Drew Estate Undercrown Corona Viva
-Country – Nicaragua
-Wrapper – San Andreas Otapan Negro Ultimo Corte
-Binder – T52 Connecticut River Valley Stalk Cut & Cured Habano
-Filler – Brazilian Mata Fina and Nicaraguan Cuban Seed
-Size – 5 5/8 x 46
-Price – $7, $8 and change local
The Drew Estate Undercrown Corona Viva has a lovely dark brown wrapper with a little bit of marbling. The veins are all small, but there is something unique about them. It’s a bit hard to explain, but I’ll try. Most of the time, if a cigar has prominant veins, they follow the direction of the wrapper from foot to head. With the Undercrown Corona Viva, the main vein curves in the opposite direction if the wrap. Very pleasing to the eyes. The wrapper and foot smell musty and oaky. The cigar is evenly firm along its length with hardly any give at all. The cold draw is very woodsy. As a side note, I think the band is exactly what Drew Estate is going for with their phrase, “The rebirth of cigars.” It is modern, but at the same time very classic looking. But since we don’t smoke the bands…
Some cigars take a few puffs to really come alive, but the Drew Estate Undercrown Corona Viva brings the flavors right away. The first puffs collide with my taste buds like Hobbes slamming into Calvin when he opens the door. I immediately pick up wood, earth, and an very slight espresso flavor. The retro-hale is leather in the extreme and has a tingle to it, but it is nice enough to allow me to push all the smoke out my nose. Something that sticks out about this cigar is the blinding white ash. I read once that ash color has more to do with phosphorus/calcium/magnesium levels in the soil than the actual quality of tobacco, but the effect is still quite cool. Also, this is a cigar that you can see little fibers sticking up close to the burn line, another thing I find visually appealing. Once into the cigar about an inch the intensity of flavors pulls back a little. It maintains a woodsy core with a complementary earthiness. The burn is wavy but even, with an occasional scalloping (thanks Kip!) that self corrects. The strength is a solid medium.
The ash holds on for almost the entire first third and when it breaks off there is zero coning. The woodsy flavor stays dominant in this third, and a little bit of spice (not pepper) comes in along the edges. I love sweet drinks with earthy and/or woodsy cigars, and I have to admit the temptation was too great for me to not take the occasional sip of Coke to pair with this smoke. I would also suggest rum, or even a dark, fruity wine, but stay away from a smoky scotch as those flavors could cancel each other out rather than complement each other. The retro-hale smooths out at this point and is showing some wood along with the leather. Strength has moved up to medium-plus at this point, and I would call the flavor full. A great combination!
At this point I’m regretting not eating a heftier lunch, but a couple spoonfuls of sugar balances out the nicotine and is setting me straight. Let me be clear, the Corona Viva isn’t overly strong, but you’ll want more that a small bowl of macaroni salad in your stomach! Like the first half, an oaky woodiness is still the main flavor. Some pepper is appearing now, and the retro-hale is quite prickly in my nostrils. The smoke is really smooth still, and a very subtle sweetness has appeared now and then in the last third. I can’t quite pinpoint the flavor, but it is dark and a little fruity. At this point I’m burning my fingers, so it’s time to say ‘bye to this great smoke from Drew Estate.
I don’t smoke the Undercrown Corona Viva every single day, but whenever I run out of them I immediately pick some more up. The flavors are amazing, even if they’re not what I reach for on a regular basis. I want to age them for a few years to see what happens, but I’m not disciplined enough to keep them around! I highly recommend them to any cigar smoker. Now if we all pitch in and bug the guys at Poor Richard’s enough, maybe they’ll start carrying them so we don’t have to go to the “other shop.”
Flavor – Full
Strength – Medium/Full
Body – Medium-plus
Construction – Good
When combining the uniqueness of this cigar’s flavors with its decent price, I have to say Drew Estate has a winner that deserves a…
3.5 out of 5