Wrapper: Brazilian Mata Fina
Binder: Connecticut Broadleaf
Size: 6 x 52 Toro Especial
Price: $9.68 ($8.00 Online)
Today we take a look at the Drew Estate Herrera Esteli Brazilian Maduro.
Yes, I know I’m a year or two late to the dance with a review of this blend. But I wanted to add my two cents.
I bought some sticks and they have been resting naked for 4 months.
From Cigars International:
“When Willy Herrera joined team DE in 2013, he created the Herrera Esteli line and then followed it up with Herrera Esteli Norteno. Both have landed on top 25 Cigar lists and earned impressive 94-point ratings. Now, we welcome Herrera Esteli Brazilian Maduro with open arms.
“It comes wrapped in a dark, plantation grown Brazilian Mata Fina wrapper – a leaf typically used as a binder or in the filler. Applied on top, it provides pronounced floral and earthy flavors. Underneath is a Connecticut Broadleaf binder and long-fillers from Nicaragua. Overall, it’s a medium to full-bodied cigar with great flavor. The original Herreras are a tough act to follow, but this one stacks very up nicely.
“Good news! The Drew Estate Herrera Esteli Brazilian Maduro received an impressive 90-point rating, noting: “Enrobed in a dark and oily cover leaf, this well-made cigar burns evenly. It’s a floral, earthy smoke with hints of vanilla, cedar wood and rhubarb.”
SIZES AND PRICING:
Robusto Grande, 5.25 x 52 $7.44
Lonsdale Deluxe 6 x 44 $9.28
Toro Especial, 6 x 52 $9.68
Piramide Fino 6 x 52 $10.80
I love the wrapper. It oozes with oil in the right light…as if dipped in motor oil. A lot of maduro or Oscuro wrappers have been seen as shams when discovered that so many blenders dye the wrapper to get that deep rich Deepwater Horizon hue. But this is Mata Fina so I’m going to be positive and declare this is the natural look of the stick.
A slight toothiness darts in and out from the cigar’s surface.
Seams are visible but tight. Veinage looks like a Thomas Guide map. Tiny little thoroughfares circling the beast. The triple cap is gorgeous. The cigar is very heavy in the hand but feels perfect to the touch. Just the right amount of give when squeezed and not a single hard or soft spot to be found.
SMELL THE GLOVE:
Fat notes of floral coat the inside of my schnoz. Rich dark chocolate comes next…then Worcestershire sauce with its notes of molasses, tamarind, and onion…a brewer’s malt is right up front, black pepper is in abundance, a fair share of barnyard, raspberry jam, cedar, and a bit of black licorice.
The cold draw presents flavors of that same super dark rich chocolate, heavy malt, a simple nuttiness, cedar, espresso, molasses, berries, and barnyard.
The draw is spot on. I put my PerfecDraw draw adjustment tool away.
First puffs are just screaming red and black pepper. A creaminess comes to the rescue to tame the spiciness. Chocolate is in the spotlight pretty quickly as the cigar moves into forward gear. The nuttiness arrives in the form of almonds and Brazil nuts. The entire blend starts like a well-oiled machine. Complexity begins to form toot suite. I can sense the cigar is seeking out its balance early in the journey. The finish is buttery and coats my tongue and teeth with some pretty nice tobacco flavors.
I smoked two cigars previous to this review. I was disappointed that both had burn issues that required several touch ups. Same thing is happening with this stick.
This cigar is a slow burner. It will be a 2-hour smoke. So, sit back and relax while I put you to sleep like an Ambien.
Sweet factors catch up to the more savory aspect with nuances of that raspberry, raisins, molasses, and a creamy chocolate pudding touch.
Strength hits medium/full nearly immediately.
With less than an inch burned, the cigar is digging deep to show off its complexity. I honestly have no idea why I didn’t pay attention to this cigar when it came out 1-2 years ago. The original Herrera Esteli is a decent cigar, but this Brazilian version is so much better. It is certainly a heavier smoke than the original; but with that comes a boat load of flavor that is exotic and satisfying.
I’m kind of shocked that this blend can be had online for only $8.
The blend is now just as complex as many more expensive cigar blends that don’t see this commitment until the second half.
So, there I am at Prime Cigar in Milwaukee and I’ve just opened the place. I need to use the head. I leave the door open so I can see the entrance in the mirror. And sure as shit, a guy and a chick enter. Damn. I can’t reach the door to close it. So, I do the impossible and stop the stream and pay no attention to the process of pulling up my fly. I snag some delicate skin. I emitted the sound of a wild animal being slaughtered with a Swiss Army Knife.
