One of the most talked about cigars at this year’ IPCPR convention and trade show – at least, going into the show – was the Undercrown from Drew Estate.
With the Liga Privada in constant demand at stores across the country, and the ACID line continuing to be a favorite among cigar smokers of all backgrounds, as well as a strong social media presence, Jonathan Drew and company seem to be constantly watched for what they’ll be putting out next.
They also manage to walk a fine line between classic cigar companies and cutting-edge game-changers. Their booth at IPCPR is always unique, from having a gorgeous ’68 Chevy Impala with an insane paint job and customization that is hard to fit into words parked at their booth, to having hip-hop pumping and custom painted sneakers and cigar molds as gifts for retailers. They also give their cigars some fairly non-traditional names – the Dirty Rat, the Flying Pig and the new My Uzi Weighs a Ton, for instance; and are said to have Ratzilla and the Feral Pig coming out in future months.
Yet they also seem to have a respect for the classic art of making premium cigars – limiting production, providing extensive training to workers, searching out the best tobacco, then blending and reblending until the cigar they want is finally in front of them.
The Undercrown came about partially as a result of the limited amount of leaves for the Liga Privada series, and Drew Estate asking the rollers to cut back on their smoking the Ligas they were making. To look it at another way, the Liga Privada was for the chief, while the Undercrown is for the princes. (Hat tip to Charlie at TheCigarFeed.com for the analogy.)
The cigar features many of the same tobaccos from other Liga Privada cigars, but different primings, different crops, different ages, and so on. So while it’s similar, it’s definitely not an exact copy, or even a ‘poor man’s Liga Privada.’
One of the first things to notice about the Undercrown is the band: it is an absolutely gorgeous band, rich with both simplicity and style. While the Undercrown is a step down from the Liga Privada in a sense, the band seems to be a step up – a regal blue and gold with a lion’s head sitting atop an inverted crown. In a word – gorgeous.
An Undercrown Gran Toro, measuring 152mm (just under 6”) x 52 ring gauge, was smoked for this review, having received it during the 2011 IPCPR convention and trade show in Las Vegas.
The cigar features a wrapper of Otapan Negro Ultimo Corte, which is a strain of San Andreas Negro maduro grown exclusively for Drew Estate, and its harvest is delayed over four weeks for additional field and sun time to give it a higher sugar content and a richer, creamier flavor. The binder is T52 Connecticut River Valley Stalk Cut & Cured Habano, while the filler is Brazilian Mata Fina and Nicaraguan Cuban seed.
The eyes are initially drawn to the band, then to a dark, somewhat veiny wrapper. The cigar is firm with a bit of give – well packed but not overpacked.
The pre-light aroma is very warm, almost gravy like. It seemed like minutes or even hours could go by trying to pick a flavor note that the cigar puts forth, when it would be better stated to just say it smells like good tobacco. The cold draw was spot-on with a smidge of resistance. Again, warm flavors come through, a slight bit of floral sweetness, and minimal spice.
Once the cap has been clipped and the cigar is lit, a very white ash starts to emerge. Early on, the Undercrown shows itself to be more medium-bodied than the Liga Privada, with a bit thinner smoke that has just a touch of chalkiness to it.
The cigar stays planted in a medium-body the majority of the way, with a touch of sweetness and creaminess throughout. While well-balanced, it doesn’t have many major flavor shifts, until the sample took a bit of a harsh turn just before the band. It mellowed out fairly quickly and finished well, regaining its smoothness and balance.
While the Undercrown is certainly no Liga Privada, it is a very good cigar, worthy of a three or four star review. It didn’t generate many notes while being smoked, which can be both good and bad. It lacked the depth and strength of the Liga Privada, which has become a cigar in regular rotation for many smokers. That being said, it will be a much more accessible cigar for those who have found Liga Privadas to be too strong for their palate.
After this review, it’s a solid three-and-a-half star cigar that is certainly worthy of trying. It’s also worth noting that this is a cigar that screams to be tried in a bit smaller vitola so as to see what the wrapper leaf has to offer.
The Undercrowns should be hitting retailers in September, arriving in 25-count cabinet boxes with prices in the $7 – $9 range. It will be available in five sizes – a 5” x 54 robusto, 6” x 52 gran toro, 6” x 52 belicoso, 7” x 54 corona doble, and 6” x 60 gordito. Drew Estate’s president, Steve Saka, has been said to be smoking the Undercrown in a 5 5/8″ x 46 ring gauge vitola; that could end up being the real winner if it is ever released.
Read reviews of more cigars by clicking here, including cigars from the 2011 IPCPR Trade Show.
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