Drew Estate Undercrown Sun Grown | Cigar Reviews by the Katman

Wrapper: Ecuadoran Sumatra Sun Grown
Binder: Connecticut River Valley Stalk Cut/Cured Sun Grown Habano
Filler: Nicaraguan (Ligero from Nueva Segovia)
Size: 5 x 54 Robusto
Strength: Full
Price: $8.08 MSRP ($6.30-$7.20 online)

Today we take a look at the Drew Estate Undercrown Sun Grown.
I went all out and bought a single stick from my local B&M…Havana Lounge & Cigar.
A shout out to my boy Tyler Jeffery who works at HL&C.

Regular production.
CA said: “92-rating….”Thick and hefty, this fat cigar has a lush draw and even burn that delivers rich notes of leather, spicy wood and espresso froth. The long finish hints of cinnamon.”
From Cigar Aficionado:
“Drew Estate is unveiling a new Undercrown cigar that’s draped in wrapper grown in the open sun of Ecuador. Called Undercrown Sun Grown, the cigar will formally debut this week at the IPCPR trade show.
“Enrobed in an Ecuadoran Sumatra wrapper said to be grown in open sunlight, the cigar contains a stalk-cut binder from the Connecticut River Valley and filler from Nicaragua. According to the company, the cigar contains one leaf of aged ligero from the Nueva Segovia region of Nicaragua, which was added to the blend for strength. The cigar was crafted by Drew Estate master blender Willy Herrera and his team at La Gran Fabrica Drew Estate in Nicaragua.

“Challenging Willy Herrera and the Undercrown blending team to create the new expression after finally securing sun grown tobacco is extremely exciting, as we have tried to secure this Sumatra Ecuador tobacco for over 15 years,” Drew Estate president and founder Jonathan Drew said.

“Undercrown Sun Grown is available in seven sizes: Corona, measuring 5 5/8 inches by 46 ring gauge; Robusto, at 5 inches by 54; Gran Toro, 6 by 52; Gordito, 6 by 60; Corona Doble, 7 by 54; Belicoso, 6 by 52; and Flying Pig, 3 15/16 by 60. The cigars are priced $8.08 to $12.73 and ship in 25-count boxes, save for the Flying Pig, which ships in boxes of 12.”

First thing I notice is that the stick is not evenly distributed. The bottom half is a bit spongy and feels under filled. The top half feels hard and I expect a reaming will be required.
The wrapper is a nice cinnamon/gingerbread color.
Seams are clearly visible…lots of veins. And it appears to have only a single cap.

From the shaft, I can smell some lovely floral notes, chocolate, espresso, very creamy, pepper, cedar, and butterscotch.

From the clipped cap and foot, I can smell both black and red peppers, malt, chocolate, cedar, floral notes, coffee, heavy cinnamon, and malt.

The cold draw presents flavors of cinnamon, red pepper, chocolate, vanilla, malt, cedar, barnyard, and butterscotch.

I checked out several reviews and everyone loves this blend scoring some very respectable ratings.
I found it amazing that each reviewer found their own list of flavors that tickled their palates. So this is a chameleon of a blend attaching to your brain stem differently for each smoker. So whatever drivel I write about this cigar is just one man’s opinion.

I fully expected to need my PerfecDraw cigar poker because of the hard area below the cap. But no…It draws just swimmingly.

First up: Malts, cocoa, cedar, cinnamon, espresso, marshmallow, butterscotch, sweet cream, nutmeg, and slight vegetal notes.
I take it back. I re-checked the other reviews and most taste the perfunctory easy to discern flavors. Same ol’, same ol’.
The malt is kicking arse. Sweetness is a dominatrix. Marshmallow, butterscotch, nutmeg, and cinnamon make for an exciting combination.
Strength begins at a solid medium. The char line is on the money.

I’m an inch in and not a lot of complexity. Transitions aren’t bad but aren’t great. The finish is special…very long and tasty.
I can tell you right now that I do like the Sun Grown blend better than the original Undercrown blend. It isn’t as heavy handed with a lighter appeal due to subtleties and nuance that the papa blend doesn’t seem to have.

The DE web site says this is a full tilt strength blend. So far, just medium. I will probably regret those words as it kicks in at some point and sends me and Alice to the moon. Can’t wait for the invasion of the Nicotine People from the Black Lagoon.