The folks heard me and came running. After this point, I will let you imagine the verbal confusion that came out of my mouth trying to downplay the event; all the while…my tiny little wiener is wailing in pain. There is a lesson here; but I have no idea what it is.
Reviewers’ opinion of this blend is all over the map…from high to low ratings. This always confuses me greatly…as does why do wives make such a fuss when they catch you dancing and prancing in their undies, bra, and shower cap?
The cigar is taking its time.
As I begin to see the first third dissipate, the cigar is rich with subtleties and big flavors alike. Transitions kick in with the savory elements dominating but the spiciness, fruitiness, and other unspecified sweet components are about 40% of the experience.
This will be a go-to blend for me in the future. The price is right. And it is satiating my palate like a much more expensive blend might.
At this point, I’d describe the Herrera Esteli Brazilian as more of a dessert cigar accompanied perfectly by a nice rye whiskey.
Nothing linear about this blend. Sophisticated palates will dig this big time. And for those of you who know what you like and what you don’t like will love this cigar just as much.
Again, 4 months into my cigar lounge gig, I’ve yet to meet a single customer that has ever read an online cigar review. Therefore, I first appear as a nuisance with loads of suspicion when I tell customers in the walk-in humidor that I am the CigarFather. I literally must make my pitch in less than a minute to get them to trust me to assist them in their choices. Most smokers appreciate this. A lot shoo me away.
We have an abundance of Black Label Trading Co. cigars. To impress customers that I am on the level, I will casually point to a cut out just below a box of their cigars to show them they used my blog as an advertising tool by stating that I gave the Killer Bee a 94. Not once…not once, has anyone been impressed. I keep thinking if I phrase it differently, it might make them think of me as godhead. And then I listen to the sounds of silence in response to my bragging.
The cigar is friggin delicious.
I am perplexed as to the majority of mainstream reviewers never gave this cigar a rating as high as a 90. To be fair, I did find a couple that made it to 90; but no further. The cigar is better than that. It’s at times like this I wonder how long the cigars were allowed to rest before pen and paper were brought into the picture.
The strength is still medium/full but has mellowed out and isn’t a gut punch. The spiciness is perfectly balanced. It gives the blend some oomph but not so potent that it takes away from the true flavors of the cigar.
The complexity continues to rise. The blend is a joy. And no nicotine yet.
I smoked one last night after a full day at the cigar lounge. My palate was crispy and yet the cigar broke right on through that detritus and put a big smile on my old puss…no, not Charlotte. And this morning on a fresh palate, it is even better.
Few cigars are as well-rounded as this baby.
But like I repeat ad nauseum, the palate is like a fingerprint. Everyone’s got one but they’re all different. This cigar punches my ticket.
Creamy, chocolatey, malty, fruity, nutty, and adorned with lots of ancillary notes that add body and richness.
The burn is a minor pain in the arse. But as long as you stay ahead of it, no big deal.
I’m still on the Lakers Diet. 24 days in and I’ve lost 15lbs. My goal is to lose 35lbs. If I do this, I will get down to my fighting weight of less than a metric ton. (My kingdom for a carb).
From this point forward, the Herrera Esteli Brazilian Maduro will be in my regular rotation.
At the halfway point, I’m over an hour in.
Strength leaps to full tilt. Uh-oh.
The individual flavors have not extrapolated back on to themselves. They remain constant. But then, there is no need for the cigar to do anything further to impress me.
Construction, barring the minor burn issues, is solid…as seen by the heft of the ash in my photos. It’s not often one sees a cigar with this heft, at this price point, and doesn’t experience some issues.
This brings me back to more ad nauseum rants about price. DE did a fine job with this blend. There was some real passion put into it. Not just visiting one of many farmers and trying what they have to offer. This is the real deal…not lost or found.
As I peruse the usual suspects of online cigar shops, I see that $14-$15 is the new $12 cigar. And seeing new sticks at $17 is no longer rare…at least in America.
I don’t know about you, but I find that Drew Estate can put out some fine blends, but they are also capable of manufacturing blah blends too.
I imagine that Jonathan Drew has his hands on some great sources for essential tobacco plants. In the last 11 years I’ve been doing this, I’ve seen the output from manufacturers skyrocket…especially as boutique brands flood the market now. Your choices are damn near endless.
