Group Review: Herrera Esteli TAA Exclusive

The release of the Herrera Esteli TAA Exclusive was announced by Drew Estate Cigars in early March and it hit the shelves earlier this month.  You can read all the details in the press release we posted last month.  We've got a four-man group review, so let's dive right in!

Herrera Esteli TAA Exclusive

Size: 6 x 52

Vitola: Toro

Wrapper: Connecticut Broadleaf

Binder: Brazilian Mata Fina

Filler: Nicaragua

MSRP: $12.00

Samples smoked for review: 1-2 per reviewer

Cigars for review were provided by Drew Estate Cigars

Note: We used the CigarFederation Rating System

Rob's Rating - 88 AKA "5-Pack Purchase"

There is a new release from Willie and DE?  I'm in!  That is usually my response and I image most of you all feel the same.  I love they way Willie blends cigars and I have enjoyed everything he has done since joining Drew Estate.  That includes my 2013 Cigar Safari blend, but I digress.  Basically, what I am saying here is that I was quite excited to try the new Herrera Esteli TAA Exclusive and I had rather high expectations.

Flavor:  The HE TAA had not shortage of flavor.  It was sweet, rich, meaty and spicy.  These are all things I have come to expect from Broadleaf wrapped releases from Drew Estate.  The profile started out with deep rich flavors and a striking white pepper spice on the retrohale.  Notes of earth, wood, milk chocolate and deep molasses were present on the palate and balanced nicely by the spice on the retro.  The middle third took dirty earth profile with that chewy sweetness and white pepper spice.  The final third saw the spice ramp up a bit while the overall profile intensified.  The strength peaked at a medium-plus.

Construction and Performance: The Herrera Esteli TAA performed well.  The construction was spot on with a precise burn and bright white ash.  The smoke output, or lack thereof, was one thing I noticed.  DE cigars are smoke stacks, but the TAA offered minimal smoke.  I'm not sure that matters, but it definitely jumped out at me.

Final Thoughts: The flavor profile was of the Herrera Esteli TAA was classic "Liga."  The flavors were big and bold while being well balanced and nicely nuanced.  There is a lot going on with the flavors here and Willie orchestrated it quite well.  The two drawbacks for me are the vitola and the price.

Logan's rating: 86 AKA “Would Buy a Couple”

I haven’t reviewed a cigar in a while so lets see what happens.

There is a nice pre-light barnyard smell at the foot. The broadleaf used here seems to be darker in color than the broadleaf I have seen on recent production no.9’s I have smoked.

The cigar is a spicy meatball upfront. I don’t mean that figuratively, but honestly it tasted like a spicy meatball. There were also notes of milk chocolate, cinnamon, and a undertone of dirty earth.

The more I smoked into the cigar I got a very contrasting sweet and sour note. This might sound like a bad thing, but it wasn’t. Sour in like a sour ligero mixed with the sweetness of the broadleaf. It was quite enjoyable.

The spice/pepper die off during the second third but did kick back up in the final third. Otherwise, the flavors didn’t show much transition through. I did pay quite a bit of attention to the resting smoke from this cigar and noticed it was reduced by at least 75% from what you will typically see from a LP no.9.

Overall, not a bad cigar but not a great cigar which would have me running out and snatching up several boxes. I definitely think it is worth smoking for the sweet and sour note I found since I have only had a few cigars which presented this combination of flavors. Otherwise, it is pretty straight forward, easy to get behind cigar.

While I haven’t smoked all the Tienda Exclusiva’s, Matt and I reviewed the one for Barrister Cigars and had mixed revi.... I think we both would say we enjoyed the Barrister more than this TAA.

Matt's Rating: 89 AKA "5-Pack Purchase

If you've seen either of the Herrera Esteli Tienda Exclusivas, the TAA Exclusive will look very familiar. The branding and bands are very reminiscent of those cigars, but the cigar is much larger than either of those - a 6x52 that initially turned me off as I like much smaller ring gauges. The wrapper is a dark brown with a few odd veins scattered throughout. I clip the cap and take some prelight draws that give off a sweet wood and earth flavor - maybe a bit of chocolate in there.

Immediately off the light, my mind goes to every Herrera Esteli I've ever smoked - the cigar is reminiscent of everything you love about that cigar. The cigar starts off with the familiar cedar and earth flavors with a hint of chocolaty sweetness. I'm getting a lot of spice and power on the finish and through the nose. The draw has a bit of restriction, but I'm still getting tons of smoke output.

Moving into the middle of the experience, the flavors are largely the same, though I do think the spice and power on the finish has waned a bit. Flavors of earth and cedar are prevalent. The ash held on for a solid inch and a half before I knocked it off so it wouldn't fall on my laptop (I have a real problem with that). The draw and construction are impeccable with a very even burn.

I might be smoking this a little fast as the finale is showing a tiny bit of bitterness, but I'm an hour and a half in with abount an inch and a half left. Flavors have remained mainly the same so I haven't jotted down any significant flavor changes thus far.

