If you’re a bourbon drinker, chances are that you’ve heard the name Pappy Van Winkle, but chances are equally high that you’ve never gotten to sample any of their bourbons. The legendary bourbon has a huge following, with demand that outstrips the supply by orders of magnitude.
In 2014, the Van Winkle family began a partnership with Drew Estate to create a brand of cigars exclusively for sale from the distillery. This year, Drew Estate announced a new cigar for the Van Winkles that will be more widely available, and are arriving on the shelves of all Drew Diplomat Retailers now. While the Pappy Van Winkle series has had a few barrel fermented and fire cured releases, it’s important to note that this blend is a traditional blend.
Brand: Pappy Van Winkle Tradition
Wrapper: Ecuadorian Habano Oscuro
Filler: Nicaragua and Dominican Republic
Factory: La Gran Fabrica Drew Estate
Cigars smoked for review: 3
Cigars for review provided by: Drew Estate
Note: For this review I used Cigar Federation's rating system
The wrapper is a smooth dark colorado brown, with a slightly reddish hue. There’s a lot of dark veins visible, all of which are very well pressed and very smooth, with no lumps or soft spots underneath.
The wrapper smells like warm bread, sweet earth, and a hint of cedar. The foot smells a bit sweeter, with just a little more black pepper spice than the wrapper.
Upon first light, the Tradition starts with heavy baking spice with a bit of red pepper, and surprising amount of marshmallow sweetness, balanced with an oaky, coffee-like bitterness. There’s a bit of spice on the retrohale, but it’s mostly the same marshmallowy sweetness. There’s a nice amount of sweet cream on the back end of the finish, and a dry lingering red/black pepper spice. I would call the finish moderate; not long, but not quite short.
An inch in, the red pepper spice picks up, and the marshmallow sweetness takes on more of a roasted marshmallow quality. At this point, I was able to identify the baking spice a little more specifically as cinnamon.
In the second third, the marshmallow sweetness starts to fade away, and a peppery black cherry note comes in, which is very similar to the flavor I typically find in the Herrera Esteli. The second third has a lot of the same notes as the end of the first, but with a bit more richness. The bitter oak has faded quite a bit, but is still present. The strength and body started off firmly medium, and have inched up to medium-full in the second third.
In the final third, a distinct mushroom appears, and the sweetness moves back to cedar and marshmallow. The spice fades into a mild black pepper. The oaky flavor appears on the finish this time, but isn’t as bitter as it was previously.
The high price point of this cigar is going to be a sticking point for a lot of people. It’s no doubt a result of the costs to put the Pappy Van Winkle name on something that will be more widely available than the previous releases, but I think the flavors in the cigar fall a little short of the suggested retail price.
That being said, this is a very good cigar. There are some clear transitions in each third, with flavors that remain fantastic and pronounced throughout, and I never had to touch up the burn, thanks to the great construction.
I think they really picked the perfect blend for this one. The quality and flavor lives up to the Pappy name, and while it pairs fantastically with a bourbon or rye whiskey, it doesn’t actually taste like it was blended specifically to be paired, allowing it to stand on it’s own as well. Whether you’re pairing this or not, I think everyone is going to find something to enjoy with this one.
Tripp's Rating: 89 AKA “5 Pack”