24 Aug 2011
Maybe I’m just cynical, but many of the stories that accompany the release of new blends sound like complete B.S. Usually they involve finding a mysterious stash of fantastic leaf in a hidden corner of a factory (how disorganized is your factory?), an accident on the part of a roller (thousands of cigars were mistakenly made?), or a personal blend made only for the cigar master (which they were able to scale up to hundreds of thousands of cigars?).
Most of these “cigar creation stories” seem like the creation of a marketing department as opposed to an account of what took place. For once, I’d like to hear that someone created a cigar because they thought they could sell a ton of them and make a lot of money.
The Drew Estate Undercrown also has a creation story, though despite its complexity it rings more true to me than most. As both Drew Estate co-founder Jonathan Drew and company president Steve Saka recounted to me at the recent IPCPR Trade Show, Undercrown was born on the factory floor when the rollers responsible for Liga Privada were told they could no longer smoke Ligas while they worked because Drew Estate was already struggling to meet demand. So they created their own blend using tobacco bought for Liga Privada but not specifically used in the blend.
As it was described to me, where Liga Privada might use the seco from a particular tobacco plant, Undercrown might use viso (or vise versa). The only exception is the wrapper, which is a dark and oily San Andreas leaf on the Undercrown (Liga Privada uses Connecticut broadleaf). The result is a cigar similar to, but distinct from, the Liga Privada blend. It all actually makes sense when you consider that the tobacco in Undercrown was already being purchased (or grown) by Drew Estate, which should make Undercrown a profitable blend.
The resulting cigar is very impressive. It’s slightly milder than the Liga Privada, placing it solidly in the medium (maybe medium-full for some people) spectrum. It’s toasty with nutty flavors and coffee bean. As it develops, roasted tastes dominate and there’s a little spice in the final third.
Undercrown comes in five sizes: Robusto (5 x 54), Belicoso (6 x 52), Double Corona (7 x 54), Gordito (6 x 60), and Gran Toro (6 x 52). The cigars sell from $7.45 to $9.95.
Each of the three Gran Toros I smoked (all of which I received at the trade show in July) displayed perfect construction. The burns were even, the draw firm but not difficult, and the ashes held strong.
I think Drew Estate has another fine cigar on its hands here, though perhaps not quite as exquisite as the original Liga blend. If the Liga Privada is a fine steak, Undercrown is a perfectly cooked hamburger. And a good burger is certainly nothing to sneeze at. That’s why the Undercrown Gran Toro earns four stogies out of five.
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photo credit: Stogie Guys