For the first review this week, I take a look at a cigar that made it’s debut at the IPCPR show last week, Drew Estate’s Undercrown.
This was one of the few “talked about” cigars that made it’s release at the trade show last week. I did quite a bit of research on this cigar before smoking it, but I think that the description comes best from Steve Saka himself:
– Undercrown to be debuted at the IPCPR – initial delivery to retailer in Sept 2011.
– Undercrown is a blend that was developed by the Liga rollers for their own smoking pleasure because we had to ask them to cut back on smoking the LPs they were making – they were crushing us. The name represents this – if LP was made exclusively for the king/boss initially, this cigar was made initially for themselves, the princes, i.e. Undercrown.
– Imo, it is just a touch stronger than Medium bodied with a great natural tobacco sweetness and earthy flavor. Very creamy core and sexy smooth – like all LP’s** it is very balanced – this cigar probably won’t satisfy some of the pepper junkies.
[Disclaimer: this of course is my personal opinion of the smoke – you will have to decide for yourself… some folks will say it is too strong, others will say it is mild, one guy will say it tastes like bing cherries and pencil lead, and on and on and on – lol]
– Made with many of the same tobaccos as other LPs, but utilizes different primings, crops from different sections of the same fields, different ages etc… or change-ups – for example the binder is our exclusive T52 stalk cut habano.
– Prices are NOT set on the brand yet, because we price all of our cigars based one what they cost to produce and it takes us a few months of true production to know for sure what the indexes and run rates will be – I am going to Nica next week to do a final review – we expect the prices to range between $7 – $9…
BUT I RESERVE THE RIGHT TO BE COMPLETELY WRONG ABOUT THIS!!!
– LP-grade pairs are rolling these.
– Initial launch will be in the same 4 sizes as LP + the 6 x 60 parejo Gordito. Complain to JD about it, he wanted it, he is on a 60RG rampage… <snicker> Look when I first wanted to do Dirty Rat JD was not really on board because he always preferred larger cigars, but he let us run with it and fell in love with it. I in turn, am not a 60rg guy, but I gotta admit I am impressed with the MUWAT he did over at JDN. I do not think you have to choose between doing all big or all small.
– If the brand proves to be popular with smokers of course we will add sizes… I already have been smoking a 5 5/8 x 46 version. But launching with the most popular sizes is what makes sense… tell you what I will make up some more of the Corona Gorda UC to share cause you ain’t gettiing mine. Lets plan a BOTL herf somewhere this Fall an I will show up with these to share…
– It will not be limited to LP accounts only – this is a more sustainable blend so in the long run is will have better availability – hoorah!
In my opinion the price, and availability from the above statements are golden. Not just Liga Privada appointed retailers?! This cigar is going to FLY off the shelves! Keep in mind this is a “First Look” at the cigar, since it is still pre-release, so the review will be very loosely written. Saka himself had told me once though that any Liga Privada that gets handed out is the Final blend, and they do not change then from that point. That being said, I think it’s safe to say that this is in fact the final product. Anyway, let me get on with the review. ( PS. I didn’t read the above statement before writing my review. So please disreguard any “cherry” flavor I pick up )
Here is a little more info on the blend:
Undercrown is a liga blended on our factory floor by the best of our Liga Privada torcedores for themselves due to our request that they smoke less of the cigars they were crafting. Incorporating many of the same rare tobaccos, but of different vintages and primings, the cigar they created was no mere replacement. Earthy, creamy, spicy with a delicious black tobacco sweet finish, Undercrown is an exceptional smoking experience of uncompromising quality and flavor that deserves to be smoked by all.
Capa: Otapan Negro Último Corte
Capote: T52 Connecticut River Valley Stalk Cut & Cured Habano
Tripa: Select Brazilian Mata Fina and Nicaraguan Cuban Seed
Strength: Medium to Medium-Full
Packaging: 25-ct Display Cabinet BN Boxes
Taste Profile: Lush, smooth and creamy with a natural inherent sweetness.
Cigar Style: Refined and balance with excellent depth for the smoker.
– The Undercrown blend was originally created by our torcedors for themselves to smoke in Nicaragua – their own “liga privada.”
– The capa is a unique strain of San Andreas Negro maduro seed grown exclusively for us whose harvest is intentionally delayed by 4+ weeks to allow for additional field and sun time resulting in a higher natural sugar content and a richer, creamier flavor.
– “Otapan” is the name of the vega on which it is grown and “Último”
– Corte” translates to “last cut”; a reference to its delayed harvesting.
For more info you can view Drew Estate’s Spec Sheet Here.
