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Visiting Drew Estate
Typically, many cigar enthusiasts are surprised to hear that Drew Estate is among the top five cigar makers in regard to the amount of cigars they produce each day. The truth is their uniquely infused cigars have a dedicated following while their new efforts in creating premium, non-infused cigars have yielded even more fans. This rapidly increasing demand for Drew Estate cigars prompted Jonathan Drew and his team to construct the largest factory in all of Nicaragua, measuring just shy of 100,000 square feet.
In all, the project took several years to complete and is still a work in progress as some of the finest details are still being wrapped up. Drew Estate has created some of the most unique blends in the industry, and getting a behind the scenes look at their factory is nearly impossible as they closely guard all of their secrets. Despite my best efforts to get a tour of the new facility, my requests were constantly being turned down. I was surprised when, out of the blue, I received a call from Jonathan this past summer with an offer to come tour his factory.
The heat was almost unbearable as I waited for Jonathan outside my hotel in the center of Esteli, Nicaragua. As he pulled up, the radio was blasting and when the door swung open, I was pleasantly greeted with a smile and a steady supply of air conditioning. I am familiar with most of Esteli, but the roads Jonathan traveled leading to his factory were foreign. Jonathan explained that for the site of the factory they chose a spot just outside of town, which prior to the factory being built was a fairly poor barrio (neighborhood). For Jonathan, improving the lives of the people in Nicaragua was a top priority and he wanted to bring jobs to an area of town where people were eager to work. His desire to give back to the people of Nicaragua was a common theme throughout the whole tour as within the confines of the factory. He also provided great benefits for his employees ranging from medical care to assistance with food, in addition to transportation to and from work.
The factory is situated at one of the highest elevations in the region, providing panoramic views of tobacco fields and the city below. As we approached the gate, Jonathan went on to explain that he has been busy working with the Nicaraguan government to help build bridges and fix the roads around the factory. Pulling in, I was like a wide-eyed kid at Christmas, in disbelief of the raw size of the building. Noticing my expression, Jonathan commented, “Now you see why everyone around here calls it ‘La Gran Fabrica’!” We made our way into the factory and I was struck, not by what I saw, but more so from what I did not see. Jonathan was employing some pretty old school techniques when it came to cigar production. For example, many factories use what is called a “Liberman” to help apply the binder around the bunched filler. This apparatus, which reduces waste and speeds up productivity, was nowhere to be found. Also, there were no draw-testing machines, which are used by almost every other large factory to ensure quality control. Before Jonathan could even begin to explain his philosophy, questions started spewing out of my mouth. Jonathan went into detail about the Drew Estate philosophy. “We want our rollers to take their time and make the best cigars on the market. To accomplish this, I think all the cigars need to be made completely by hand without shortcuts like the Liberman.” He went on to explain that in his experience, “rollers are too prone to rely on things like draw testing machines as a crutch, and to make the best cigars, the rollers need to pay attention to even the smallest details.” As I did a spot check on the production from several pairs, all of them drew perfectly and I began to understand what he was talking about.
After seeing the rest of the premium cigar production we took a break for lunch outside on the terrace. Construction was still being completed on this section of the factory, but Jonathan explained it was more of a phase II area where he was building a luxury hotel with a pool and all of the amenities. His goal, when completed, is to invite cigar enthusiasts from all over the world to come stay at Drew Estate and immerse themselves in the cigar culture of Nicaragua as well as the popular ecotourism. The project is called “Cigar Safari” and they were to begin booking trips starting in the fall.
After lunch, we wound our way through the seemingly endless aging rooms where Jonathan was kind enough to let me take some souvenirs with me. The tour ended at their subculture studio where a team of artists was making everything from furniture and cigar boxes to paintings for the factory walls. I did not want to leave without the chance to see where they made Acid and actually infused the cigars, but when I asked, Jonathan just laughed and said, “I suppose Coca-Cola shows people their recipe on their tour.” Well, it was worth a shot I suppose.
Published Monday, September 29, 2008 11:59 AM by
I have never been into flavored cigars,that is until I got my hands on some"Drew Estates(CI Legends)what a cigar. this is a must try,you can taste the well aged tobacco once you taste that then the sweet "Infused"hazelnut,amaretto flavors come through..What a delight,the construction is great,prelit aroma makes you wanna take a bite effortless draw no problems w/the burn nice ash..All in all go try some!!But if you get'em be sure to store them in a separate humi..Jonathan Drew is the man...
October 2, 2008 12:30 AM
I'm a big fan of their Isla Del Sol line and the Natural line.
November 19, 2008 1:31 PM
I kind of enjoy the Acid deep dish but only about 1 a month. VERY SWEET
January 27, 2009 5:30 PM
I just received a Drew Estate Java and immediately ripped open the box so that I could try it. Sveral of my friends told me how much they enjoy this particular cigar so I jumped at the opportunity. I am relatively new at cigar smoking but man was this a great cigar. Nothing harsh and a lot of flavor. I cant wait to get another one.
February 20, 2009 6:56 PM
i am new to cigar smoking and have tried a few different brands. rp, 5vegas, don peppin, sol cobana, cc house blends, olivia's. let me tell you, drew estates are the best. i read a forum the other day and everybody on there was sayin that drew estates sucked and that the java was like smoking burnt rubber. WOW!!! my question to them is what the hell are u smoking that is better? please inform me. or maybe my taste buds are jacked up or something. because drew estates are diffenitly the best cigar's i have ever smoked. The natural irish hops and the java are very good cigars. put together well, nice ash and smell and taste is unbelievable. hemi1000man, out!!!!!
June 18, 2010 3:12 AM
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About Alex Svenson
I enjoy at least one premium cigar everyday and have the privilege of working directly with every major cigar maker in the industry. I love developing new and exciting cigar blends and bringing only the best this industry has to offer to our Cigar.com clients.
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