Celebrity cigars are definitely not a new concept; after all, star power is a draw no matter what the industry. There have been some done as a tribute, some as a gimmick, and then there are some that are set to make the long haul. Guy Fieri is one of those stars that seems set to make the latter happen. If you can imagine a chef that started his career selling pretzels in grade school to help earn his way to school in France—that has now turned the simple words “Welcome to Flavortown” and “Knuckle Sandwich” into an empire in the culinary world—it is fairly safe to surmise he is going to have great success in the cigar world as well.
Teaming up with Espinosa Premium Cigars, the Knuckle Sandwich was announced by Guy and Erik Espinosa in January of 2022 after approximately a year and a half venture, with the release coming shortly afterwards. This was followed by several live cigar events—where Guy appeared in person to promote the brand—and some TV shows where he is smoking his own product (proving paramount in launching this new endeavor).
Knuckle Sandwich Maduro Corona Gorda R Breakdown
Wrapper: Ecuadorian Sumatra
Factory: San Lotano (Nicaragua)
Production: Regular Production
Vitola: 5?? × 46 (Corona Gorda)
Price: $11.95 (MSRP)
Corona Gorda R: 5?” x 46 | $11.95 (Box of 20 cigars | $239)
Robusto J: 5? x 52 | $12.95 (Box of 20 cigars | $259)
Toro H: 6? x 54 | $13.95 (Box of 20 cigars | $279)
As soon as you grab the box of these, you can sense the celebrity status, as the glossy black lid is emblazoned with Guy’s trademarked Knuckle Sandwich graphic. Opening the box, the cigars are striking. With a bright red foot band and a black, red, and gold primary band displaying the Knuckle Sandwich logo, these look like a culinary delight! The cigar has a very clean box press to it, with the seams literally disappearing in the dark, reddish brown wrapper leaf. It has a nice oily sheen on its velvety smooth surface, with just a few raised veins running throughout. The cigar is firm (but not overly so) from foot to cap, with no discernible soft spots. Getting the cigar cut and ready to smoke, I can’t help but think of the ritual a true chef like Guy would go through at this point.
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The aromas from the foot are filled with cocoa, bakers spice, and walnut, with the body of the cigar offering more of a natural tobacco note and just a hint of baker’s spice. The pre-light draw, which is exceptional, has a little bit of red pepper flake and more of a dark chocolate note than the cocoa from the foot. As I get ready to toast and light, I wonder if the fact that a chef had a hand in the blend of this cigar lends to my perception that it almost seems edible…
Getting things toasted and burning, black pepper hits hard for the first few puffs, and then almost immediately balances out with notes of baker’s chocolate, damp earth, and red pepper flakes. There is a heavy creamy sweetness on the finish that really makes the flavor profile dance on the tongue. The retrohale has just a little bit of mustiness to it, with a hearty portion of red pepper flakes being almost enough to be tear-inducing (LOL). The burn and draw are both exceptional in the early stages, with the cigar putting off a fair amount of smoke. Body is firmly in the medium-full range, while strength is holding in the medium range for now. This cigar really does grab your attention right from the start.
Getting to the middle of the cigar, it is developing nicely with cocoa and citrus entering the profile. It is interesting to me, as the citrus note literally comes out of nowhere and really has amped up the body; it seems to be working extremely well with the sweetness that is there on the finish. The retrohale is still full of red pepper flakes, while the mustiness has faded and is replaced with cedar notes. This works to add a slight bitterness to the overall profile that is playing nicely with the sweet and savory elements sitting on the tongue. Umami comes to mind here, as the cigar is really hitting all the taste zones on the tongue.
Heading towards the finish line, strength and body both take a step further up the medium-full category. The citrus note has faded out of the picture, and there is a very strong presence of leather and red pepper flakes, with just a subtle note of baker’s spices. The retrohale is spicy as well, with the red pepper flakes and cedar still the prominent notes. The cigar finishes here, making me want to light up another!
Would I Smoke This Cigar Again?
See previous comment. These will be a permanent resident in my humidor, as I have smoked and enjoyed other sizes of this cigar as well. This is not a first-thing-in-the-morning cigar. This is an early evening / after-dinner cigar—when you want the “train to Flavortown” to take you away! I have smoked the Maduro and the Habano in all sizes available, and the cigar that is the subject of this review is my favorite of the family (though I have yet to smoke the more limited Knuckle Sandwich Chef’s Special).
Guy worked with the Espinosa team for a year and a half on this release.
Newer smokers should definitely smoke this cigar after a meal with a full belly. You might feel like a bruiser just gave you a knuckle sandwich if you don’t.
The release date was February 2022.
The Knuckle Sandwich Maduro currently ranks at 119 out of 4,100 cigars on Dojoverse, having a 99 percent “smokable” rating.
Flavor: Medium / Full
Strength: Medium / Full
Body: Medium / Full
Red pepper flakes
Smoke Time: 1 hour, 5 minutes
Pairing Recommendation: Dark aged rum would be best | Bourbon | Non-peated Scotch | Root beer
Purchase Recommendation: As mentioned above, grab a box!
Exceptional performanceSolid flavors that develop throughoutBacked by a celebrity chef!
Body and strength could be problematic for less experienced smokersPrice may be high for some