Gran Fabrica Drew Estate

Drew Estate, Esteli, Nicaragua

Orchant Selección by Drew Estate Heavyweight

This is the third size of the Orchant Seleccion by Drew Estate and it’s called Heavyweight. The line is a limited edition, exclusively for C.Gars Ltd and will be sold online and in their Turmeaus shops. Managing Director for C.Gars Ltd is Mitchell Orchant and he’s been giving his name to hand selected boxes of Cuban cigars for a few years. And since 2014, a Non-Cuban limited edition is made for the Orchant Seleccion. In the past, Oliva, Davidoff, Regios, Alec Bradley and now the Orchant Seleccion by Drew Estate. In three sizes, all with a 46 ring. The Lightweight was reviewed two days ago. Yesterday Ministry of Cigars reviewed the Mediumweight. And this is the review of the Heavyweight.

The cigars are made at the La Gran Fabrica Drew Estate in Esteli, Nicaragua. That’s the same factory that’s used to make the highly-rated Liga Privada lines as well. For the blend, Drew Estate and Mitchel Orchant sourced tobaccos from Latin America, North America, and Southeast Asia. The wrapper is a stalk-cut Habano from the United States. Stalk Cut means that the leaves aren’t harvested separately but the whole tobacco plant is cut down and hung to dry. The binder comes from the South East Asian Indonesia, from the island of Sumatra. For the filler, some USA grown and some Indonesian tobacco was blended with tobaccos from Nicaragua and the Dominican Republic.

The cigar looks great. It has a dark, oily wrapper, which looks like leather. It feels good when touched, with the right amount of bounce. No real veins visible so the cigar looks smooth, yet dangerous due to the color. The aroma is quite strong. It has hints of soil, wet soil, and barnyard. The cigar that we are smoking has the factory ring, not the rings that they will be sold with.


The cold draw is great. The flavors are raw tobacco with some spice and sweetness. In the beginning, there is coffee, leather, and salt. The flavors are quite mild. Even the pepper isn’t ‘in your face’. After a few puffs, the flavors get more pronounced. And that’s when some hay and cinnamon show up too. Slowly some leather shows up and the pepper is dominant. After a centimeter, the cigar turns to toast, leather, wood, and pepper. The toast, with some slight cinnamon, and lots of pepper are the dominant flavors now. The cigar leans heavy to the leather, toast and pepper part of the flavor wheel, yet with very mild citrus and sweetness to balance it out. Halfway the toast turns to coffee, the cinnamon disappears. Coffee with pepper and a slight leathery flavor. In the final third, a nutty flavor shows up under the pepper.

The smoke is super thick and plentiful as you can expect from Drew Estate. The draw is good, a little tighter than the two other Orchant Seleccion by Drew Estate sizes. The ash is light-colored with darker smears. The burn is good. The cigar is full-bodied, full-flavored yet balanced. And it doesn’t feel as strong as the lightweight. The smoke time is two hours fifteen minutes.

Would I buy this cigar again? Yes, I want a box

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Categories: 92, Gran Fabrica Drew Estate, Nicaraguan cigars, Orchant Selección | Tags: , , , ,

Orchant Selección by Drew Estate Lightweight

Orchant Seleccion by Drew Estate Lightweight. Mitchel Orchant is the managing director of C.Gars Limited, the leading cigar retailer in the U.K. With several shops, a great online presence and regular auctions of hard to find, aged, and vintage cigars. And he has loaned his name to the Orchant Seleccion series. It started with limited numbers of boxes with Cuban cigars that were handpicked by Orchant in cooperation with the U.K. Habanos distributor. But in recent years, Orchant worked with Davidoff, Regius, Oliva, and Alec Bradley for limited editions carrying his seal of approval. And the 2019 release is a collaboration between Orchant and Drew Estate. The cigars will be released soon, in three sizes. Ministry of Cigars will review all three of them, starting with the 3½x46 Lightweight.

The Orchant Seleccion by Drew Estate comes in three sizes. At the moment of reviewing them, the cigars have not been released. Our samples came with factory rings. Yet in our article of July 13th, some artwork is shown that might end up being used on the ring. All three cigars share the same blend and have the same 46 ring gauge. And it’s refreshing to see a full line with small ring gauges and only small ring gauges. The cigars are made in Nicaragua and will be sold exclusively by C.Gars LTD on their website and in their Turmeaus shops all over England. The blend consists of Indonesian, Dominican, Nicaraguan and American grown tobacco. The binder comes from the Indonesian island Sumatra. The wrapper is grown in Connecticut. It’s a Habano variety, harvested with the Stalk Cut method which is also used for the Liga Privada.

The cigar looks good. Small yet dark, with a leathery toothy wrapper. The wrapper is quite oily as well. No thick veins are visible and the shape is good. The cigar feels evenly spongy. The aroma is strong, oak and hay.


