Gran Fabrica Drew Estate

Drew Estate, Esteli, Nicaragua

Undercrown Sun Grown Belicoso

As I wrote in my review of the Undercrown Sungrown Flying Pig, this cigar was given to me by the man himself, Willy Herrera, at the intertabac trade show last year. I met Willy years ago, when he just started working for Drew Estate and have met him several times since mostly at the factory of his inlaws and the place where he got his claim to fame: El Titan de Bronze, a must see if you’re ever in Miami.


I have been to the Drew Estate HQ in Miami a few times, I have been to the factory in Esteli a few times and I can only say that I have mad respect for the company that Jonathan Drew built, starting from a push cart at the World Trade Center to one of the biggest and most modern factories in the world, from just cigar sales to being a major manufacturer and then rebranding yourself from a infused cigar manufacturer to a well respected and loved brand by serious cigar smokers, all the while being different then others with incorporating art, the style, the culture and of course the immense social media coverage. Kudos.


As the cigar, its a 6×52 Belicoso. The Ecuadorian Sumatra sun grown wrapper has a little tooth and a little oil. Maybe because the wrapper is bigger than on the Flying Pig, but it looks a little rougher and less smooth. The ring is the same, the classic Undercrown logo in gold on a red background and the foot ring is in the same color scheme. The construction feels good with a nice round head on the belicoso. The aroma is barnyard with manure, medium to full in strength.


Due to the shape cutting the cigar is my only option. The cold draw is great, with quite some pepper on my lips. After lighting I taste coffee. I also taste a little citrus and wood. After a quarter of an inch I taste more cinnamon and lemon, the coffee is gone. Some pepper shows up too. After a third it’s wood, pepper and some lime. Halfway I taste a mild peanut with lime and pepper. The final third is wood with pepper and a mild floral flavor.


The draw is great and the smoke is typical Drew Estate, thick, white and plentiful. The light gray ash is firm and dense. The burn is straight. The cigar starts medium bodied but turns full bodied, full flavored along the way. The smoke time is an hour and forty minutes.

Would I buy this cigar again? Hell yeah

Score: 91
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Categories: 91, Gran Fabrica Drew Estate, Nicaraguan cigars, Undercrown | Tags: , , , , , ,

Herrera Esteli Short Corona Gorda

Whenever I am in Miami, and that used to be once a year, I would always stop by El Titan de Bronze to say hi to Sandy Cobas. And every time I said I went to El Titan people would ask me “did you see Willy, their master blender?” and the answer would always be “no”. For some reason I always missed Willy when I went to that beautiful, cozy, wonderful and small factory on Calle Ocho that I love so much. And then Willy left, Drew Estate made him an offer he couldn’t refuse so he made the transfer. Then I met Willy, at the Drew Estate offices when I dropped by to say hello to Jonathan. Ever since, whenever I’m at El Titan de Bronze I run into Willy there too, it’s weird but funny.


Now back in february 2014 I went to Nicaragua and at the time my then employer had dropped Drew Estate, they didn’t sign with Agio yet so all the new stuff was not distributed in The Netherlands. While at the Gran Fabrica Drew Estate JD gave me a box of the Herrera Esteli Short Corona Gorda with the words “you can’t get these, enjoy them”. Jonathan is a great and generous person and not just because he gave me a box of cigars. These Nicaraguan made cigars with an Ecuadorean habano wrapper didn’t do it for me so fresh but now that I aged them a bit they became much better, so it’s time to do a review.


The wrapper is actually quite mild for a habano wrapper, but I guess the clouds in Ecuador that make their connecticut naturally shade grown did their work on this habano too. I see a thin veil from the bottom almost to the top and it gives the cigar some character, like a scar can make someone more attractive. The aroma is quite strong, it reminds me of hay and a sweaty horse smell. The ring is simple yet beautiful, its a square, white with simple red letters saying Herrera Esteli imported from Nicaragua with a thick golden outline. On the sides there is a whole bunch of text about the cigar being made with the best tobacco at the Gran Fabrica Drew Estate and its too much to copy it all. If you want to read it, go buy a Herrera Esteli.


