Nica Rustica by Drew Estate | Cigar Review

Wrapper: Connecticut Broadleaf Mediums
Binder: Mexican San Andrés Negro
Filler: Grade A Nicaraguan (Esteli and Jalapa)
Size: 6 x 52
Body: Medium/Full
Price: $6.95









The cigar made its debut at the 2013 IPCPR trade show.
It is best to let Drew Estate start the brouhaha by revealing quotes from the web site:
“This is a medium to full bodied smoke – it is blended to be rustic – un-polished, un-refined, for hard core tobacco lovers.
“Con Orgullo (with pride) is embedded deep within the people and the culture of Esteli, Nicaragua. Estelianos have embraced the image of “El Brujito” as a sign of pride and display it though-out their city in iron works, graffiti and sculpture. Carved into stone over 6,000 years ago by a flourishing Pre-Columbian civilization, “El Brujito” literally means “Witch Doctor” or to the locals “the Shaman”. Early Shamanic practices included the use of tobacco in ceremonial and medicinal rituals.
“Taste Profile: Dark, rustic, spicy, robust – very long finish.
“Cigar Style: A potent, robust and fulfilling smoke.”

From the press release:
“The artwork for Nica Rustica is made to pay homage to Estelí by using the image of El Brujito, which is displayed prominently throughout the box. El Brujito, which translates into witch doctor or the shaman, is an image found on a rock that dates back to pre-Columbian times that shows a shaman, the earliest known users of tobacco in Estelí.”

The cigars come in one size only. And are distributed in either 25 count trapezoidal bundles or 50 count display boxes.

The cigar is rustic as described. It has a wobbly pig tail and a closed foot. The wrapper is a dark chocolate brown…but almost coal black in the sunlight. The brownish/yellow cigar band conveys the spirit of the cigar. On the back side, is a small El Brujito. The wrapper is very oily and smooth. Seams are literally invisible. There is a myriad of both large and small veins.

I clip the cap, yarmulke style..only removing the wrapper and not the underlying tobacco, and find aromas of barnyard, spice, cinnamon, cocoa, and earthiness.
Time to light up.

The draw is good and the first flashes of flavor are the mighty red pepper and a rich earthiness. Smoke clouds my vision as I try to type. Cocoa quickly joins the group. And then sweetness. The cigar actually tastes rustic. Sort of rough as a cob.

The packaging for this cigar is just magnificent. I guess when you are Jonathan Drew; it’s either go big or go home. And still manages to keep the cigar at a very affordable price. I tip my hat to the gentleman.

A very nutty element appears. A cross between raw cashew and raw hazelnut. Both sweet nuts in their raw form. Like me.

I’ve had this stick in my humidor for 3 weeks. I have to be honest that I tried one the night I got them. They showed off their enormous potential. I probably didn’t have to wait those three weeks. But time is always on your side.

The ash is white with flecks of gray. The char line is the tiniest bit wavy but no worries.

An inch in, some creaminess appears. Not a big swath, just a little teaser. And the char line is now dead nuts perfect.

A bit more into the cigar, the nuttiness and cocoa develop more. It helps bring out the creaminess to a higher stage. The red pepper has dissipated quite a bit. Flavors are: Sweetness, cocoa, rich earthiness, nuttiness, creaminess, and spice.

As the first third disappears, there is a long finish on this puppy. And the balance is proving itself to be even keeled.


This is a slow burning stick. The cocoa begins to have a dusty sort of flavor. Like shaking an open container of Hershey’s baking cocoa in the air and opening your mouth to let the fine spray of cocoa enter your mouth. I know this is farfetched but this is as good as my tiny brain will allow.

The second third begins by becoming richer in all aspects of the cigar experience. The sweetness takes on a double flavor; The natural sweetness and toffee. I can almost taste the Heath bar.

The ash begins to get long and I knock it off. I don’t need no stinkin’ photos of endless ash…and because I’m afraid the ash will fall on to my laptop keyboard. Every time I get cocky, that happens.

