Cigar Ratings & Reviews

#NowSmoking: Southern Draw Jacob’s Ladder Ascension Belicoso Fino

Reading Time: 5 minutes

#NS: Southern Draw Jacob’s Ladder Ascension Belicoso Fino Cigar Review

Southern Draw Jacob’s Ladder Ascension Belicoso Fino

Factory: Tabacalera AJ Fernandez – Estelí, Nicaragua
Size: 5½” x 52, box pressed
Wrapper:  San Andres, Maduro Mexico
Binder: Nicaraguan Habano 2000
Filler: 75% Nicaraguan, 25% Nicaraguan Ligero

Presented in bundles of 10 cigars

cigar advisor #nowsmoking cigar review southern draw jacob's ladder ascension at famous smoke shop

The Jacob’s Ladder Ascension Belicoso Fino Cigar Back Story

This newest Southern Draw Jacob’s Ladder Ascension cigar is actually a 2013 version of the brand which was originally blended with a Mexican San Andrés wrapper, rather than the more familiar Pennsylvania Broadleaf. Box-pressed, as they’ve done with other Southern Draw Belicoso Fino sizes. to give the Ascension a little extra charm, the finished cigars are adorned with cedar sleeves.

cigar advisor #nowsmoking cigar review southern draw jacobs ladder ascension cigars on table

Not produced until September 2016 at AJ Fernandez Cigar Co. in Estelí, Nicaragua, the Ascension was finally released on September 23 of this year. It was also the 21st birthday of Ethan Jacob Holt, son of Sharon and Robert Holt, and for whom the Jacob’s Ladder line is named. In other news, Jacob, who coined the brand hashtag “#boldbutapproachable” for the brand, has also recently joined the company.

cigar advisor #nowsmoking cigar review southern draw jacobs ladder ascension cigar leaning on whiskey glass

So why the five-year delay? After the cigars were completed, Robert decided to hold off releasing them. He felt that something about this cigar was very special and put them aside until the aforementioned occasion. The first 10,000 cigars were released to Famous Smoke Shop, that debuted the cigar with an in-store event last month, while 100,000 in total will go into circulation nationwide.


The Basics At-a-Glance

Construction: Beautifully rolled and pressed; no soft spots at all. Removing the cedar, this cigar looks absolutely perfect. The San Andrés maduro wrapper is thick, flawless, and has a rich, oily, dark chocolate color. The cap is also well applied. At the foot, you can see the dark ligero leaf in the center, another sign of good construction.
Cold Draw: Perfect with a semisweet and earthy taste.
Base flavors: Earth, semisweet tobacco, tart citrus, cedar, baking spices.
Aroma: The wrapper was sweet and cedary, while the smoke was sharp and spicy.
Burn & Ash: As good as it gets. Even, with a thin carbon line, the burn reveals grey ashes that are remarkably stubborn.

cigar advisor #nowsmoking cigar review southern draw jacobs ladder ascension ash close up
#nowsmoking @famoussmokeshop: Beautifully box-pressed in a scrumptious San Andrés Maduro wrapper, the Jacob’s Ladder Ascension Belicoso Fino from Southern Draw Cigars issues an earthy, cedary, and spicy smoke layered with touches of tart fruit, nutmeg, and a hint of sweet tobacco. A full bodied, complex, and balanced smoke.


Jacob’s Ladder Ascension Belicoso Fino Cigar Review – Act I

cigar advisor #nowsmoking cigar review southern draw jacobs ladder ascension act 1

Peppery spice right out of the gate; no surprise there, since most Nicaraguans are frontloaded. The spice settled down a little faster than usual, ushering in a very smooth, medium-body smoke that was earthy but ran a little sweeter in the first inch. From the mid to latter part of this section the cigar offered plenty of earth, some underlying sweetness, tart fruit notes, and cedar. I also noticed that the finish was very clean. Arriving at the border of Act II, the body had shifted to medium plus and picked up slightly in strength.


Jacob’s Ladder Ascension Belicoso Fino Cigar Review – Act II

cigar advisor #nowsmoking cigar review southern draw jacobs ladder ascension act 2

Not much change in the midsection. Still medium plus in strength, earthy, a little sweet, and cedary. The fruity note tended to come and go. The cigar was very well balanced, and if they gave ratings for burn it would be a 99. Moving on, the cigar remained smooth and creamy. Here again I picked up that citrusy note. So far, the performance was excellent. The smoke output was also pretty hazy, and I was still trying to figure out how they got such a clean finish.


Jacob’s Ladder Ascension Belicoso Fino Cigar Review – Act III

cigar advisor #nowsmoking cigar review southern draw jacobs ladder ascension act 3

As the needle tilted into the red in body, the strength remained bold but never became overbearing. Some flavors had left the stage, but the smoke maintained a good balance. By this point, the sweetness had pretty much faded. As the Belicoso approached the final inches, the cedar, earth, and baking spices took their last gasp.


What whiskey pairs well with the Jacob’s Ladder Ascension cigar?

Espresso, for sure. As for the harder stuff, a nice bourbon that’s a little on the sweeter side.

For more combinations, see our Cigar & Spirit pairing guide.


Is the Southern Draw Jacob’s Ladder Ascension cigar worth smoking?

As excellent as the Mexican San Andrés maduro wrapper is on the Ascension, I didn’t find it as sweet as I have on other cigars with that wrapper. In this case, I think the ligero may have overpowered it a little, and maybe that was the desired effect. Southern Draw doesn’t do sweet. They do full-bodied, full-flavored, generally spicy, and they’re really good at it. Southern Draw doesn’t just make cigars, they make Southern Draw cigar smokers.

cigar advisor #nowsmoking cigar review southern draw jacobs ladder ascension ligero
The darker tobaccos shown in the yellow circle are Ligero primings – the strongest of the filler leaves.

When you also consider the cigar’s smoothness, balance, and extra-long aging, the Ascension is certainly more user friendly than the mainline Jacob’s Ladders. It even lives up to its “bold but approachable” hashtag. Personally, I think it would make an excellent after dinner cigar to be savored slowly with a sweet bourbon or whiskey. Even Robert Holt says the Ascension is “intended to be smoked patiently, allowing the tobaccos to warm gradually so you can appreciate the transitions in body and flavor as you would a pint of Guinness or their favorite IPA Stout.”

Finally, it’s not for beginners, but if you’re curious about how extra ligero impacts a blend like this, or if you love dark, refined, rich tasting Nicaraguan blends, the Ascension is gonna do right by you.

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Gary Korb

Gary Korb

Executive Editor

Gary Korb has been writing and editing content for since its debut in 2008. An avid cigar smoker for over 30 years, he has worked on the marketing side of the premium cigar business as a Sr. Copywriter, blogger, and Executive Editor of Cigar Advisor. A graduate of the Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University, prior to his career in the cigar business, Gary worked in the music and video industry as a marketer and a publicist.

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