I punched the cigar, the cold draw is good with a flavor of hay and quite some pepper. I lit the cigar with a soft flame and taste a strong yet mildly sweet espresso. After a few puffs there is also a mild salty flavor to the cigar, which is quite nice. After an inch I taste a mild caramel, some nuts, pepper and cedar. There is a mild harshness to the flavors in the front of my mouth. Right before the halfway point the nutty flavor is getting a little stronger just like the pepper. After two thirds the nuttiness is gaining strength and is now up to par with the pepper. In the aftertaste I get a very mild minty flavor. The nuts are a mix of salted peanuts, walnuts and macadamia.


The smoke is fantastic, just like all Drew Estate cigar this Herrera Estelí has a lot of thick smoke. The ash is white too, dense and firm. The draw is flawless. The burn is good, not perfect though but good. The smoke time is a hour.

Would I buy this cigar again? Yes, and I know there is a limited edition lancero out there somewhere, I want one or two to try

Score: 90

90

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MUWAT Baitfish Gary

This undercrown spin-off was originally named ‘my uzi’ but when Jonathan Drew got his hands on the cigar he noticed the weight and said ‘my uzi weighs a ton’, which happens to be a song from fellow New Yorkers Public NME and that name stuck.


At first the line was ment to be a 60 ring gauge line with a 5×60, 6×60 and 7×60 but the market demanded thinner sizes to Drew Estate released a corona, named Corona Viva and a 4×44 named after JD’s father Gary, baitfish Gary. And I met Gary on several occasions, at Jonathan’s House in Miami, at the factory in Estelí, Nicaragua and at the Intertabac trade show in Dortmund Germany where he gave me this cigar to smoke.


The wrapper is dark and feels leathery, it has a tough look on it. The ring is cool, black with silver text all over it, and a lot of text in different size fonts, vertical instead of horizontal. The cigar feels evenly packed, has a well rounded head and a a decent triple cap. The aroma is medium full and reminds me of wet woods after a rainfall mixed with stable aromas.


I cut the cigar with my Xikar butterfly cutter. The cold draw is good and I taste a spicy, meaty raisin flavor. After lighting I taste a sweet yet strong coffee. After a few puffs I taste a spicy dry cedar with cinnamon and vanilla. Halfway the cigar is spicy with some lemon, cinnamon, vanilla and pepper.


The draw is great and the smoke is typical Drew Estate, thick, full and extremely much. The burn is pretty straight and the white ash is dense and firm. This cigar is medium full bodied and flavored. The smoke time is forty minutes.

Would I buy this cigar again? I’m glad I have a few five packs.

Score: 92
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Categories: 92, Gran Fabrica Drew Estate, Nicaraguan cigars, Undercrown | Tags: , , , , ,

Undercrown Shade Gordito

One, this is going to be a tricky one, straight from the start this cigar has two things against it: It’s a 60 ring gauge and it has a Connecticut shade wrapper, although that last part isn’t a problem as it used to be anymore since my preferences are changing and my hate for Connecticut Shade wrappers has faded a little, there are even some Connecticut Shade cigars that I like including the Undercrown Shade Flying Pig.


The Undercrown lines all have a different blend, it’s not just a different wrapper but a whole new blend to begin with, both for the Undercrown Shade as the Undercrown Sun Grown. The Shade is made from Dominican Criollo, Nicaraguan Corojo and Criollo with a Sumatra binder and an Ecuadorian Connecticut Shade wrapper. While all the blends differ, the vitolas in all the lines are the same.


The wrapper is pale and smooth, as a Connecticut Shade should be and a little shiny. The ring is the regular undercrown ring in white and gold, that means a golden lion on a turned around crown on a white background. The foot ring is white with golden letters shade and golden outlines. The construction feels good and the cigar is well shaped, a well rounded head. The cigar has a distinct aroma of grass and those broth cubes you can buy at the supermarket to make soup.


