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Nat Sherman Gotham

18 Nov

Synopsis:
Maker: Altadis
Filler: Dominican
Binder: Dominican
Wrapper: Westside: Brazilian Mata Fina Maduro; Eastside: U.S. Connecticut Shade
Flavors: Westside: Cocoa, coffee beans, fresh tobacco; Eastside: Cedar, nuts, fresh tobacco
Draw/Volume/Strength:
Westside: -1 / 0 / 4; Eastside: 1 / 0 / 4
Rating: Westside: 9.2; Eastside: 9.3

The Cigar Sasquatch never visits a city without hitting the local cigar shops. And I travel a lot. It’s one of the benefits of being self-employed, that you can decide for yourself what the best time is to go on vacation. I’ll admit, it’s one of the few benefits, but a benefit it is, so I try to take full advantage of it. And fortunately, Mrs. Sasquatch’s schedule is such that we have a relatively full travel schedule. So I see a lot of cigar shops.

Photo of Nat Sherman Gotham Eastside and Nat Sherman Gotham Westside cigars

Nat Sherman Gotham #1400 (6¼x44) Westside (Maduro) and Eastside (Natural)

One of the finest in the world is the world-famous Nat Sherman Townhouse in Midtown Manhattan, New York City. There is no denying it, New York is the Capitol City of the world. It’s the very definition of a big city, and its reality is larger than all the movies and TV shows and pictures and post cards and even the stories and legends could ever depict. A dedicated visitor could spend a lifetime of vacations in New York and never see the same scene twice. In fact, I’ve been to New York on five separate occasions, and I’m still crossing items off my short-list of must-sees!

Nat Sherman Cigars have been a fixture of New York City’s cigar history since 1930, and the Townhouse is the epicenter. The venerable location is a fitting tribute to the legendary brand—even the address is legendary, on 42nd St. between Madison Ave. and 5th, adjacent to the stunning New York Public Library Main Building.

Photo of the pipe wall at the Nat Sherman Townhouse in New York City

The Pipe Wall and Main Lobby

The exterior façade is anchored by a massive clock, flanked by two larger-than-life Cigar Store Indians, beckoning New Yorkers and visitors alike to stop by. Inside is a soaring cathedral to all things smoking, the first icons of which are found on the wall of pipes. The impressive collection of hand-crafted briars includes brands like Savinelli, Peterson, and others, plus a handsome selection of free-hands and meerschaums. From there you’ll notice a dozen or more massive jars of delicious-smelling pipe tobacco, along with a beautiful antique tobacco scale, still in working order and used daily. Across the shop is a selection of accessories, including humidors, cutters, lighters, and other smoking items, and above all is the wrap-around mezzanine and balcony spilling out from the members-only lounge upstairs.

But the ultimate destination for the Cigar Sasquatch is the humidor.

Photo of the interior of the walk-in humidor at the Nat Sherman Townhouse in New York City

The Humidor

If they only stocked the full range of Nat Sherman cigars, a smoker could fill countless hours enjoying the contents of the massive walk-in, and almost never repeat a smoke. But the huge selection also covers cigars form Alec Bradley to Zino, and nearly everything in between. And don’t be intimidated by the choices you’ll face; every one of their associates is a certified retail tobacconist, ready to help, and very well informed about the brands and blends in stock.

After some 30 minutes of browsing the shelves, patiently assisted by tobacconist Juan, and with comic commentary provided by Mrs. Sasquatch, I left with a choice selection of Nat Sherman cigars, many of which aren’t available anywhere else, along with a few pouches of pipe tobaccos to enjoy. And among the stand-out cigars from my visit are the Gotham line, hand-made in the DR by Altadis.

The Gotham line is available in range of sizes and two wrappers, named Westside and Eastside. They’re identical in blend, with Dominican fillers and binders; the Westside is finished in a chestnut-hued Brazilian Mata Fina Maduro, while the Eastside is wrapped in a beautiful blonde Connecticut Shade leaf. I selected the “#1400” (6¼x44) in both shades.

Gotham Westside:
The cigar is firm and densely packed, perfectly round and seamless, without a vein in sight. The first impressions are a tangy-sweet maduro flavor, with a balancing richness of cocoa and coffee beans. In the first inch, the tangy maduro is still present, but gives command to the rich coffee and cocoa flavors, which have accelerated into the forefront. The draw from a cap cut is slightly firm (-1), not unbefittingly so for a rock-solid Lonsdale, opening up as it goes, producing a moderate smoke volume (0) of above average strength (4).

The second half opens up with a rich, nutty, woody complex, with a hint of spice, and plenty of aged tobacco flavors. This pattern persists to the finish, growing richer and darker in flavor and body, but resisting the bitter plunge until the utmost end. The salt-and-pepper ash is firm and nicely scaled, holding to about an inch with well-formed cones which flatten slightly towards the finish. It smokes cool and slow to an inch and a half nub in about 70 minutes.

This is certainly a hearty cigar. Its diminutive size belies a depth and complexity, delivering flavor beyond its measure. It’s the reason to smoke compact cigars. I’m pleased to rate it 9.2. It’s a delightful shape, perfectly constructed, and it delivers a remarkably robust palate, delicious start to finish.

Gotham Eastside:
The cigar is solid as a rock and veinless, with a buttery smooth, seamless roll. The flavors up front include a sharp cedar taste, with plenty of nuts and fresh tobacco. The draw from a cap cut is light despite the density of the cigar (+1), delivering a moderate smoke volume (0) of above average strength (4).

The first half also shows an interesting balance between the rich, spicy filler blend, in contrast to the smooth, creamy Connecticut Shade wrapper, creating a compelling and complex palate oscillating between leather, tobacco, and buttercream.

In the second half, it develops a toasted character, maintaining the fresh tobacco flavors, and picking up an earthy, peaty quality. But despite the darkening palate, it retains the creamy, smooth background from the handsome Connecticut Shade wrapper. The burn is ring straight for the duration, and the light gray ash is finely scaled, holding to about an inch with perfect double cones, flattening as it goes.

Then in the final act, a hint of caramelized meats comes through on the finish. It smokes to an inch and a half nub in a surprising 75+ minutes, a remarkable duration for a cigar of these dimensions. I easily rate it 9.3, an exquisitely constructed cigar with a diverse palate, balancing the hearty, robust flavors of the Dominican filler blend against subtle, highly-nuanced Connecticut Shade wrapper.

The next time you’re in New York, be sure to stop by the Nat Sherman Townhouse to experience a higher grade of service and luxury, and en excellent smoking experience as well. Not planning to visit New York any time, soon? Maybe you should. You may be surprised how, even in the Big Apple, a great smoke and a great setting can make anyone feel like a big-shot.

Until next time, this is the Cigar Sasquatch saying, “Love what you smoke, and smoke what you love.”

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