Kurt Kendall’s 7-20-4 cigar has a colorful history, one that began in 1874 when R.G. Sullivan began making cigars in Manchester, New Hampshire. Starting with a single cigar roller, the company grew to employ over 1500 people by 1924 and at that time was producing 80 million cigars a year. Sullivan was known as America’s largest manufacturer of “ten cent” cigars. As the company grew, the factory changed locations several times, as did the brand name. Gold Dust Ten Cent Cigars, as they were known, became 7-20-4, derived from the factory’s address: 724 Elm Street.
Sullivan’s factory continued on for many years thereafter, but it finally closed in 1963 as yet another casualty of the U.S.-Cuban trade embargo. The building itself still stands, and has evidently been rehabilitated for use as office space. (But before you sign that lease, know there are rumors that the building is haunted.)
The brand name 7-20-4 was revived when cigar maker Kurt Kendall secured the trademark in 2008. Today 7-20-4 cigars are made in the Tabacos de Oriente factory in Honduras, utilizing leaf from five countries: filler from Nicaragua, Honduras, Mexico and Colombia, a Costa Rican binder, and a Brazilian Mata Fina wrapper. The cigars are rolled using the entubado method to ensure a consistently even draw. With the recently added lancero, there are now six sizes in production:
- Corona – 5.625 x 46
- Churchill – 7 x 48
- Gran Toro – 6.5 x 56
- Robusto – 5 x 50
- Torpedo – 6.125 x 52
- Lancero – 7.5 x 38
With its pigtail cap the 7-20-4 lancero does in fact look a bit like a lance. All it lacks is a bell guard and a tiny knight errant. The Brazilian wrapper is a uniform maduro in color, rich in appearance, and a little bit dry. A potential pitfall of the lancero size is a difficult draw, but utilizing the entubado rolling method seems to have eliminated the chance of that happening here. Just one of the three I smoked for review offered more resistance than I prefer, and the other two were perfect. The burn was dead even in each case and the narrow ash held longer than I expected it to.
Overall construction: excellent.
The flavors and aroma of this cigar are pleasantly complex, and it wastes no time in presenting them. It introduces itself with pepper on the tongue and palate, in moderation, and the smoke is cool and surprisingly creamy. The foundation flavor is crisp and woody, similar to Illusione’s Original Document blend but without the sharpness. The aroma is rich and syrupy with chocolate and cedar spices.
I was expecting the cigar to exhibit a transition at some point, but it doesn’t change too much, aside from a general darkening from wood to char. Not every smoke needs a second and third act, however. The overall complexity of the 7-20-4 makes up for its lack of evolution, so there’s no room for complaint. Maybe it’s just human nature to ask for improvement when it’s already good to start with. Like raking your kid over the coals for that A- in AP Calculus.
Complexity and smoothness are what I really prize in my favorite smokes, and the 7-20-4 lancero has both. I shy away from lanceros because of the construction problems endemic to the size, but that’s not a concern at all with the 7-20-4. Entubado rolling and quality control have quelled those worries.
The lanceros run in the $8 USD range. Treat yourself for the holidays and pick up a few.