The Herrera Esteli Norteno Belicoso Fino. This cigar was purchased from Cigar Hut.
The Herrera Esteli Norteno Belicoso Fino. This cigar was purchased from Cigar Hut.

Willy Herrera joined Drew Estate in 2011 and hit the market running with his Herrera Esteli Piramide Fino. This was a huge hit with cigar smokers and was #8 on Cigar Aficionado’s top 25 of 2013. Since then, Willy has become the master blender for Drew Estate and has released his follow up project to the original Herrera Esteli; the Herrera Esteli Norteno. This is meant to be a bolder cigar than the original Esteli with a totally different blend. Let’s see if Willy Herrera can follow up his original masterpiece.

Information and Appearance:

Brand: Drew Estate

How did I get it: I bought this cigar from Cigar Hut here in Australia.

When did I smoke it: At night with an ice cold Hank’s Root Beer.

Length of Smoke: This was not a terribly long cigar. The smoke time on it is between 40 – 45 minutes depending on your pace.

Factory Information: According to Will Cooper of Cigar Coop, this cigar was made at the Joya de Nicaragua factory in Esteli, Nicaragua.

Cigar Info:

  • The cigar itself comes in a number of sizes. The cigar for this review was the 5 x 50 Belicoso Fino.
    • Coronita: 4 x 46
    • Corona Extra: 4 3/4 x 48
    • Belicoso Fino (The cigar for this review): 5 x 50
    • Robusto Grande: 5 1/2 x 54
    • Lonsdale Deluxe: 6 1/2 x 44
  • The blend:
    • Wrapper: Mexican San Andres
    • Binder: Honduran
    • Filler: Nicaraguan

The cigar’s appearance is stunning. I love the look of the green and white band against the dark brown, almost black, San Andres wrapper. The band itself has a wonderful classic look to it and continues the traditional look from the original Hererra Esteli. The pressing on the cigar is interesting and gives the cigar a chisel look. This is not a traditional box pressing, but a pressing that gives the cigar a rectangular shape. The dry draw has good resistance and is not too loose. Moreover, the flavors on the dry draw are mostly pepper and leather.

Burn and Draw:

The draw on this cigar starts out a little loose. This is a little looser than the dry draw and it is loose enough that I have to watch how I smoke the cigar in order not to burn it too hot. However, this evens out rather quickly and the draw for the majority of the cigar is pretty dialed in.

The burn is a bit wayward throughout the cigar. At times the burn will be sharp and at other times the burn will be quite uneven and need a correction. The uneven burn never hindered the smoking experience, but I had to continually watch it before it became too out of hand. Even though the draw came together nicely, the burn never leveled out. Like I said before, this never hindered the smoke, but it was a bit of a distraction and something I had to pay attention to. All and all, pretty solid and both burn and draw.

Score: 88

Construction:

Overall I found the construction to be quite solid; taking into account the burn issues. The pressed cigar itself performs very well and smokes at a good rate. There is Drew Estate’s signature big smoke with this cigar and I have to say; I love the amount of smoke these cigars put out. The cigar keeps its shape very well throughtou the smoke and there were no combustion issues. If the burn was a little better this cigar would have scored very high in this area, but the construction on a whole is very solid.

Score: 92

First Third:

The first third starts off with a bang. There is a huge pepper blast up front, but this evens out into a smooth and rich spice flavor. This initial blast quickly dissipates and the cigar settles into a nice layered finish. The flavors in the finish are cream and tobacco on the front end with a nice pepper and spice at the back end. This is a nice balance between San Andres flavors and more traditional Nicaraguan spice notes. There is a nice strength to this cigar, which compliments the flavors quite well. However, I would put the cigar’s strength at a medium at this point. This is a nice smooth and rich introduction to the cigar.

Score: 91

Second Third:

Rich tobacco notes continue from the first to the second third. There are also some woody and grassy notes. These are nice additions to the overall finish and compliment the rich flavors very well. At this point the draw has evened out, but the burn is starting to drift around. Having said that, once I slowed down the cigar smoked very well and the combustion rate was dead on. This third develops into a rich and bold section of the cigar with tobacco, spice and earth flavors. I really enjoy the cigar’s rich texture and that carries through the entire cigar. The strength is kicking up a bit and might be at a medium plus at this point. This third is right into my favorite strength and flavor profile. I could easily tear through a number of these cigars in a very short period of time. It is taking a lot of restraint not to smoke this cigar too quickly. This third is where the cigar comes into its own and the balance between flavor and strength is just right.

Score: 93

Final Third:

The final third starts with a nice sweet component that was not present in the previous two thirds. This sweetness does not overpower the cigar’s other flavors and balances out the rich spice and tobacco flavors well. There is a nice smoothness to this third and subtle hints of coco. This third is mainly dominated by tobacco, spice and earth, but these subtle sweet and coco hints add interest. The strength is still at about a medium plus and you can smoke this cigar all the way down. This is not an overly complex third, but the flavors are delivered well and it is a nice end to the cigar.

Score: 90

Overall:

This is a wonderful short smoke that really delivers on strength and flavor. I also really liked this vitola. The belicoso gives you the option to cut it to your liking and the fact that it is a short belicoso means that you can enjoy this cigar in under an hour. I could rip through a box of these cigars in no time. This is a very solid cigar that can easily be part of my regular smoking rotation. I like Willy’s original Herrer Esteli more; however, this is a solid follow up and really makes Willy a blender to follow. I am excited to see what his future projects and where he takes Drew Estate.

Overall Score: 91 / Excellent

Recommendation:

This is a great cigar and a wonderful short smoke. I really like the vitola and the flavors in the cigar are well balanced and rich. I think these cigars come in boxes of 10 and I can easily recommend a box of these. I am not sure how the cigar performs in larger vitols, but in this size you will make your way through a box in no time.

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