Undercrown Sun Grown is the third and highly anticipated release in Drew Estate’s popular Undercrown line of cigars. Drew Estate introduced Undercrown in 2011, marketing the cigars as an affordable alternative to the company’s highly sought-after Liga Privada cigars, which debuted five years prior.
As the story was told in 2011, Undercrown was the invention of Drew Estate’s own factory workers—the Liga rollers—as they had been smoking too many Liga Privada cigars and were subsequently cut back on provisions. Instead of smoking less of their preferred Liga cigars, they opted to re-shuffle the blend, making use of different tobacco primings, crops from different sections of the same field, different ages, and positioning the leaves in other portions of the blend. This is assumed to be the case throughout most of Undercrown’s filler blend, with the most direct adoption being the use of Liga Privada’s T52 Connecticut River Valley Stalk Cut & Cured Habano wrapper leaf incorporated in the Undercrown binder. Not only was this idea of Undercrown being “blended on the factory floor” seen in the cigar’s blend makeup, but the name itself reflects this—e.g. if Liga Privada is blended for the king, this blend is for the “undercrown,” i.e. the prince, etc.
In 2015, Drew Estate released the Undercrown’s first followup blend with Undercrown Shade (which went on to receive Cigar Dojo’s #4 Cigar of the Year). Since the original Undercrown’s launch, much had changed at Drew Estate, including the addition of respected artisan Willy Herrera as Master Blender for the company. With Undercrown Shade, the cigars were again touted as being blended by the same “factory floor” team that concocted the original; this time with the experienced guidance of Herrera.
As the original cigars utilized a Mexican maduro-style blend, and the Undercrown Shade offered the more mild tendencies of Connecticut Shade, the gap in the lineup became quickly apparent and fans wondered when Drew Estate would showcase a more traditional, natural-shade/habano/etc. blend within the Undercrown portfolio. Hints of such a cigar began showing up on social media in early 2017, with the assumption that Drew Estate released a small amount of the cigars prior to the FDA deadline of August 8, 2016 (which allows for the cigars to be sold for an additional two years before further approval is required). These cigars didn’t feature the finished presentation (or presumably the final blend recipe) but were a clear indication of what was to follow.
As expected, Drew Estate announced Undercrown Sun Grown in July of 2017, only weeks before the annual IPCPR trade show, where the cigars would be officially unveiled for the first time.
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Undercrown Sun Grown Breakdown
- Wrapper: Ecuadorian Sumatra Sun Grown
- Binder: Connecticut River Valley Stalk Cut/Cured Sun Grown Habano
- Filler: Nicaraguan
- Factory: La Gran Fabrica Drew Estate (Nicaragua)
- Production: Regular Production
- Vitola: 6″ × 52 “Gran Toro”
- Price: $9.02 (MSRP)
Differing from the Undercrown Shade, the new Undercrown Sun Grown includes a more clear-cut usage of the Liga Privada tobaccos that were famously incorporated into the Undercrown (now referred to as Undercrown Maduro)—using the same T52 leaf for the cigar’s binder. As with the former two releases, UC Sun Grown is said to be blended by the same “factory floor” team, along with the help of Willy Herrera. The cigar includes a unique, extensively aged ligero in the filler recipe that is harvested from Nicaragua’s Nueva Segovia region; which is said to provide an interesting kick of strength and sweetness. But, as the cigar’s title implies, the cigar’s prized ingredient is an Ecuadorian Sumatra-Seed Sun-Grown wrapper leaf. According to Drew Estate, they’ve been searching for this tobacco for quite some time—
Undercrown Sun Grown is being introduced in the same basic vitolas found in the other Undercrown cigars (including the famed Flying Pig size), with plans to expand the lineup in the future—such as the addition of a 4″ x 32 tin-packaged petit size, as seen with the other Undercrown cigars at IPCPR 2017. And although Drew Estate quoted the UC Sun Grown widespread launch as being a week after the IPCPR show, the cigars have yet to ship as of the time of this writing.
