April 7, 2016
Photo credit: danielmarshall.com
Origin : Nicaragua
Format : Toro
Size : 6.25 x 54
Wrapper : Nicaraguan
Filler : Nicaraguan
Binder : Nicaraguan
Price : $250 each
Nikki Glenn is a violinist and vocalist specializing in private event entertainment for yacht companies, owners, luxury brands, and upscale occasions. You can find out more information at http://www.nikkiglenn.com.
Today I’m reviewing a very unique cigar, the Daniel Marshall 24KT Golden Torpedo. I found out about the cigar quite by chance, when I received an email via CigarReserve.com that they had some of these cigars in stock. I’d never heard of Daniel Marshall prior to this but I was very intrigued at the idea of a gold cigar. From his website, I learned that Mr. Marshall is a well-known maker of luxurious humidors and that the Golden Torpedo was originally created by Mr. Marshall as a counterpart to the humidor he designed for Universal Studios to commemorate the movie “Scarface”:
When I was designing for Universal Studios the SCARFACE Humidor I was asked by Universal to design a ultra bling luxury version of the humidor…I thought that a “over the top” humidor deserves a “over the top” DM Cigar and the 24kt Gold DM cigar was conceived.
Well, I love luxurious things that may be considered over the top, so this seemed like a perfect fit for me! Everything about this cigar is designed to impress and reinforce that this is a very exclusive cigar. According to the Golden Cigar’s site, it takes sorting through 50 cigars to get 5 that might be viable to transform into gold cigars. The cigar is sanded to smooth the surface of the wrapper, and 50+ sheets of 24KT edible gold leaf (from one of the oldest suppliers in Florence, Italy, natch) are applied with a sugar glaze to the wrapper. The cigar itself consists of a Nicaraguan puro blend with a Nicaraguan Cuban seed 5 year old wrapper, Esteli binder, and Jalapa filler. The cigar retails for around $250 per stick.
As I patiently waited for the cigar to arrive, questions were running through my mind – how did it smoke? Was it even good? How good could it be? Am I really going to smoke gold? I had a very unique experience with the gold cigar, and I ended up being able to try it not once, but twice, so I really got to explore it in-depth. The first time was not quite what I expected, and neither was the second. I will reference both smoking experiences in this review. I apologize in advance if this review is a little longer than your usual read, but I want you to have the benefits of my experiences so you can decide for yourself if you’d like to try it.
Presentation is everything, and The Golden Torpedo does not disappoint. It comes packaged in a beautiful cedar coffin elegantly engraved with gold script, which I’m not embarrassed to say I spent some time sniffing – love the smell of cedar! The coffin is also dated and autographed by Daniel Marshall – both sticks that I smoked were dated 2011. The cigar itself is definitely an attention-getter right out of the box, the gold is bright and makes the cigar look as if it is made from solid gold. It makes the cigar feel very, very firm – it’s truly encased in gold.
Allow me to be shamelessly pretentious here: cutting the tip of cigar releases a heady, intense aroma that reminded me at once of both strong coffee and fresh baked pastries with icing. It smelled that good to me, but it reminded me a lot of another cigar that I enjoy that’s at the opposite end of the price spectrum from this one – the Makers Mark. That cigar give me a similar sensory impression: lush, complex, and sweet. The prelight draw had dark chocolate, coffee, and a hint of spices. I spent some time just drawing on it to see what else might come out and got more vanilla sweetness and a creamy taste reminiscent of a milkshake. Based on the prelight impressions, I was thinking this was going to be a very nice smoke.
Now I had read about some of the challenges that other reviewers mentioned when smoking the cigar, and also discussed potential pitfalls with other smokers – mainly about keeping the cigar lit since it’s basically wrapped in a tube of gold. Please note that I used a single flame torch for the first smoke. I was able to light the cigar, but this is where things fell apart. The draw was extremely difficult, requiring crazy amounts of puffing. I had very little smoke production and the cigar went out multiple times if not constantly drawn upon. I believe that part of the problem was that my lighter wasn’t up to the task of keeping the tobacco ignited within the gold tube, but I also wasn’t able to really pull any air into the cigar to keep up a good burn.
A friend had a cigar draw tool, and he was able to clear some blockage near the tip of the cigar, which did somewhat improve the draw. However, I still wasn’t able to keep the cigar lit and observed more of a tunneling smolder than an actual burn over the course of the smoke. As the tobacco turns to ash, the gold tube remains, so it was difficult to see where to relight the cigar. I ultimately ended up cutting the burnt portion of the cigar repeatedly in order to relight. I ended up with more of a charred gold stick than anything as elegant as I’d seen pictured, and my burn certainly wasn’t as camera friendly as others I’d seen. I didn’t really get to evaluate much of the taste of this first cigar due to the many issues I had with the drawn and lighting, so it was a bit of a disappointment.
However, the problems with the draw made me wonder if this was an anomalous experience, so I reached out to Daniel Marshal directly. They immediately responded and sent me a replacement cigar upon learning of my less than stellar experience. I must commend them for excellent customer service – I am not sure what other cigar brands’ policies are, but I did appreciate that they stand by their product in this manner.
After speaking with other smokers about my experiences, I tried to be more prepared for the second smoke. I used a triple flame torch and focused more on lighting the filler as evenly as possible, to try and avoid turning the wrapper to charcoal. Success! However, you should note that you won’t be generating huge plumes of smoke with this cigar, it has a more gentle burn and different combustion (I am assuming due to how the gold leaf wrapper impacts the way the cigar burns). I was able to taste the cigar the second time – I got lots of toast and espresso taste with a pretty smooth draw. The gold cigar compared favorably in taste to one of my other top smokes, the La Gloria Cubana Serie R Esteli, which is another Nicaraguan puro.