I punched the cigar as I tend to do with big ring gauges. The cold draw is perfect. The cold draw is almost flavorless, just a hint of raisin. After lighting with a soft flame I taste a mild leather and peanuts flavor. After a few puffs I taste sugar too. And then I get that typical Connecticut Shade mustiness. After an inch I taste a mild leather with sugar and that mustiness. Only halfway the flavor changes a little, a bit of pepper joins. The pepper slowly gains some strength. With an inch to to the cigar turns.


The draw is great. The light colored ash is dense and firm. The burn needed some corrections. The white smoke is medium in thickness and volume. This cigar is mild to medium bodied and medium flavored. The smoke time is an hour and forty five minutes.

Would I buy this cigar again? No, The wrapper and the vitola are a no.

Score: 86


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Liga Privada #9 Belicoso

I remember getting my first Liga Privada, that was back in 2009 on a road trip along the east coast. We had a herf at every stop and one of the guys in Fayetteville, NC, handed me a Liga Privada and said it was one of his favorite cigars. I saw ‘Drew Estate’ on the ring and said NO! NO! but he persuaded me, said it wasn’t infused and a great stick. I smoked it and loved it, a lot. Although it seems that the flavor and quality changed a little over the years due to different years of crops.


There are only a few pairs of rollers that are allowed to roll these cigars and only in a limited quantity per day. If you have been to the Drew Estate factory you probably have seen them sitting in a room apart from the main factory floor. That room is only used to roll the Liga Privada #9 and T52. The #9 is made out of Nicaraguan and Honduran filler, a Brazilian binder and Connecticut Broadleaf wrapper. The Belicoso is 6×52 sized.


The wrapper looks amazing, dark, oily, leathery, its just a pleasant cigar to look at. The ring is simple yet tasteful, on one side there is the lion shaped Liga logo in silver on a black background while the rest of the ring is off white with gray lettering saying Gran Fabrica Drew Estate and then in a curly, almost hand written, font in black letters Liga Privada #9. The cigar feels well constructed and the shape is beautiful with a little flat head on the belicoso shape. The aroma is unique, its like a fence that has been tarred a week ago, you still smell a bit of the tar but it’s not overpowering anymore.


I cut the cigar, the cold draw is great, spicy and peppery. The first flavors after lighting are coffee and cocoa. After half an inch the cigar is spicy and meaty. The flsvors are dark with a little red pepper. After a third I taste meaty wood with some sweetness, spices and pepper. The cigar taste different than how I remember Liga Privada. A title chocolate shows up too. Halfway the cigar tastes like cedar, herbs and peppery, just like I remember. The final third is cedar, herbs, pepper and carrot. The pepper fases away.


The draw is great and the smoke, I don’t know what Drew Estate is doing to their cigars but they are all smoke bombs, thick, full and white. The dense and firm ash is white as can be. The burn is pretty straight. This is a full bodied, full flavored cigar. The smoke time is an hour and forty five minutes.

Would I buy this cigar again? I have some stashed away

Score: 91
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Categories: 91, Gran Fabrica Drew Estate, Liga Privada, Nicaraguan cigars | Tags: , , , , ,

Undercrown Sun Grown Flying Pig

When I was at the intertabac trade show Willy Herrera, whom I had not seen in a few years, the last time was at El Titan de Bronze in Miami in 2014, handed me one of his latest creations, the Undercrown Sun Grown in a belicoso format (review will follow in a few months) but the next day one of my sources gave me the same blen
d in the legendary Flying Pig format. I thought of keeping the cigar in my humidor, with the other Flying Pigs I have but decided to light it anyway since cigars are meant to me smoked.


The Undercrown Sun Grown is made from Nicaraguan filler, a stalk cut binder from the Connecticut River Valley and a Sun Grown Sumatra wrapper from Ecuador. It’s the third line under the Undercrown label, the first was created by the rollers at the Drew Estate factory after they got told that they couldn’t smoke Liga Privada no more, the second was the Shade. I wonder what the next will be, a Maduro? Oscuro? Cameroon? Rosado? Time will tell.


