In baseball, scouting is key, with talent scouts in constant pursuit across the nation, looking for raw, up-and-coming skill. In 2010, Jonathan Drew, founder and president of Drew Estate, was like Billy Beane in the movie Moneyball, looking for his next Miguel Tejada. He found his prospect in Willy Herrera. At the time, Willy Herrera was working as the blender and master cigar maker at El Titan de Bronze, a now-legendary boutique cigar factory in Miami’s Little Havana neighborhood. In 2011, Willy formally joined Drew Estate, later going on to introduce his first official brand with Herrera Estelí in 2013. In 2014, he was named the Master Blender for the company and has since spearheaded many of the company’s most prolific blends in the years following.
The Herrera Estelí line filled a much-needed hole in the Drew Estate portfolio upon its 2013 release. Willy’s experience at El Titan de Bronze is evident when you taste the more Cubanesque style of Herrera Estelí. In the years since the original Herrera Estelí was released, the brand has expanded to include the Norteño line, the Herrera Estelí Miami, and now the Herrera Estelí Brazilian Maduro. The Brazilian Maduro brings a darker, earthier smoking experience to the Herrera Estelí brand, brought on through the cigar’s namesake Brazilian Mata Fina wrapper.
Herrera Esteli Brazilian Maduro Lonsdale Deluxe Breakdown
- Wrapper: Plantation Grown Brazilian Mata Fina
- Binder: Connecticut River Valley Broadleaf
- Filler: Nicaraguan
- Factory: La Gran Fabrica Drew Estate (Nicaragua)
- Production: Regular Production
- Vitola: 6″ × 44 “Lonsdale Deluxe”
- Price: $9.28 (MSRP)
Herrera Estelí has a new look, or should I say a BLUE look (still got it). Herrera Estelí de-blued (killin’ it) the Brazilian Maduro at IPCPR 2018, as well as an overhaul of the entire Herrera Estelí line. There are now four core lines: the HE Habano, the HE Norteño, the HE Miami, and finally, the HE Brazilian Maduro. The Herrera Estelí Brazilian Maduro features a Brazilian Mata Fina wrapper that covers a Connecticut Broadleaf binder and filler tobaccos from Nicaragua.
The cigars were released in five sizes, with nearly all other HE brands consolidating to match the same formats.
- Short Corona Gorda: 5⅞” x 46 | $8.16
- Robusto Grande: 5¼” x 52 | $9.12
- Lonsdale: 6″ x 44 | $9.28
- Toro Especial: 6″ x 52 | $9.68
- Piramide Fino: 6″ x 52 | $10.80
The wrapper has a fine matte finish to it and I’m not just saying that because it’s Matt-a Fina! (That one felt like a cry for help). There is a slight toothiness to the wrapper and it feels paper like to the touch. There are no veins visible and the cap is expertly applied. The wrapper smells like almonds, and the foot gives off the aroma of hay. Raw tobacco on the head tastes of black pepper and the pre-light draw shows a dried fruit character. The cigar is extremely firm to the touch, with no soft spots to be found.
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Smoke pours out of the Herrera Estelí Brazilian Maduro the instant it is lit. This is to be expected from a Drew Estate cigar; the rich smoke pouring out is very reminiscent of a Liga or Undercrown. Flavors of cherry fruit are prominent on the palate and there is a caramel sweetness on the finish. The texture of the smoke is almost chalky—if that makes sense—there is a dryness to it, and it reminds me of a Necco Wafer. As I progress to about an inch in, there is a strength that picks up. The sweetness from the first puff is still present and the cigar has characteristics not unlike strawberry moonshine. When you set down the Brazilian Maduro, smoke continues to pour our of both ends; it’s fantastic to watch. The burn line is sharp and the draw is slightly firm, but I prefer it this way. I am impressed with the quality of the draw for how tightly packed this cigar is.
At the halfway point, the flavor has gotten a tad sharp and some bitterness has appeared. The overall profile is very dark and earthy, accompanied by rich leather through the retrohale. The smoke output is still terrific, and the Brazilian has developed an oat-like and almost peaty quality. It would pair well with scotch and I am not even a scotch drinker. Flavor development hasn’t been too dynamic and I have found myself wanting to like it more than I have. This is an incredibly earthy profile, with the hefty smoke output still being one of the most interesting aspects. The construction is great but there just isn’t the “it factor” that I’m searching for yet. The retrohale is very peppery and the cigar is enjoyable if you were just smoking it while hanging out, but if I were to really scrutinize it, it has a harder time holding up to other blends in the HE portfolio.
Herrera Estelí Brazilian Maduro is a very well-constructed cigar; the wrapper was beautiful, with no blemishes or seams, and the cap was expertly applied. The draw was firm but near-perfect for me. Burn was never a problem, with a razor-sharp line throughout the cigar. Smoke output was the shining star of the Brazilian Maduro, with rich smoke consistently pouring out of the cigar for its entirety.
Would I Smoke This Cigar Again?
I would smoke a Brazilian Maduro again. The construction was great and I enjoyed the smoke output. That being said, I don’t think I would seek out the cigar, but the smoking experience merited trying it again, perhaps in a larger ring gauge.
- The Herrera Estelí Edicion Limitada 2014 Lancero is one my all-time favorite cigars (which has recently been revived).
What’s he doin’?
(a tentative section detailing my ideal smoking scenario for any given review cigar)
In my mind, while I am smoking the Herrera Estelí Brazilian Maduro, I am on a train in the high Himalayan mountains. I was on a meditation retreat, and I finally found the perfect Yerba Mate tea. I have a pretty sweet beard and I strictly rock Patagonia.
- Flavor: Medium
- Strength: Medium-plus
- Body: Medium
- Dark fruit
- Toasted oats
- Smoke Time: 1 hour, 30 minutes
- Pairing Recommendation: Scotch | Chocolate shake | Black coffee
- Purchase Recommendation: Try one
- Smoke output
- Good construction
- Lacked depth
- No "it factor"