Prelight: The Undercrown is a nice, dark cigar. The wrapper obviously bears a lot of resemblance to that of the No. 9, but to me, it has a lot more reddish mixed in with a slightly lighter brown wrapper. Not that the wrapper is light by any means, just not nearly as dark as most of the No.9’s that I have smoked. The wrapper gives off a slight shine from it’s toothy body which only had one larger vein running about half of the length of the cigar. The cigar is very meaty, and only slightly soft. Other than that it gives a great bounce-back when pressed between my fingers. Before coming to the round, double-capped head of the cigar I was greeted with a really badass band. The band isn’t like all the rest of the Liga Privada blends that we have seen before in the past. This one starts with a dark blue (similar to the “Unicos Series” blue) paper, with a similar god Liga Privada Lion in crested in the center of the band. The only difference is, like the name, the crown is actually placed below the Lion’s neck instead of above his head. Tracing the band to the back, the sides are the words “Undercrown” in the same gold metallic ink before coming to a nice “Drew Estate” logo on the back. I really like what they did with the band. It stands apart form the rest of the Liga Privada lines without being overly different.
The wrapper gives off this incredible cedar and almost potpourri smell. No joke. It’s very interesting and I can’t wait to see what it does to the smoking experience. The foot of the cigar, while giving off the potpourri smell also has a lot of spice, and a more subtle tobacco scent. The cap clipped right off of this Undercrown using my double bladed Palio cutter. The cold draw was surprisingly very sweet giving off smoke nice spice and cedar flavors. Not a lot of pepper which I expected from a cigar in the Liga Privada Line.
First Smoke: Right off the bat you can tell this isn’t going to be like the other Liga Privada experiences. The Undercrown starts off with a ton of cedar, sweet tobacco, honey, spice, and floral flavors, much like the No. 9, but there are two things missing. First is the pepper, second is the body. You can tell this is a milder cigar right away, but that’s not a bad thing. Usually the Liga Privadas start off with a huge bang, instead the Undercrown kindly welcomes you in. This cigar has a very easy draw and the smoke released is ridiculously thick. I don’t find myself having to hit the cigar more than once or twice to get the my desired mouthful of smoke. The stationary smoke on this cigar is just like any other Liga, VERY strong and heavy with some really nice cedar aromas. The burnline is perfect from the start leaving behind a nice trail of bright white, compacted ash that held on for a bit over an inch before giving way.
Halfway There: During the second third of this Undercrown I experienced a slight ramp up in flavor. The cedar, floral, sweet tobacco remained the same but now there is a really nice black cherry being thrown into the mix. I’m still stretching to pull the spice from this cigar. It’s probably the main characteristic that makes it stand apart form the Liga Privada line at this point. That and the medium body of course. The retrohale is incredibly smooth producing a really nice cedar and sweetness, priming my nasal passage.
Finish: The final third of this Undercrown proved itself worthy when it finished just as smooth as the first. This was pretty much my only concern going into the cigar as the flavors ramped up way early, that the harshness would as well. It’s safe to say that they didn’t, in fact the flavor even increased slightly into the last third with no harshness as all, even into the final inch. The cedar and black cherry have totally taken over for a remarkable finish. The burnline remained sharp, and clean requiring no tough-ups and no relights the entire experience. All in all this cigar burned pretty slow taking a little over and hour and a half to take down. Needless to say I enjoyed every minute of it.
Overview: Needless to say I think Drew Estate has a winner on their hands. There is a little more to creating a winning cigar that goes into that statement though. I, along with countless others, am a HUGE Liga Privada No. 9 fan. This cigar stands as an almost perfect substitute for the No. 9 as quantities become even more limited. I WILL being purchasing a few boxes of these to satisfy my cravings while not dwindling down my No. 9 stock. Along with the less-limited quantities, this cigar also comes with a lower price tag. That was pretty much the only thing really keeping a lot of smokers away from purchasing cigars in the Liga Privada blends. Now that price is no longer an obstacle these cigars will be flying off the shelves. Especially since they will/may be available at almost any Tobacconist, not just Liga Privada appointed retailers. The last piece to the success of this cigar is the strength of the past Liga Privada releases. Now that there is a release that still carries the same flavors, at a lower cost, and a lower strength category many more smokers will be turning to this cigar.
Pairing: I decided to pair this undercrown with a long-time favorite of mine, St. Bernardus Abt. 12 Quadruple Abbey Ale. This best of a beer is brewed at the Brouwerij St. Bernarus in Belgium. Starting out with a boasting 10% ABV and finishing with a nice, bitter, fruity, composure it’s no wonder why this beer is named by some as the best beer in the world. If you aren’t a fan of strong beer you may want to stay away from this one, the alcohol shines through the clove and anise flavors with every sip. This bold beer made a perfect match with the Undercrown, not just cause of the fruit flavors, but it really helped to add that extra bite I think the Undercrown needed. But then again, I am a stronger cigar smoking kind of guy.
EDIT: I made a quick change to this review. Thanks to this video, and the guys at Stogiereview.com, I realized that Drew Estate decided to drop the “Liga Privada” from the Undercrown name. It is know as just “Undercrown”.