Herrera Esteli by Drew Estate

Shortly after the 2012 IPCPR Trade Show, we provided a preview of a new forthcoming line by Drew Estate called Herrera Esteli.   The line made its debut at the trade show, but orders were not taken at the time.  The Herrera Esteli marks the first blend for Drew Estate done by Willy Herrera who came over from El Titan de Bronze last year.   The line is positioned as a very “Cubanesque” cigar – and this reflects from the smoking characteristics to the packaging.   I recently had an opportunity to sample the Herrera Esteli.   This cigar lives up to the way it has been marketed.  In fact, there is little doubt in my mind that Drew Estate has another hit and this will be a successful line for a long time.

I recently had a conversation with Drew Estate CEO Steve Saka.   He informed me that we probably will not see the Herrera Esteli brand in retailers for several months (following publication of this article).  He mentioned aging of the cigars and timely positioning the launch as for why the cigars have not shipped yet.

A cigar that is cubanesque in style is something very new to Drew Estate – which has primarily been a Nicaraguan-centric company.  Let’s take a closer look at the Herrera-Esteli and see what’s its all about.   Since this is a pre-release cigar that was smoked several months before the actual release, we will default to a pre-review.  The purpose of the pre-review is to share some experiences with the
cigar.   A score and assessment rating will be given once the cigar hits
retailers shelves.   I will disclaim that this pre-review is based on a single cigar smoking experience.

Blend Profile

The blend is a multi-national blend.   While there is Nicaraguan tobacco in the filler, the cigar features an Ecuadorian Habano wrapper and Honduran binder.   Esteli tobacco is in the filler, but the name Herrera Esteli also pays homage to where the cigar is made (Esteli, Nicaragua).

Wrapper: Ecuadorian Habano
Binder: Honduran
Filler: Nicaraguan (Jalapa and Esteli)

Vitolas Available

There are five vitolas that will be released:

Robusto Extra: 4 7/8 x 46
Corona: 5 1/4 x 42
Lonsdale: 6 x 44
Piramide Fino: 6  x 52
Toro Especial: 6 1/4 x 54

(*) Sizes appeared in 8/28 edition of Cigar Insider.


The Herrera Esteli is a true throwback cigar in both its appearance and banding.  For this cigar experience, I sampled the lonsdale vitola. The Ecuadorian Habano wrapper is light in color.  In fact it looks a shade darker than an Ecuadorian Connecticut Shade wrapper.  I mentioned in this article the fact that Ecuadorian Habano tobacco provides great variety when it comes to color.  The wrapper has a rough, Cubanesque feel to it as it is rough and sandy to the touch.  The wrapper itself is slightly toothy with visible veins and visible wrapper seams.

As mentioned the design on the band has a Cubanesque feel to it.  The band has red lettering on a background with some gold trim.  On the center of the band is the text “Herrera Esteli Imported from Nicaragua”.  To the left is the text (in smaller font), “WE WARRANTEE THE TOBACCO USED IN HERRERA ESTELI ARE THE FINEST VINTAGE AGED AIR CURED BLACK CIGAR LEAF”.  To the right is the text “HANDMADE BY LA GRAN FABRICA DREW ESTATE S.A. FRENTE A LAS ALDEAS SOS BARRIO OSCAR GAMEZ” (which translates to the address of Drew Estate in Nicaragua).

Preparation for the Cigar Experience

For my experience with the Herrera Esteli lonsdale, I went with a straight cut into the triple cap of this cigar.   The pre-light draw had a lot of classic flavors to it.   There were notes of pepper, cedar, and a natural tobacco flavor.  Overall, I considered the dry draw notes to be very satisfying, so at this time it was time to fire up the Herrera Esteli and see what the actual smoking experience would bring to the table.

Flavor Profile

Like its appearance and pre-light draw, the flavors of the Herrera Esteli are also classic and Cubanesque in nature.   I didn’t consider this to be a highly complex flavor profile, but there was enough dynamics with the flavors moving in and out of the forefront to satisfy.

The start to the Herrera Esteli consisted of a mix of toast, pepper, and natural tobacco sweetness.   These three notes formed an interesting harmony – spice (from the pepper), sweetness (from the natural tobacco) and a good intermediary (the toast flavors).  The flavors shifted in and out between the forefront and background for most of the cigar experience.

In the second half, I detected some notes of vanilla in the background.  This provided just the right amount of complexity for the smoke.  As the Herrera Esteli moved into the last third, there was definitely an increase in the pepper.  The closing flavors to Herrera Esteli never got overly spicy, and this was a true finger nubbing cigar.   The end nub was firm to the touch and cool in temperature.  It was one of the best nubs I ever got.

Burn and Draw

If the construction of this pre-release sample is a sign of things to come, the Herrera Esteli is going to be one special cigar.  The construction was impeccable and this was reflected in the attributes of burn and draw.   The burn line was razor sharp from start to finish.  It required very little in the way of touch-ups with my butane light.  The resulting ash was a salt and pepper color – and remained tight and firm throughout.   The burn rate and burn temperature were ideal.

Early burn of the Herrera Esteli


Burn of the Herrera Esteli – midway

The draw was equally satisfying to the Herrera Esteli.  It was as good a draw I’ve had on any lonsdale.  It made the Herrera Esteli a joy to smoke.

Strength and Body

Given this has a Cubanesque profile, I never expected the Herrera Esteli to be a nicotine bomb.  This is exactly what the Herrera Esteli brought to the table.  I assessed this to be a classic medium strength cigar.  As for the flavors, there was a little more depth to than I had expected.  The flavors were robust enough to put this cigar into medium to full-bodied range.   I give the body a slight edge over the strength in terms of how the two attributes counter each other, but this is not a case where there is an large imbalance between the two.

Final Thoughts

The Herrera Esteli is being positioned as Cubanesque and that is exactly how this cigar smokes.  The difference is while this might smoke like a Cuban, it has all of the quality that Central and South American tobacco brings to the table.  This cigar reminded me that I can really get a great cigar experience from a classic flavor profile.   The interesting thing is that this cigar could be a game-changer for the cigar industry as we could see the beginnings of a throwback movement to more classic flavor profiles.   This is a cigar I’d not only recommend to the novice or experienced cigar enthusiast, but to the cigar smoker who only smokes Cuban tobacco.   As for myself, this cigar is certainly worthy of a box purchase.


Burn: Excellent
Draw: Excellent
Complexity: Medium
Strength: Medium
Body: Medium to Full
Finish: Excellent

Source: The cigar for this assessment was given to me by Willy Herrera of Drew Estate.  The cigar was given in the spirit of friendship and to provide thoughts
on this upcoming release.Cigar Coop is appreciative for the sample, but
in no way does this
influence this review.