee and a little bit of pepper.
The chocolate flavors evolved toward bittersweetness, the coffee notes became a little more like espresso and the pepper became slightly more pronounced in the second third. Toward the end, the cigar produced a lot of cafe con leche and cedar flavors.
Interestingly, the profile again became creamy and almost nougaty for a short period at the beginning of the final third. But before long, dark chocolate, coffee and pepper flavors returned.
Ordinarily in this section, I just make a call as to whether or not the cigar is worth the price. In this case, I think it is. But the history of the 7-20-4 had me wondering what a 10 cent cigar would cost today, adjusted for inflation. Based on a couple of online calculators, 10 cents around 1910 is worth about $2.20 today. (Somehow I thought it’d be higher.) So it’s no inflation-adjusted 10 cent stogie, it’s still a pretty good value.
The more 7-20-4’s I smoked, the more I liked them. I appreciated the great burn, but more than anything else, I loved the rich, mouth-coating, full bodied flavors that lingered forever on the palate. I have not yet tried the other vitolas, but this corona format seemed to be just about right too. This is simply an excellent cigar, at a very reasonable price. Sure, it may not be 10 cents, but I think R. G. Sullivan would be pleased. If your local brick and mortar carries the K. A. Kendall’s 7-20-4, I recommend you one up and try it on for size.
Liked It: Yes
Buy It Again: Absolutely
Recommend It: Yes
Tower of Burn
Here for your viewing pleasure is my trademark Tower of Burn.