The shape of the cigar is ace, a little bomb shape with a pig tale, it looks funny and even though other companies use the same shape, everybody recognizes it as “that flying pig shape”.  The wrapper is oily and smooth, dark brown with a reddish glow that’s being enhanced by the red and golden rings. It’s the same ring as on the regular Undercrown and on the Undercrown Shade but in red instead of blue or white. The foot ring is in the same colors and says sun grown. The aroma is quite strong, I smell herbs, straw and some barnyard.


I cut the cigar, punching was no option because of the pigtail. The cold draw is good, i taste spicy raisin, portobello and pepper. After lighting I taste a nice, fresh citrus with coffee. After a few puffs I taste the citrus but now with cedar, nutmeg, a little cinnamon and some dried chilies. After a third I taste vanilla, cedar, the red skin that you find on peanuts and toast, with a citrus and peppery aftertaste. Halfway the cigar is cedar with nutmeg and cumin again. The final third is woody with a sweetness that is best described as icing sugar.


The draw is flawless. The smoke is typical Drew Estate, full, thick, plentiful. The light colored ash is firm and dense. The burn is uneven, not too much though but it’s not straight. The cigar is medium bodied and medium full flavored. There is a lot of evolution. The smoke time is an hour and fifteen minutes.

Would I buy this cigar again? I hope they will become available again.

Score: 93
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Categories: 93, Gran Fabrica Drew Estate, Nicaraguan cigars, Undercrown | Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Undercrown Shade Flying Pig

Last march I published a review of the Undercrown Flying Pig, original release, and it became the Cigar of the month march. Soon after that someone with ties either to Drew Estate or their local distributer Royal Agio contacted me (I of course know who he is and for whom he works, but I won’t disclose that information on his request) and asked me if he could use that review since the cigar was being re-released in The Netherlands and that was fine by me, as it would help promote my blog too so a fine win-win.


During our chat he asked me if I had smoked the Undercrown Shade Flying Pig and since they haven’t been released in The Netherlands I could only reply negative. He offered to send me one as a thank you which I gladly accepted. A few months earlier I would have declined due to the wrapper but recently I’ve been starting to enjoy Connecticut Shade wrappers and this cigar is made with an Ecuadorian Connecticut Shade wrapper, a Sumatra binder and filler from the Dominican Republic and Nicaragua. Not too long after a package arrived with 2 Balmoral Anejo Lanceros (cigar of the month May), two Kentucky Fire Cured Robusto and two of the Undercrown Shade Flying Pigs.


Lets start with the construction, it is immaculate and there are bonus points for the unique shape.  I love the little bomb size with the pig tail. The name is an inside joke, when Drew Estate started a lof of people in the industry said that “this company will make it when pigs fly” so after Drew Estate became an established company JD decided to name a cigar ‘Flying Pig” as a nod to the people that expected him to fail. The wrapper is pale with quite some shine and a few veins. I love the ring, I like the color scheme better than on the original Underground. The ring is white with the logo and all the details in gold and a second white ring with a golden outline and golden letters Shade. The ring print quality is high too. The aroma quite strong for a Connecticut Shade cigar with hints of straw, hay, leafs and grass.


I cut the cigar with my xikar butterfly cutter since punching wasn’t an option due to the pig tail. The cold draw is fantastic and tastes like raisin and hay. After lighting I taste a earthy flavor with a hint of pepper. I also taste some freshness and sweetness. After a third the cigar gets spicy and quite strong for a Shade cigar. I still taste the earthy flavor but with a little mustiness that belongs to Connecticut Shade wrappers with some lemon, salt and a strong pepper aftertaste. These flavors stick with the cigar till the end.


The smoke is typical Drew Estate, full, thick and a lot of it. And I love it. The draw is great, almost perfect. The burn needed a little touch up though. The white ash is firm and beautiful. The cigar is medium bodied and full flavored, stronger than I expected from a Connecticut Shade cigar. The smoke time is almost an hour.

Would I buy this cigar again? They aren’t available here, and I prefer the Undercrown Flying Pig but this is a good stick.

