Once upon a time I smoked an ACID Cigar called “Extraordinary Larry,” and that was the beginning and the end of my dangerous liaison with Drew Estate cigars. It wasn’t such a bad cigar, for what it was, but I knew immediately that “infused” cigars were definitely not for me.
A few years passed and I saw an ad in one of the cigar mags for Drew Estate’s new “Natural” blend. But when I saw the Drew Estate logo I had a strange kind of synesthetic reaction and could taste the ACID welling up in my mouth. For relief, I turned the page.
And then I received the Summer issue of Cigar Magazine in the mail the other day. I was sitting in the smallest room of my house, where I am wont to read cigar magazines and such, and discovered a nicely written article about Jonathan Drew and the other folks who run Drew Estate. I passed over it, whistling past the graveyard, and read a couple other things. But something caught my eye. A sidebar page had a really interesting story about a bonchero in the Drew Estate factory whose arms were blown off in a pyrotechnics accident. Sad to say, this is what drew me in (so to speak) to the rest of the article, and then I remembered that I was given a Chateau Real cigar a few months ago. I thought it might be time to try it.
For the history of Drew Estate, I recommend giving the Cigar Magazine article a once over. In brief: Jonathan Drew and Marvin Samel started selling cigars from a 16 square foot cart in the World Trade Center in 1995, in the middle of the cigar boom. It wasn’t easy to acquire quality cigars during the boom, so they started selling a house brand made by a local Dominican roller, calling it La Vieja Habana. Eventually the boom went bust and the company withered. Drew moved to Nicaragua and remade the company from scratch, inventing ACID cigars along the way. By 2007, Steve Saka was on board as company president and a new 96,000 square foot factory was open for business in Esteli. Around the same time, the company was about to introduce two new blends that would get plenty of attention: the Liga Privada No. 9 and the Chateau Real.
This 7 x 50 double corona is called “Lord Tennyson” for reasons I cannot divine. Maybe it’s the Tennyson quote about there not being any good cigars in Venice and his having to leave in disgust? That would not be an auspicious way to name a cigar, but I can’t think of any other likely reason.
The wrapper on this cigar is a smooth even colored claro. Apparently the first run of this line turned out blotchy because the Mexican binder was showing through the Ecuadorian Connecticut — they fixed it by choosing a slightly darker shade of wrapper. (And on the subject of Mexican leaf… it’s interesting that this detail is often left out in the promo material. The reality is that Mexican leaf has a place in cigar blending, but its reputation is wanting. Unfortunately the result has been a wholesale discounting of the entire country’s tobacco production.) The filler is a Nicaraguan and Dominican blend.
The single cap is clean and attractive. The roll is solid, but the cigar feels light in the hand. The draw has more resistance than I like, but it isn’t problematic, and the burn is slow and almost perfectly even. The ash is firm and holds well. Overall this cigar has excellent construction.
The pre-light flavor is grassy and hay-like, but once lit the Lord Tennyson offers plenty of traditional Connecticut Shade appeal: the first third is toasty with a touch of roasted nuts. The gently floral aroma is in balance with the flavors on the palate. The only unusual characteristic is a smattering of black pepper on the back of the tongue.
The middle section is earthier and tastes a little sweeter than the first third. The smoke texture takes on a little more body and builds to about a medium, but remains creamy smooth and light in nicotine. This would be a morning or mid-day cigar for most smokers.
The last third presents some citric notes and gets a little dusty (that would be earthy and dry) but is otherwise still mild and smooth. Some very light tannins show up at the end, but not enough to ever get bitter.
The Chateau Real Lord Tennyson is a stately smoke that most fans of mild Connecticut Shade will enjoy. (Macanudo lovers take note.) There are no dramatic transitions and not much complexity, but those are hard to come by in mild bodied cigars anyway. The construction is damn near perfect, allowing the smoker to puff away and sip his or her latte with the Woe Street Journal worry-free. The price is not bad either: around 6 or 7 US greenbacks per stick.
Final Score: 85