The cocoa is very strong in the second third. And keeps building. I have no idea how a rustic cigar is blended but Drew has done it. Remember chewing on good tasting twigs when you and your buddies went hiking; back when there were places to hike near your home and are now condos? That gives you a hint of the flavor profile. A creamy, sweet, chocolate and nutty flavored twig. Wow. That was a stretch.





By the halfway point, this stick has become truly a wonderful experience. Flavors have moved around a bit: Earthiness, creaminess, cocoa, sweetness, nuttiness, and toffee. The burn line continues like a champ.

The draw is still perfect and is easy on the lungs. The strength started out at just below medium body. At the halfway point, it is a tad bit stronger than classic medium. I expect the last third to kick my ass.

The last third doesn’t see much change at the start. Although, I do get a salty pretzel flavor. It is a great tasting cigar. Very complex. Long finish. And a very slow burner. It has taken me close to 90 minutes to get to this point.

And then Wham! The cigar becomes a huge flavor bomb. Creaminess leads the pack with sweetness right behind. And behind those flavors are very bold cocoa, nuttiness, earthiness, saltiness, and toffee. Big bold flavors. The strength has moved to full body.
A nicotine kick begins. This is where I struggle to get past the last inch.

I marvel at this cigar’s complexity. This is one of the best cigars I’ve smoked in a long time. Yeah, 3 weeks in the humidor worked just fine but I am going to allow the rest to really age in my humidor.
A crack forms at the cap and I must glue it. Given how dry and cold it’s been, I am surprised that it took this long to have wrapper issues.
The cigar finishes out with blazing flavors. It is rich and deeply complex. And a testament that a cigar need not cost double digits to be a fine cigar.
For this size of a cigar, it put in some serious smoke time at just under 2-1/2 hours.

And now for something completely different:
The Police….the band, not law enforcement.

My drummer from the last band I was in was Stewart Copeland of The Police. A mere two years after our group fell apart, Stew found Sting and then Andy Summers. I won’t bore you with a Wikipedia history.

I saw in the newspaper that they were coming to Southern California and doing two shows; the first in San Francisco and, the second, in Santa Barbara; about 90 minutes north of L.A.
No L.A. performance.

I got cocky and called Miles Copeland, the band’s manager and Stew’s older brother. Miles got his start with Wishbone Ash, then Caravan, Al Stewart, Renaissance, Climax Blues Band, and my band, Curved Air. (He now is a multi-gazillionaire who handles Sting)

Miles, unexpectedly, was overjoyed to hear from me…although the bastardo fired me from Curved Air because there was trouble in the ranks with the prima donnas and so why not blame the Jew who acted as intermediary between the two camps? That’s right, take the path of least resistance.

Miles suggested I show up to the Santa Barbara gig and he would not tell Stew I was coming. It would be a surprise. Done deal.
Supporting the Police was Danny Elfman’s band, Oingo Boingo.

The hall was empty when I was allowed in with my ex-wife, Teri. We had gotten back together after 10 years apart. And what better way to show off how important I was than this trip?

I saw Miles and the band standing all by themselves in the corner of the arena. We approached them quietly.

I had changed my look since England. It was New Wave time, baby. So I had a short, good looking haircut, not a giant afro.
I stood just outside their circle and they all looked at me like, “Who the fuck are you?”

Miles jibes Stew with his elbow and motions with his head to take a look. All of a sudden, Stew’s eyes lit up, a big smile across his puss and he grabbed me with both of his lanky arms and lifted me off the ground. And he yelled, “Douche Bag!!!” That’s what we called each other back in the day.

I met Sting and Andy and we kibitzed for a while. Laughed about road stories and life.


We went back to the dressing room which was really a locker room. Benches and lockers. No tables or chairs. The Police hadn’t quite made super star status yet.

They brought dinner in for us and we had some beers. After dinner, I brought out dessert: the finest Northern CA buds. Spent $400 on half an ounce in 1981. I decided to buy a tiny bit to take with me. You never know. I also had the devil’s drug: Cocaine.

