So the question is, of course, who is TED? This is a mystery the makers of Ted’s Made by Hand choose to leave unsolved. For the moment Ted appears to be a riddle wrapped in an enigma wrapped in a bunch of advertising rhetoric, but hey, ya gotta sell cigars somehow. I’ll say this much for Ted’s right off the bat: the distributor was kind enough to offer up a hundred sticks to Club Stogie members to try for free, and that’s about as classy as it gets.
A little research shows that Emprise Cigars, the distributor of Ted’s, is also the outfit behind Maker’s Mark and Courvoisier flavored cigars. Following the thread, it turns out that behind Emprise is English Emprise, a company that specializes in building brands and “riding the coattails of brand loyalty.” Among other licensees in the Emprise stable are the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and the Rudy Giuliani Presidential Committee. (And if you didn’t think the leader of the free world could be a brand, check out the George W. Bush store. The Spalding Group is another Emprise company.) And who is the man behind English Emprise, the Spalding Group, and Emprise Cigars? An entrepreneur named Ted Jackson. Gotcha, Ted.
Ted’s website is sharp, if a bit flashy, and offers up this information about the blend: a Connecticut Shade wrapper, a Dominican binder, and filler from Brazil, Nicaragua and a little more DR. (What Ted’s website does not say, but Cigar Insider does, is that Ted’s cigars are made by Victor Sinclair.) They are rolled in the DR, after which they are packed in “seamless, foil debossed wood boxes.” I’m no design expert, but it looks like Ted has the packaging down pat.
But wait… there’s more! The test package that arrived in my mail box was a marketing marvel: a thin cardboard sleeve holding a box that opens like a book. On the verso a nice photo of some good old boys in a corn field having a laugh and smoking Ted’s handmade cigars. The picture spills over onto the recto side where recessed in the page is another cardboard box containing one of Ted’s finest 6 x 50 Connecticut Shade toros. Snazzy!
On to the cigar, with a caveat: my impressions are based on sampling one cigar only. Bearing that in mind…
Ted’s toro comes equipped with a standard ring in the usual place, plus a large paper sleeve of questionable value that is difficult to remove without damaging the wrapper leaf. The wrapper itself appears smooth and dry with moderate veining but is slightly marred by a pea-sized greenish discoloration near the band.
The prelight scent is grassy. I used a straight cut and took a prelight pull: easy, a little too easy maybe. The prelight flavor is typical light tobacco with a little alfalfa.
It lights without much effort and maintains an even burn for the next hour, leaving a light gray to white ash that flakes a bit and crumbles in the ashtray. As a personal preference I like a tighter draw, but the cigar never burns hot or suffers from burn problems, so the loose draw can’t really be called a construction defect.
Ted’s Made By Hand is a mild cigar with a pleasant floral aroma. The base flavor is nutty with a light woody element that gets increasingly vegetal as the smoke progresses. There isn’t a whole lot of complexity here and the only transition I noticed was at the band, where the flavor starts to muddy and gradually bitters out. The highlight of this cigar is the aroma — a really nice, lightly spiced floral scent. Despite the discoloration, this turns out to be a sweet wrapper.
About the worst I can say about Ted’s is that it’s a little on the boring side. It needs a companion like the Sunday morning paper or some other light diversion. For me it’s more of an accent smoke than a centerpiece. It just didn’t hold my attention all that well.
Fans of lighter bodied cigars in Connecticut Shade will probably dig Ted’s Made By Hand. Otherwise I think they would probably make good breakfast smokes. Retail prices are a little steep, but it looks like discounts can be found, knocking the box price down to around 90 USD for a box of 20. A reasonable price for an aromatic morning cigar.