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Review: Highclere Castle – Prerelease

Highclere Castle – Prerelease

Highclere Castle Cigar Company has collaborated with Nick Melillo of Foundation Cigar Company to create Highclere Castle, which is best know as the location for much of the “Downton Abbey” TV drama series.

Highclere Castle

Photo Courtesy Foundation Cigar Co.

George Herbert is the 8th Earl of Carnarvon and current owner of Highclere Castle in Hampshire, England. The Earl partnered with Nick Melillo, who developed the blend and directed manufacturing to Tabacalera A.J. Fernandez Cigars de Nicaragua. Just like the period piece TV drama, the goal of the Highclere Castle blend is to be reminiscent of an early 1900’s premium cigar.

Distribution of Highclere Castle is being handled exclusively by Foundation Cigar Co. Release date is set for September, 2017.

The Highclere Castle will be available in five sizes.

  • Churchill 7 x 48
  • Toro 6 x 52
  • Corona 5 x 42
  • Robusto 5 x 50
  • Petit Corona 5 1/2  x 46


Highclere Castle prelight

The Connecticut shade wrapper presents some veins but is overall unblemished and light brown in color as expected. A double cap finishes off the head of the cigar, the roll is firm, and there is a very slight give and suppleness to the cigar. The label, of course, gives off the air of royalty with the gold embossing, a crown and back-to-back C’s representing the Carnarvon family, which goes back 300 years at Highclere Caste.


There is a very subtle sweetness with lots of earthy tobacco on the dry draw and the draw is just effortless. After gently toasting the foot of the cigar, I am immediately hit with the mellowness of this blend: creamy smooth, graham cracker goodness, honey, leather and much more is coming together right from the start.

Highclere Castle first light

  • Cream
  • Graham Cracker
  • Honey
  • Leather


There is just enough pepper to keep Highclere Castle in the light to light plus range and keep it interesting. Even the retro-hale is full of surprising subtleties of flavor. The incredible creaminess persists from first light. There is a tobacco sweetness, mellow pepper, a slight nuttiness, and some lemon peel coming into play. The burn line is somewhat off, so a little touch-up is necessary. Ash is a mottled grey and black and hanging on firmly at over two inches.
HighclereCastle 2 inch ash

There is not one overwhelming flavor note, just a pure balance of flavors. There is a rich, creamy lingering of caramel on the finish too.
Highclere Castle cruise

  • Cream/Creaminess
  • Nuts
  • Lemon Peel
  • Light Pepper
  • Caramel
  • Tobacco Sweetness
  • Leather
  • Honey


Highclere Castle final

Pepper is taking lead now without overwhelming the balance of flavors. The citrus element is gone but a nice malt and charred wood has joined the mix. The original honey sweetness is now in the background. A hint of salt is present, rounding out the “good” taste categories without the introduction of any bitterness.

  • Black Pepper
  • Cream/Creaminess
  • Salted Nuts
  • Malt
  • Charred Wood
  • Leather
  • Honey
  • Hint of Salt
  • Caramel


Near perfect construction, absolutely perfect draw and a balanced light-plus strength are contributing to some well-earned extra points.


  • Cream/Creaminess
  • Nuts developing into Salted Nuts
  • Honey
  • Leather
  • Lemon Peel
  • Light Pepper to Medium Pepper
  • Tobacco Sweetness
  • Malt in the Final Third
  • Charred Wood in the Final Third
  • Hint of Salt in the Final Third

Highclere Castle conclusioin

I did not expect to really like this cigar. I was not buying into the regal hype and TV drama, as interesting as it may be. Because the cigar is from Highclere Castle Cigar Company, I expected this to be more of a marketing gimmick to gain synergy between the two companies–which it most assuredly accomplished–than a great cigar. But I should have know better since Nick Melillo was involved.

Price point is steep, but that must be the cost for a royal lineage smoke! But it is worth it although I would have preferred a few dollars less.

And if you are not typically a light wrapper cigar smoker like me, don’t prejudge Highclere Castle. This cigar is worth breaking out of your usual cigar profile box and experiencing something surprising.

I will be smoking Highclere Castle again. A wonderful morning smoke with a cup of coffee or an evening smoke with a nice cognac or port. You’ll feel like royalty. And you might want to pick up a box.

Cigar provided by: IPCPR Trade Show- Foundation Cigar Co.

Cigars Smoked for review: 2

Cigar Smoke Rating: 92

Size:   6 x 52 Toro

Strength: Light-Plus

Wrapper:  Connecticut Shade
Binder:      Brazilian Mata Fina
Filler:         Criollo, Corojo & Nicadán hybrid
Country of Origin:   Nicaragua

MSRP: $15.00


Cigar Smoke – Est. 2010
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