The cold draw is good, raw tobacco with a little bit of black pepper is the cold draw flavor. The first puffs are Cuban coffee, strong and sweet. The cigar is spicy, peppery. The flavors remain in the wood, animal, coffee, and pepper part of the flavor wheel. There’s even a very mind dark chocolate flavor, on the background. Halfway the cigar gets some floral and vanilla notes, with strong pepper and a mild fresh aftertaste. The wood is still there with some nuts. In the final third, the pepper becomes really strong.

 

The draw is flawless. The ash is white as snow. And the smoke is typical Drew Estate. Thick, full and plentiful. The burn is razor-sharp. The cigar is full-bodied and full-flavored. Don’t let the lightweight name fool you, there is nothing light about this cigar. It’s strong. The smoke time is one hour.

Would I buy this cigar again? I would like more yes.

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Categories: 93, Gran Fabrica Drew Estate, Nicaraguan cigars, Orchant Selección | Tags: , , , , , ,

Undercrown Flying Pig

This cigar was released in 2012, in The Netherlands. The name was Undercrown Flying Pig XRL. XLF stood for Extremely Rare Limited. Less than 200 boxes of 12 were released. And flew off the shelves like hotcakes. it was a release for Compaenen. Compaenen is a cooperation of independent tobacco shops in The Netherlands. They combine their buying power to negotiate exclusive releases for the participating shop. Pre-releases, private label cigars and limited editions such as the Undercrown Flying Pig XLR.

Two years later, Drew Estate released the Undercrown Flying Pig in the United States. And the cigar has been a hit there as well. And everywhere else where it’s been released. At first, it was a limited edition, now it’s a regular production cigar. The wrapper is a Mexican San Andres Maduro leaf. The binder is a stalk cut Habano from the Connecticut River Valley in the United States. The fillers come from Nicaragua and Brazil.

The cigar looks great. That shape, as we mentioned in the reviews of the Undercrown Shade Flying Pig and the Undercrown Sun Grown Flying Pig, is a favorite. And again, the color scheme of the ring fits the wrapper like a glove. The dark, matte, blue with the gold on that dark wrapper is a perfect match. The pigtail is a nice touch. The wrapper is leathery. The aroma is of dark chocolate and spices.

The cold draw is perfect. It has a flavor of raw tobacco. Once lit, it’s leather, chocolate, green herbs, and coffee. After a few puffs, leather and pepper are the main flavors. But on the background, there’s still faint dark chocolate as well. The flavors open up and become stronger. Pepper, wood, leather, chocolate, and hay. The flavors are spicy and full, with a mild buttery mouthfeel.

The draw is great and this is a classic Drew Estate smoke bomb. Thick, white, full smoke. Enough to get a response from the fire department. The burn isn’t perfect, but also not bad. The salt and pepper colored ash is firm. The cigar is full flavored and full bodied. The smoke time is two hours and ten minutes.

Would I buy this cigar again? Yes

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Undercrown Sun Grown Flying Pig

After the huge success of the Liga Privada offspring Undercrown, Drew Estate decided to build on that brand. So a few years later, the Undercrown Shade was released. I reviewed that cigar a few days ago.

So it wasn’t a question if there would be a third Undercrown blend. The question was “what will it be?”. And the follow-up question was “when will it be released?”. Well, it became the Undercrown Sun Grown. And it was released in 2017.

Just like the Liga Privada blends and the regular Undercrown, the Sun Grown utilizes stalk-cut tobacco. That means that the leaves are not picked from the plant. The whole plant is cut down and then hung to try, upside down. Only the Undercrown Shade doesn’t use stalk-cut tobacco. A flying pig in the new Undercrown blend was a must. So the rollers at the Gran Fabrica Drew Estate made the signature shape for the new blend as well.

The cigar looks amazing. The shape is cool. The pigtail is the icing on the cake. The ring is beautiful. And just like with the shade, the color scheme fits the wrapper. The Colorado colored wrapper matches well with the burgundy and gold rings. The wrapper has a mild shine from natural oils. A few thin veins, and it’s a looker. The aroma is strong. It smells like hay, straw, and sheep.

The cold draw is easy. With a spicy fried grass flavor. Once lit its classic espresso, leather, and pepper. All with a drop of citrus. The flavors then change to hay, leather, wood and some nutmeg. The mouthfeel is dry. Caramel like sweetness on the background. When the burn reaches the wider part of the cigars, the flavors burst out. A nice lemon acidity, pepper, toast, wood, and leather. And then some dark chocolate with pepper. And later even some nuts. The flavors are full but refined. No harshness, well rounded. After a third, the mouthfeel becomes a little creamy. The sweetness is mild. With the pepper, it supports the nutty flavor.

