Stronger, Darker Highclere Castle Coming From Melillo
The Highclere Castle cigar is getting a sequel, and this new edition will be stronger and darker than the original. Highclere Castle Victorian will make its debut at the annual cigar industry trade show, which begins on June 28.
The new smoke is called Highclere Castle Victorian, a nod to the time of Queen Victoria, who ruled Great Britain from 1837 to 1901. During that time, Highclere Castle was transformed from a much smaller house into the immense and well-known mansion—it has more than 200 rooms and sits on 5,000 acres—that served as the setting for the popular television series “Downton Abbey.”
On paper, the new Highclere Castle Victorian looks identical to the original: Ecuador wrapper, Brazilian Mata Fina binder and a filler blend that’s entirely Nicaraguan. But the cigars are far from the same.
“It’s a completely different blend,” cigarmaker Nick Melillo told Cigar Aficionado. “The only commonality is the Mata Fina Brazil binder.”
The wrapper used on Highclere Castle Victorian is high-priming Ecuador Habano, grown in the same country but from a different seed, resulting in a much darker appearance and stronger flavor.
The original Highclere Castle is a lighter cigar, cloaked with Connecticut-seed wrapper from Ecuador. In a November 2018 vertical brand tasting published in Cigar Insider, the twice-monthly cigar newsletter from Cigar Aficionado, the original Highclere Castle brand showed consistency. The five cigars rated between 88 and 89 points. All showed a mild- to medium-body, save for the toro, which was rated medium in body.
Melillo described the new smoke as full bodied. It will come in five sizes: Churchill, 7 inches by 48 ring gauge; Toro, 6 by 52; Robusto, 5 by 50; Corona, 5 1/2 by 46; and Petit Corona, 5 by 42. They will range in price from $12 to $16 per cigar.
Highclere Castle is owned by George Carnavon, the eighth Earl of Carnarvon, who is actively involved in the cigar venture. “Good food, good wine and the best cigars have been part of our weekends, entertaining friends and guests from around the world,” he said.
Highclere Castle Victorian is a collaboration between Highclere Castle Cigar Co. and Foundation Cigar Co., owned by Melillo. Foundation is on a hot streak right now, having the No. 3 cigar of 2018, the 95-point Wise Man Maduro Robusto.
The cigars are rolled at A.J. Fernandez's Tabacalera A.J. Fernandez Cigars de Nicaragua. Melillo expects them to ship in August, but said the first shipment would be limited.