My first sip of water and it’s a flavor explosion. By no means a flavor bomb; but that simple clearing of the palate allows for some excitement.
I’m definitely affected now by the cigar’s strength. I don’t think I would want to smoke this cigar, do some crystal meth with a fentanyl chaser and then drive.
My 50th high school reunion was two years ago. The school has left the web site up so the cool kids can still communicate with each other. I tried this and was ignored just like I was 52 years ago. But it seems that every once in a while, when I check to see what’s going on, another fellow graduate has dropped dead. Of a class of several hundred kids, at least 75 are gone now. Creeps me out.
Newbies…you will die. But if you like cigars that can make you hallucinate, boy do I have a cigar for you.
Despite the destructive life force quality of this cigar, it does not make me want to stop.
I wrap aluminum foil around my head, I don my horse’s feed bag around my neck, and put my phone within arm’s reach. I’m safe now.
The spiciness returns with a vengeance. Wow. I can no longer count to 10 with my hoof.
I take cigars with me to the shop to smoke. If I smoked this cigar during a shift, I’d be worthless for an hour. “Just take whatever cigars you like and you can pay me later.”
The muscles in my legs become gelatinous. But it will take more than a tobacco sausage to take me down. Besides, if the cigar wasn’t so damn delicious, I would have put it down by now; hopefully saving my life.
I suggest a meal prior to lighting this cigar…not like me who reviews cigars on an empty stomach.
For those smokers that know how to man up, you’ll love this blend. For those whose knees buckle smoking a Macanudo…well, genuflect half a dozen times and dunk your head into the holy water.
The spiciness relents…the nicotine does not. It’s beginning to feel like the time I started coming on to the acid that Stewart Copeland gave me at my 25th birthday party at The Marquee Club in Piccadilly Circus. He told me the stuff was very mild. Next thing I knew, I had lost 3 hours. I found out later that he and Sonja were taking it every day. WTF?
Of course, that might explain why he would play with Keith Moon enthusiasm, while ignoring the band.
The cigar starts great. Flavors are all exhibited in the first third. And they don’t change. But it does become more intense as it burns.
With an inch to go, in order to preserve my mental health, I put it down. This was an extremely good experience. Of course, if you aren’t an old Hippie, you might want to steer clear. For those with hair on their chests, grab some.
Time for breakfast. Where did I put that avocado?
And now for something completely different:
Ivana Trump. Late 90’s.
This is an odd rock story. No sex…although I did get screwed at the end.
I was in the Todd Hart Band. A power blues trio. Todd once sang lead in the legendary English blues band, Savoy Brown. Todd is an excellent guitarist, but his forte was that he had an incredible voice.
We had the same michegos endured by Spinal Tap…holding on to drummers. In the 3 years I was in the band, we must have seen 7-8 drummers go through the band.
All were fired…except for two that disappeared during spontaneous combustion and one choked on vomit…someone else’s. (Thank you Spinal Tap).
Todd was a full-time player and depended on gig money. For that time, we made excellent dough…especially as a three piece.
I was a senior project manager for a structural steel fabricator in Mesa, AZ. So, playing out all the time put money in my wallet that always fell into the hands of my wife and teen daughter.
Todd was able to book us 3-4 nights per week. This was tough on me. Construction hours are grueling.
Unfortunately, starting time was 6am. As a PM, it was my responsibility that the field crews had all the drawings for the work that day, any issues would be discussed, we confirmed they had all the steel required on site, and make sure all the big equipment (cranes, lifts, etc.) was rented and ready to use.
Never in my career did the iron workers ever count the bolts and other crucial small bits before they left for the job. I always got a call from the field mid-day begging for more bolts or a piece of steel they left at the shop. Pissed me off. I didn’t have time to be an errand boy nor did I feel it was my responsibility to count bolts and nuts. It was their job to make sure they had what they needed.
Due to the states I worked in, the iron workers were all union guys. Trying to get them to do something not under their purview was impossible. Crews of 5-20 guys would sit idle, as did the rented cranes and other equipment, while someone was sent to the job with the shit they forgot.
Back to the subject at hand…I loved our Sunday afternoon gigs. They paid the best and I got to have a normal evening. When you’re young, you like to hang out at the club after you’ve finished playing; but as an old man, all I wanted to do was tear the guitar chord from my bass while the last note was still ringing, put my bass in its case, start tearing down equipment…and get paid for the night.
And Go Home.
