#21 2023 Cigar of the Year

#21 2023 Cigar of the Year: Blackened M81 Toro by Drew Estate


Wrapper: San Andres Mexican
Binder: Connecticut Broadleaf
Filler: Pennsylvania Broadleaf, Nicaraguan
Country of Origin: Nicaragua
Factory: La Gran Fabrica Drew Estate
Toro: 6 x 52
Price: $9.85

Sponsor: Yes
Samples Provided for Initial Review: Yes
Review: Blackened M81 Toro by Drew Estate (6/10/23)
Appearances on Countdown (By Year/Company): 10 ((2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2018, 2019, 2020, 2021, 2022, 2023)

The Details

The #21 2023 Cigar of the Year is the Blackened M81 Toro by Drew Estate. Blackened M81 is a three-way collaboration project between Metallica’s James Hetfield, Distiller Rob Dietrich of Sweet Amber Distilling, and Drew Estate’s own Jonathan Drew. Blackened is the name of a whiskey collaboration of Metallica and Dietrich. Dietrich and Drew have been friends for a while. It was Dietrich who introduced Metallica lead singer James Hetfield to Drew. Soon enough, the idea of creating a cigar brand was floated. From there, the wheels were put in motion to create a cigar that shared the vision of the Blackened Brand. After iterating through many test blends during the COVID-19 pandemic, they settled on the flavor profile, the Blackened M81. As for the name M81, it stands for Metallica 1981 – the year Metallica was formed.

Over the years, Drew Estate has established many Maduro offerings across its different brands. One difference in the Blackened M81 is that it is an all-Maduro offering featuring Maduro tobaccos with the wrapper, binder, and filler. The wrapper is a San Andres Mexican wrapper over a Connecticut Broadleaf binder. A combination of Pennsylvania Broadleaf and Nicaraguan tobaccos make up the filler. Production comes from La Gran Fabrica Drew Estate in Estelí, Nicaragua. The Blackened M81 Toro is a classic 6 x 52 vitola.

Blackened M81 Toro by Drew Estate

The Blackened M81 Toro delivered a profile of mocha (a combination of coffee and chocolate), earth, cedar, fruit, and pepper. The flavors were medium-bodied. The strength level starts as medium but becomes medium to full by the final third.

For Drew Estate, this is the tenth appearance on the Countdown – including an appearance the past six years in a row. This is the fifth Nicaraguan-made cigar to make the 2023 Countdown thus far.


Photo/Media Credits: Cigar Coop