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The Undercrown line has a very interesting origin story. The way Drew Estate tells it, and this can be embellished at times, the Undercrown blend was created to mimic the Liga Privada blend. As the story goes, the Liga Privada blend was a private blend meant for Drew Estate rollers and blenders. Over time the Liga blend became very popular and was released to the public. The blend became so popular that Drew Estate did not let employees smoke them anymore for fear of running low and not meeting demand. Resourceful blenders and rollers took similar components and made the Undercrown blend to mimic the Liga Privada. Now the Undercrown has been released to the public and goes head to head with its inspiration; the Liga Privada. Will the cover be as good as the original?

The Basics:

  • This is a 6″ x 52 toro. The blend itself comes in a large number of sizes. For example, on Undercrown sampler at Cigar Hustler has 7 different vitolas. The most popular are the Corona Viva (5.6 x 46), the Gordito (6 x 60) and the pig size (3 15/16 x 60). The Undercrown also comes out in a limited edition called the Undercrown Dogma, which was made for Cigar Dojo.
  • Wrapper: Mexican San Andres
  • Binder: Connecticut Habano – This is similar to the wrapper in the Liga Privada, but is a different priming than the Liga blend
  • Filler: Nicaragua and Brazilian Mata Fina
  • I have had two Gran Toros for this review and also a Corona Viva. The Corona Viva was used to compare construction and draw.
  • I bought this cigar from Cigar Hut. It is a very popular blend and can largely be found where Drew Estate cigars can be found.

Draw and Burn:

This was the most interesting part of the cigar. Most other components remained consistent across the cigars, but the burn and draw was quite different from one cigar to the next. The first Gran Toro I smoked had a perfect burn and draw. The draw was dialed in just right with enough resistance to not be too loose, but was still quite smooth. This perfect draw lasted the entire smoking experience. The burn was razor sharp for most of the smoke and never needed any corrections. In this instance, the burn and draw were an A + without any second thoughts.

However, when I smoked my second Gran Toro for the review the experience was different. The burn and draw in the first third and the beginning of the second third were just what I expected. The burn was sharp and the draw was dialed in just the way I like it. From the end of the second third until the end of the cigar…..some things went awry. The burn began to go all over the place and the draw just fell apart. The cigar itself needed a number of corrections and the cigar almost totally plugged near the end.

I was confused by the two totally different experiences. I had one Corona Viva in my humidor and decided to smoke it to see if these burn and draw problems were more prevalent. Now, I understand that the Corona Viva smokes differently and is an entirely different cigar to the Gran Toro, but I thought that smoking it would lead me towards a better understanding of my experiences with the two Gran Toros. This cigar had a sharp burn with a nice smooth draw. The draw became an issue in the final 15% of the cigar, but it didn’t have a profound impact on the cigar.

The Corona Viva was quite enlightening. I chalk up the poor burn and draw in the final third of the second cigar to be a byproduct of smoking toros. Sometimes, toros can fall apart near the end, because of all the tobacco needed to make the cigar. Sometimes all that burnt tobacco can build up in the cigar and negatively impact the flavor and the draw. This is s risk with all toros and it seems that I had the toro that was going to have these problems. It appears that draw and burn problems are not indicative throughout the line; however, my experience with the second cigar needs to be taken into account for the final grade.

Final Grade: B+ / A-

Construction:

I loved the construction of this cigar. The dark wrapper looks fantastic; especially with the royal blue and gold Undercrown band on it. The cigar itself is quite supple and springy, as opposed to feeling too rigid. The ash held on well throughout the smoke and broke off in nice chunks. Moreover, this cigar is just fun to smoke. Like most Drew Estate cigars, this cigar puts out a ton of smoke. I must admit, I love cigars that put out a ton of smoke…..I mean….you feel like you are in a movie. I just love it.

Now, the fact that the draw and burn for the final third of my second cigar fell apart indicates that there must have been issues with the cigar’s construction. Therefore, it is difficult to give the construction an A+. However, there were no construction issues in the Corona Viva, so it is somewhere in the middle.

Final Grade: B+ /A-

Flavor:

The one thing that was consistent across the cigars I smoked for this review was the flavor. This is a complex finish with great texture and body. The first third had some nice pepper and spice right out of the gate. These are flavors you would probably expect from a cigar with Nicaraguan tobacco in the blend. What I did not expect so early in the cigar was a nice deep and rich texture to the finish. Usually, cigars develop this texture over time; however, the Undercrown had a wonderful rich and smooth texture right in the first third. There were subtle cream and coffee notes developing during this third with a wonderful roasted coffee note on the retrohale. There is still a spice component in the finish, but it is subtle and well balanced. The flavor mellows near the end of this third and the cigar really begins to balance out. I was pleasantly surprised on how the first third was so complex and well balanced. The only cigars with a better first third are the Bolivar Royal Corona, the H. Upmann Magnum 46 and the RoMa Craft Aquitaine Mode 5….and that is some very good company.

The second third continues with a smooth rich texture. This portion of the cigar reminds me of the Bolivar Royal Corona. Similar to the Bolivar, this third of the cigar has rich tobacco and earth flavors. Moreover, this cigar’s finish is complex and well layered. There are rich notes of tobacco and earth on the front of the palate with a nice spice hit at the back. During this portion of the cigar a nice creamy component adds a nice depth and warmth to the finish. All the flavors work well together and compliment each other. Taking this part of the cigar slow is the way to go. Let the flavors come through the cigar and don’t rush it.

The creamy note continue from the second third into the final third of the cigar. This compliments some pleasant tobacco flavors. Much like the previous two thirds of the cigar, the finish continues to be rich and smooth. Much like the H. Upmann Magnum 46 and Bolivar Royal Corona, the finish is not heavy on the palate and is good to smoke. Also, there is a good balance between flavor and strength. I would consider this cigar to be medium in strength; however, it does give you a good kick. This is a complex finish that keeps you invested in the cigar from beginning to end. It is a well crafted journey through the cigar and each third really provides a unique experience.

Final Grade: A+

Overall:

This is one of the rare cases where the cover is better than the original. As of right now, I like this blend more than the Liga Privada blend it was attempting to copy. The richness and complexity of the finish is second to none and is a tremendous experience. Even though the construction and burn / draw was not consistent across the different cigars, the flavor delivered time after time. For me, it was the flavor that really made up for deficiencies in other areas. To be fair, I will need to have a few more cigars to really get an accurate picture of how widespread construction issues are. I for one am happy to do more field research with this cigar.

This cigar makes for an interesting grading. I have to take construction issues into account, so it will not receive an A+ rating; however, the flavor overrides those issues and puts this cigar into the Cigar Hall of Fame. It is a tremendous blend and a humidor necessity for beginners and experienced cigar smokers alike. I look forward to smoking all the vitolas in the Undercrown line many, many times in the future.

Overall Grade: A

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