Undercrown Dogma by Drew Estate | Cigar Review

Wrapper: Mexican San Andrés
Binder: Connecticut Stalk-Cut Habano
Filler: Nicaraguan, Brazilian Mata Fina
Size: 6 x 56 “Toro Gordo-Box Pressed”
Body: Medium/Full
Price: $9.95 MSRP (Only Available at Smoke Inn in boxes of 10)

Undercrown Dogma Packaging


Today we take a look at the Undercrown Dogma by Drew Estate. DE made this cigar especially for Smoke Inn in the spring of 2014. It was a tribute to the Cigar Dojo community.

I must admit I have wanted to try one of these since they debuted. And now, thanks to good ol’ buddy, Buzz Gould, I shall.

Buzz told me we’ve got 3 months of humidor time on this stick and it’s rarin’ to go.

It is a gorgeous stick. It has a beautiful soft box press; almost oval, with a mottled dark fudge wrapper.

Lots of oil and I do believe I see a bit of sun beginning to make its way through the clouds this morning.

Seams are invisible. A normal amount of veinage. And a lot of tooth. And the cigar weighs a ton. Jam packed t the gills.

I clip the cap and find aromas of black cherry, spice, espresso, vegetal element, cedar, mint, and lovely floral notes.
Time to light up.

The draw is fine. Nothing at first and then Wham! Flavor explosion that is comprised of red pepper, chocolate, coffee, sweetness, black cherry, and the floral notes translate from aroma to flavor.

The strength hits medium/full almost instantly.

There is a strong woody component that gives the cigar a very outdoor campfire feel. While taking in the coffee flavor, I begin to detect some creaminess. A little, not a lot.

The sweetness has different shades to it. I can taste some honey, berry fruit, and molasses. And when I take a swig of water, there is some butterscotch.

Do you know the differences between caramel and butterscotch?

“Caramel is typically made with granulated sugar, cream, butter, and sometimes vanilla. While Butterscotch, on the other hand, is made with brown sugar. Its primary flavors are brown sugar and butter. It typically also contains milk/cream but they are not as prominent as caramel.”

The char line is wavy. It shouldn’t be. Not quite ready for a touch up but heading there.

The black cherry takes on another cherry flavor: Maraschino cherry. That treacly sweet piece of crap they put in foo foo drinks.

Here are the flavors at this early point: Chocolate, coffee, spice, sweetness, cherry, floral notes, cedar, and a touch of mint.

At the moment, with ¾” burned, it has shown its stuff. Like a rocket, it filled my palate with loads of flavor albeit with different intensities.

In actuality, it tastes very much like a Nicaraguan puro…except for that cherry flavor.

I must touch up the char line as it is heading towards dangerous canoe-land. I read a few pieces from some of the cigar forums and there was one common thread amongst the comments: burn issues. At $10 a pop, this should not be a consistent issue.

Over the last three days, I reviewed the Tatuaje Avion 11, 12, and 13 Reserva. Each one of those cigars maintained an absolutely perfect burn line.

I’ve mended the char line and fingers are crossed.

The cap is beginning to peel away. I haven’t been chomping it that long for this to happen. I carefully cut away the wayward piece.

On the back side of the cigar, the char line is making another run for the hills.

The distraction of the construction issues is a nuisance.

Instead, I should be focusing on the flavor. And it is developing quite nicely. I’ve grabbed a Diet Coke for the egg cream experience. That delicious combo of chocolate syrup, milk, and seltzer water. Damn those were good.

The cigar, with 1-1/2” burned, transforms into a mega flavor bomb. The chocolate is steaming hot and gooey. Like me. The sweetness of the caramel, honey, and cherry turns the flavor profile into a malt shoppe delight. The coffee keeps it grounded and more like a visit to a Starbucks. And the earthiness is out of this world.

The char line is finally behaving perfectly. And so is the cap.

I get a berry flavor. What the hell is it? Could be blackberry or boysenberry.

It’s Trader Joe’s Super Fruit Spread which is a sugar free concoction that is made of Morello cherry, red grape, wild blueberry, currants, and pomegranate.

