Gran Fabrica Drew Estate

Drew Estate, Esteli, Nicaragua

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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Categories: 91, Gran Fabrica Drew Estate, Nicaraguan cigars, Undercrown | Tags: , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

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: , , , , , | 1 Comment

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

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Categories: 92, Gran Fabrica Drew Estate, Nicaraguan cigars, Undercrown | Tags: , , , , , , | 1 Comment

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 | Leave a comment

Liga Privada Unico A

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

This is another Liga Privada Unico, but this one is not for sale, it’s a cigar that you can only get at Drew Estate events in boxes of 2. The cigar is 9 inch long with a 47 ring gauge and it’s a vitola that I like a lot.
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The wrapper is dark, shiny and oily with a few thick veins and a nice little pigtail. The construction feels good and the cigar has a floral aroma to it. The cold draw is perfect.
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I taste earthy flavors, coffee and herbs and the flavors paid fantastic with the vanilla from the Zaya rum I’m drinking. I also taste some sweetness in the cigar after a centimeter but the herbal flavors are dominant, and the earthy flavors are there to support it. I taste a little pepper in the aftertaste.
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After a third I taste herbs with a hint of pepper and a little floral flavors but halfway that changes to herbs, earthy flavors, pepper and leather. After two thirds some salted licorice joins the flavor party and I get a fresh aftertaste.
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Even though this cigar is so long it only lasted me for two hours. The draw was great and like any Liga Privada the smoke was out of this world. The ash is dark, flaky and far from firm. I had some burn issues with this well balanced full bodied and full flavored cigar.
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Would I buy this cigar again? I would love to, still have a few but only the Ilja edition.

Appearance: 8
Construction: 9
Draw: 9
Burn: 7
Smoke & ash: 8
Aroma first part: 8
Aroma second part: 9
Aroma third part: 8

Categories: Gran Fabrica Drew Estate, Liga Privada, Nicaraguan cigars | Leave a comment

Liga Privada T52 Flying Pig

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

When Drew Estate started their factory in Nicaragua most of the people in the industry said “these guys will make it when pigs fly” but they were wrong. But Jonathan and Marvin didn’t take it badly and as a joke they decided to create a cigar called Flying Pig when they achieved what they had in mind.
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The first Flying Pig was the Liga Privada #9, that was a huge success so it wasn’t a surprise that the second release of the limited edition Flying Pig was one of the Liga Privada T52 blend. And that’s the one I’m reviewing.
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The dark wrapper looks great and oily with a beautiful pigtail. The cold draw is amazing and I taste pepper, raisin and dry tobacco.
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After lighting the cigar I taste earthy flavors with coffee and a hint of chocolate, after that the flavors change to pepper, herbs and that earthy flavor, the cigars is nice and spicy with a little bit of sweetness. Halfway I taste spicy herbs with a peppery aftertaste. The flavors change to wood with herbs and pepper towards the end.
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The smoke time was an hour and fifteen minutes with a great draw, a lot of smoke and a good burn. The light colored ash is firm. I would call this cigar full bodied and full flavored
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Would I buy this cigar again? I would love to, still have a few.

Appearance: 10
Construction: 8
Draw: 8
Burn: 8
Smoke & ash: 8
Aroma first part: 8
Aroma second part: 8
Aroma third part: 9

Categories: Gran Fabrica Drew Estate, Liga Privada, Nicaraguan cigars | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

Norteño lonsdale

Norteño means northerner and that’s the term Nicaraguans use for the people from the Esteli region and it became a term where Norteños are proud of, the nickname of Real Esteli is ‘el tren del norte’. Norteño is also the second cigar Willy Herrera made under the Herrera Esteli brand for Drew Estate. I got this cigar when visiting the Drew Estate factory in Esteli last May and I’ve been waiting to light it for a review, that time arrived now.
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First thing that I notice is the weird shape, it’s a ring 44 cigar but it ring 50 wide so automatically it’s thin, an unusual shape and I hope pictures do it justice. The Mexican San Andres wrapper, which wrapped a Honduran binder and Nicaraguan filler, has a few veins that make it rustic. The band is simple. The cigar has a very pleasure and quite strong hay aroma. The predraw is fine, I taste some spices and some sweetness.
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A sharp pepper taste, mixed with espresso, that’s my first thought after lighting this cigar. After a few puffs I taste wood and spices, including some pepper. It reminds me of the Herrera Esteli although it’s definitely not the same. Close to a third it’s spices with some sweetness.
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After a third I get a little bit of dark chocolate with pepper. Halfway I also taste wood, the pepper disappears, it’s wood with a salty flavor now. The saltiness disappears, pepper returns again.
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The draw is amazing and as you can expect from Drew Estate, the smoke is thick and copious. The ash is light colored. The burn on this full bodied, full flavored cigar is good. I had to clip the cigar again after two thirds due to some tar built up. And the weird shape? Didn’t bother me at all during the the hour and forty minute smoke.
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Would I buy this cigar again? Yeah, solid cigar, not the best one I smoked but still very pleasant.