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I’ve always felt that Undercrown is one of the most attractive cigars on the market (SEE: Battle of the Bands – Most Attractive Cigars), with its heavy inks and thick, matte-like gold trim—this holds true with UC Sun Grown. Where the original focused on royal blue, UC Sun Grown showcases a rusty/brick red, making for a nice overall portfolio of red, white, and blue between the full Undercrown lineup. Like the cigar’s predecessor (UC Shade), there is an added foot band, reading “SUNGROWN.” This is a nice touch that sets the expanded UC cigars apart from the original, which lacks a sub-band. The cigars are packaged twenty-five to a box and showcase a combination of the appearances seen on the other UC cigars (natural wood, like Undercrown Maduro – glued-on UC seal, as seen on UC Shade).
The cigar displays an interesting-looking wrapper, showing a medium brown hue with undertones of red and purple. There are dark splotches running throughout, giving a marbled look on the cigar’s fuzzy, oily exterior—an overall appearance I’d describe as tightly stretched leather. In addition, there are plenty of medium-thick veins and visible, yet well-placed wrapper seams. The toro appears to be bunched at around medium-plus density, giving a very sturdy feel in the hand.
The wrapper’s aroma is a tangy, sweet musk and there are notes of fresh-cut grass and a touch of spice on the cigar’s foot. After cutting, the toro shows a medium/firm pre-light draw with notes of light chocolate (think M&M’s candy) and barnyard hay.
Undercrown Sun Grown kicks off with a curious beginning; there is no “blast of pepper” or “explosion of flavor” that blenders often employ to hook the smoker in. Instead, it takes a few puffs to begin developing a profile. First, a spice begins as a slight tingle in the back of the throat; soon, there are peppercorns on the palate, followed by a zestiness in the retrohale. The smoke develops a nice floral aroma, a solid core of vegetation in the form of squash, and a cheek-puckering salt/mineral characteristic (this is not too intense and adds a nice point of interest to the profile). Noticeably, there is not much sweetness throughout the first inch—perhaps a subtle pumpkin spice note that flirts in and out of the profile is the closest to anything sweet.
There is a moment at the one-inch mark that the smoke noticeably amps up, showing much deeper flavors. There is a sweet and creamy background with subtleties of chocolate and delicate, cinnamon and nutmeg spices. Graham cracker notes are joined by Hawaiian sweet bread, making for a great balance of sweetness and spice.
Construction-wise, UC Sun Grown offers a perfect draw (right around medium-plus resistance) and a medium amount of smoke on each puff—it clearly does not “smoke like a Liga,” for those that are curious (as Liga Privada cigars have been known to continuously spew smoke from start to finish, whether you are puffing on the cigar or not). The burn line is wonky but requires no touchups, producing a flakey, light gray ash that holds for roughly two inches. The cigar is showing a medium strength, medium/full flavor, and medium-plus body overall.
In the cigar’s mid-section, creamier notes of custard are joined by stark, black pepper. There is an absolutely stunning flavor of butter/toffee/salt with toasted nuts on the finish that really hits hard every few puffs—this could be described as the elusive “it factor” for the smoking experience at this point.
In the final portion, the smoking texture becomes dry and again lacks sweetness. There is an overall dark essence, surrounding tangy notes of raw nicotine, cinnamon, and charred wood. The profile finishes at medium-plus strength, medium flavor, medium-plus body.
Would I Smoke This Cigar Again?
I would, and often. Undercrown Sun Grown is not only the most unique cigar in the Undercrown lineup, it is probably the most atypical/interesting cigar in all of Drew Estate’s premium offerings. When ranking the Undercrown blends, my personal preference is now: Undercrown Sun Grown > Undercrown Maduro > Undercrown Shade (not including limited editions, where Undercrown DOGMA would take the top spot).
Undercrown Sun Grown provides a brilliant balance of sweetness and and spice, as well as gripping notes of tang that set the profile apart and keep you coming back for more. It may not be the most complex cigar in Drew Estate’s wheelhouse, but UC Sun Grown is a solid performer that I’d gladly smoke at any time of day, any day of the week.
- Smoke Time: 1 hour, 40 minutes
- Pairing Recommendation: Belgian golden strong ale, Kentucky straight rye whiskey, mojito cocktail
- Purchase Recommendation: full box
Images without Cigar Dojo watermark were provided by Drew Estate
- Tangy & atypical flavors
- Solid & balanced profile can be smoked any time
- Perfect draw
- Sometimes lacks sweetness
- Dry, almost harsh finale