Drew Estate Cigar Safari – Tony Casas Limited Edition 2013
In April of 2013, Tony Casas attended his second Drew Estate Cigar Safari trip down in Nicaragua. You can check out Tony’s coverage of the trip here: Day 1 & 2 and Day 3. Upon his return, I was generously gifted a cigar he blended during the safari at Drew Estate. He also provided a sample of his blend to a great friend of ours, Jeff Oda. Weeks turned to months, and months turned to a year and Tony’s personal blend got lost in my humidor. That was until Jeff reminded me of the cigar and entertained the idea of a doing a joint review. I couldn’t think of a better way to pay respect to Tony and to the cigar appropriately named by Jeff as the DEBSTCLE 2013 (Drew Estate Blogger Safari Tony Casas Limited Edition 2013).
A Gift From Tony Casas
Vitola: Corona Gorda
Size: 5 ⅝ by 46 (estimate)
This is a corona gorda sized cigar, 5-5/8 x 46 or so, although it’s difficult to measure precisely due to its unique shape. The “El Paso Press” shape comes from cramming as many cigars as is humanly possible into a USPS Priority Small Flat Rate box, resulting in a cigar that resembles a European-style dry hunter’s sausage. The stick is rather rustic looking with a dark brown wrapper with black mottling, with what appears to be a single cap culminating in a neat coiled pigtail. There is a bit of tooth, some minor veins, and a bit of a raised seam near the band that doesn’t appear very worrisome, and is well packed with just a bit of give when gently squeezed.
The wrapper has a tangy barnyard scent, while the foot gives off a lighter version of the wrapper aroma. The band, however is just a plain white satin ribbon, belying Tony’s background as a respected designer. Gotta do something about that in the future, man! The first clip reveals a snug draw, possibly the result of the pressed in portion near the band. A further snip opens it up just a bit more, allowing a cold draw that shows a sweet cinnamon-like spice and tobacco, but not much more.
Despite the snug draw, the cigar produces a nice mouthful of smoke, showing earthiness, slight wood somewhere between cedar and oak, and a surprisingly light pepper spice. The retrohale features the same earth and wood with just a bit of pepper. The burn line is a little thick, but even. An inch in, the pepper has picked up a bit, with a slight sweetness on the back end and the wood has shifted more toward cedar.
The burn line has thinned considerably and the draw has opened up a bit more, producing a good volume of smoke. The earth and wood remain in the forefront, but have been joined by more sweet spice and some coffee, and the smoke texture has become smoother. The body is now at the high end of medium.
The Home(r) Stretch
A savory element has now crept in, with a ramp-up in body and pepper, while the sweetness moves in and out. The body is now at medium-full with just a slight nicotine hit. There is not much change throughout the last part of the cigar.
Having smoked each of Tony’s previous efforts, this is by far my favorite; they have progressively gotten better as he learns to target flavors and balance them out. It was a nice day out, and this smoke was a relaxing way to enjoy it. While it was not a particularly complex cigar, it had a pretty good balance of flavors, although I would have liked a little more sweetness. The cigar never got hot and I never had to reach for my lighter, other than for a relight when I got distracted and let it sit for too long. The ash was a little inconsistent, sometimes lasting an inch, and other times falling off after only ½”. Good job, Tony! I would definitely smoke one again. Willy Herrera, watch your back! 🙂
DogZilla Black IPA by Laughing Dog Brewing in Ponderay, Idaho comes in at a moderate 6.8% ABV. Featuring dark malt and coffee flavors with a citric backbone and a lightly bitter hops finish, it matched well with the DEBSTCLE 2013. Plus, it appears that Tony’s buddy Sonny was the model for the label!
The TC Limited Edition 2013 wears an extremely rough, veiny, toothy wrapper. Other than a Backwoods, this may be the most rugged wrapper I’ve seen on a stick. On top of the veins and bumps, the wrapper is marbleized with different tones of brown, as well as some black spotting.
The wrapper aroma is mainly of cedar, which is probably a result of the cigar resting with no cellophane in my humidor for over year. However, in the background there seems to be a pungent, vinegar-like aroma and barnyard. The foot of the cigar smells of rich cedar, cinnamon, and faint chocolate. The cigar comes to a close with a spiral pig-tailed cap. Upon clipping the cap, I find an almost perfect draw with notes of rich cedar that leaves my mouth somewhat dry.
From the first puff, the profile comes across much darker than the cold draw put off. Notes of black, somewhat bitter coffee, earth, and cedar make up the profile. At the one inch mark, the coffee and earth take a step back and the cedar shows itself strong. There is some black pepper that is hardly noticeable on the palate but stands out on the retrohale. While the flavor of the black pepper is there, there is not much accompanying spice warming my mouth. With each small draw, my mouth fills with a copious amount of smoke. A beautiful light, firm ash is being formed as the cigar burns evenly.
The rich cedar is holding its ground as I pull into the second third of this special cigar. The earth and coffee are still there but presenting themselves with much more balance than earlier. There is an underlying charred flavor, as well as a vegetal flavor on the finish of the smoke. The cigar continues to perform effortlessly as I wrap up the middle third.
The cedar which made up the core of the smoke through the first two thirds moved to the back of the profile, while the earth and coffee have taken over as the dominating flavors. The earth flavor is much more pronounces and diesel-like than early on. The pepper spice has increased in intensity warming my palate. As I put a close to the cigar, the flavors are at the high-end of medium and I am not feeling any nicotine.
The DEBSTCLE 2013 construction and performance were absolutely flawless. Each ash held on past an inch, the burn line was even, and every draw delivered a satisfying amount of smoke. But I can’t give credit to Tony for the construction since the professionals at Drew Estate rolled the cigars. But I can give credit to Tony for the flavors. Unlike Jeff, this is my first experience with a Tony Casas blended cigar. I didn’t know what to expect going in to but I can say I wasn’t disappointed. The first two third were very enjoyable, and even when the diesel-like flavor arrived in the final third I wasn’t put off by the cigar at all. This cigar did not present many new flavors as it progressed, but it did show variations within the main flavor components, which worked well in the Corono Gorda size. Great job, Mr. Casas, great job.