A great cigar has a certain “thing” running through it. It is the X factor. Words fail me in trying to describe it but I am sure you know exactly what I am talking about. It rises above the flavor profile into a strata all its own. I can’t give it a flavor name. It is its own specialty that is derived from aged tobacco.

It is the thing that starts the lip smacking long finish. And begins the complexity. If any of you can explain it better, I’m all ears because I am at a loss.

The second third begins. This is the best DE blend I’ve tasted. The other hip blends have been too kitschy for me. DE makes good cigars but they just never seemed to hit their stride with me. I did go through a heavy ACID phase back around 10 years ago but then got burned out on it. All that sweetness got to me.

The Undercrown Dogma by Drew Estate is this close to tasting like an ACID blend. But the only aroma is a nice subtle floral note. The sweetness comes from masterful blending not a room full of botanicals and fragrant oils.

The char line is in terrible shape and I must attend to it. This is quite annoying.

I observe a pin hole near the foot and smoke is pouring from it.

I clip the cap back a bit and the rest of the cap comes off with it.

What a dichotomy. A wildly delicious cigar with very distracting construction issues.

The red pepper has dissipated to almost a background flavor. The strength remains at medium/full.

The flavor profile is definitely French pastry all the way. I normally don’t smoke cigars this size but as it only comes in this one size, the blenders made the right decision in its presentation.

I’m still half an inch away from the midway point and I’ve invested an hour of smoke time. I hope Buzz chimes in and comments about whether he had the construction problems I am having.

While chocolate and cream are the bedrock of the cigar, the Super Spread jam is the star. Charlotte loves the stuff and it is a must to always have it in stock. No matter how many other jams I buy, she will only eat this one.

Lawdy, lawdy. I remove the secondary band and off to the side, it says, “Never Smoke Alone.” Well, I’m fucked. I always enjoy a good cigar when I am alone much more than in a group with lots of conversation that is a distraction from the nuances of the flavor profile.

The price point. I am torn. On the flavor side…worth every dime. On the construction issues….eh..not so much.

Buzz commented in my Face Book group: Katmensch Cigar Group that he likes to keep his humidors at a low humidity. I agree. I think 70% is too high. Of course, it all depends on the weather. But since it gets every bit as humid in Milwaukee as it does in Miami in the summer time, I keep my humidity at 66%-67%.

I am now at the halfway point depending on where I measure. I must touch up the char line again. (photo #6)
The last half sees a shift in the flavor profile. It mellows quite a bit. Where flavors were in my face earlier, now they are subtle. A bit of the complexity fades away.

Here are the flavors of the Undercrown Dogma by Drew Estate: Sweetness, berry fruit, chocolate, cream, and some cedar. The spice is gone and so is the coffee. It still has an earthy core. The chewy center.

What happened?

My best guess is that it punched out for lunch and will resume in the last third.

Even the strength has mellowed some.

The last third begins and it all comes back like a lightning bolt. Flavors explode on my palate. The strength hits full bodied. Balance, complexity and a long finish return.

I’ve now invested one hour 45 minutes.

Flavors are wonderful. Easily making the Undercrown Dogma by Drew Estate viable for my Top 25 cigars. But it won’t make it on to that list due to burn issues.

It has the flavors but not the construction.

Nicotine kicks in hard.

The Undercrown Dogma by Drew Estate is a good cigar. Not a great cigar. It is full of flaws and inconsistencies. Smoking it feels like DE just didn’t care that much about quality control. The constant touching up of the char line was a real hassle. If I had not taken the time to fix the burn line, the cigar would have become unsmokeable. And while I have no proof of this hypothesis, I believe that constant torching of the cigar affects its flavor.

The sad thing is that it could have been a great cigar with a little more attention to detail.

And now for something completely different…but not funny.

The Kennedy Years.

I’m pretty sure that none of my dear readers are old enough to remember what I am about to discuss.

I was 10 when Kennedy ran for president. And I was just old enough to be highly aware of what was going on. It was discussed all the time in school and at home.

