22 Aug 2016
I still think of Drew Estate as a newer cigar company, probably due to its modern marketing, sleek packaging, unique fan base, and urban, non-traditional vibe. How many other cigar outfits have an in-house art studio turning out graffiti and tattoos, or their own social media app? How many other brands have such a dedicated cult following among younger clientele?
But while Drew Estate lacks the history of industry stalwarts like Arturo Fuente or Joya de Nicaragua, it’s no spring chicken, either. It also can’t be considered among the ranks of small boutique outfits anymore. Drew Estate runs the largest cigar factory in Nicaragua—producing over 10,000 cigars a day—and in 2014 it was acquired by Swisher International, the largest cigar company in the world.
Drew Estate’s size and parent carry some advantages. For example, in the midst of all the FDA malaise, I’ve been thinking a lot about what cigars in my current rotation will still be available in a few years. It’s hard to imagine Swisher will have any trouble coming up with the capital necessary to overcome the yet-to-be-detailed-though-surely-onerous approval process for any Drew Estate cigars that are selling.
Surely they’ll do so for the Liga Privada No. 9 blends, which became available in the summer of 2007—just after the February 2007 exemption deadline. Today, I thought I’d revisit my favorite cigar in that line, the Toro (6 x 52). While I might not have much new to say about a cigar that’s been on the market for nearly a decade, it’s helpful to reexamine old favorites. And, heck, I guess I just wanted an excuse to fire a few Toros up.
By now, we all know the story. Former Drew Estate chief Steve Saka, now owner of Dunbarton Tobacco & Trust, began work in 2005 on a personal blend for his own enjoyment. After over 50 blends of testing with Jonathan Drew and Nick Melillo (now owner of Foundation Cigar Co.), a final recipe was arrived at: a dark Connecticut Broadleaf wrapper fermented for at least 18 months, a Brazilian Mata Fina binder, and filler tobaccos from Honduras and Nicaragua.
Liga production is still limited—a limitation, according to Drew Estate, that’s due to tobacco availability—so the cigars can be tough to find and expensive. When you get your hands on a Toro, though, you’ll find a highly pleasurable, full-bodied cigar with tons of flavor and a fair amount of spice. Leathery in texture, the core tastes include black pepper, cocoa, espresso, cream, and that infectious sweet grassiness that can only be found in certain Drew Estate cigars.
Construction is outstanding, including a straight burn line and a solid white ash. Notably, the draw is incredibly easy and the smoke production is intense—welcome characteristics that have become trademarks of Drew Estate over the years.
You can expect to pay $12 or more for the Toro. While that’s a considerable cost, you can be assured of a solid, consistent, tasty experience. I’ve been smoking this cigar for a long time, and I think the most fitting rating is an exceptional four and a half stogies out of five.
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photo credit: Stogie Guys