(95 Rating; #10 Cigar of 2020)
A light wrapper on a cigar normally indicates a mild or medium-bodied smoking experience. That’s not the case here. Don’t let the outer leaf fool you—the Henry Clay War Hawk Corona has some serious kick. Henry Clays have traditionally been dark cigars wrapped in broadleaf, but for the War Hawk, Altadis decided to cloak this cigar in a lighter shade of Ecuador Connecticut and put the darker broadleaf underneath as a binder, making the War Hawk a sort of Henry Clay turned inside out. The rest of the tobacco is from Honduras, amounting to a blend that pops with notes of citrus, spice and nutmeg. The flavors are bright and lively, with a sneaky strength that tends to surprise you—much like the alcohol in your fourth glass of sangria.
War Hawk isn’t the first attempt by Altadis to bring this old brand into the 21st century, but it’s certainly the most memorable. It’s also a bargain. For students of history, Henry Clay was leader of the War Hawk faction while serving as Speaker of the House in the early 1800s. War Hawks were known for their aggressive stance on political issues and often favored war over diplomacy. This might explain the cigar’s unexpected strength, though we wouldn’t necessarily call this blend “hawkish.” Just delicious.