Drew Estate and the Rise of the Infused Cigar
Few things in the cigar world evoke such disparate reactions more than “infused” or flavored cigars. Retail shops and cigar lounges relegate infused cigars to separate humidors from “traditional” cigars. Additionally, purists often scoff at them and consider them as inferior in quality and taste. But make no mistake, infused cigars have crept into the premium space largely due to the pioneers at Drew Estate.
The Rebirth of Drew Estate Cigars
Twenty-five years ago, Pulp Fiction burst upon the movie screens and Drew Estate made a similar garish debut shortly thereafter. Flavored cigars were nothing new. In fact, cigars have been dipped in rum or other spirits for as long as they have existed. Unlike mass-produced, cheaply flavored cigars with cut-rate tobacco, the brand set out to launch the “Rebirth of Cigars,” by creating premium infused cigars with its Acid line.
A Recipe as Secret as the Colonel’s
The original Acid Kuba Kuba is a heady, medium-bodied, and exotically flavored cigar, not for the faint of heart. It’s definitely not something you want in your humidor next to your prized Cubans, since cigars readily absorb flavors. The Acid line was an immediate blockbuster and became the backbone of Drew Estate. It has several variations of infusions that take on different nuances in the various sizes, ranging from cigarillo to torpedo.
Twentieth Anniversary Benchmark
To celebrate the twentieth anniversary of the line, Drew Estate created a special blend of ultra-premium tobaccos and gave them a subtle infusion. Then, the boutique brand box-pressed its anniversary cigars to represent the pinnacle of the brand. The finished product resulted in a lush, full-bodied smoke. If this is any indication of what’s in store for the upcoming twenty-fifth-anniversary release, aficionados of infused cigars should start rejoicing.
The Rebirth of Cigars Continues
Drew Estate expanded beyond infused cigars and into the traditional premium space with the Liga Privada and Undercrown lines. The Liga Privada Number 9 remains one of the most coveted and difficult cigars to acquire in the United States. The careful attention to the construction and blending of the Liga or Acid lines is why other top producers added their own infused lines. Imitation, after all, is the most sincere form of flattery.
Swisher Sweets and Drew Estate
When Swisher International acquired Drew Estate in 2014, the acquisition created two, unique smoking experiences. Swisher, the home of the mass-produced, omnipresent flavored Swisher Sweets cigars remained in every deli and gas station across the country. They became the upscale boutique side of the business with its premium, infused cigars. This formed the perfect match. Swisher International’s size allowed Drew Estate to grow its capital while scaling economies across many functions. Additionally, the union also granted better access to distribution as well as to advanced cigar making technology.
A Word from the Founder
Jonathan Drew, the founder of Drew Estate, is an icon among the “new wave” of cigar makers. He remains firmly involved in the day-to-day operations of all the Drew Estate lines. When asked about his vision for the future and his favorite smokes, he responded, “We set out to create the ‘rebirth of cigars,’ which we did in our own fashion. I have the luxury of lighting up an ultra-premium Liga Privada ‘Year of the Rat,’ or my current obsession, which is the Pappy Van Winkle Barrel infused line. Drew Estate makes everything with the same attention to quality or detail. We wanted to make sure that the true aficionados relaxing in cigar lounges would have options that satisfied all palates.”
Jonathan Drew remarks, via Jack Heyer, Drew Estate Director of Social Media December 2020
Photo Credit: @jonathandrewart/Twitter