Friday, March 8, 2013

NHC Surrogates vs Surrogates

It was August, 2011 when the NHC Surrogates first arrived.  The Bone Crusher and Skull Breaker vitolas became instant favorites for many of the fans of NHC.  Created to bring a "Limited Edition Quality" smoke to the everyday consumer and be readily available at an "Everyday Price", these sticks married strength with a balance of flavor that had everyone on their heels. 

A year later, when L'Atelier Imports was started, Pete and I decided to roll the Surrogates branding into the new company and release two new vitolas to the mix.  Now available nationwide at your favorite tobacconists, Surrogates has a much broader fan base and can continue to grow with new vitolas.

The original Bone Crusher and Skull Breaker were joined by Tramp Stamp and Crystal Baller.  A new stick is planned for July 2013 at IPCPR, Animal Cracker, a 6x60 full bodied stick with a fuma head.  All available from L'Atelier Imports.

Here at the NHC office, I decided to finally sit with a Bone Crusher from the original NHC release alongside a new stick from L'Atelier Imports.  We still have a number of the original NHC labeled sticks online at and I wanted everyone to notice the only way to tell the difference. 

On the back side of the original bands, you will see the NHC logo font on both the Bone Crusher and Skull Breaker bands from the original run.  These were all made in 2011 from the original batch.  (Tramp Stamp and Crystal Baller were never made for NHC, they started with L'Atelier Imports in 2012) 

Note the NHC labeled versions were never distributed nationwide, they were only available through New Havana Cigars.

The blends are exactly the same and the only difference at this point is age.  So I wanted to smoke them side by side and see what I thought of a comparison.  A new batch of Surrogates just arrived from L'Atelier Imports, so what better time than a fresh batch from the factory.

There are many misconceptions about aging cigars, and the number one thing that I hear (and used to think) is that they mellow over time and are not as strong.  This would be very important for this particular blend, since it is full bodied and full of flavor right off of the rolling table. 

I have both sticks burning side by side and switch back and forth between sips of water to help cleanse my palate.  (Yes - two Bone Crushers are a bit much for many of you - but I smoke them in the morning sometimes, so you can imagine)  From the beginning, both sticks are a slap in the face (the nice kind) as far as strength goes.  The flavors in the older NHC stick have definitely started to separate more, so side by side, there is a distinguishable difference in flavor profile.  At first glance it feels like the newer Bone Crusher has more of a flavor punch and more spice.  But, going back and forth it becomes more obvious that the flavors are all there in both sticks, but they are more distinguishable in the older NHC stick.  This makes for an interesting comparison as once the prominent flavors are on your palate, they can be discerned more easily in the newer stick. 

Strength is definitely not diminished with age.  (Just ask Arnold or Lou)  Strong sticks remain strong sticks.  (And a strong stick like this x 2 is enough to even hit me in the head)  

Flavors start to separate with age.  Just as they do with wine, the flavors open up more and make it easier to distinguish them. 

Is one better than the other?  For me, the difference simply provides a great way to train the palate to differentiate flavors and enjoy the benefit of aging.

If you want to experience it for yourself, I added a 4 stick sampler that places both versions of the Bone Crusher alongside both versions of the Skull Breaker.

Click Image to go to sampler

Boxes of both are still available as NHC Surrogates on the site, as well as boxes of the newer versions labeled as simply Surrogates.