The Undercrown Shade was introduced by Drew Estate at the 2015 IPCPR trade show in New Orleans. The Shade is the first cigar blended for Drew Estate by Master Blender Willie Herrera that is not part of the Herrera Esteli line. In our interview with Willie at IPCPR he went so far as to call the Undercrown Shade his "baby."
You can watch the interview here:
Drew Estate Undercrown Shade
Size: 6 x 52
Vitola: Gran Toro
Wrapper: Ecuadorian Connecticut
Filler: Dominican Criollo 98 and Nicaraguan Criollo & Corojo
Cigars smoked for review: 2
Cigars for review provided by Drew Estate
Note: For this review we used CigarFederation's rating system
Rob's Review: Rating 88 AKA "5-Pack Purchase"
Pre-Light: The Undercrown Shade is a good looking cigar. I love the Undercrown band and when you put the gold embossing on a white background it looks very slick. The foot band is a nice touch as well. I'm a big fan of the foot band. It offers some extra coolness to the look and protects the cigar. And that, my friends, is what we call a win-win.
The Ecuadorian Connecticut wrapper had a smooth look and feel. There were a few veins, but nothing that would deter me from picking it up at my local B&M. The smell coming off the wrapper was dry with notes of hay, dried vegetation and mild tobacco with a bit of a woody musk. The cold draw was perfect and tasted of cedar, vanilla and hay. The construction was solid which lead to a precise burn and strong ash throughout.
Beginning: The Undercrown Shade got off to a nice start. The flavor profile started out with notes of cedar, burnt caramel and creamed coffee. There was a mild baking spice on the retrohale. Everything started off in the mild range and grew from there.
The spice picked up on the retro at the one-inch mark and plateaued quickly thereafter. The sweet and creamy profile was balanced nicely by the spice on the retro. The Shade was nice and smooth through the first third with the strength sitting at a mild-plus and the body at a medium.
Middle: The profile (and the strength) took a step forward at the two-inch mark. The notes of burnt caramel and creamed coffee took up the spotlight, while the baking spice on the retro started to creep onto the tongue. The strength also stepped up and landed in the medium-minus range. Other than that, things stayed pretty consistent.
End: There wasn't much change in the final third. The burn stayed clean and the smoke stayed cool. The profile didn't change much at all. It never got harsh or hot.
Final Thoughts: The Undercrown Shade is very different from any cigar in the DE portfolio. I can see this cigar introducing some new smokers to Drew Estate. It's a very approachable cigar with a solid Ecuadorian Connecticut profile. I can also see some DE die hards expecting the cigar to deliver a stronger experience than it does. This is a spin on a classic Connecticut to fit the "modern palate" and I think DE did a pretty good job of that.
Surgeon’s Review: 88 AKA “5-Pack Purchase”
The nose on the Undercrown Shade reminds me of a bail of fermenting tobacco in the DE2 facility. The wrapper has a strong barnyard nose to it.
I used a single v-cut and found the draw somewhat tight.
It starts with a classic Connecticut profile of hay, sweetness, with a hint of earth. Sweet spices on the retrohale with a light amount of lingering pepper. The smoke leaves a creamy mouthfeel and there’s some hay notes added into the mix. I start to get some bbq almost mesquite flavors adding complexity at approximately 15 minutes in. As one would expect with a Drew Estate cigar, there is tons of smoke production. The previous hints of earth start to linger post draw and increase in strength by about the 25 minute mark.
In the middle third the pepper is stronger on the retrohale. The mouthfeel is still creamy with some dry wood notes. The flavor complexity starts to jump up here as the profile settles on a spicy, dry wood combination that’s quite pleasant. The dry wood flavor eventually picks up in intensity on the post-draw to linger between each puff.
The final third has the woody notes dialing back in strength with the spice overtaking it slightly. There’s some jumbled vegetal notes that mix in halfway through the last third.
The Undercrown Shade smokes very easily; even with the larger Toro vitola. I found myself having to slow down my smoking space at several points.
Overall the Undercrown Shade is a pretty classic Connecticut experience. Great construction, smoke output, and flavor balance from beginning to end. If you enjoy Connecticut cigars this is a solid choice for your rotation.
Total smoking time was a leisurely 1 hour and 48 minutes.
Surgeon’s Pairing Recommendation:
You’ll find yourself reaching for coffee beverages or a Flor de Cana rum with the Undercrown Shade.
Cigar Federation Group Rating: 88 AKA "5-Pack Purchase"