Drew Estate’s Florida Sun Grown (FSG) cigar line was officially announced in May of 2016, going on to debut at the first-ever Florida Barn Smoker event on June 4, 2016. Florida Sun Grown is unique in that it utilizes its namesake tobacco in the cigar’s filler—Florida being an uncommon tobacco growing region since the late ’70s.
It was this challenge that lead Jeff Borysiewicz, owner of Corona Cigar Co. (a Florida-based tobacconist chain), to embark on the difficult journey to cultivate a premium-grade tobacco from his home state. In 2012, Jeff purchased 20 acres of land in Clermont, FL for his pet project; going on to plant and harvest the first crops in 2013. These crops utilized only a quarter of the land, harvesting a small yield (under 1,000 pounds) of Criollo ’98 and Corojo ’99 tobaccos. The following year, production doubled, switching to Corojo ’99 seed exclusively. It is these two crop harvests that have provided the special ingredient for Drew Estate’s collaboration with Florida Sun Grown LLC (Jeff’s new company name for his tobacco-producing operation), the eponymously titled FSG.
FSG Limited Edition Trunk-Pressed Toro Breakdown
- Wrapper: Connecticut Broadleaf
- Binder: Mexican
- Filler: Nicaragua | Honduras | FSG (Criollo ’98 & Corojo ’99)
- Factory: La Gran Fabrica Drew Estate (Nicaragua)
- Production: Limited Edition
- Vitola: 6″ × 54 Toro
- Price: $15.00
While Jeff’s ultimate goal is to provide tobacco on a national scale, partnering with additional brands such as Davidoff and Casa Fernandez (whom later introduced their own FSG exclusives for Corona), it is Drew Estate that is the largest purchaser of Florida Sun Grown tobacco—and the first to bring the leaf to market. It is a fitting partnership, as Drew Estate has partnered with Jeff since the brand’s early beginnings. This, and the fact that Drew Estate is the largest purchaser of American tobaccos for premium cigars (including Connecticut, Kentucky, and now Florida), made for the perfect storm to introduce Florida Sun Grown.
The brand launched by introducing consumers to the cigars and the cigar’s beginnings—expanding Drew Estate’s annual Barn Smoker events to include a new Florida edition at Jeff’s Florida Sun Grown farm in June, 2016. Here, cigar enthusiasts were shown the FSG process, from seed to the final curing process in the FSG curing barns (the tobaccos are then fermented at Drew Estate’s facilities in Estelí, Nicaragua). Samples were given to event attendees and later introduced exclusively at Corona Cigar Co. stores.
While Jeff contends that the crowning achievement for his FSG will be the consistent harvesting of quality wrapper leaf, it is no small feat to have introduced filler tobaccos in the short span of two years. For Drew Estate’s FSG, the cigars launched in two blends, both showcasing a small amount of FSG tobaccos in the cigar’s filler component. There are four sizes offered in continuous, small batch production; these cigars use the Corojo-only harvest from 2014. The fifth FSG is a limited edition project, showcasing the original, 2013 harvest of Criollo ’98 and Corojo ’99 leaves. This cigar, dubbed Florida Sun Grown Limited Edition Trunk-Pressed Toro, offers a completely different blend from the regular release line; utilizing a Conencticut Broadleaf wrapper over a Mexican binder and Nicaraguan and Honduran fillers to accompany the two FSG varietals.
Click images below for full resolution
The differences between the regular FSG and limited edition don’t stop with the cigar’s blend; the LE is also the only cigar to receive a box press shape, offered in a 6″ x 54 vitola not found in the regular, four-size lineup.
FSG kicks off with the cigar’s band, as is often the first thing you’ll notice with the famously well-designed projects from Drew Estate. It’s somewhat simplistic, using a basic oval shape and three primary colors. The background features a strong teal hue that helps to set the look apart from the standard color schemes used on your average premium cigar. This implies a nautical or Caribbean vibe, complete with a cream-colored and regal/Spanish/nautical appearance of the band’s focal point, lettering that reads “FSG.” The look is finished with gold foiled, leafy frills and subtext reading “AUTHENTIC.” The look does a great job representing Florida as well as a fittingly unique, yet historical meaning that the cigar strives to be.
The cigar itself is big and meaty, having a great feel in the hand from the oval-esque shape of its trunk press—almost identical to the Undercrown Dogma, only in a slightly thinner form factor. Construction looks good, showing no visible seams and thin veins. The wrapper is lightly fuzzy and maintains a Colorado rosado shade (much lighter than your average Broadleaf), with darker streaks running throughout. The roll feels about a medium bunch, with a slightly squishier feel than desired; including one or two soft spots.
On the nose there is an overall clean vibe, having a light note of fresh rain. The foot aroma is stronger, with a slight ammonia kick (like walking into a cigar aging room) and an interesting perfume-like essence (transporting me instantly to the distinct anomaly that is the signature fragrance of any given Las Vegas casino—blasted through the casino’s entrance as a Pavlovian signal that gambling is in your midst).
FSG lights up with a kick to the palate, bringing sharp spice to the tongue and nostrils. The cigar’s shape provides a good mouthfeel, resting nicely on the lips and not feeling to large, due to the squished, oval shape. The draw is good, but slightly tight—giving an overabundance of billowing smoke on each puff. This is something that Drew Estate fans are accustomed to, having the “Liga factor” smoke that seems to effervescently flow from the cigar’s head and foot in a continuous stream. No one can deny this is a pleasing sight… but one can’t help but wonder how it’s accomplished (and yes, there are about as many theories as a LOST forum after the series’ bizarre finale—but that’s a topic for another time).
Spices develop throughout the first inch—with black pepper at the forefront—offering a spectacular, horseradish-like stinging sensation in the nostrils that lasts five seconds after each retrohale. But the spices settle shortly after, providing caramel as a background that eventually transforms into a more complex and developed Coca-Cola flavor. This is the most balanced portion of the cigar (around one inch in), with additional notes of mineral and fresh-cut grass.
Despite a fairly wavy burn line, FSG shows great construction, with an ash that lasts at least three inches. Also, the slightly tight draw seems to loosen to a nearly perfect resistance. The previously mentioned Vegas-like essence begins to peek through spontaneously in the background, joining mineral qualities and a straight-forward, generic tobacco profile. This is the bulk of the smoking experience—additional notes come with a ramped-up flavor near the band (similar flavors but more intense) and a hot burn near the finale (making the cigar’s construction soft), resulting in negative flavors of dark and ashy ammonia.
Would I Smoke This Cigar Again?
I don’t often say this with Drew Estate but… no. Like most hobbyists, I’m on a constant search for new and exciting flavor profiles and smoking experiences—this is why the concept behind FSG is so intriguing. But the end result is just not up to par, at least at this point (even after a full year’s aging time in the humidor). In my opinion, the flavors were a bit too bland, not offering any “it factor” to give the cigar an identity. It kind of reminded me of when you decide to blend your own cigar—it’s fun, and might even taste good at first (that’s your biased excitement talking), but these blends always lack a certain depth—perhaps it’s in the lack of a proper finish, or a subtle sweetness to bring balance. Whatever it is, it’s often something you don’t notice until it isn’t there.
- Smoke Time: 1 hour, 30 minutes
- Pairing Recommendation: mint julep, cola, sweet and creamy coffee
- Purchase Recommendation: single cigar
- BIG smoke output
- Good progression of strength throughout
- Lacks complexity & "it factor" flavor
- No sweetness
- Hot and soft with burnt ash flavor nearing finale