Herrera Esteli by Drew Estate | Cigar Review

Wrapper: Ecuadorian Habano
Binder: Honduran
Filler: Nicaraguan
Size: 5.25 x 52 “Robusto Extra”
Body: Medium/Full
Price: $8.75


Note (2-24-2014): I made an error that the Drew Estate folks were kind enough to catch: “Thank you Phillip. One correction, these are not limited, we don’t plan on stopping making them any time soon. Thanks!”

From the Drew Estate press release:
“On June 15th, 2012, Willy Herrera, formerly the blender and master cigar maker of El Titan de Bronze, joined Drew Estate.
“He will be responsible for creating and crafting handmade, traditional cigar blends under his own moniker within their Esteli, Nicaragua-based La Gran Fabrica Drew Estate and will report directly to Drew Estate’s executive board.”

From Atlantic Cigars:
“All of the Herrera Estelis are rolled in the Entubado style. Essentially, the tobacco in the filler is rolled into tubes inside the binder, which allows more equal distribution of the air when drawing on the cigar. It is easily the most difficult way to roll a cigar and very few cigars are rolled this way, mostly because of the time it takes to not only train the rollers to perform, but also the extra time it takes to roll each cigar. It’s also not the way Drew Estate traditionally rolls.”

The cigar comes in five sizes:
Short Corona 5.25 x 46
Robusto Extra 5.5 x 52
Lonsdale 6 x 44
Toro Especial 6.25 x 54
Piramide Fino 6 x 52
Price ranges are $8.00-$10.00

Construction is excellent. A beautifully smooth cigar the color of caramel. Tight seams and an array of veins. It looks like a double cap but I cannot find anything to confirm that. The very plain cigar band harkens back to the days of yore when Cuban cigar bands were simple and to the point. It was the boxes that were ornate; not the cigar band.

I clip the cap and find aromas of spice, ginger, cedar, and peppermint. That is a first for me. And then I sneeze three times in a row.
Time to light up.

Spiciness slams away at first. Added to that is a sweetness and nuts. There is also a minor woody element. Like me. The draw is spectacular as smoke blinds me completely as I type.

The sweetness has another component. At the moment, it eludes me. I’m only one quarter inch in…there’s time.

The spice is might strong. It is clearing my sinuses and my eyes are watering. So far, this is my kind of cigar. I like a stick that sets my hair on fire and my eyeballs…well:
“Yellow matter custard dripping from a dead dog’s eye
Crabalocker fishwife pornographic priestess
Boy you been a naughty girl, you let your knickers down
I am the eggman, they are the eggmen
I am the walrus, goo goo goo job”

That should explain the experience graphically. Thank you John Lennon.

There is pancake sweetness. And waffles. And then a large swath of creaminess swallows the existing flavors and makes it its own. Everything is addicted to love when the creaminess appears.

At the half inch mark, the cigar becomes an official flavor bomb.

Here are the flavors: Creaminess, red pepper, sweetness, peanut, caramel, and molasses.

The char line is flawless.

I will follow Willie Herrera anywhere. Kudos, sir. What a smart move on the DE folks to bring Herrera aboard. I expect big things from this man.

A salty pretzel element appears. If it was salty chicken, the waffle component would be perfect.

I’m in a good mood and there is no hiding it. It actually went up to 45° yesterday and more of the same today. It is Tee shirt, shorts and no bra weather. Three days ago it was 2° as a high. But my bones are killing me and then when I whined about this to my wife she told me rain is coming tomorrow. “Hope I die before I get old.”

The second third begins with bolder flavors. The caramel makes a real surge and gets in line behind the creaminess. The spiciness has calmed down and is a middlin’.

This is the creamiest smoke I’ve had in the longest time. It just oozes. It moves the pepper to the back of the pack and really accentuates the caramel, sweetness, the peanuts, oak, and molasses.

Here is another stick by DE that ain’t cheap but so far, is worth every penny.

The char line continues chooglin’.

The ash is very strong and if I were a bolder man, I’d try to show off with one of those 6” long ash photos. But I am a coward and don’t want ash all over my laptop keyboard so I knock it off in 1” increments. The construction on this cigar is simply outstanding.

The halfway point is upon me and complexity digs its heels in. The stick is well rounded, balanced, and with a ginormous long finish. A real chewy cigar.

The strength started out at medium and is still there. I can sense that it is going to become stronger shortly.

I want to thank Bobby C. for gifting me this cigar. What a pal!

At this point, it is difficult to add anything to the description of the cigar. This is very close to a perfect cigar for my palate. It has all the elements I love. I do hope that the red pepper makes a return in the last third though.

The saltiness returns. I take a lot of swigs of water so that the flavors explode on my palate.

The char line continues to be spot on. And the cap is doing well also.

The last third begins. I get a mocha java flavor. It totally complements the flavor profile. And then a citrus element joins the fray. Can’t tell what it is yet.

This is an impressive cigar. A box of 25 runs around the $200 range. Out of my budget boundaries. A 5 pack will have to do. Atlantic Cigars has excellent pricing on this stick and runs around buck or so cheaper a stick instead of the price listed above. So a 5 pack is do-able.

The citrus is lemon zest. And very potent now. It adds a nice counterpoint to all this sweetness.

Hail to the DE rollers. The cigar band comes off without a hitch. The perfect amount of glue.