My parents were Democrats. My father went Republican when Nixon ran in 1968 and it destroyed me when he told me.

I watched TV all day during the ballot counts. I was glued to the TV. Back then, we all went to bed without knowing who won. It was a close election and thanks to buying off the unions by Daddy Kennedy, Jack won.

It was an incredible time. There was nothing like it. And nothing like it since. It was the birth of a new era. And you could feel it in your bones.

The first sign of trouble was in October 1962. The Cuban Missile Crisis.

I was 12. And I had never been so scared in my life. Wackos were building bomb shelters like crazy. People selling them were making a fortune.

Every day in school, we practiced the drop and crouch drill. Somehow, covering your head and neck while beneath your desk would save you against a nuclear holocaust.

At night, I hid under the sheets expecting to be vaporized at any moment.

The incident that changed my life forever was the assassination of our president.

I was actually watching live TV when Jack was shot. My parents bought me a black and white TV for my bedroom. Something rare in those days.

Moments after Kennedy slumped, I ran into the living room, where my parents had friends over, and I yelled, “Turn the TV on!!!!”

We sat glued to the TV for days.

Once more, I watched it live as Jack Ruby shot Oswald. And I repeated the same scenario…. running into the living room to inform the grownups of more horror.

It seemed to be playing on a loop…in real time, in slow motion, over and over.

For the next 10 years, I was obsessed with the assassination. From the start, I didn’t believe it was one killer. And at age 21, after reading countless conspiracy books, I did something stupid.

I wrote scathing letters to every government agency in the United States accusing them of killing Kennedy.
Then, something really scary happened. I began to get replies. They were boiler plate letters spewing out all the same crap. It was then I realized that the FBI had just opened a file on me.

I kind of freaked out.

There was a real dichotomy in this country between the Camelot era and the Conspiracy era. It was a bad time for America.

The civil rights movement was happening on the news every night. Each night we watched as blacks were being herded like animals with baton wielding cops and water guns. Martin Luther King came to the forefront as a leader of that movement.

At the time of the Kennedy assassination, it had only been 18 years since the end of WWII. 18 years.

18 years ago was 1996. Remember what you were doing in 1996? We all do to some extent. It was so different in 1963.

Another issue was the Communist threat that our politicians ramped up that created a constant flow anxiety. Everyone was sure that WWIII was afoot. And more bomb shelters were being built.

Then it was 1968. It was the pinnacle of love, peace, and understanding. We all wore flowers in our hair.

I turned 18 in 1968 and was allowed to vote for the first time.

It was 1968 when Robert Kennedy came on to the scene and it seemed like he was the answer to all of our problems. We young people were elated. He seemed to be one of us. He wanted to end the Viet Nam war. Remember, at this time, very few politicians were vocal about this. We were sure that he was going to be the sequel to Jack Kennedy.

Civil rights was a mess. And RFK found a way to bring people together.

Martin Luther King became the voice of reason and people rallied around him. And then what everyone feared would happen, did. He was assassinated. This couldn’t be happening. It was RFK that seemed to announce this to America. He tried to keep calm amongst the blacks. But to no avail. 100 cities saw riots.

On June 6, 1968, once again, I went to bed not knowing how the California primary turned out. It was the first time I had voted. I was very proud of that.

When I woke up the next morning, I flipped the TV on, while in bed, to see nothing but the TV channels talking about the RFK assassination. I cried. I couldn’t believe this. He was 42 when he died. People’s hope died with his death. There was no one left to follow.

And as an Afterword to this book, on July 24, seven weeks later, my mother died. She was 42. Just like Bobby Kennedy. My life seemed to be coming apart.

I had just graduated high school. My mother died three weeks before I started college and my father just sort of disappeared from sight…going every night, after work, to fuck his future wife. Everyone in my small family had an inkling he was having an affair while my mother lay dying. And it was confirmed by his absence. Instead of taking care of his family, he had other priorities.

I was alone to deal with all of this. I was in a dark place from which there seemed to be no escape.

Nixon became president sending this country into one of the darkest times in American political history.