Well, everyone’s eyes grew bigger. Andy lit it up and then passed to Stewart who then passed it to me. And then he passed it to Sting. Stew ripped a mirror off of the wall and we laid out lines of the white death.

Now here is where I made the biggest faux pas of the evening. This was the beginning of their career and I could not for the life of me think that Sting was what his friends called him. Just couldn’t be. Too stupid a name.

So as I passed it to Sting, but I whistled; like a command to a dog and outstretched my hand with the mirror.

Stewart was livid. He looked at me and said, “HIS NAME IS STING!!!”

My shoulders drooped and I apologized, not explaining my reasons for being so rude. It would have only made matters worse.

Apparently, they ran out of the stuff in SF, so the roadies and their personal body guard got wind….I shared the wealth and now we had free traveling powers in the back stage and dressing room area. Didn’t even need those passes that hung around your neck. I was that well known by then to everyone.

I never laughed so hard as when I saw the “Hollywood” types in the Don Johnson jackets and all that weird hair on the women; wondering who the fuck is this guy? Since Santa Barbara University was their only So Cal stopping point, all the music insiders drove up to be part of a happening. They were all dressed up but Teri and I were dressed nicely casual. She looked great and Stew whispered to me, “Where did you get her?” I explained and he gave out a big belly laugh. So as a real pal would, he started hitting on Teri. I didn’t care. I knew where her passions lay. And besides, what is cooler than having a rock star, besides me, make a pass at you?

Quickly, I became a SOMEONE!

In the end, it was a fun night. I got to see an old pal and make new pals. Andy turned out to be the sweetest guy in the world and we talked about the Curved Air days and he and I talked about his illustrious background.

I have only seen or talked to Stew a handful of times since then. He outgrew me. He became a polo playing jetsetter and this poor schmuck did other things not requiring the dough of a millionaire.
What are you going to do? Go figure.
That’s me on the far left and Stew on the far right:


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20 replies

  1. You liked something by DE ? Damn Katman, must be getting a little soft in your old age…This is a good stick, although I never experienced the chocolate spray cascading into my mouth…That’s just me my friend…Glad you liked this stick…Good review, chocolate spray aside…As always !

  2. I concur with you about the chocolate notes, but I missed out on the cream & nutty richness. Perhaps CI sold me some sick sticks?

    Btw, that was one IMPRESSIVE jewfro! I, having only 50% Jewish genes (part Shephardi & Ashkenazi), could only hope for a coiffure that’s only half as epic.

  3. Thanks Joe for putting a big smile on my puss this morning.
    As far as you getting a different flavor profile, I cannot figure that one out. This was my third stick in three days.
    My only guess is what time of day did you smoke yours? Are you a big smoker? I am.
    I smoke 6-8 sticks per day and by the end of the evening my palate is fried and I miss out on a lot of flavors.
    Also, when I smoke for a review, I really, really focus. The world closes in on me and nothing else exists allowing all my senses to soak up what the cigar has to offer.
    Thanks again.

  4. OK Kat you know I love you man, right? But this review has me scratching my head. When These cigars were first released I rushed to get my hands on them. I purchased a 5 pack from C.I.. And as I always do I smoked one right away. Just to get an idea as to what the hoopla was about. Boy, what a let down! Tunneling, bad burn, and the cigar actually collapsed from being under filled! Sooo, I figured I let the others rest for a couple of weeks before I try another. 3 weeks later I decided to give it another whirl. Well the cigar didn’t collapsed but the damn thing was still terrible! The smoke was so acrid that I actually got a sore throat from it. And the flavors that I did get where that of a cheap quality cigar! I have a couple of more left but I really don’t even want to try them anymore. Now I don’t doubt what you experienced as true, but I’m wondering if there may be some quality control issues with this cigar. There are many reviewers that claim this cigar to be as great as you described, hell cigar dojo put this cigar in #2 spot for there top 10 for 2013! So may I ask where your sample came from so that I can give it a try again? Maybe C.I. got a bad batch or whatever. BTW I did try there Underground Viva (based on your review) and that was truly a great stick!

