Drew Estate Norteno by Willy Herrera
I hope everyone had a great, and safe Thanksgiving holiday. I took the week off and spent it with my wonderful wife, dog, and great family resting, relaxing, and having a good time. In that span I didn’t get to fit any cigars in but I am making up for it with this pairing, Drew Estate’s Norteno by Willy Herrera paired with Goose Island’s Bourbon County.
The Good Stuff:
The Norteno is the first release from Drew Estate since Willy Herrera was named the Master Blender earlier this year. Willy has been working hard on creating a maduro blend using a Mexican San Andreas wrapper for some time now. When I was down at the Drew Estate Factory a few years back Willy actually handed me a test sample of a box-pressed Maduro he then just called “The Square”. Thinking back to this smoke, I wonder if it was an early version of the Norteno. The word “Norteno” refers to people in the Northern regions of Nicaragua where Esteli is located while the band features the national bird of Nicaraguan the Guardabarranco. The Norteno by Willy Herrera features a bold Mexican San Andreas Maduro wrapper, Spicy Honduran binder, and extensively aged tobaccos from the Jalapa and Esteli regions of Nicaragua. The Norteno by Willy Herrera comes in six box-pressed sizes, all boxed in quantities of 10: Coronita (4 x 46), Corona Extra (4.75 x 48), Bellicoso Fino (5 x 50), Robusto Grande (5.5 x 54), Toro (6 x 50), and the Lonsdale Deluxe (6.5 x 44) and range from $10 to $12 a cigar.
Size: 6.5 x 44
Wrapper: Mexican San Andreas Maduro
Filler: Aged Esteli and Jalapa Nicaraguan
Pairing: Goose Island Bourbon County Stout (Imperial Stout 13.8% ABV)
The Norteno by Willy Herrera is a toothy little creature. The wrapper is very hard, and very thick featuring a sandpaper-like texture throughout the entire body. The wrapper’s color is a deep, dark, consistent brown with only a few darker areas in the webbing of the tobacco leaf. The wrapper is laid seamlessly throughout the body of the cigar all the way up to the round, triple cap. As with all of the formats in the Norteno line, the Lonsdale Deluxe features a beautiful soft-box-pressed structure which I have always preferred due to a very comfortable mouth and hold feel. The Norteno is polished off with a deep mossy greet and ivory band featuring the national bird of Nicaragua as well as the word “Norteno” on the front, and “Herrera Esteli by Drew Estate” as well as a bit of information about the tobaccos use in the blend. The cigar itself is very firm and very tough. It gives almost nothing as I squeeze it between my fingers.
The wrapper on the Norteno gives off a bit of sweetness, coffee, and syrup while the foot of the cigar is very spicy with lots of pepper and natural tobacco aromas. The cap was incredibly easy to clip using my Palio double bladed cutter. The cold draw is pretty potent posting flavor notes of syrup, chocolate, coffee, and a ton of spice.
The Norteno by Willy Herrera starts out with a bang leading in with a whole mess of black pepper and spice. After a few puffs the pepper begins to subside and you can pick up great sweetness, spice, oak, berry, and a bit of tartness. Ever since Jeremy and I have had a conversation about the tartness found in most Mexican San Andreas wrapped cigars it’s always one of the first things I notice. The draw is remarkable and another reason why I love the soft box press. It takes no effort to get a huge mouthful of thick, white smoke. The burn line is slightly wavy leaving behind a tightly compacted trail of white and medium gray ash which held on for an inch before giving way.
Into the second third of the Norteno by Willy Herrera and the pepper has found it’s way out of the flavor profile. While the body is still in the medium/full range all the flavors have taken a step back as a creamed coffee has taken main stage. Backing the coffee is soft sweetness and cedar with a good amount of spice and chocolate with an oaky finish. The retrohale is awesome as it coats my nasal passage with lots of oak, spice, and sweetness. The burn line is still a bit wavy but I haven’t had to reach for my lighter yet. I am feeling zero in the nicotine department as I close out the second third of the Norteno by Willy Herrera.
Into the final third of Drew Estate’s Norteno by Willy Herrera and the flavor profile is much of the same as the second third. Lots of spice, creamed coffee, and oak with a bit of sweetness, syrup, and tart. There is also a bit of pine sneaking itself into the mix but it comes and goes. The burn is now burning perfectly and never once did I have to reach for my lighter for any touch ups or relights. The strength has remained medium the whole way through and I feel almost no nicotine as I close out the cigar. It took me a total of an hour and forty five minutes to take the Norteno down to the nub and I experience no harshness all the way through.
The Drew Estate Norteno by Willy Herrera was one of this year’s most anticipated releases and with good reason. I honestly think that almost anything Drew Estate kicks out instantly becomes sought after, but it’s justified as they put a lot of time and effort into great blends and the Norteno is just another notch in the belt. Willy is kind of a badass and I’ve always been a big fan of his work. The Norteno is probably one of the more unique blends in his portfolio. The Norteno is complex, yet super balanced which is something Willy is known for. The flavors are very complimentary and enjoyable yet very bold in this blend. The price may be a bit steep but I personally wouldn’t mind paying the coin to include the Norteno in my daily rotation especially with the box count of 10 which makes it much easily to pull the trigger on. In comparison, the Norteno and Herrera Esteli are mountains apart. Each deliver a totally different experience so comparing the two would be an injustice.
One of the nations, possibly one of the word most sought after beers. I was lucky enough to grab quite a few boxes this black Friday of the 2014 release of Goose Island’s Bourbon County and I’m glad I got as much as I did. This is a beer I never see in our parts. I’ve had a few of the different varieties of this release over the last few years but 100% of those were acquired in trades so I was happy to see these on shelves locally for the first time. It’s with good reason that this limited release sells out so quickly. Aged in Bourbon Barrels this Imperial stout clocks in at a whopping 13.8% ABV. The beer is thick, almost syrupish and the mouthfeel is similar. Right away you’re hit with the bourbon and the booze as it starts to smooth out the spice, vanilla, sweetness and chocolate begin to creep in while it finishes boozy, and creamy with lots of bourbon and spice notes. The spice, chocolate, and syrup paired in beautiful with the Norteno by Willy Herrera while the bourbon and vanilla added a bit more dimension to a great flavor experience.