Tag Archives: Cigar Safari

Sneak Peek: Coming Blends from Drew Estate

4 Jun 2013

[Note: The following is one of a series of articles regarding StogieGuys.com’s recent visit to Nicaragua as part of Drew Estate’s Cigar Safari. Read all our Cigar Safari articles here.]

One of the more interesting nuggets from the trip was Drew Estate CEO Steve Saka telling me that if production capacity allowed, he has as many as a dozen blends he thinks are market-ready. Here, I will look at some potential upcoming blends from Drew Estate.

First, one important note: I’ve only smoked one sample of each of these cigars (some in Nicaragua and some upon my return) and they may or may not be the final blend; so what follows are (obviously) not reviews, or even Quick Smokes.

My Uzi Weighs a Ton Kentucky Fire Cured


This is the “Beef Jerky” cigar (or at least a variation of it) that Saka first told me about at the 2010 IPCPR Trade Show. While you won’t see it in Drew Estate’s marketing copy—almost certainly for trademark reasons—I expect this cigar to be known by most smokers as simply “Uzi KFC” or just “KFC,” which certainly has a familiar ring to it. The blend, which I’m led to believe is pretty much finalized since it has been officially announced for the 2013 Trade Sshow, uses up to three different fire-cured tobaccos, including one as a cap for the wrapper that imparts flavor directly on the mouth. The fire-cured tobaccos definitely have a smokey, mesquite aroma and flavor, but those flavors weren’t as dominant as I thought they might be. It’s definitely different, but I for one look forward to trying more.

Drew Estate Nica Rustico


This cigar uses a unique strand of tobacco that grows wild in Nicaragua that comes from a different variation of the tobacco species than is normally used in cigars. It was described as having rough characteristics and that certainly is true from the sample I smoked. I would describe it as gritty, rustic, slightly vegetable, and even a bit grating. Those characteristics come on a bit strong at first, especially for smokers who value balance in their cigars, but it does seem to mellow slightly as the cigar continues (though perhaps just because you become accustomed to it). I find this to be an even more unique cigar than the KFC and more likely to be either loved or hated by each particular smoker.

Herrera Estelí Maduro

Possibly for release later this year, this is the maduro project that is a derivation of the original Ecuador Habano-wrapped Herrera Estelí. Dubbed “WH Project M” on the test bands, it sure seems like a finished product to me. It features medium- to full-bodied flavors and adds earth and dry chocolate to the basic profile of the original Herrera Estelí. Whether it’s just the Estelí Herrera with a different wrapper or a more extensively tweaked blend, I’m not sure. (I’d certainly believe the former, but knowing Drew Estate’s attention to detail the latter seems more likely.) Like Willy Herrera’s projects before and at Drew Estate, it maintains the Cuban-esque style he is known for. This is my favorite of the the blends listed here.

“WH Cuadrado”


This is another blend created primarily by Willy Herrera. It would be his first box-pressed cigar, hence “Cuadrado,” which translates to square. Herrera told me he’s always wanted to create a box-pressed smoke. The cigar starts very full-bodied before rounding out slightly, though it’s certainly more full-bodied than his other blends while keeping in the Cuban style.

Patrick S

photo credit: JonathanDrew1/Stogie Guys

Commentary: Growth and Innovation Continue at Drew Estate

9 May 2013

[Note: The following is one of a series of articles regarding StogieGuys.com’s recent visit to Nicaragua as part of Drew Estate’s Cigar Safari. Read all our Cigar Safari articles here.]

Visiting Drew Estate last week, one year after my prior visit, it would have been hard miss the company’s growth. According to Drew Estate CEO Steve Saka, the company is now the third largest premium cigar company in the United States behind only General Cigar and Altadis (as determined by the Cigar Association of America).


One year ago while visiting, I was told they were planning a large new “pre-industry” facility for fermentation, aging, and sorting tobacco. Today, the frame of a massive $3.7 million airplane hangar-like structure is standing (pictured above and below from each end). The plan is for it to be operational by this September and, if current projections are correct, it will be at 100% capacity by 2015.


Liga Privada capacity is increasing too. I was told the company shipped twice as many Ligas in 2012 as it did in 2011, and the number will increase again this year. Given that it can take two years for the Connecticut Broadleaf wrapper to be ready, that’s significant.


Postcards from Cigar Safari in Nicaragua (2013)

7 May 2013

As you’ve no doubt seen if you’ve been following StogieGuys.com on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram over the past week, I was fortunate enough to participate in Drew Estate’s Cigar Safari in Estelí for the second straight year.