  5. Hi Marco,
    I got mine at my local B & M.
    This is the second comment complaining about the quality. I don’t get it.
    There are factors…how many cigars did you smoke that day before you smoked the Rustica? What do you use as a palate cleanser?
    I like yogurt, Atkins shakes, or apple sauce. I know, strange.
    I’ve smoked three of them so far and they were all as described in my review. I even smoked one at the end of the day after a bunch of other cigars.
    If I were you, I’d look at the big A List reviewers and see what their comments say.
    Also, Famous Smoke allows negative reviews on their site so that might be a good place to look. The other online stores don’t allow negative reviews. Bastardos!
    Since they come in only one size, this can’t be a reason.
    I don’t know, Marco. Check the cigar forums for comments.

  6. I just checked Famous and there are 6 reviews giving the cigar a rating of 99! I’ve never seen that before.

  7. I checked CI and the reviews range from so so to wonderful.
    Maybe it’s your palate. Everyone is different. But my sticks were all flavor bombs.

  8. To answer you questions…I smoke 1-2 cigars a day when it’s warm in the northeast and maybe 1-2 a week in winter. I also smoke pipes from time to time as a change of pace for my tastebuds. In all cases I smoked the NR on a fresh palette. At least twice I had them while driving. So perhaps I wasn’t giving the cigar the attention it required?

  9. I’ve had a few of these sticks and the construction and burn were flawless…Got one from a friend and the other 2 from a local B&M…In all honesty I hardly pay attention to issues concerning palate because it varies so much for each person…I’m more interested in the stats, because I’m a science guy, and the stats turn me on Katman….I’m interested in the reviewers experience as it pertains to flavor profiles, but that hardly means that I will have the same experience…Construction and burn issues are significantly more important from my point of view…It might be the best tasting stick on the planet, but if it requires too much of my attention I’m gone…No glue…No auger…No patience…Welcome to Wally World…

  10. Wally I’m with you man. I’m going to revisit this stick by buying them again from another source. After reading everyone’s commentaries I’m guessing I just happen to get some shit sticks. I am very diligent on how to take care of my cigars and so I know it wasn’t how I kept them. Sooooo, I’ll keep you guys posted.

  11. OK, I have an update to my dilemma with this cigar! (if anybody cares). After speaking to my friends, which also purchased these cigars from C.I. and had come to the same conclusions that this cigar sucked! I went to my local B&M and picked up some more of these cigars which were in stock for a couple of weeks in there humidor, and vuala, success! These cigars were truly a very nice smoke! I had experienced every thing you stated in your review! Excellent burn and very tasty indeed! So Kat you have been redeemed! ( Not that I had ant doubts on your pallet) So I guess Drew is going to have to be called on this because he allowed inferior quality sticks to slip by.

  12. Actually, Marco, that surprises me. Are you sure that your friends allowed enough time for the NR to mature a little bit?
    Do you know what number in the progression of cigars this one was that they smoked? If it was #6 for the day, their palate could have been a bit fried.
    I always take time to cleanse my palate. Time between cigars is one way.
    The other way is apples, yogurt(this is a good one), fresh veggies, I like to drink an Atkins shake killing two birds with one stone, or something else flavorful but not fried. A little bit (tablespoon) of good peanut butter works nicely. A bottle of water works well. If I do two reviews one after another, I take a break and have a small bowl of sugar free cereal. There are a lot of boxed cereals out there with less than 2mg of sugar per serving.
    The palate is a tricky thing.