Appearance: 7
Construction: 8
Draw: 9
Burn: 8
Smoke & ash: 8
Aroma first part: 7
Aroma second part: 7
Aroma third part: 7

Categories: Gran Fabrica Drew Estate, Nicaraguan cigars, Norteño | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

Herrera Esteli Short Corona Gorda

I had smoked some of Willy Herrera’s blends when he was still at my favorite Miami cigar factory, El Titan de Bronze, so I was really happy when Jonathan Drew gave me a box of the Herrera Esteli corona gorda when I visited the gran fabrica Drew Estate back in February of 2014. When I smoked the cigar I was a bit disappointed and didn’t touch the box for a year. When I gave it a second chance I liked it a lot and now I have to do a review before this box is empty.
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This nice little cigar looks great, a nice smooth and pale wrapper, a classic ‘old fashioned’ cigar band, only a few thin veins and a beautiful cap. The cigar has an odd cardboard aroma. The construction feels good. The predraw is fine and I taste spicy raisin.
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At first I taste coffee, slightly bitter but a pleasant bitter. The bitterness disappears almost immediately and I taste some dry wood with the coffee. This cigar is very cubanesque in flavor, but with flawless construction.
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After a third I taste meaty wood with some pepper in the aftertaste. Later some spices show up too, green herbs like parsley. After two thirds the coffee makes a surprising return. Wood is still the main flavor though, a little spicy.
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The smoke is plentiful as you can expect from a Drew Estate cigar, although it’s no undercrown or liga privada. The smoke is beautiful light blue with gray. The ash is almost white and firm.The draw is flawless, just like the burn. The cigar is medium bodied and medium flavored. The cigar lasted me for an hour and twenty minutes.
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Would I buy this cigar again? You betcha.

Appearance: 8
Construction: 9
Draw: 9
Burn: 9
Smoke & ash: 8
Aroma first part: 8
Aroma second part: 7
Aroma third part: 7

Categories: Gran Fabrica Drew Estate, Herrera Esteli, Nicaraguan cigars | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

Tabak Especial belicoso negro

Now I swore never to smoke a flavored or infused cigar anymore after smoking the horrible Gorillafinger by Lars Tetens, but people kept saying that the Tabak especial negro was worth trying so I gave the Tabak Especial negro belicoso a try. I got this 5×52 cigar at the Intertabac trade show.
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I smell a chemical chocolate smell, the smell is quite strong too. I do like the band on this almost black cigar with a big vein on the wrapper. The construction feels good. The wrapper tastes disgustingly sweet. The predraw is tight and all I taste is that nasty chemical sweetness from the wrapper.
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I taste an earthy flavor with chemical sweetness. I also taste some leather. After three quarters of an inch I taste leather with that chemical sweetness. The earthy flavors have gone. After an inch the cigar gets less chemical and the sweetness turns floral. Slowly some spicy herbs show up too.
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Halfway I taste spicy herbs with a floral sweetness. I also taste a bit of red pepper. After two thirds I still taste the floral flavors, a hint of nuts and a peppery and herbal aftertaste. Near the end I taste pepper with a nasty chemical floral flavor.
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This cigar lasted me for an hour and five horrible minutes. The draw is great and I got a decent amount of smoke. The smell is chemical. The light gray ash is compact and firm. This cigar is medium flavored and medium bodied.
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Would I buy this cigar again? Not a chance in the world

Appearance: 7 / 10
Construction: 7 / 10
Draw: 8 / 10
Burn: 7 / 10
Smoke & ash: 8 / 10
Aroma first part: 6 / 10
Aroma second part: 7 / 10
Aroma third part: 6 / 10

Categories: Gran Fabrica Drew Estate, Nicaraguan cigars, Tabak especial | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

Liga Privada Undercrown belicoso

The Liga Privada Undercrown is the long awaited new release from Drew Estate. The other Liga Privadas, the No.9 and the T52, are hard to find due to limited supplies and this ‘Liga with a twist’ as Jonathan Drew calls them should be more easily available due to the use of a more accessible wrapper. I got this cigar at Intertabac, this belicoso measures 6×52.
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The cigar looks great, the wrapper is almost flawless, the band is awesome and the cigar has a beautiful and unique blunt head. The construction feels good. I smell wood and chocolate. The predraw is fine, I taste a fresh flavor with chocolate and pepper. The wrapper is leathery and thick.
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I taste coffee, earthy flavors and a pepper on my tongue. After half an inch I taste white pepper with some chocolate. I also get some wood flavors. After an inch I taste wood with cacao, the pepper has gone. After a third I taste wood with some cacao and some white pepper.
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Halfway I taste the same flavors but with a fresh acidic flavor, very mild, and some sweetness. The pepper moves to the aftertaste. At the two third mark I taste some cacao on the background with some nuts, herbs and a hint of white pepper. The aftertaste is peppery and mild fresh, like a minty freshness.
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This cigar lasted me for two hours. The draw is great just like the burn. I got a lot of smoke. The white ash is firm. This cigar is full flavored and medium to full bodied.
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Would I buy this cigar again? Whatcha think?

Appearance: 9 / 10
Construction: 8 / 10
Draw: 8 / 10
Burn: 8 / 10
Smoke & ash: 8 / 10
Aroma first part: 8 / 10
Aroma second part: 8 / 10
Aroma third part: 8 / 10

Categories: Gran Fabrica Drew Estate, Nicaraguan cigars, Undercrown | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

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