The draw is great. The cigar is a classic Drew Estate smoke bomb. Don’t smoke this cigar in an unventilated room. The light-colored ash is firm. This is a full bodied, full flavored cigar. The smoke time is an amazing two and a half hours.

Would I buy this cigar again? Yes

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Undercrown Shade Flying Pig

By now, the story of the Flying Pig is probably known. When Drew Estate started making cigars, people said that they would only become successful when pigs would fly. And successful they became. Then Steve Saka, back then CEO of Drew Estate, found the Flying Pig vitola. He was in Tampa and found a 100-year-old catalog from an old cigar factory., That catalog had the Flying Pig vitola, but under another name. Saka decided to make the cigars, in the Liga Privada #9 blend as a limited edition. And as a salute to the naysayers, the cigars were called Flying Pigs.

The Liga Privada lines were so popular that Drew Estate asked the rollers to stop smoking them. So the rollers switched some tobaccos, leaving out the rare ones. That line became the Undercrown. And the Undercrown got so popular that offshoots appeared. The second Undercrown blend to be released was the Undercrown Shade. That’s a milder version of the Undercrown blend, with a Connecticut Shade wrapper from Ecuador. The binder is Sumatra. The fillers come from Nicaragua and the Dominican Republic. Drew Estate released a sampler with three different Undercrown Flying Pigs. Royal Agio, the distributor of Drew Estate in several European countries, provided me with a sampler.

The cigar looks great. The shape is unique and the pigtail is the icing on the cake when it comes to looks. The cigar feels good. The Connecticut Shade wrapper has a mild shine. The veins are thin. The white with the gold color scheme for the rings are well chosen. It fits the color of the wrapper. The logo is great too, an upside-down crown with a lion’s face. The aroma isn’t mild. It’s spicy, herbal and strong. But also smells like straw.

The cold draw is good, with a raw tobacco flavor. Once lit, a mild coffee and leather flavor is tasted. With salt that is. There’s also some cedar wood. But the flavors are smooth like the volume isn’t cracked open. Elevator music in a cigar, that idea. After a few puffs, there is some acidity and grass. The mouthfeel is mild creamy. Once the cigar opens up when the burn is passed the small foot, the flavors get stronger. Nutmeg, a bit of pepper, leather but also that Connecticut Shade mustiness. And that last part is the downside of all Connecticut Shade cigars. After a third some marzipan sweetness shows up, faint and on the background. The final third packs a little more power. Sweetness, pepper, leather, and wood. But still creamy with a little salt. The mustiness tones down a lot.

The draw is good. The burn is great. The ash is white and firm. The smoke is nothing like other Drew Estate products. Drew Estate is known for its smoke bombs. But this Undercrown Shade Flying Pig produces just a medium volume of smoke. It is not very thick, and gray instead of white. The cigar is mild to medium flavored. It’s also medium bodied. The smoke time is two hours.

Would I buy this cigar again? I will never buy any Connecticut Shade cigars again.

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Blue Ribbon Robusto

A few years ago I was at Corona Cigar in Orlando smoking cigars with friends and one of them said “you like Drew Estate right? Try this one” and hands me a cigar I had never heard of, Blue Ribbon, and says “these are bundle cigars by Drew Estate, they are nice” but somehow this cigar ended up in my stash instead of being smoked, that will change today as I’m about to review the cigars.


I googled them to see the blend, which is all Nicaraguan filler and binder with an Ecuadorian Habano wrapper and I’m shocked by the price. A bundle of 20 of these 5×50 robusto cigars will set you back little over 30 dollars, that’s $1.50 each so if these cigars score high they are a great humidor filler.


The wrapper is dark, it almost looks like a maduro wrapper, oily and smooth. This looks much better than the average cheap bundle cigar. The construction feels good with a nicely placed cap. The ring is simple yet nice, blue with silver, rigged edges, clear silver letters and a nice print quality. Just based on the looks these cigars could be boxed up and sold for more than a $1.50 a piece bundle. The aroma is strong, mint, tar and manure.


I used my Xikar butterfly cutter to decap the cigar and the cold draw is perfect. The flavors I taste are quite sour. After lichting I taste lemon, coffee and icing sugar. The sugar is becoming the dominant flavor with pepper on the background. After a third it’s sweetness, wood and a little pepper. Slowly the cigar gets spicier and stronger. The final third starts with more wood, the icing sugar is less strong. The end is very peppery.


The draw is perfect. The light colored ash is white and firm. The burn is razor sharp. The smoke is medium in thickness and volume, very unlike the smoke bombs Drew Estate usually drops. This is a medium bodied cigar, medium flavored too. The evolution is subtle and the balance is good. The smoke time is an hour and fifteen minutes.

Would I buy this cigar again? If I can find them! Fantastic budget cigar.

Score: 90

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Categories: 90, Blue Ribbon, Gran Fabrica Drew Estate, Nicaraguan cigars | Tags: , , , ,

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

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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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