7-20-4 is name that can trace its roots farther back than many others. It all goes back to 1874, when Roger G. Sullivan founded the R.G. Sullivan Cigar Company in Manchester, NH. The company started with 350 rollers, and over a span of 80 years R.G. Sullivan Cigar Company would grow to be one of the largest cigar manufactures of its time. In particular, the 7-20-4 line would become R.G. Sullivan’s most famous. While the exact history appears to be somewhat blurred, it appears that the company finally was laid to rest in 1963 as a result of the Cuban Embargo.
Fast forward around 50 years and meet a man named Kurt A. Kendall, a shop owner with a passion for history and a penchant for collecting cigar memorabilia. Kurt has made it a point to track down and research some of the cigars that were hallmarks of previous eras, and has begun to acquire the rights to their names. The Spider is one of several that Kurt has revived in the past several years. While details are somewhat scarce on the original Spider line, we do know a bit. It popped up in Somersworth, NH in the 1930s, and the name managed to secure a prestigious position on the top 10 list for worst cigar brand names of all time, a feat not achieved by many.
Cigar: K.A. Kendall’s Spider by 7-20-4 Cigars
Size: 6×52 Toro
Wrapper: Nicaragan Jalapa
Filler: Nicaraguan Jalapa, Colombian, Honduran Jamastran
Appearance and Pre-light Aroma:
K.A. Kendall’s Spider is a dark brown vein-y bastard, with some darker blotches scattered down it’s length. The wrapper is smooth and oily to the touch, with very fine tooth all throughout.
The Spider smells absolutely delicious with strong aromas of cocoa powder, grassy barnyard, and subtle oriental spices. The dry draw is smooth and sees mostly more cocoa, but a bit more rich.
They say first impressions are everything, and K.A. Kendall’s Spider knows how to make an entrance. A complex blend of earthy barnyard notes make up the base of the profile, accentuated by creamy rich chocolate. The real finesse comes in the way in which this cigar is balanced. While there are many great manufactures putting out good cigars, more so than ever, very few actually capture the true art of blending. The greats know how to take the right leaves, at the right stage in their development, and put them together in way that not only brings out the best in each leaf, but also sees the leaves bringing out in the best in each other. K.A. Kendall’s Spider captures this concept brilliantly, and thus its flavor profile stands out distinctly as an experience that can only be had by actually smoking a Spider. Red pepper begins to seep into the background, adding a nice touch to the whole profile.
The aforementioned red pepper seems to have settled itself into a reserved niche, present but not overbearingly so. The body has transformed from being creamy into something better described as ‘damp’. New additions to profile are a strong oak note, and just a pinch of leather on the tail-end of the finish. The sweeter cocoa flavors have largely scaled back, taking on a slightly more tangy characteristic, but do remain in the fold. Retrohaling is particularly enjoyable, with a warm wave of red pepper, soft leather, and cinnamon giving a nice little jolt to the nostrils.
K.A. Kendall’s Spider enters its finale on its boldest notes. The same flavors are still in the game, but the Spider has added a flavorful dark roasted coffee note to its roster. At this stage in the game the Spider’s profile is predominantly wood, particularly oak, red and black pepper, and minerals. Balance is first-rate, as it has been since the first puff.
Burn and Construction:
The combustion process with K.A. Kendall’s Spider was good, but not great. Things went smooth overall, never requiring a re-light, but more than a couple of touch-ups were needed. The temperature stayed in the perfect range, avoiding any sort of temperature-related bitterness. The draw was more or less in the ballpark of what I consider ideal; firm but not tight. Smoke output was medium and gratifying.
I thought K.A. Kendall’s Spider was an excellent cigar, and one that will definitely be put into the rotation. I place a very high priority on balance, complexity, and most importantly – individuality. The Spider excels in all three categories, which sees it gaining quite a bit of favor with my palate. The use of more exotic tobacco from unusual countries is something that I am a strong proponent of, as these tobaccos can typically offer nuances that aren’t found elsewhere. When utilized well, as it is in the case with of Spider, you end up with an exotic and unique cigar that there is simply no replacement for.
My only real grievance is the packaging and band. To me, the packaging comes across as bit corny, and something that might be found on a cheap bundle cigar. Ironically enough, K.A. Kendall’s Spider comes in 20 count bundles, but isn’t exactly cheap at nearly $11 per stick. The cigar definitely stands out and is well worth the price, but there is no doubt that a fair number of people will dismiss this cigar purely by its presentation. Additionally, the bundles ship to the retailer with an accompanying glass-top humidor/case. The build quality is solid, featuring a magnetic seal that works quite well. However, given the size of the case it becomes extremely impractical. No retailer stands a chance of being able to actually put it on a shelf, thus creating a dilemma of how to actually sell thing. Finding a spot for the case/humidor in the Cigar King humidor was a venture that I found to be more than annoying. I won’t come down too hard on 7-20-4 for this, as they’re far from the only offender of this.
Overall, this a genuinely good cigar, and one that I am quite happy to have discovered. Great flavor, great aroma, and is enjoyable from start to finish. What more can you want? I’ll likely pick up a bundle in the near future for my personal stash, and I’ll most definitely be keeping an eye out for Kurt’s next release.
4 out 5