I was right about the bottom half of the cigar being under filled. It is nearly to the second third after only 13 minutes of smoke time.

The Drew Estate Undercrown Sun Grown is a kinder, gentler version of the DE Undercrown. I don’t remember a lot of complexity to that blend either. I can’t remember the last time I purchased an Undercrown. Too pedestrian for my tastes.
Burn issues begin.

Smoke time is 16 minutes. Whoa.

It is here at the start of the second third that the blend finds its complex nature. Transitions are floating free in space making for nice little turns here and there. The finish is wonderful.
Still….strength is only medium/full. I expect a cigar designated by the manufacturer as full strength to kick in a lot sooner than this one has.

The flavors: Malts, cinnamon, red pepper, nutmeg, espresso, heavy cream, marshmallow, butterscotch, vanilla, honey, clove, and a touch of root beer, cedar, nutmeg, and some cocoa.
The Drew Estate Undercrown Sun Grown begins to blossom. Strength is becoming intense finally. My vision is the first to notice.

This is a nice even keeled blend. Plenty of geometric balance that spreads across my palate like a drunken Pollock.

This blend is exactly what smokers who don’t have a developed palate will say they like but not know why. It projects a big picture at work that morphs the different tastes into one big jumble of wow.

Again, the burn ain’t so grand…not a cavalier gay (lighthearted and carefree) experience.

I’ve burned past the light in the loafers part of the cigar and it settles down to a normal burn.

The halfway point arrives at exactly 25 minutes.
The blend is so bloody smooth that the strength doesn’t seem to be overwhelming. It is only the nicotine that warns my brain that something is going on.
Know what this reminds me of? The My Father El Centurion H-2K-CT. I love that blend. And there are striking similarities even though the ingredients are completely different…and both at the same price. I’d like to have a cigar-off and compare one day.

The strength hovers at medium/full.

I now experience a Thanksgiving treat from this blend…pumpkin pie with homemade whipped cream. The cinnamon, nutmeg, and clove add allspice to the mix.

We are going to the in-laws for Thanksgiving. Papa Larson makes the greatest bacon covered jalapeno poppers in the world. Each year, I just stand next to the plate left out for everyone and attempt to consume them all on my own…while elbowing other guests out of the way.

Complexity, transitions, finish, balance…check. Surprisingly, the nicotine attack is on the wane. Sehr gut.
I am in lock step with the other reviewers and Cigar Aficionado. This is a mighty fine blend worthy of ratings at 90+.
I cannot think of another DE blend similar to the Undercrown Sun Grown. Like the cheese, it stands alone. This Robusto just shines with an ET heart glow.

Smoke time is 45 minutes.

Black pepper makes a flanking attack ridding itself of the red pepper spiciness I prefer. For newbies, I find the difference between black and red peppers to be the position of the taste. Black finds itself in the back of my throat. While red hits the tongue and sinuses.

Creamy malts compete heavily with the sweetness factors. There isn’t much savory in this blend….
As if a light switch had been flipped, the strength knocks Alice to the floor and off to the moon we go for a rough landing. Holy shit. Thank goodness my smugness about the lack of full strength for the first two thirds of the cigar seemed like a letdown. I don’t know if I could have smoked the entire cigar at this strength with nothing in my stomach.
Manny Mota & Jesus Alou! I’m falling down the rabbit hole.

I think I’m paralyzed. I just stare at the words on the page and no longer have any thought process in motion.
Newbies beware. I’ve been smoking cigars for 50 years and my ass is officially kicked.
The strength begins to overwhelm the subtleties of the blend. I believe if I had something in my gut this would be easier.

Malts dissipate. Still very creamy. Black pepper is on a rant. The pumpkin pie was fleeting. The other flavors are there but mooshed together now providing a sum of its totality rather than singular identifiable flavors.

I may have to lie down after this review.
I want to say something clever and witty but my I.Q. has dropped from 79 to 3.

I’m stating the obvious but unless you are a he-man…which I am not…choose your time for smoking the Undercrown Sun Grown carefully. Nothing puts off a friendly herf more than you puking into the ashtray.

I’ve hooked up a Demerol I.V. to my arm to get me through the final moments of this review.

OK…stupid comments aside…this is an excellent cigar. The price is reasonable. The only caveat is that this might be a Darwinian blend that takes out the weak and delicate smoker.
You’re going to dig the Undercrown Sun Grown.
Final smoke time is one hour 10 minutes.