Thankfully, I was playing music and decided that this is what I wanted to do with my life. It lifted my spirits to play gigs. I lived in the moment. No worries or anxieties.

Music was my salvation against all the terrible things that had happened in the previous 6 years. My mother had always supported me playing music. My father thought it was dumb. I eventually followed my dream and found a modicum of success.

Describing the 1960’s is like trying to describe taking LSD to someone that had never taken it. Impossible.

We don’t pick the time and place we grow up in. Each generation has its own ups and downs. Elations and horror.

I often wonder what my daughter’s future will have in store for her. And my future grandkids, too.

But at my age, I probably don’t have that much time left. I won’t see my grandkids grow up. I won’t see my daughter when she hits middle age. Unless I live til 90. And then I will be asking my Jamaican nurse if I can be her daddy.

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11 replies

  1. nice review katman! awesome story as always!!

  2. I’m the same age as you Mr. Katman with similar memories of and reactions to those times. I’m certain that there was an FBI file opened on me also due to actions I took when LBJ announced he wasn’t seeking election April 1, 1968. There is an AP photo of me in papers nationwide with a banner in front of the White House. I was a GWU student at the time. William F. Buckley also used that photo the next week in one of his typical reactionary Times magazine editorial.

  3. Uncle Katman taught me a new word today – “treacly “.

  4. Treacle stems from all the time Katman spent in England.

  5. As our Uncle noted in past reviews,the Corona Viva size of these Undercrowns is the sweet spot. It’s the size I keep on hand and showcases the blend very well. The only issue I’ve ever had is the occasional wavy burn,which usually self corrects.
    I was close to 4-1/2 years old at the time of JFK’s death. I’ve always been mature for my age,and even at that young was still aware of the significance of what I was seeing on TV. I remember a very profound deep sadness that I think a lot of us still feel to this day when we remember that event and the equally horrendous assassinations that followed. I’m not heavy into the conspiracy crap,but will never believe Oswald was acting on his own. Whether it was some shadowy dealings within our own government,or just the pissed off mob,or God knows what,I hold firm to my conviction he was the patsy.
    I’m with Patrick on the FB thing. It makes me feel sad and that I’m acting like a snob. I’m considering using my Yodoug knighthood to sign up.

    • To Doug & Patrick:
      I do hope you join the Facebook group.
      We are all having a shit load of fun, and Mr. Katman has some not to be missed commentary.
      And I would especially love to see you two join! You would bring a lot to the group, as you do to this blog.
      I, if you can believe it, am a vary private person. I’ll I want is to have complete anonymity, but in today’s electronic world you have to put yourself out there at least a little bit, like you do here on this blog, or LinkedIn.
      I hated having to join Fb & LinkedIn etc….
      And still hate it. At my age though & people I’m surrounded by, it’s inevitable.
      I do get an immense amount of joy out of things like Katman’s group, and getting to see my closest friends kids grow up.
      As far as all this social media.
      I just have all my settings as tight as possible. I don’t want or have hundreds of friends or contacts, I’ve been on Facebook since about 2008, I think, only have around 40 “friends”, which is unheard of for my age group, most people have 300+, which in my opinion is just stupid.
      And many people use aliases….nothing wrong with that.
      So I really hope you join, if not, just for the group. It’s also a “closed group” not a “public” one…so that makes all comments and postings a lot more private.
      If it wasn’t a closed group, I wouldn’t be saying anything there.
      So check it out, pick a fun alias. There are other prominent members of this blog that use aliases there.
      Hope to see you there.
      Happy Smokes!

  6. Patrick,
    I left a reply to you and Doug, after Doug’s post.
    Just wanted to make sure you knew that, and saw it.

  7. My parents came from huge families like that too,and I get the same shit. I would rather friend the good people here than most of them,and life gets shorter by the day. So, I’ll see if I can create an account using the Yodoug alias bestowed on me by our Uncle.

  8. You’re right. I’m not a DE fan. I think he is a wizard. He doesn’t brainwash anyone, he just casts magical spells that makes moosh of smoker’s brains.
    His followers are akin to Moonies.