“Of all the properties which belong to honorable men, not one is so highly prized as that of character.”
— Henry Clay
Full disclosure, my esteemed colleagues at Cigar Dojo know that I’m a huge amateur historian, so it was appropriate to allow me the privilege of reviewing the Henry Clay War Hawk. The cigar, of course, bears the name of former U.S. Senator and the seventh Speaker of the House, Henry Clay. Renowned as a man of principal and for his deep love of country, it truly baffles me to this day how he did not end up in the White House. In 1832, he did go head-to-head with incumbent President Andrew Jackson and failed to unseat the much-maligned former general and commander-in-chief. He also lost out on his party’s nomination, losing to William Henry Harrison a decade later, whom of course won his bid for the presidency, but as everyone knows, holds the record for the shortest time in office. Clay’s legacy is laid in the foundation of economic development and a heavy concentration on domestic policy.
The Henry Clay brand has long been associated with having Connecticut Broadleaf wrapper, so the War Hawk is a 180-degree departure. Boasting an Ecuadorian Connecticut Shade wrapper, the War Hawk’s name comes from Clay’s nickname bestowed upon him (and roughly a dozen members of the Twelfth Congress) by other contemporary political giants of his time, Daniel Webster and John C. Calhoun.
Another departure for the Henry Clay War Hawk is that it is manufactured in the respected Flor de Copán factory in Honduras, as opposed to the home of its other brand counterparts at Tabacalera de García in La Romana, Dominican Republic.
War Hawk Corona Breakdown
- Wrapper: Ecuadorian Connecticut
- Binder: Connecticut Broadleaf
- Filler: Honduras
- Factory: Flor de Copán S.A. (Honduras)
- Production: Regular Production
- Vitola: 5½″ × 44 (Corona)
- Price: $7.00 (MSRP)
As previously mentioned, the War Hawk is wrapped in a subdued Ecuadorian Connecticut Shade leaf. The binder, however, pays homage to the brand’s roots with a Connecticut Broadleaf varietal; the remainder is filled with vintage tobaccos from Honduras.
The golden-hued wrapper is reminiscent of a Texas Plains sunrise; while thin, the leaf far from brittle. Consistent with its varietal, the wrapper features almost no visible oils and is absent of veins. Tight seams have this cigar looking flawless. The classic “Henry Clay” red band is accompanied by a secondary band, displaying “War Hawk” in black Algerian font.
As is my custom, I cut the cap cleanly with a guillotine cutter and welcome in a dry draw that has rich cedar, cream, and hazelnut notes. The unlit foot and wrapper have faint aromas of similar nuances, but I notice a slight hint of molasses sweetness that I assume comes from the broadleaf wrapper.
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This cigar was released by Altadis USA earlier this spring and, since then, I have smoked over a dozen in all three available vitolas (Corona, Robusto, Toro). I toast the foot with a match and light it the same way. The aroma off the toasted and lit foot brings characteristics of cedar and pepper, with a touch of cream.
The first few puffs brings in a heavy dose of the previously mentioned hazelnuts, cedar, and molasses. From the onset, there is a balance here that should be recognized and praised accordingly. As has become customary as of late, the profile is “not your grandfather’s Connecticut.” There is some substantial flavor and complexity that has the palate yearning for more, but in a good way.
As the cigar begins to open, the molasses sweetness is accompanied by a luscious creamy note. The finish, particularly on the retrohale, is long and full of red pepper and small touch of espresso. The draw is exactly as I prefer, open with a slight resistance. The burn is razor sharp and the black-speckled white ash is firm.
The cigar’s finish is different. Bad? No. Just different. It does conclude a bit hot, which allows a slight bitterness to seep in, but somehow the creamy flavor has remained consistent throughout. The notes of hazelnut are present but have dissipated. And the once-present richness of molasses has been reduced to faint reminder of it’s former self. Two new flavors emerge on the final puffs of the cigar: cloves and charcoal. The duo are not an ideal combination, but there they are, nevertheless. And the conclusion leaves this reviewer ready to fire up another one to return to those flavors and aromas of the beginning.
Would I Smoke This Cigar Again?
I think the answer is apparent and obvious. Read my last sentence. But, if you are unable to read through the lines, I shall declare a definitive yes.
“Of all human powers operating on the affairs of mankind, none is greater than that of competition.”
- Flavor: Medium-plus
- Strength: Medium
- Body: Mild / Medium
- Smoke Time: 45 minutes
- Pairing Recommendation: Caramel macchiato | Blonde roast (straight) | Hefeweizen | Añejo tequila | Bananas foster
- Purchase Recommendation: 10-pack
Henry Clay War Hawk Corona
I think it’s an important note that I consistently favor the corona vitola almost over any other size. That being said, the mere presence of a corona format does not automatically make it to the top of my preferences for any given blend. Such is the case for the War Hawk; while I enjoyed the corona, I honestly prefer the robusto. In the interest of full disclosure, the toro is my least favorite in the War Hawk collection. This vitola, however, performs well and is worth a re-visit. In fact, having a few on standby for breakfast smoking sessions would be a sound call. Enjoy the balance and the retrohale, it’s worth it.
- Stellar beginning
- Superb construction
- Exquisite balance
- Confusing finish
- Too short, leaves you wanting
- Not brand-adjacent