And now for something way different:
From a blog called “The Potlander”
“A New Site Selling Luxury Cannabis Cigars Bills Itself as “420 for the 1 Percent”—So We Tried It
“Smoking just got a whole lot bougier.

“What’s the most money you’ve ever spent on weed?
“Until last week, mine was a $79 one-gram gram of Sitka Gold flower rolled in 2 grams of hash—an indulgence for a visiting friend’s first legal pot experience.
“But I am decidedly part of the 99 percent, which means I’m not the target market for Leira Cannagars, which bills itself as “420 for the 1%” on their slick website.

“Seattle-based Leira rolls cannabis cigars, the smallest of which is a petite three-and-one-quarter-inch cigarillo size that retails for $110 in Washington shops, like Freedom Market of Longview, where I snagged mine. They sell out “within hours or the weekend they are dropped,” the company told us, as cannabis users splurge on a product that “represents success, luxury, and sophistication.”

“This cigarillo includes 4 grams of flower, coated with a half-gram of rosin, wrapped in cannabis leaves. It’s advertised as burning slowly over an hour. They also sell a six-inch Corona, which retails for $420, and which is filled with 12 grams of flower, sealed with 3 grams of rosin and also covered in cannabis leaves, that they claim will burn for us to five hours.

“Leira works hard to make the packaging look lux as well: each cannagar is sold in a corked glass jar, topped with drips of purple wax. While I hesitate to embrace weed as a product for the bourgeoisie, I am a sucker for marketing.

“My smoking history begins with Marlboro Lights in middle school and has plateaued at frequent bong rips and the occasional celebratory joint, so the information I have about cigars primarily comes from the media. Specifically, my firsthand knowledge is limited to the boxes making great pencil cases, and the flavored ones are best served gutted and refilled with weed, then sealed with saliva. Buying a cigar already made with Grape Diesel saves so much time (and saliva), even if it costs 100 times as much!

“Leira has a lengthy video with instructions on cutting and lighting the cannagar, claiming you need a cigar cutter and a butane lighter. Considering my weed budget was already shot after this purchase, I decided to go rogue and skip the step of buying equipment that I likely wouldn’t use again. (My kitchen scissors and a classic Bic worked just fine, which was somehow both a relief and a disappointment.)
“Here is one of the things I didn’t know about cannabis cigars: They’re hollow in the middle! If you smoke them in the manner you usually smoke a joint, your mouth will be burned. A lot of times, even! This was a surprise—I was expecting the density of a blunt, but the cannarillo was shockingly lightweight.

“Since I have smoked pot way more times than I have smoked cigars, it took a long time to figure out the best way to hit this thing.

“The two friends I shared with were equally baffled, and I ended up offering up a regular old-fashioned preroll once we were tired of the discomfort. At one point, we recalled media impressions of people smoking cigars, and puffed out our cheeks and inhaled while giving tiny wet smooches to the cannarillo, a method that finally resulted in less burning and deeper hits, but also made the whole thing sort of gross to pass around.

“One friend wisely said, “I wish we would have figured this method out $60 ago.” Indeed, for a 99 percenter like me, it was hard to enjoy the curling smoke without seeing it as money burning away between my fingers. I have to wonder why Leira didn’t bother adding inhalation instructions to their video—I suppose one percenters already know these things.

“My final impression of the Leira Cannarillo is one of disappointment.

“The idea is great, but the execution makes this a better novelty gift for a friend than a smoker’s splurge. I found the presentation tacky, reminding me more of Maker’s Mark than Montecristo. If I’d gone for the Corona and spent four times the money, I’d be outraged since you could buy an ounce of weed for that much and roll a ton of old-fashioned blunts.

“Since I’m middle class, I’ll definitely be scraping the debris of the finger-burning stump left behind into my bong instead.”


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8 replies

  1. I’ve only had one of these, but I thought it was sensational. What it reminded me of is the unholy spawn of an Oliva Melanio and a Flor de las Antillas. I’m not a huge Drew Estate guy in general, but found this stick to be a great smoke.