  13. Well I can’t speak for them but I can tell you that my samples from CI where just bad. Like I stated before my first one collapsed from being under filled. They burned horribly as well. One tunneled so badly that the inside of the cigar charred leaving the wrapper intact! The smoke was acrid, and irritated my throat. So for me it was just a bad experience with all 5 cigars that I had purchased. As for my friends they just didn’t like the flavors they were getting. Which in hind sight it could have been for lack of properly breaking in the cigar. But what I got from my local dealer was a different animal all together. These where perfect in every way! As for when I smoke during the day, I usually start with med. to med. full cigars leaving the full strength cigars for the evening. I usually smoke a cigar every 4 to 6 hours and I usually drink water in between smokes. And I too love cereal before or after I smoke. I like to wait an hour after I eat to smoke a good stogie!
    Best regards, and as always thanks for your insight!

  14. I recently got a 5 pack off of the Joe’s daily deal. When they arrived, I held up one of the sticks from CI into the light & juxtaposed it against one purchased from another source. The CI sticks’ CT broadleaf wrapper was markedly lighter than in color than it’s counterpart. I haven’t yet fired one up to see if they contrasted in taste as well. But I’ll report back when I do…

  15. Now I know I’ve been taken by CI. And it wasn’t the first time I’ve purchased a substandard Drew Estate product through them or their splinter group,
    This spring I snagged a 5’er of uf-13’s for what I thought was a pretty good deal considering how rare they are. Since every online reviewer was extolling those things as the cigar version of mahatma, I had high hopes for a favorable experience. Well, the first one I lit up was plugged and nearly flavorless up until I set it down.
    I used every means I knew to attempt a tobacco resuscitation, but to no avail. So half way through, I gave up on the smoking & commenced a stogie post mortem. I gutted that thing like a rainbow trout & found the reason why that highly overpriced piece of trash was so darn plugged. There was more freaking stems in the filler than one would find in a cheap bag of weed. I cursed JD’s name so loud that he no heard me from his palace in Esteli!

  16. Joe,
    I completely agree with you. You need to read my review of the Drew Estate Liga Privada UF-13.
    I think you will get a kick out of it.

  17. Well I just have to keep this post rolling, LOL! I honestly believe that big cigar companies like Don Pepin, Torano, Drew Estate and yes Padron as well, sell cigars to these big online retailers as overruns and seconds. Cigars that were not made with there premium grade tobacco but felt they were good enough to make any way and passed along to these retailers that go on to sell these products through there auction sites. These cigars sold to them in bundles instead of boxes or retail packaging. That come with there retail bands on them are released to the public through there auction sites. That deal you thought you got for that 5 pack was just a cigar that came from a bundle instead of a box and is why the cigar doesn’t perform or taste like the ones you had from a box you purchased before. Now don’t get me wrong I’m not stating all auction cigars are this way but many are. Its just good business for the factory to get rid of inventory and a way for the retailer to make money on a deal where they couldn’t get full retail for a product. As for Drew, I feel he’s on the high wagon and forgetting that his lack of commitment to quality assurance is going to catch up with him some day!

  18. Marco,
    In 2008, I had a construction project I had to baby sit in Sacramento. I was there for a year. Fly in Monday morning. Fly out Friday afternoon.
    I met this cigar store owner in a little town north of Sac who had been in the business a very long time and knew everyone.
    He told me the exact same thing as you stated.
    He carried a huge selection of Gurkhas that were probably the most popular selections. He told me that these Gurkhas were not the ones sold online.
    While most were expensive, you could taste where the money went. They tasted nothing like the online versions of the same blend. A Crest or a Beauty were $20-$25 sticks in his store. But they were fantastic.
    The cigar industry is no different than any other big industry. Corruption, politics, back stabbing, finger pointing, etc. It just is what it is.

  19. I believe you guys are right on the money about manufactures using online retail outlets as platforms to peddle their crap inventory. How else could they profit from such deep discounts to their product lines.
    However, I do think some good sticks make it through to the customer from cbid, et al. I’ve won some that were on point…great tasting and magnificent burners. But it’s all a matter of whether or not you’re willing to shell out the funds on the cigar world’s version of dog rocket roulette?

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