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Cigar Review: Drew Estate Undercrown Shade Gran Toro

23 Jul 2015

On July 6, StogieGuys.com broke the news that Drew Estate would be releasing Undercrown Shade, a new line based on the original Undercrown blend—but this time with an Ecuadorian-grown, Connecticut-seed wrapper instead of a Mexican San Andrés leaf.

Undercrown ShadeA week later, Drew Estate officially announced the blend. “Undercrown Shade marks the first release blended by Drew Estate Master Blender Willy Herrera not to fall under the Herrera Estelí brand family,” reads a July 13 press release. “The final blend is medium-bodied, lush, and ultra-smooth, flavors that only a shade-grown wrapper can deliver. And so it is with great bravado that we share Undercrown Shade, and the continuing story from our factory floor.”

The original Undercrown, which is over four years old now, was born on the factory floor at La Gran Fabrica Drew Estate 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 came up with their own blend that didn’t require dark, precious Connecticut Broadleaf.

Aside from its Ecuadorian Connecticut wrapper, Undercrown Shade boasts a Sumatran binder and three different filler varieties (Dominican Criollo ’98, Nicaraguan Criollo, and Nicaraguan Corojo). It comes in the same six vitolas as Undercrown: Belicoso (6 x 52, $9.00), Corona Doble (7 x 54, $9.50), Corona (5.6 x 46, $7.50), Gordito (6 x 60, $9.95), Gran Toro (6 x 52, $8.25), and Robusto (5 x 54, $7.75).

Easily differentiated from Undercrown by its white band, white foot band that reads “Shade,” and bright golden wrapper, Undercrown Shade makes a beautiful first impression. The Gran Toro is notably soft and velvety with nary a blemish and faint pre-light hints of sweet hay. The cap clips easily to reveal an effortless cold draw.

The initial taste is toasty, bready, and accented by white pepper spice. Yes, the body is on the lighter side, but there’s a richness evident that makes the Gran Toro more flavorful that you might imagine. Plus, as the cigar progresses, there’s loads of peanut, cream, and a fair amount of sweetness on the finish.

True to Drew Estate form, Undercrown Shade smokes like a chimney with loads of thick smoke emanating from each easy puff. In addition, the burn line is straight and the gray ash holds well off the foot.

Jonathan Drew says this blend was three years in the making. Judging by the Gran Toro I smoked for this review (I was only able to acquire a single sample, for now), it was worth the wait. A well-constructed standout smoke at a reasonable price, the Undercrown Shade is worthy of the admirable rating of four stogies out of five.

[To read more StogieGuys.com cigar reviews, please click here.]

Patrick A

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Drew Estate

8 Responses to “Cigar Review: Drew Estate Undercrown Shade Gran Toro”

  1. Steve Thursday, July 23, 2015 at 7:25 am #

    I have always been suspicious of the large amounts of smoke coming from all of Drew’s non-infused line, especially with them being knowledgeable of chemical additives and tobacco.

    Never saw another cigar smoke as much as theirs.

  2. The Stogie Guys Thursday, July 23, 2015 at 11:44 am #

    I have personally visited La Gran Fabrica Drew Estate twice. Jonathan Drew really hangs his hat on their rolling processes (and the smooth draws that result from them).

    I have never heard anything related to chemicals being added to non-infused cigars to enhance smoke production, at Drew Estate or elsewhere.

  3. MattnRaleigh Thursday, July 23, 2015 at 11:47 am #

    Bready? White Pepper? and $9.50 a reasonable price? To me this means bland with young leaf and $2.75 too much.

    • The Stogie Guys Thursday, July 23, 2015 at 1:33 pm #

      If you don’t think the flavor profile matches the qualities that are enjoyable to your palate then, yes, probably any amount of money is too much.

      I’ve always personally maintained that mild- to medium-bodied cigars have a lot to offer in terms of complexity and subtlety. The nuttiness, creaminess, and sweetness of this blend really strikes a chord with me.

  4. mphxaz Friday, July 24, 2015 at 6:39 am #

    I’m a big fan of the original, can’t wait to get my hands on a Gran Toro & Corona version of these! Thanks for the review!

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