I did have some relighting issues again with the second smoke. As I mentioned previously, the gold encased ash can make it difficult to see exactly where to relight – when multiple attempts to relight resulted in flameups that scorched the wrapper, I ultimately decided to trim the cigar with scissors as the ash built up. This really did seem to improve the cigar’s burn as there wasn’t a section of ash suffocating the stick. I cut the cigar prior to the 2nd third of the cigar and got a really good burn at that point, for a little while. I did have to keep relighting it if I wasn’t drawing on it fairly constantly. I’m certain I sacrificed no small amount of taste to keep it lit, and I began encountering the bitterness and burnt taste you only get when you have well and truly torched your cigar. It was difficult to gauge exactly when the cigar would go out, as it would sometimes smolder and produce a thin stream of smoke when it was purged. I can only surmise that the gold, while lovely, also functioned to draw off heat from the tobacco and also inhibited oxygen flow. I do really think that having a lighter with a very intense flame improves the burn substantially – I was actually able to ash the cigar after relighting in the 2nd third. The cigar did go out again, right before the final third.
I only smoked the final third because no one likes a quitter. At this point, the cigar was burning as hotly as I wished it had burned at the beginning of the smoke. The draw was excellent and the burn was very vigorous, but there was a very strong smell of varnish/nail polish from the wrapper at this point. With all the relights, I wasn’t really able to appreciate the flavor like I would have wished. I don’t think this is a cigar that you’d want to smoke down to the nub. The second time smoking the Gold Torpedo was definitely better than the first, but it was more work than enjoyment.
I really spent some time gathering my thoughts about this cigar. With all the efforts I put into smoking this cigar not once, but twice, I would love to be able to say that it was a deeply satisfying smoke. However, I can’t say that just based on the amount of effort that it took to keep it lit. This is a cigar that is terrific for starting conversations and attracting attention. The entertainer in me loves all the flash and style that is certainly present in this cigar. However it fell short for me in the performance department.
Part of what is so enjoyable about cigar smoking is that you can light up a cigar, have a nice drink, and a conversation. I found that I had to be so focused on maintaining the cigar that it would not have been possible to do anything but concentrate on the smoke, and that takes a great deal of the joy out of it. Was this a cigar I’d smoke on a regular basis? Nope. Would I buy it again? Absolutely. Here’s why: it’s a cool-looking stick, albeit a challenging smoke, it has a great visual impact, and it’s a very lovely gift for an aficionado. It’s obviously beautifully and meticulously made, and they haven’t skimped on any aspect of its presentation or content. It’s unquestionably a mark of status to many, and I can’t find anything wrong with that in my shamelessly aspirational heart of hearts. I feel like there was a substantial learning curve involved with it, just due to the introduction of the unfamiliar element of gold. I encourage the adventurous-minded to give it a try. Who knows, maybe the third time’s the charm?
April 11, 2016
Far from being broke, I’d rather wrap up my Short Story. Metals have no place in my drink or my stick. A golden band would have sufficed, and if ya wanna make it more expensive glue a diamond there as well.
Someone making cigars is bored, and reaching.
April 11, 2016
Paul — I’m glad you enjoyed the review, and I also appreciate you taking the time to share your thoughts. I understand your position as well, however I think that rather than this being a product of boredom, that it’s more about concept and artistry, and of course, over the top luxury. There is always the segment of any market that wants something extraordinary — a conversation piece, something to enhance one’s status. I think this is a case of lovely form taking precedence over function, but I also think it has its place in the market. Smooth draws to you!
April 8, 2016
@Stefan – I agree with you regarding the burn issues and also the Royal Danish. I recently ordered one of the Queens and found it quite delightful, especially with the unique gold leaf pattern. A much easier and more enjoyable smoke, and a showpiece in its own right.
April 8, 2016
There is premium and there is OTT “luxury”!!
Whilst this a well written review, the concept of this cigar is not for me.
April 8, 2016
This seems like a horrible cigar, even as a flashy gimmick. There are better options if you want a cigar with 24k gold, like for instance the Regal Blend Queens #1 Ultra Luxury Version from Royal Danish Cigars. Dan spoke of why they didn’t cover the whole thing in gold at a cigar tasting event I attended, and it was specifically due to the burn issues.
I myself wouldn’t buy it because I’m not into the gimmicky cigars (gold and Swarovski crystals? really? :)), but I’m a big fan of their other cigars (especially the Sangre Azul).
April 8, 2016
I also agree that this is just s waste of money. Reminds me of Gurka and the H.M.R. cigar. That was a box of twenty cigars for $20,000. Yup that would be one thousand dollars a cigar. No cigar is worth that.
April 8, 2016
Acquiring one of these cigars is Zeus’s way of saying, “You have too much fricking money”.!
April 8, 2016
Terrific review! Unusual cigar and a unique experience that deserves the detail you provided. Thanks!
April 8, 2016
$250 a stick? At that price, I will have to buy some gold leaf at Michael’s and hillbilly up some sticks that I already have in the humidor…
April 8, 2016
Without even trying it I knew there would be flaws with the burn. I can’t wrap my head around why anyone would consider buying one of these. Such a waste of money.
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