Undercrown Corona ¡Viva! by Drew Estate

Back when we did our Top 30 Cigars of 2011, the biggest question we got was: “Undercrown” – only an honorable mention?   This seemed a little surprising because we when did a pre-review of the Undercrown Toro, it did so well.  However, it’s important to know that our Top 30 is a little different than many year end rankings in that we go with a vertical approach and rank the blend across all vitolas.   While the Undercrown Toro did very well, but that doesn’t cover the whole line.  Many cigar enthusiasts are well aware that a vitola size to the same blend can change things and create a very different smoking experience.  In the end, our decision was this web-site’s opinion and we encourage everyone to make their own choice.   Fast forward back to 2012 and along comes a new vitola to the Undercrown line – this time a corona vitola known as the Undercrown Corona ¡Viva!.  Once again, we see a very different smoking experience emerge – and this smoking experience is perhaps the best of the Undercrown.   It definitely will be a factor for our 2012 Best New Vitola of the Year award.

Let’s get right into the technical breakdown of Undercrown Corona ¡Viva! and see what the cigar experience delivered:

Blend Profile

Back when we did the pre-review of the Undercrown Toro, here is what we wrote about the blend:

The origins of the blend go back to rollers in the Drew Estate factory
making Liga Privada.  In any factory, it is common for rollers to smoke
the cigar they are making.  With the case of Liga Privada because
there was high demand with limited tobacco, this was not possible. 
Therefore, the rollers came up with a variation of the Liga Privada
blend.   This basically involved using alternate primings from the same
tobaccos that were acquired and used in the Liga Privada blend ( An
example of this was mentioned by (Drew Estate president Steve) Saka on the BOTL forum indicating that the binder is from the T52 Stalk Cut Habano).  The result was then tweaked by Saka and his team and Undercrown was born.

The blend is as follows:

Wrapper: San Andreas Otapan Negro Ultimo Corte
Binder: T52 Connecticut River Valley Stalk Cut & Cured Habano
Filler: Brazilian Mata Fina and Nicaraguan Cuban Seed

Vitolas Available

The addition of the Undercrown Corona ¡Viva! adds a sixth vitola to the Undercrown family.

Corona ¡Viva!: 5 5/8 x 46
Corona Double: 7 x 54
Belicoso: 6 x 52
Gran Toro: 6 x 52
Gordito: 6 x 60
Robusto: 5 x 54

Appearance

The San Andreas Otapan Negro wrapper of the Undercrown Corona ¡Viva! has a roasted coffee bean-colored wrapper with some dark spots.   There is a little bit of an oily complexion to the wrapper.   There are some visible veins.  As for wrapper seams, they are visible upon close examination.

The band is a dark navy blue and gold color scheme.  It features a gold Liga Privada-style lion on a gold upside down crown.   That design sits on a navy blue rectangular field that is surrounded by gold trim.   To the left is a mirror reflection of the text Undercrown (although the right side of the band overlaps a lot of it).  To the right is text “Undercrown”.  All text appears in gold on a blue background.  Toward the back of the gold is the Drew Estate logo in gold font.

Preparation for the Cigar Experience

As I normally do,  I placed
a straight cut into the cap of my cigar and commenced with a pre-light draw.  The dry draw notes were very similar to the rest of the Undercrown line.  I picked up some floral notes, some cedar spice notes, and a berry
sweetness.  I also detected some coffee notes on the pre-light draw.  Overall the Undercrown Corona ¡Viva! provided a very satisfying pre-light draw.  It was now time to fire up the Undercrown Corona ¡Viva! and head into the smoking experience.

Flavor Profile

Complexity and flavor transitions were a highlight of the Undercrown Toro.   I felt of the original vitolas, the Toro did the best job at this.  Now the Corona ¡Viva! joins the Toro in this category.

The initial flavors of the Corona ¡Viva! started with the cedar and floral notes I had on the pre-light draw.  The cedar spice notes seemed to have a slight edge here.  I also detected berry sweetness n the background.