Bam. The strength hits super full bodied in the blink of an eye. My brain is swimming and my eyesight is akin to Stevie Wonder’s. My motor skills diminish. Man oh man. The strength is akin to an Illusione or a La Flor. It is kicking my ass. I slow down and take my time from here on in.

I grab an Atkins shake from the fridge to get something in my stomach. It is doing flip flops.

I have 1-1/2” to go. And fingers are crossed that I can finish it without passing out.

This is a great cigar. A great cigar. As it is a limited run, I suggest you make your move now.

As I had hoped, the red pepper returns in force. And the flavors explode on my palate.
I finish the cigar and feel the need to lie down. LOL.

And now for something completely different:

Earlier in my life, I found a perfect way to ditch good friends: Open a recording studio.

Back in the early 80’s, I had my own in Long Beach, CA. I had a partner who did the engineering, although I was also capable of the tech stuff. But I was the producer. The big cheese. The big Kahuna.

We were beginning the recording of the Butch “Eddie Munster” Patrick song, “Whatever Happened to Eddie?”

I was doing this whole project with my money and one lender. An ex con who was one of my best friends and advisors. He was a gentle bear that if he liked you, he was loyal and the best friend you could have. But if he didn’t like you…ouch.
So I had to convince some of the best players around to record for me on the cheap. I got off easy on the bass playing, because I was the guy.

But I needed guitars, keys, and drums.

Believe it or not, the keys and drums were the easy part. It was getting the right guitarist that was so difficult.
I had some of my best friends come in and since I had gotten a license from Universal Studios to use the theme from the Munsters, every note of the song had to be perfect. We used the theme from “The Munsters” and wrote our own lyrics about Eddie.

Try and tell hot shot players that they have to tone it down and play what I tell them to play. Oy vay.

Since I was using a lot of young guys in their 20’s, most didn’t have a lot of recording experience. While I had come back from London as rock star with plenty of recording time.

And that’s completely different from playing live. Live, you can woodshed the hell out of a song. You never have to repeat anything. In the studio, it takes a really good sense of control and discipline; to be able to play the same riff from one take to the other.

And my friends couldn’t do it. The packed their gear and stormed out with their middle finger raised and calling me the 7 words TV won’t allow.

Plus Butch attended all of the recording sessions. This had a high intimidation level.

Finally, a friend of a friend came in and played the essential guitar riffs exactly as I had written them. We could finally move on.

There is something inherently cool about sitting behind the big glass window of a control booth. Everyone wants to hang out and watch you work….that is until they see how difficult it is and that the attention to detail can become very tiring for someone that’s not a musician….which Butch was not. This whole project was a monster Milli Vanili with Butch lip syncing and pretending to play bass. The band, “The Monsters,” was fake too. The only one who played on the single was the drummer. The fake guitarist did the singing for Butch.

Then it was my turn. As the studio owner, I got a lot of session gigs from bands that would come in and ask if I knew a bassist. Duh.

So I made a lot of dough on the side. But my general rule was not to play while they recorded, and I produced. I would come back to the studio after I went home and had dinner (I was a swingin’ single guy back then) and take a short nap.

I’d open up the studio, around 11pm, and be totally by myself. I clicked on the lights of the booth… while leaving the recording area dark. In fact, I dimmed the lights in the booth for inspiration.

We were analog back then. 3” reel to reel tape. I’d sit in a comfy chair with my bass plugged in direct. No amp. Grab the good headphones and learn the song during several playbacks. Then I pushed record. And I’d play my ass off. If I made a mistake, I’d go back and fix it. I spent all night til I got it right. I wanted every nuance to be perfect.

Bet you didn’t know this….but after the first couple albums, McCartney would do the same thing. The rest of the band recorded and he would come back later and lay down his track with the rest of the band out doing whatever they were doing. That was tricky because in the early days, the Beatles recorded on a 3 track machine and would just bounce the takes from one track to the other. So it was real mish mosh.
An interesting note: We got a real pro of a photographer to do the single’s cover. This whole project was aimed at the tweens age level. Kids.
But it wasn’t til the single was released that I noticed the drummer had a beer bottle in his hand.
To be continued…..



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3 replies

  1. Funny thing. I’ve started to look forward to your music reminisces about as much as your reviews, being the same age as you and having played in several bands (albeit local) from the late 60’s to the mid 70’s. Brings back memories.

    • Thanks Charles,
      I’m glad you enjoy them. And it’s good to meet a fellow musician.
      After the big time shit, I went straight and back into construction management. But I always stayed active playing in cover bands; mostly blues bands after the age of 50.
      But in the last couple of years, the skydiving accident did so much damage to me structurally, that I can’t lug that bass around for four sets any longer. I spend two days in bed after a gig. Too much wear and tear. It breaks my heart.
      So I sit in the house and pick it up every day to keep the chops up. That lasts about 30 minutes and it’s pain med time.
      I used to love hearing stories from all my music heroes and naturally assumed that smart musicians like the same thing. I can’t play out anymore but I’ve got all those great memories and a place in music history.
      And I do love those royalty checks. LOL.

  2. Lol…My Cardiologist wants me to keep one of these Herrera Esteli sticks around just in case my heart stops and I need to be shocked back to life…I’m still shaking from your review…Keep it smooth Katman !