Score: 91
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Undercrown Manifesto

Now here’s a cigar that needs a little bit of an introduction, well, not the cigar itself but how I got it and where I smoked it. The cigar itself is just a Undercrown in an incredible vitola, 11 inch long with a ring gauge of 40, so sort of a double lancero, but it’s a unique size and only available at events so rare. And even though I worked for the Dutch Drew Estate distributer before Agio took over and that I spend a lot of hours with JD in the car, visited his home, the Drew Estate offices in Miami and the factory in Esteli several times I never was able to get my hands on this cigar. Not that i’m complaining though as Jonathan and the other guys from DE have always been very generous with me.


So, as I said, I worked for a cigar distributor and one day I heard about a convenience shop, a franchiser part of a group of shops called Primera in the pittoresk town of Hoorn was thinking about a walk-in humidor so I dropped by. Owner Bjorn didn’t know a lot back then but had great plans and a few months later he had build a fantastic walk-in humidor in his shop, he visited Nicaragua and Cuba too and is now a knowledgeable and passionate tobacconist. Together we picked a nice assortment for his shop and promised to be easy with exchanging cigars if they wouldn’t sell as I wanted him to succeed. Well, he did, he turned an empty space on the attic into a smoke lounge but that happened after I lost the job. Last week someone posted a picture of the Manifesto in the Balmoral/Drew Estate group on Facebook and I replied that I had never smoked that cigar. Two days later Bjorn reached out to me, said he had a coffin of two Manifestos and said “come see my new lounge and we will both smoke the manifesto”, an offer I couldn’t refuse for four reasons: the manifesto, my curiosity about his smoke lounge, it’s nice to smoke a cigar with people that are passionate about tobacco and Bjorn is a nice guy. So here I am, at the lounge of Primera Grooteman in Hoorn, about to light and review the Undercrown Manifesto.


The cigars come in a pair in a coffin and when you open it you see two cigars completely wrapped in a blue paper. The cigar is long and thin, the binder has a lot of veins and it shows under the wrapper. The wrapper is mild oily with a reddish glow. The construction feelers great and I love pig tails. The blue and golden ring is pretty with the lion on top of an upside down crown, the drew estate logo on the side and the Undercrown name at the back. The aroma reminds me of a barnyard and is medium strong.


Due to the thin size I had to cut the cigar. I used my Joya de Nicaragua branded xikar cutter. The cold draw is flawless and I taste raisin with a spicy and peppery aftertaste. I lit the cigar with a classic soft flame, this long and thin cigar deserves some class over a jet flame. I taste a sweet yet spicy coffee flavor, very tasty. After half an inch I taste a strong mix of cedar, nutmeg and walnuts with a nice hint of pepper. The walnuts grow stronger with some spices with a little vanilla. I love the cool smoke because of the length of the cigar. After a third the cigar gets a little stronger. Halfway I taste some pepper, not overpowering though, with green herbs, spices and a faint mint. The pepper slowly grows in strength. Near the end it’s pepper and cedar with pepper as the main flavor. Right before I put the cigar away the pepper disappears and I taste a nice wood with cinnamon flavor.


The draw is amazing, especially when you consider the difficult vitola. This shows excellent skills of the torcedor. The smoke is classic Drew Estate, that means there is a lot of thick smoke, only the color isn’t perfectly white but I’m not bothered. The light colored ash is pretty but not too firm. The burn is fantastic. This is a medium full bodied and full flavored cigar. The evolution and complexity it great. The smoke time is two hours and fifteen minutes.

Would I buy this cigar again? I wish, the vitola makes this cigar more subtle and complex than the regular Undercrown without losing strength or flavor. Thank you Bjorn for sharing this cigar with me!

Score: 94
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Categories: 94, Gran Fabrica Drew Estate, Nicaraguan cigars, Undercrown | Tags: , , , , ,

Undercrown Flying Pig XLR

Now years ago, before Agio (Balmoral) and Drew Estate partnered up and decided to distribute each others products on their home market, the company I worked for was the official Drew Estate distributer in The Netherlands. Now, don’t think Drew Estate dumped us for Agio, months before Drew Estate and Agio partnered up we decided to stop distributing Drew Estate. Even though we stopped distributing we still maintain a very friendly relationship with everybody at Drew Estate, I’ve been at Jonathans house in Miami, I’ve been to the factory in Esteli twice and all after our professional relationship ended, so we are good.


