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Cigar Review: Drew Estate Herrera Estelí Norteño Edicion Limitada Churchill

18 Nov 2015


In May 2014, Drew Estate announced Willy Herrera as its new “master blender.” The move did not place Herrera in charge of La Gran Fabrica Drew Estate; rather, he was charged with maintaining current blends, producing new ones, and reporting directly to Jonathan Drew. The news came just a few days after Nick Melillo left Drew Estate, where he served for 11 years with responsibilities ranging from purchasing and fermentation to quality control and shipment planning. And it also came after Steve Saka left the company.

Drew EstateAt the time, Willy Herrera’s biggest contribution to Drew Estate was Herrera Estelí, a five-vitola line of Ecuadorian Habano-wrapped cigars with a Cuban-esque flavor profile (a sixth vitola, a Toro Tubo, was added later). The blend was well-received within the online cigar community, and also in mainstream publications. The Herrera Estelí Piramide Fino was named the eighth best cigar of 2013 by Cigar Aficionado.

In July 2014, Drew Estate announced Willy’s highly anticipated follow-up to Herrera Estelí: the Herrera Estelí Norteño. Norteño translates to “northerners,” which is what people in Nicaragua call those who live around Estelí. The blend features a Mexican San Andrés wrapper, a Honduran binder, and filler tobaccos from Nicaragua. There are six original vitolas, all box-pressed and all made at Drew Estate (despite preliminary reports listing Joya de Nicaragua as the factory of manufacture).

This September, retailers received a seventh Norteño vitola called Edicion Limitada Churchill (7 x 48). The flattened box-pressed smoke—almost rectangle-pressed, if you will—lends itself, I think, to a punch cut, which is all that’s needed to reveal an easy cold draw. The dark, slightly reddish, moderately oily cigar has potent pre-light notes of cocoa, sweet hay, and damp earth off the foot. The feel is consistently firm throughout.

Once lit, a chalky, medium-bodied flavor emerges with tastes of dark chocolate, black coffee, creamy nut, brown sugar, and a little cayenne spice. The finish and retrohale both exhibit a soft black pepper spice, though the overall level of spice is quite muted. Throughout the smoke, there’s an interesting interplay between what I’d call moist chocolate cake, oak, and coffee.

Construction is outstanding. The draw is very easy, the smoke production above average, the burn line straight, and the sandy, white ash holds well off the foot.

Maybe it’s my palate, maybe it’s the size, or maybe it’s some combination of the two, but the Edicion Limitada Churchill is more flavorful and less spicy than the pre-release sample I reviewed in June 2014. I’ve smoked a fair number of Norteños since, and I’m pretty confident this new size is my favorite—even with the $14 price tag. Make sure you try it before the limited run is up. This is a winner that’s worthy of an admirable rating of four stogies out of five.

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

Patrick A

photo credit: Stogie Guys

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