At the 2022 Premium Cigar Association Trade Show, Highclere Castle would introduce its first limited-edition cigar, the Highclere Castle Senetjer. Highclere Castle is the brand in partnership between Foundation Cigar Company and George Herbert, the 8th Earl of Carnarvon and the owner of the famed Highclere Castle Estate located in Hampshire, England. The name Senetjer is the ancient Egyptian word for “incense,” and it literally translates as “of the gods.” There is a reason for this release under the Highclere Castle. It commemorates the 100th anniversary of Herbert’s great-grandfather (the 5th Earl of Carnarvon) and Howard Carter’s discovery of the Pharoah Tutankhamun’s tomb in November 1922. Today, we take a closer look at the Highclere Castle Senetjer.
Highclere Castle is tied to Foundation Cigar Company, which handles production and distribution. The brand fits in well with Foundation owner Nicholas Melillo’s theme of building brands around different cultures. The Senetjer would be the third release from the Highclere Castle brand. The original Highclere Castle (now called Highclere Castle Edwardian) made its debut in 2017. This was followed in 2019 with the Highclere Castle Victorian. Both are regular production cigars and have more of a British cultural spin to them. Senetjer changes gears in that it is a limited cigar with an Egyptian culture theme – tied in with Canarvon, the family. This past year, it was announced that Senetjer would be offered as an annual limited release in November. November is significant because it coincides with the November 26th date when the discovery was made. The Senetjer is also the most premium offering from Highclere Castle to date and one of the most premium under the Foundation Cigar Company.
Without further ado, let’s take a closer look at the Highclere Castle Senetjer and see what this cigar brings to the table. The cigars used for the assessment were from the original 2022 release.
Blend and Origin
Produced by Tabacalera AJ Fernandez Cigars de Nicaragua S.A., the Highclere Castle Senetjer features a 7th priming Habano Ecuador wrapper along with a Brazilian Mata Fina wrapper and undisclosed filler tobaccos aged for three years.
Wrapper: 7th Priming Habano Ecuador
Binder: Brazilian Mata Fina
Filler: Undisclosed – Aged 3 years
Country of Origin: Nicaragua
Factory: Tabacalera AJ Fernandez Cigars de Nicaragua S.A.
The Highclere Castle Sender comes in one size – a 6 3/4 x 52 perfecto. The cigars are presented in 12-count boxes.
The Habano Ecuador wrapper of the Highclere Castle Senetjer had a milk chocolate color. The wrapper sometimes gives off a rosado tint, depending on how the light shines on it. There was a light amount of oil and toothiness on the surface of the wrapper. The wrapper had both visible veins and visible wrapper seams, but the cigar as a whole had some elegance. The perfecto has a moderate taper to the foot. The footer is open and has the look of a nozzle. The tapering of the head of the cigar is much sharper, and it does taper to a converged tip.
A straight cut was used to remove the tip off of Highclere Castle Senetjer. The cut was placed a little more than halfway down between the foot and base. This is so that the tapering effect could still be leveraged during the smoking experience. Once the tip was removed, it was on to the pre-light draw ritual. The cold draw delivered a mix of earth, nuts, leather, and hay. Overall, this was a satisfactory pre-light draw. It was time to light up the Highclere Castle Senetjer and see what the smoking phase would have in store.
The Highclere Castle Senetjer opened up with notes of earth, cedar, chocolate, orange peel, baker’s spice, and hay. As the cigar burned through the tapered portion by the footer, the earth notes emerged as a primary note. The other notes settled into the background and helped round out the flavor profile. Meanwhile, the retro-hale delivered some classic wood notes.
The earth notes remained primary during the second third of the Highclere Castle Senetjer. In the background some subtle changes took place. The orange peel and chocolate notes diminished and just past the smoking experience’s midpoint were practically gone. Meanwhile, a sweet, natural tobacco note surfaced in the background. Around the midway point, some mixed pepper emerged on both the tongue and retro-hale.
The final third saw the earth notes still grounded in the forefront. The background notes were cedar, baker’s spice, hay, and mixed pepper. The mixed pepper was more prominent at this point of the cigar, but it was still quite distant in taking over the flavor profile. This is the way the Highclere Castle Senetjer came to a close. The resulting nub was soft to the touch and cool in temperature.
The Highclere Castle Senetjer required touch-ups to maintain a straight burn path and straight burn line. On each of the samples smoked, the burn line was prone to being jagged. While the touch-ups did the trick, I found there were more touch-ups needed than I preferred. The resulting ash wasn’t overly firm but wasn’t loose, either. When it came to ash color, there were several shades of gray. As for the burn rate and burn temperature, both maintained ideal levels.
The draw of the Highclere Castle Senetjer was a little more open than I prefer. Typically, I usually little resistance on the draw. In the end, there were no adverse effects from the draw. It is also worth noting the Senetjer produced an ample amount of smoke.
Strength and Body
The Highclere Castle Senetjer started out as a medium-strength, medium-bodied cigar. During the smoking experience, there was a slight increase in strength, but in the end, the strength stayed in the medium range of the spectrum. As for the body, once the cigar burned through the tapered section and reached the base of the cigar, it moved into the medium to full range and remained there for the duration of the smoking experience.
In terms of strength versus body with the Highclere Castle Senetjer, the body maintained an edge from start to finish.
BANDING AND PACKAGING NOTES
You can’t talk about the Highclere Castle Senetjer without talking about the packaging. The box of the Highclere Castle Senetjer is a replica of the storage boxes discovered within Tutankhamun’s tomb. The packaging contains a scarab representing the Egyptian god Khepri, the symbol of rebirth. In addition, the Highclere Castle name was translated into hieroglyphics on the box.
The band also has the golden scarab and hieroglyphics. I found the purple color worked beautifully against the wrapper and packaging of Senetjer.
The Highclere Castle Senetjer delivered a satisfying experience. However, at no point did I feel I was getting an extraordinary cigar with a wow factor. To me, this cigar seemed like a “nice Ecuadorian Habano” blend and didn’t deliver anything special. Given the amazing packaging and a $33.00 price point, I don’t think it was unfair to say so. The burn and draw still performed well, but again, I would say it should have been flawless. Ultimately, I got a satisfying cigar that scored a respectable 88 points, but one that fell short of my expectations. My advice here is to see if you can try a sample and decide for yourself.
Key Flavors: Natural Tobacco, Earth, Cedar, Red Pepper, Subtle Mint
Burn: Very Good
Draw: Very Good
Body: Medium (Start), Medium to Full (Remaindr0
Finish: Very Good
Value: Try a Sample
Photo Credits: Cigar Coop