Work nights were tough. Back then, you could smoke in clubs. I came home reeking of cigarette smoke and had to take a shower. It was 3am before I could calm myself to sleep only to be up 2 or 3 hours later to get ready for work. Strong coffee was my friend.
This story revolves around a particular gig that was downtown at the Phoenix Convention Center. It was Woman’s Festival. And Ivana Trump was scheduled to speak. She had been divorced from Mr. Trump since 1992. And no new husbands 5-6 years later. I guess her settlement set her up for life.
We were in a giant room with hundreds of women. Only a small handful of men. Pure manna. The ladies loved our music. We were a great band. Just like when I was young, a bevy of women surrounded the band stand. Of course, back then I was thin and had a full head of luxurious hair. I used conditioner.
Between our first and second sets, Ivana was set to speak on the band stand. It was a long break.
My stage clothes were black slacks, bluesman-type white shirt, and a black Blues Brother’s type jacket. The coat was superfluous because Phoenix is HOT!!
Despite the heat, I wore the jacket because I used it to hide my Glock 30. A .45 caliber sub-compact pistol that held 13+1 rounds.
I started carrying a gun because at the time, Arizona was still the wild west. It was perfectly legal to carry openly. I always thought that carrying openly made you a target and therefore the first to get shot if things go south.
We were also the official Hell’s Angels’ band of Arizona. Trafficking in drugs and guns was how they survived. They all carried guns openly. And to be perfectly honest, these were not the smartest group of people. They were true outlaws. They scared the shit out of me especially by the end of the evening when they were extremely drunk while being ripped on meth.
So, it made sense to me to carry protection. You just never know.
The 90’s was a different time. No metal detectors. And I trusted no one in the clubs. We had a lot of valuable equipment and there were always a lot of drunks…with guns.
The three of us were standing near the rear of the band stand when Ivana entered through the back entrance and walked up to us. She had a chauffeur whom she made carry her purse for her. This was an older guy dying the death of a thousand razor cuts. So embarrassing…so humiliating. You could see in his eyes he was mortified.
And get this…no bodyguard. I was really surprised by this. A woman of her wealth and exposure would surely pop for someone to keep an eye on things. But not this day.
Ivana was worth a gazillion dollars. She made out like a bandit in the divorce. And here she was standing 3 feet away waiting to go on. And here I was, packing heat.
Ivana was getting impatient with being made to wait. The women must have been terribly intimidated by her, so no one approached her. She was dressed like a million bucks. You should have seen the jewelry.
I approached her and began to chat. I was shocked that I could barely understand her. Her Slavic accent was impossible. I did a lot of nodding and smiling while the other two guys laughed in the background. I had no idea how to gracefully get the fuck out of there or shut her up.
She went on stage, finally. And she jabberwocked for a good hour. The P.A. speakers were faced outwards and we could not hear her as we stood behind the speaker cabs. But we could see lots of women yawning.
And then it happened. Some guy dressed as maintenance started giving her a hard time on stage. We couldn’t hear a thing but it sure as hell startled Ivana. She finally screamed and Todd and I ran to her aid.
This guy looked menacing and rambled like a crazy man. He kept asking for her purse, but the chauffeur still had it. Not a single person in that room did a goddam thing to help. They just stared.
Todd did a round house to the guy’s face with his fist. The bad guy fell into a heap but was still lucid. I pulled my Glock and put my knee on his chest with the barrel of the gun on his forehead. Todd and I screamed for someone to call the cops. It took a full 15 minutes before security and the cops showed up. And I was scared to death I might have to shoot this asshole. Thankfully, a few men in attendance pitched in to hold this guy to the ground so I could put my gun back in its holster.
The cops came. Women rushed to the cops to tell them that Todd and I saved the day.
I showed the cops my concealed carry license. And everything was cool.
As we said goodbye to Ivana, she shook our hands. In her hand was a crisp $20 bill. A thank you.
Whenever I think about people with money, I think of that day. And how that cheap broad thanked us with a $20 bill. I guess she thought her life was worth $40.
Afterwards, we joked that we should have let the wacko guy do his thing with her. We risked our lives. Now we didn’t come to her aid thinking we would get money for this. We reacted instantly to someone in trouble…like anyone would.
I would have rather she didn’t give us a dime.
I thanked her and told her I could now make a down payment on that 1970 Ford Pinto I wanted, I laughed…and walked away.
Fucking rich people.
Categories: CIGAR REVIEWS