In 2011, Drew Estate recruited Willy Herrera to join its company. At the time, Herrera was working at the small El Titan de Bronze factory located in Little Havana, Miami. Drew Estate and its founder Jonathan Drew were looking for someone to join the company to blend something Cubanesque – a style Herrera had become familiar with while working at El Titan de Bronze. Herrera would go on to release his first Drew Estate project, the highly rated Herrera Esteli. Following the departures of Steve Saka and Nicholas Melillo, Herrera would emerge as the company’s Master Blender. In a matter of three years, Herrera went from blending at the small El Titan de Bronze factory to now essentially managing Drew Estate’s La Gran Fabrica, the largest factory in Nicaragua. While Herrera from time to time would still help out at El Titan de Bronze, almost two years ago, he would return to El Titan de Bronze and work on a project for Drew Estate that would be produced out of the legendary Miami factory. That project would become the limited production Herrera Esteli Miami – a cigar released in one size, a Corona Larga. Today, we take a closer look at the Herrera Esteli Miami.
The Herrera Esteli Miami project came at an interesting time in Drew Estate’s history. Shortly after Herrera was named Master Blender at Drew Estate in 2014, Drew Estate was acquired by tobacco giant Swisher International. Drew Estate co-founder Jonathan Drew had long proclaimed that while Drew Estate was a large company, it was very boutique in terms of its culture. While some subscribed to that theory, following the acquisition by Swisher, many questioned whether Drew Estate would go totally “corporate”. However, Drew Estate continued to respond by continuing to be Drew Estate. The Herrera Esteli Miami project was perhaps one of the best examples of this.
Without further ado, let’s break down the Herrera Esteli Miami and see what this cigar brings to the table.
The Herrera Esteli utilizes an Ecuadorian Habano wrapper and an Ecuadorian Sumatra binder over Nicaraguan and Dominican fillers.
Wrapper: Ecuadorian Habano
Binder: Ecuadorian Sumatra
Filler: Nicaraguan, Dominican
Country of Origin: United States (El Titan de Bronze)
At press time, the Herrera Esteli Miami was available in one size – a 5 3/8 x 48 Corona Larga. The cigars were packaged in ten-count boxes. As mentioned this was a limited production release.
The Ecuadorian Habano wrapper of the Herrera Esteli Miami Corona Larga was on the darker side with a strong cinnamon-colored tint to it. There was a light coating of oil on the surface. This was a smooth wrapper with thin visible veins and thin wrapper seams.
There are two bands on the Herrera Esteli Miami. These bands use the red, white, and gold color scheme found on other limited edition Herrera Esteli products, The primary band has white lettering on a red background with some gold trim. On the center of the band is the text “HERRERA ESTELI by DREW ESTATE”. 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 AT EL TITAN DE BRONZE 1071 SW 8TH ST MIAMI, FLORIDA” (the address of El Titan de Bronze.
Just below the primary band is a secondary band. This is also red with gold trim. On the center of the band is the text “MIAMI” surrounded by a “2016” on each side – all in white font. There is a gold pinstripe both above and below that text.
Preparation for the Cigar Experience
I opted to go with a straight cut to remove the cap of the Herrera Esteli Corona Larga. After the cap was clipped, I moved on to the pre-light draw. The cold draw was simple as it delivered a mix of cedar and floral notes. Overall, I considered this to be a satisfactory pre-light draw. At this point, I was ready to light up the Herrera Esteli Miami and awaited what the smoking phase would have in store.
The Herrera Esteli Miami Corona Larga started out with a mix of red pepper, nut, and natural tobacco. Early on I found the natural tobacco to go primary with the nut mixed in. Meanwhile, the red pepper moved into the background. As the cigar progressed through the first third, some cocoa and floral notes also surfaced in the background. Meanwhile, the retro-hale produced an additional layer of red pepper and cedar.
During the second third, the natural tobacco and nut flavor still remained primary. At times, the natural tobacco produced a nougat-like sweetness. The red pepper and floral notes remained in the background. The cocoa diminished and by the second half, these notes had dissipated.
The final third of the Herrera Esteli Miami Corona Larga, the cedar took over as the primary flavor. The red pepper was a close secondary note with the floral and natural tobacco notes also still in the equation. This is the way the Herrera Esteli Miami Corona Larga came to a close. The resulting nub was cool in temperature and slightly soft to the touch.
Burn and Draw
The burn of the Herrera Esteli Miami Corona Larga maintained a straight path from start to finish. There was a slight amount of curvature on the burn line, but the cigar was never in danger of meandering or getting off track. In fact, I didn’t find this curvature required more in the way of touch-ups. Meanwhile, the resulting ash was light gray. This was an ash that was on the firmer side. The burn rate and burn temperature were ideal.
I also found the draw to the Herrera Esteli Miami Corona Larga to perform quite well. This draw managed the amount of openness and resistance very nicely. This was a low maintenance cigar to derive flavor from.
Strength and Body
The Herrera Esteli Miami Corona Largas I smoked for this assessment had about a year of age on them. As one would expect there was some mellowing since it was released. I found the Herrera Esteli Miami Corona Larga to be a medium strength, medium to full-bodied cigar from start to finish. I also found the intensity of both attributes to increase slightly along the way, but in the end I still found the strength to remain in the medium range and the body to remain in the medium to full range.
When it came to strength versus body with the Herrera Esteli Miami Corona Large, I found the body to have the edge.
One thing that stands out about the Herrera Esteli Miami Corona Larga is how unique this cigar is. It is not only a unique cigar for El Titan de Bronze and for Drew Estate, but its a unique cigar as a whole. While I did enjoy the flavors in the first half more than the second half, I still found the overall cigar experience to be more than satisfying. I also found the year of age to this cigar was quite kind to it. In my opinion, the 5 3/8 x 48 format worked quite well with the blend. The Herrera Esteli Miami Corona Larga is not only a cigar I’d recommend to an experienced cigar enthusiast, but it’s also a nice cigar for a novice looking to “graduate” to something medium/medium plus. As for myself, this is a cigar I’d smoke again – and it’s worth buying multiples to have in the humidor.
Key Flavors: Natural Tobacco, Nut, Cedar, Red Pepper, Floral
Body: Medium to Full
Assessment: 3.5-Box Split