Jonathan loves The Netherlands and because of that we were able to get something cool, exclusive for the Dutch market back in 2012. We decided to go with Undercrown Flying Pigs, the Flying Pigs made their appearance in the No.9 and T52 blends but were never done in the Undercrown blend. Drew Estate made little less than 200 boxes of 12, just for the Dutch market and they sold out quick. Being close to the fire I snagged a few boxes myself but up till today I have not smoked one myself, time to change that. These cigars have had almost 5 years of age to them. The Flying Pig is a unique shape, a short little perfecto 4 1/2×60 with a pig tail (how can you call it a flying pig if it doesn’t have a pig tail right?). The name comes from the early days of Drew Estate when people said Drew Estate would make it as a company ‘when pigs fly’ and the flying pig series is their answer to the skeptics. The blend is a little tweaked from the regular Undercrown and consist from a San Andres Negro wrapper, a double binder (Connecticut River Valley Stalk Cut & Sun Grown Habano) and filler from Brazil (Mata Fina) and Nicaragua (Habano).


The wrapper is gorgeous, dark, almost no veins, the pig tail is beautiful. The ring is the regular Undercrown right with the up side down crown with a lion head on top in blue and gold, the sides say undercrown but the nice detail is that on one side it’s mirrored and the back of the band shows the Drew Estate logo, the famous Manhattan Bridge. The construction is flawless and thats a testament to the quality of the rollers since this vitola is a pain in the ass to make according to Jonathan. The cigar has a strange but pleasant aroma, a medium strong aroma of a forest after rainfall in the autumn.


Because of the pigtail punching the cigar is out of the question so I used a flat cut to cut the cigar. The cold draw gives me the right amount of resistance, with a hay and pepper flavor. I used a soft flame to light the cigar and straight on I taste some coffee, not bitter though and not too strong with a little pepper and a little wood. Soon I taste a wonderful cedar, a warm cedar with cinnamon, nutmeg and cocoa. Slowly the cocoa is taking the overhand and I also taste some cumin. Soon the nutmeg comes back with some lime.

After a third I taste dry leaves, hay and a little citrus and a little salt. The cocoa is back too, mild and on the background. The citrus is growing halfway. The cedar returns after two thirds again with a little cocoa on the background. Near the end, after I used my nub tool, I taste a nice amount of pepper with the cocoa.


The draw is very good. The smoke starts out medium thin and that surprises me since all Liga Privada and Undercrowns I smoked so far were smoke bombs. The smoke slowly gets thicker though. The ash is snow white and dense. The burn is good, not razor sharp but good enough not correct the burn.

Would I buy this cigar again? I’m glad I gave a few boxes left. I always thought that this was just a gimmick cigar but I like it better than the regular undercrown. This full flavored cigar is full bodied. The smoke time is about 90 minutes.

Score: 92

92

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Liga Privada Unico UF-13

This is an old review that somehow never got posted when it should have been uploaded.

I was in Miami one day and Pedro Gomez hooked me up with these, then still unreleased Liga Privada Unico UF13 cigars. The cigars look amazing with the dark wrapper, that shines from the oil, and the cute pigtail. I see a few veins.
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I cut the cigar with my Xikar cutter and the cold draw was great, I taste some acidic flavors with wood.
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Once lit I taste a full espresso flavor with a hint of wood and some pepper, but the wood disappears quickly. After a centimeter I taste wood again with some coffee and herbs. After an inch I taste more herbs and the cigar is nice and spicy. Halfway I taste more herbs and walnuts, I am loving this cigar. Near the end I taste wood again.
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The smoke time is an hour and a half exactly with a lot of smoke, a great draw and light gray firm ash. I would say this is a full bodied and full flavored cigar.
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Would I buy this cigar again? I would love to but these never made it across the ocean.
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Appearance: 9
Construction: 8
Draw: 9
Burn: 8
Smoke & ash: 8
Aroma first part: 9
Aroma second part: 8
Aroma third part: 8

Categories: Gran Fabrica Drew Estate, Liga Privada, Nicaraguan cigars

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