By Michael Aaron Gallagher
After trying many of the highest-rated cigars in the world, I often returned to the Nat Sherman Timeless #2 (Nicaraguan Blend) 556. Everything about the cigar fit me perfectly. I liked the design of the black wooden box it came in, the box pressed shape of the cigars, the ring gauge, the look of the Nat Sherman cigar band and most importantly the cigar itself, which had notes of cocoa and pepper, with a creamy nuttiness that seemed to go perfectly after any meal or time of the day.
I made plans to visit the Nat Sherman Townhouse on Fifth Avenue in New York City but then the pandemic hit and I put my trip on hold. As I moved away from cigars during that time, I missed the announcement that Nat Sherman International was sold to Altria and then subsequently ceased operations. When I finally found out the news, it was too late to purchase the last of my favorite cigars at the local cigar shop. Fortunately, I had held on to a few sticks that were mis-cared for and no longer smokable, but I knew I could at least use them for a photography project.
So what made Nat Sherman cigars such an iconic part of my life? The story of the brand is a blend of grit and glamour. Like the city it sprung out of, a Nat Sherman cigar was a cigar that never sleeps. Their brands were perfect for any time of the day and a premium hand-rolled cigar priced right for any occasion.
The first Nat Sherman store opened up on Broadway in New York City in 1930 by Nat Sherman himself. There are stories about Sherman running a sort of speakeasy in the days of alcohol prohibition. It eventually evolved into a respectable cigarette and cigar business and the rest is history. There are even tales of rival mafia bosses buying cigars at the same time. Whether it was a celebrity or an average Joe, Nat Sherman was a luxury brand for every man.
When a player scored a touchdown or made a great play, Giants commentator Bob Papa would say “Get that man a Nat Sherman cigar!” It was clear that the brand was a part of Americana and an important player in the world of premium cigars in the United States.
The brand itself continued its steady rise under the direction of Joel Sherman, who eventually took over as President and Chief Executive Officer of Nat Sherman International. It not only expanded its product lines but also masterfully revamped its marketing and branding with the genius work of Michael Herklots (now the man behind Ferio Tego cigars).
Whether it was famous mobsters or New York City mayors, a visit to the Nat Sherman store was a must. According to Joel Sherman, celebrities like John Wayne, Sammy Davis, Jr. and Ava Gardner were frequently seen in the shop on Broadway. He also discussed in his book, “Nat Sherman’s A Passion For Cigars,” how John Grisham, Harry Connick, Jr., David Letterman, Will Smith, Woody Harrelson, Robert De Niro, Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenneger were all known to have their favorite Nat Sherman brand cigars.
When I learned that the company no longer existed, I was profoundly saddened that I, along with many others, would never be able to enjoy that retail experience that was such an important cultural piece of New York City lore.
And then the idea came to me —even though I could never visit the Nat Sherman Townhouse and interview Michael Herklots about my favorite Timeless cigar, maybe I could create a space that had original Nat Sherman memorabilia and bring that classic luxury cigar lounge feel to my own living space.
As I pondered what my new #1 cigar would be, I learned that Ferio Tego would be reviving the Timeless brand and perhaps I would be able to continue to enjoy my favorite cigar after all. Although I still haven’t come across the Timeless Supreme by Ferio Tego (the new name of the cigar), I look forward to buying some more when I do and adding them to my humidor.
I like to think that somewhere out there in an alternate universe, or perhaps Heaven itself, the Nat Sherman Townhouse, like a forbidden speakeasy, still exists with a humidor filled with Timeless cigars and a luxurious cigar lounge where the rich and powerful go to share a smoke with the “every man” and the original Nat Sherman brand lives on.