Drew Estate Undercrown

The Undercrown marks the first new line under Drew Estate Cigars since the Liga Privada line was launched three years ago.  There are a couple of reasons why Undercrown has generated an excitement and buzz around the 2011 cigar releases.  For starters, Drew Estate is a company that has built itself on innovation while remaining true to traditional values when it comes to cigar making.    The other reason is that the Undercrown line has its roots closely tied to the Liga Privada line – so it comes from good stock.  Ultimately, the end result for the consumer is how good the cigar is.   The great news is I have had a chance to sample this cigar and it is a true winner – exceeding the high expectations that were already in place by the cigar world.

To understand the innovation and the ties to Liga Privada, I’m going to get right into the technical breakdown of this cigar.  Since this cigar was a pre-release sample provided by Drew Estate for IPCPR, it will follow the Pre-Review process used on this web-site.

Blend Profile

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 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.

Here are the particulars of the tobaccos in the Undercrown:

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

Vitolas Available

The Undercrown is available in five vitolas:

Corona Double: 7 x 54
Belicoso: 6 x 52
Gran Toro: 6 x 52
Gordito: 6 x 60
Robusto: 5 x 54

Preparation for the Cigar Experience

For this cigar experience, I sampled a Toro-sized Undercrown.   I placed a straight cut into the cap of my cigar and then began some pre-light dry draws.   There was an interesting complexity to the start on the dry draw.  I picked up some floral notes, some cedar notes, and a berry sweetness.   It was then on to fire up the Undercrown and see what the actual smoking experience would bring to the table.

Flavor Profile

Once my Undercrown was lit, the flavors continued where the pre-light draw left off, but there was more in the way of depth and body.   The cedar and floral notes moved to the forefront early while the berry sweetness was in the background.   It would not take long before the berry sweetness morphed into more of a black cherry flavor.   Around 5 percent into the smoke, the black cherry notes moved into the forefront.

It was in the first third of the smoke of the Undercrown where the flavor profile developed.  Around 10 percent into the cigar experience, I noticed a touch of raw honey come into the picture.   This added to what was already proving to be a complex flavored cigar.   Shortly afterwords, the black cherry sweetness soon began to take on qualities of a raw syrup.   By the time the cigar experience reached the 20 percent point, hints of coffee and cream emerged in the background as well as the first notes of spice for the smoke.  This spice seemed to be more of a cedar quality.

With the black cherry notes still in the forefront, the cedar spice morphed into more of a classic cinnamon spice by the end of the first third.   I’ve thrown a lot of flavor notes: cinnamon, raw honey, coffee, cream, floral – and black cherry – and it is a complex flavor pattern that is delivered by the Undercrown.  The product of the innovation that went into this cigar is clearly reflected in the taste.

Around the midpoint of the cigar, I noticed the spice morph back to the cedar spice notes that were present earlier in the smoking experience.   I also detected some of the spice in my nose.  The floral and black cherry notes were the flavors that would dominate the second half.   The cigar smoked smooth and complex right until the end.  I was able to get a short nub on the finish of this cigar.  It was a little warm and soft, but it was a very satisfying finish.

Burn and Draw

The Drew Estate Undercrown had a very sharp burn throughout the smoking experience.   The burn seemed to be at the perfect rate.  I did feel the burn temperature was a little higher than I would prefer, but this did not seem to have a negative impact on the flavor or the draw.  True to its Liga Privada roots, the Undercrown’s draw was outstanding.   This was an awesome smoke to work with.

Sharpness of Drew Estate Undercrown Burn

Strength and Body

Prior to the 2011 IPCPR Trade Show,  I had heard the Undercrown was not a strong cigar.   From a nicotine standpoint, I would absolutely concur and would assess the strength as a medium.   From a body standpoint, I really felt there was almost a three-dimensional feel to the flavors.  This is the definition of what a full-bodied smoke is.  The medium strength of the Undercrown really balances well its full-bodied flavors – and that’s always a plus in my book.

Final Thoughts

The thing that stood out on the Undercrown was not its terrific complexity when it came to flavors, but how this cigar seemed to lean toward the sweet side.   The Undercrown’s flavor profile is very different than its cousins in the Liga Privada line.   Don’t let the talk of “alternate primings” make you think this cigar is a lesser cigar.  This cigar lives up to its reputation of being one of the best launched at IPCPR.   I know this cigar will be talked about on my year end Cigar of the Year countdown.  As I mentioned above, the thing that stands out is how this cigar’s taste reflects the innovation that went into this cigar.  I truly enjoyed this cigar and would easily recommend to both experienced and novice enthusiasts to enjoy.


Burn: Good
Draw: Excellent
Complexity: High
Strength: Medium
Body: Full
Recommend to Experienced Enthusiast: Yes
Recommend to Novice Enthusiast: Yes

Source: These samples were received at the 2011 IPCPR Trade Show.  These samples were initiated by Drew Estate in order to provide feedback.   I am appreciative for the sample, but in no way does this influence this review.

Note: All samples received from the 2011 IPCPR Trade Show will be included in my “2011 IPCPR Series”.