The floral, berry, and cedar spice notes all started to work together in the early stages.  The floral notes seemed to be present on the after-draw.  By about the five percent mark, the berry sweetness took on more of a honey-like sweetness.  The honey and floral notes were in the forefront, but there was also a natural tobacco undertone to these notes – creating a real nice “cigar taste”.  The spice moved in and out from the forefront and now also had more of a pepper quality.

By the ten percent mark, the pepper spice also took on some cinnamon qualities.  Meanwhile the honey sweetness made another transition, this time to more of a raw syrup (this was also similar to my experience with the Toro).   The floral notes remained in the forefront.   To summarize the flavor profile at this point – it was the raw syrup and floral notes in the forefront, with the pepper/cinnamon notes continuing to move in and out from the background.

As the Corona ¡Viva! moved into the second third, the syrup notes diminished and moved into the background.  The floral notes also joined the sweetness in the background  Notes of coffee and earth took its place in the forefront.  During this point of the cigar experience, the flavor profile could be described as coffee and earth as primary notes, with the floral/syrup/cinnamon/spice combination in the background.

In the last third, much of the syrup sweetness was gone.  The pepper notes moved into the forefront with the earth and coffee notes.  Floral and cinnamon notes could still be detected in the background, but these notes were more subtle.   The finish to the Corona ¡Viva! was spicy, but not harsh.  The resulting nub was a little warm, but firm to the touch.

Burn and Draw

My initial pre-review rated the Undercrown Toro as a “Good” burn, but since it has made its way to retailers, I’ve found the entire Undercrown line to have some of the most consistent burns of any cigar out there.  The Undercrown Corona ¡Viva! continues in this tradition.   The burn was razor sharp from start to finish requiring minimal touch-ups.  The burn rate was ideal.  The burn temperature was also ideal, but there were a couple of times I needed to ease on the draw because I could sense it was skewing toward the warmer side.   This seemed to do the trick, and only resulted in the cigar being warm at the very end.  This didn’t seem to have any impact on the flavor experience.

The draw was excellent, but as I mentioned this is a cigar you are not going to want to overdraw on.  I consider that a positive.  This is a case where you want to savor and enjoy the cigar experience.

A final note is that like the entire Undercrown line, the Corona ¡Viva! will produce large volumes of smoke.  I view this as another positive to the whole cigar experience.

Strength and Body

There was one noticeable difference with the Corona ¡Viva! than the other Undercrown vitolas – namely the Corona ¡Viva! seemed to have the most strength of the series.   While the other five vitolas I assessed as medium strength, the Corona ¡Viva! is one that has enough pop to put into the Medium to Full category.   Like the other Undercrown vitolas, the flavors are deep and robust – making for a nice full-bodied smoke.

Consistent with the other Undercrown vitolas, the strength and body balance either other very nicely – with neither attribute overshadowing the other.

Final Thoughts

In my opinion, this was the best of the Undercrown vitolas released to date.  I liked the slight increase of strength, and I think the flavors are the most mature I’ve seen in any of the Undercrown vitolas.   As I mentioned with my original pre-review, “Don’t let the talk of “alternate primings” make you think this cigar is a
lesser cigar.”  This cigar stands on its own and should be considered a different smoke than a Liga Privada. As mentioned in the introduction, the Corona ¡Viva! is right up there for Best New Vitola for 2012.   I’d recommend this to a novice cigar enthusiast looking for something with a little more strength and deep flavors.  I’d recommend this to experienced enthusiasts, and even those who might not smoke a 46 ring gauge cigar.   This vitola is definitely a cigar worth considering a box purchase for.

Summary

Burn: Excellent
Draw: Excellent
Complexity: High
Strength: Medium to Full
Body: Full
Finish: Good
Assessment: Memorable
Score: 95

Source: The cigar for this assessment was provided by Drew Estate .  These
samples were initiated by Drew Estate in order to provide feedback. 
Cigar Coop is appreciative for the sample, but in no way does this
influence this review.