A pretty short review for me because, frankly, there isn't anything earth shattering about this cigar. Do not misunderstand me - this is a very good cigar and one I will seek out again, but its nothing new. If you like the Herrera Esteli cigars you've smoked, you'll like this. If you know me, I love those cigars - especially the Lancero which was once my Cigar of the Year - but I dock this a few points because the vitola is slightly larger than I typically prefer.

Seth's Rating: 94 AKA "Box Purchase"

Because this is a group review, I am going to condense my typical review format. The Herrera EstelÌ TAA is constructed wonderfully and the red, gold and white bands really pop off of the dark Connecticut Broadleaf warapper. The wrapper is incredibly oily and it sports some tooth throughout. There are some medium sized veins present as well and this is that Connecticut Broadleaf wrapper that Drew Estate is known for. It has a dark maduro coloring, practically oscuro, and the cigar is firm throughout. There is an aroma of rich earth, manure, stone fruit, leather and spice present on the wrapper, and the foot is giving off earthy notes with some spice and tobacco qualities.

From beginning to end, the cigar delivers a fantastic flavor profile that shows the rich and earthy characteristics from the Broadleaf wrapper with the sweetness from the Brazilian binder. There are some cocoa powder, leather and tobacco flavors present from the filler tobacco, and I am getting some oaky and dark berry/currant qualities as well. It is a complex blend and is full in terms of flavors, body and strength delivered. It captures what Drew Estate does with Connecticut Broadleaf, but with something new as well. There is not an abundance of transitioning throughout, but with that core flavor profile being as complex as it is, it remains incredibly enjoyable throughout the entire toro. I was getting great construction with each sample and there was always a ton of smoke produced. The ash had this nice charcoal coloring and it held on firmly throughout the entire smoking experience. I smoked these cigars down to the nub each time, and they always smoked cool while producing a great draw.

I really love the Herrera EstelÌ TAA and it is an exciting new release for Drew Estate. I am not a huge Connecticut Broadleaf fan, I struggle in getting behind the wrapper and the blends that come with it, but this is one that I can get behind. It delivers a flavor profile that is complex and although you can say it has a lack of transitioning from beginning to end, it is a damn good flavor profile. I loved the body and strength that came with the cigar, and this is a blend that smokes really well at that full level. Nothing is lost. I would say that they need to be smoked now, enjoy that awesome youth, but I would be interested to see where the cigar is with some age. Because the cigar comes in boxes of 12, it is a no brainer that you should buy a box, but I would still get behind a box purchase if it was a 20+ count box. Because of that, the cigar gets a hard 94.

Cigar Federation Group Rating: 89.25 AKA "5-Pack Purchase"

Views: 287

Comment by Doug on April 25, 2016 at 11:04am

Interesting.  I get a kick out of these multi-person reviews.  Some folks like to use the negative to highlight why they gave something a rating, while others use the positive.  Sounds like a solid smoke worth picking up, but the price is just a tad off-putting for a box purchase.  At least for me that is.  

Great review guys! Love the unique flavors each of you picked up.  

Comment by Seth's Humidor on April 25, 2016 at 11:06am

Look at fanboy Tuna! Either I am smoking too many Cuban and AGANORSA blends, or my samples were rolled with a little something something and extra love. 

Comment by Matt Ross on April 25, 2016 at 11:26am

Doug - I'm generally a negative person!

Comment by RobbyRas on April 25, 2016 at 11:41am

^ True Story

Comment by Doug on April 25, 2016 at 11:45am

Yea, I've picked up on that awhile back, Matt lol.  Funny thing is that it doesn't change the review, just interesting to see the subtle character differences coming out.

Comment by Stefan Lindblad on April 25, 2016 at 12:56pm
I'm with Seth on this one. Box purchase.

Comment by RobbyRas on April 25, 2016 at 2:14pm

So I gave it an 89 which is a 5-pack buy, so it's basically a box split... they are just a little too pricy for me to commit to a box... $10 per stick, then i'd be in... but ideally it would be a smaller vitola and less $

Comment by Doug on April 25, 2016 at 2:16pm

Yea, being a toro, I understand the price.  But that's also what puts it just over buying a box, unless I smoke one and fall in love, the clouds part, and harps start playing. 

Comment by Charlie on April 25, 2016 at 4:06pm

Wow, 8 point difference between Logan and Tuna...I would have thought this was a flip flop for scores. 89 = very good from Matt, he doesn't toss near 90 scores around like they are going out of style...must be pretty good.

I have heard from a couple others that this is a one note, straight forward, beginning to end profile...

Comment by Sam C. on April 25, 2016 at 4:08pm
Loved this group review, fellas! Happy to see Seth drop a rare 94 box rating on it, and I can see why the fivers came to their conclusions. I knew Logan wouldn't like it ;) see my comment yesterday, so that "couple" rating isn't making me upset with my blind box buy. I also love the broadleaf Ligas and have enjoyed all of Willy's blends. Glad to hear that Stefan called box, too. Matt, I take you may not be interested in a box split any longer?


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