Like last year, I want to thank all the fine folks at Drew Estate and Joya de Nicaragua for showing us an amazing time on the incredible trip, especially Jonathan Drew, Steve Saka, Willy Herrera, Juan Martínez, José Blanco, Mario Perez, Pedro Gomez, and Johnny Brooke.

I’ll share my specific thoughts on some exciting new developments from Drew Estate and Joya in the coming days but, first, I wanted to share some photos from my trip.


Drew Estate recently finished a new mural that greets visitors on Cigar Safari. You can see the old mural here.


We visited La Finca de Joya, a tobacco farm owned by Oliva Tobacco that supplies tobacco to Drew Estate and others. This field, with tobacco as far as the eye can see, is actually on the small size. One acre produces anywhere from 1,800 to 2,400 pounds of filler tobacco.


Steve Saka discusses the process of curing tobacco inside a curing barn. The process removes moisture from the leaves as the color changes from green to brown by controlling temperature and humidity. While the technique may vary, it usually takes around six weeks. Even the relatively small curing barn we visited can hold $150,000 worth of tobacco when full. (more…)

Cigar Safari: On Location in Estelí, Nicaragua

2 May 2013

StogieGuys.com is once again on location in Estelí, Nicaragua. We’ll return to our daily coverage of the world of cigars on Saturday, May 4. In the meantime, feel free to follow us on Facebook and Twitter, as well as via live Instagram updates:

Be sure to come back to StogieGuys.com next week as we share exciting content from our Cigar Safari, hosted by the fine folks of Drew Estate.

The Stogie Guys

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Question: What Do You Want to Know About Drew Estate?

30 Apr 2013


Last year around this time, Patrick A and I visited Nicaragua as part of Drew Estate’s Cigar Safari. The trip was as fun as it was informative.

We visited the Joya de Nicaragua and Drew Estate factories, toured sorting and processing facilities, made our own blends, and spent time with some of the best cigar people around, including Jonathan Drew, Steve Saka, José Blanco, and Mario Perez.

You can revisit the trip by checking out our coverage here and by watching this playlist of our videos:

But the reason I post this isn’t just for a trip down memory lane. Tomorrow, I’m heading back down for another visit to Drew Estate, Cigar Safari, and Estelí, Nicaragua.

So I wanted to ask our readers: What do you want to know about Drew Estate?

Leave your questions in the comments and while I’m in Nicaragua I’ll work to get you answers. Keep an eye on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and StogieGuys.com for responses to your questions.

Patrick S

photo credit: N/A

Jonathan Drew Discusses the Drew Estate Sabotage of 2002

7 Jun 2012

Ever since we got back ,we’ve been sharing videos and photos from our recent trip to Estelí, Nicaragua, with Drew Estate’s Cigar Safari. Today we wrap up our coverage of that awesome adventure with what we think is the most interesting video yet.

In the following footage, Jonathan Drew of Drew Estate talks about the challenges of building his brand and maintaining consistency. A big part of those challenges was a sabotage of his factory in 2002 at the hands of one of his former employees—an employee who was paid off by another cigar maker who didn’t want Drew Estate to succeed.

We’ll resume our normal coverage of the world of cigars tomorrow. Meanwhile, if you haven’t already seen them, you can check out photos from our trip here. And for videos, please see Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, and Part 4.

Finally, we’d like to once again thank everyone at Drew Estate for an unforgettable time.

The Stogie Guys

video credit: Stogie Guys

Videos from Cigar Safari in Nicaragua (Part 4)

6 Jun 2012

Today we are sharing the sixth and seventh installments in our series of videos from our recent trip to Estelí, Nicaragua, with Drew Estate’s Cigar Safari.

In today’s first video, Steve Saka, president of Drew Estate, discusses how tobacco is prepped before it is actually made into a cigar. First, from one of Drew Estate’s tobacco storage and processing facilities, he discusses Drew Estate’s philosophy on fermenting wrapper, with the goals being taste and flavor. Then, at the Drew Estate factory, he shows how tobacco is prepared immediately before it is rolled into cigars.

In today’s second video, Steve Saka takes us onto the factory floor. There, he talks about how Drew Estate chooses to have buncheros make cigars before finally bringing us into the special humidified room where Liga Privada cigars are rolled.

We’ll resume the video coverage of our Nicaraguan adventure tomorrow. Meanwhile, you can check out our previously published coverage of the trip at your convenience. Photos are here. And for videos, please see Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3.

The Stogie Guys

video credit: Stogie Guys