  2. “…cannabis users splurge on a product that ‘represents success, luxury, and sophistication’.”
    Really? Seems like Leira PR’s been smoking too much of their own shit. I’ve met pleanty of rich folks, but not one of them has ever suggested that weed had such a symbolic value to it; unless that’s info they share only with each other while smoking up & imitating sick poor people (“Oh, Gee, Biff—look! It doesn’t hurt anymore!” “George…you know there aren’t any poor people named Biff. GET INTO CHARACTER!!!)

  3. That is an awful lot of weed being wasted in the smoke burning off the foot of one of those things.

  4. I hope the retailers realize what you do for their business. I have put lots of money in their coffers due to your reviews or endorsements. I purchased the PerfecDraw based on your endorsement. I have purchased the Atlantic Membership and CigraFederation Cigar of the month club membership on the same. No complaints. I have purchased Isabela, Ezra Zion, Paul Stulac and Hiram & Solomon Cigars based on your reviews and have not been disappointed. I can go on and on about cigars I have purchased due to your reviews, but I won’t, as they are mostly contained on your lists of “best cigars in the $XX range”. I can do the same with internet websites, as you have turned me on to many retailers that I have not heard of, prior to reading in your reviews. We share a similar palette (although I can detect nary the myriad of flavors you do – my cigarette/coffee scorched tastebuds I guess, but don’t care what the reason is; when you say it is great, I have found that I am almost 100% in agreement with your assessment) and have purchased many, many of the cigars that you have deemed “box-worthy”. When I think about purchasing an unknown (to me) cigar, I go to your website to see if you have reviewed them. Sure there are other review sites. But there are NONE that I have read that have a style of writing that ever makes me feel like going back for seconds. I used to blog often on a popular cigar retailers website and have stayed away for a while, for no particular reason. I went back recently and was reading posts and noticed your reviews had been mentioned. There were several bloggers that were familiar with you. Am I an anomaly? By and far, I would seriously doubt it. Maybe I do not need to mention it here, but felt like I should. I would bet that there are numerous others out there that would have the same story as mine. So tip a glass back and enjoy the satisfaction of knowing you are bringing more enjoyment to a crowd of people that share a similar passion. You did it before with your music, and you are continuing on to do it with your cigar reviews. I love the music stories, by the way, as I am a fellow musician-at-arms, and enjoy the laughs and inside view. I hope this 2017 Thanksgiving finds you and your family in peace and joy. I also hope the powers that be begin to realize that you are an “A” class reviewer and should be treated as such. I certainly feel that way, and bet a ton of others would attest to the same.

  5. Wow Dave…I don’t know where to start. Maybe a big thank you is in order…I will start there.
    I actually do sell a lot of cigars for retailers. I cannot begin to count the number of highly rated reviews caused the disappearance of cigars from their shelves following the 48 hours after publishing my impressions. Manufacturers and online stores confirm this to me all the time.
    It’s a shame that while they appreciate the boost in sales, only a tiny handful want to stick their necks out and thank me…especially when it comes to sending me samples.

    As far as the palate thing goes. I only get those flavors after hours of writing and smoking concurrently while scrunching my eyes tightly trying to taste what is offered. It takes incredible concentration and it only happens when I review.
    When I smoke a casual cigar during the day, I find most of the flavors…but like you, I do not taste the real nuances and subtleties to the extent I wrote about. I can only do it if I read my own review while smoking the cigar and it is just really intense.

    Thanks again, Dave, for the kind words. I wish all the dead beat manufacturers that ignore me felt the way you do.
    All the best buddy,

  6. Thanks for responding. I hear you on the flavors. I believe that the ability to identify the flavors comes from your experience, craft and attention to the review. When you discuss a boat load of flavors, I do still experience the complexity, but in my laziness and lack of treating it like a job, am satisfied to say, wow this has a lot of flavors. You take the time to discern them. More kudos to you. Right now I am sitting back and enjoying an Isabela Serpentine. Full of flavors, I would state. But you would be isolating them and breaking them down. Keep up the great work.

  7. Devin, I am in lock step with you about your feelings regarding The Katman’s reviews. Frankly I’ve saved a lot of money by not buying product that doesn’t fit my tastes. Even when he raves about cigars – if it doesn’t fit my tastes I avoid the cigar. But if it does sound like it’s a fit for me, I purchase a single or fiver. I’ve never been disappointed.

    I’ve just stared following Katman and wish I had done so sooner. Thanks for what you do Phil!

  8. Thank you Vince. High praise, indeed.
    All the best,

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