Five cigar recommendations from Nat Sherman's Michael Herklots

A leading Manhattan tobacconist says you should look out for these stogies.

Michael Herklots
Michael Herklots smokes a cigar at the Nat Sherman Townhouse in Midtown Manhattan. Dustin Cohen

Nat Sherman has a unique brand identity among the “legacy” names in premium cigars. Having gotten its start in retail in New York City, the brand has become well known all over the world thanks to its own high-quality cigar brands (though they also have an excellent reputation in the premium cigarette world). You can learn more about the company's history in this piece from Cigar Aficionado.

Still, the company’s roots are in retail.

In fact, the Nat Sherman Townhouse in Midtown Manhattan is one of the premier cigar shops in the country. Because of this, they’re uniquely knowledgeable not only about their own product, but about the broader market. I went to Michael Herklots, Nat Sherman’s VP of retail and brand development, to find out which 5 cigars he recommends you pick up should you ever encounter them in a store’s humidor.

Nat Sherman Joel Sherman 75th Celebration

“This was a cigar created to celebrate our President, CEO and patriarch Joel Sherman’s 75th birthday. It’s special for a number of reasons. First, it’s the first limited-edition commemorative cigar for the company, and the first cigar ever to celebrate Joel — a well-deserved tribute,” said Michael. “The cigar was created with him solely in mind, from his humor to his grace, his history not only in the tobacco industry but also as a young drummer. The cigar truly embodies Mr. Sherman.

The cigar itself starts quite mellow, but at 7.5” there is a great platform for change, and the cigar really changes and develops in strength and flavor concluding with a full-bodied, rich and incredibly complex experience.”

Nat Sherman 85th Anniversary

The reason I select this cigar is it is literally the opposite of the Joel Sherman 75th.

While it still maintains our standards and values of manufacturing, and our dedication to balance and flavor over strength, it is indeed full-bodied with a fully entubado-bunched blend of Nicaraguan fillers and binder, finished with a beautiful Dominican wrapper,” said Michael. Entubado is a term that refers to a specific method of bunching filler tobacco, in which each leaf of filler is individually rolled into a loose tube shape before being bunched together with other fillers and covered in a binder leaf. That method of bunching requires more skill and is generally reserved for premium products. “While the aforementioned Joel Sherman 75th is quite retrospective in paying homage to our patriarch, the 85th Anniversary is more indicative of our commitment to our future, and demonstrates clearly that we can deliver very relevant, new-world-style cigars without compromising our old-world ethics.”

Nat Sherman hosted an event at its Townhouse store in July 2015 to celebrate its 85th anniversary. Check out the photos from Cigar Snob Magazine (where I'm the senior editor) here.

Quesada Reserva Privada

“For the better part of the last 10 years, craft industries have gotten a little nuts about ‘-est.’ The strongest cigar, the hoppiest beer, the peatiest whisky.

But I don’t find those extremes pleasant.  I enjoy full-bodied cigars, but I enjoy cigars that I taste more than I feel. The Quesada Reserva Privada is really a refreshing reminder that premium cigars can be mild, yet flavorful,” said Michael. It's worth noting that the Quesada family's factory in the Dominican Republic manufactures a number of Nat Sherman products.

Padrón 50th Anniversary Natural

“We all know that Padrón makes incredible cigars, from their classic line all the way to the top.  As I’ve been fortunate enough to smoke probably every Padrón cigar produced over the last 15 years or so, each Padrón cigar, as you climb within the different lines from the 1964 to the 1926 and into the family reserves, offers a slightly different take on what I like to call the Padrón ‘house’ style and flavor,” said Michael.

“But the 50th, and for me in particular the Natural, really does stand out as a new expression of the Padrón flavor. It’s ballsy, with broad flavors and a strength that is pushing… well… strong. But, their ability to maintain a level of finesse makes this particular cigar worth every penny.”

Note: Two other tobacconists have included Padrón products when I've asked them to recommend five cigars. Dan Schmitt (of Dallas' Up In Smoke stores) and Aquiles Legra (of Sabor Havana Cigars in Doral, Fla.) both put Padróns on their lists, and Padrón is the only company that has been named by every tobacconist I have approached for these lists so far.

Ashton Classic Magnum

“My fifth must-buy is an Ashton Magnum. The premium cigar world is a ‘non-vintage’ industry. While wine collectors know, expect and embrace that their favorite producer’s 2009 Cabernet is going to taste different than the 2008, in premium cigars, our consumers demand consistency year after year, requiring blends to be tweaked over the years due to variations crop to crop, to keep the same flavor,” said Michael. “Ashton was literally the very first smoke I ever tasted, back in 1998. And I liked it. And I liked it so much, I’ve been fortunate enough to make a living in the premium cigar industry since 1999. Many of the cigars I enjoyed 15 years ago, though perhaps still on the market, are not the same cigars. And that’s simply because there was not enough attention paid to maintaining the experience of those blends over the years. But Ashton, under the guidance of the Fuente family, have maintained this incredible cigar year after year after year. In a day and age when everyone is asking for what’s new, one can’t truly appreciate the experience of new cigars without experiencing the cigars that likely inspired the direction of what ‘new’ really means.  And you would be hard-pressed to find any cigar manufacturer that has not themselves enjoyed, and found inspiration in, a classic Ashton cigar.”

Ashton's core line of cigars comes in a variety of vitolas (or sizes).

In this case, Magnum refers to the size of the cigar; that's the name Ashton uses for its 5x50. You can find a full listing of the sizes in which this cigar is made here