Diplomat Chronicles: Undercrown: The People’s Smoke

Undercrown: The People’s Smoke

Upon the initial release of Liga Privada, Drew Estate had unintentionally created a problem for itself. The Liga Privada brand’s core essence is the Connecticut Broadleaf tobacco varieties that Drew Estate uses for the capas of the bold, dense, hearty, complex, spicy and robust cigars and the brand quickly took off with consumers searching far and wide for the coveted cigars. Drew Estate’s problem was that demand outstripped supply. Connecticut Broadleaf takes a considerable amount of time to prepare, and at the time of Liga Privada’s launch, the acreage dedicated to growing the Connecticut Broadleaf used for Liga Privada was extremely limited. Simply put, the company just couldn’t make enough Liga Privadas to match their growing popularity worldwide.


Cigar consumers weren’t the only ones who loved Liga Privada. The very people who made the cigars at La Gran Fabrica Drew Estate in Estelí, Nicaragua, were also big fans. These employees could choose any Drew Estate cigar to enjoy while working at the factory and many of them opted for Liga Privada. Eventually, Drew Estate told its factory staff to stop smoking Liga Privada so that the company could supply more of them to the market.


While Drew Estate’s employees were disappointed, they are resourceful. On their own initiative, they gathered different vintages and primings of the same rare tobaccos used in Liga Privada to create their own signature cigar with a Mexican San Andres Maduro capa. Rather than being a replacement cigar for the Liga Privadas that they could no longer smoke, this cigar stood on its own with excellent smoking qualities and made with uncompromising quality and flavor characteristics that was similar to Liga Privada. After sampling his employees’ grass-roots effort, Drew Estate’s founder, Jonathan Drew, knew that it was a cigar that deserved to be shared with the rest of the world. Thus, the Undercrown brand was born with the launch of Undercrown Maduro.


Since the release of Undercrown Maduro, the Undercrown line has grown to include Undercrown Shade and Undercrown Sun Grown, as well as the regular collaborative effort, Undercrown Dogma, with Cigar Dojo, and the small batch limited-edition Undercrown Shady XX. With 2021 marking Undercrown’s tenth birthday, Drew Estate is giving the Undercrown brand a new look by resizing most of the boxes within the line to give them a slightly smaller footprint on retailers’ shelves. Additionally, Drew Estate will also be adding a new cigar to the Undercrown lineup—Undercrown 10, which will include the limited edition Undercrown 10 Factory Floor Lonsdale as well as the event-only Tuani Belicoso. All Undercrown offerings will also be available in Drew Estate’s tin format (4 x 32) and in its rare and popular Flying Pig vitola (4 1/8 x 60).


Pedro Gomez is Drew Estate’s brand ambassador for Undercrown. Nicaraguan to the core, Pedro represents Undercrown cigars at Drew Estate events throughout the United States, and it’s the brand with which he most identifies. Pedro witnessed its creation on the factory floor and feels tremendous pride in Undercrown’s grassroots and blue-collar origin. Pedro explains each of the Undercrown expressions and how each one fits into the entire Undercrown portfolio.


“Undercrown is the brand that most closely identifies Drew Estate’s dedication to Nicaragua and our people,” Pedro says. “The company has always given us so much and it has really supported Undercrown since its creation. We take great pride in the fact that a cigar we essentially created for our own enjoyment is being shared with cigar smokers all over the world. Ten years after the first Undercrown was introduced, the brand has grown to include cigars that please cigar smokers who want a fuller-bodied cigar to those who like mild-bodied cigars. That brand is really like an umbrella that covers everything a cigar smoker could want.”


Undercrown Maduro

Capa: Otapan Negro Ultimo Corte (San Andres, Mexico)

Capote: T52 Connecticut River Valley Stalk Cut Habano

Tripa: Select Brazilian Mata Fina and Nicaraguan Cuban Seed tobaccos


Drew Estate’s torcedores are the talented people who uphold the company’s uncompromising quality standards without any fanfare. Resourceful, passionate and enterprising, these torcedores are hardworking people who like to relax by enjoying a great cigar just like cigar consumers everywhere. These unheralded artisans take great pride that Drew Estate has been sharing their Undercrown cigars with the rest of the world. The original Undercrown created on the factory floor at La Gran Fabrica Drew Estate, Undercrown Maduro is medium- to full-bodied. Refined and balanced with excellent depth, Undercrown Maduro cigars offer a lush, smooth and creamy taste profile with a natural sweetness.


“Undercrown Maduro is earthy, rich and sweet,” Pedro states. “It’s super rich when compared to the other Undercrown cigars and it appeals to everybody—those who smoke mild- to medium-bodied cigars and those who enjoy medium- to full-bodied cigars because it’s a solid medium-bodied cigar.”


Undercrown Shade

Capa: Ecuadorean Connecticut

Capote: Ecuadorean Sumatra

Tripa: Dominican Criollo ’98 and Nicaraguan Criollo ’98 and Corojo ‘99


The second release in the Undercrown line, Undercrown Shade is a collaboration between Drew Estate’s Master Blender, Willy Herrera, and La Gran Fabrica Drew Estate’s Liga Privada blending team who developed Undercrown Maduro. Willy joined Drew Estate in 2011 and he initially focused on creating Drew Estate’s Herrera Estelí line. As the Undercrown Maduro cigar’s popularity grew, Willy challenged the Liga Privada team to create an Undercrown cigar that offered a different flavor profile that used a shade-grown Connecticut capa. After more than a year in development and sampling dozens of potential blends, the Liga Privada blending team created the cigar that exceeded Willy’s demanding expectations. Undercrown Shade is lush and ultra-smooth with a little bit of a kick to differentiate it from most other cigars that use a Connecticut wrapper. A medium-bodied cigar, Undercrown Shade delivers notes of creaminess with hints of vanilla, caramel and pepper.


“It’s not one-dimensional,” Pedro explains. “While the Connecticut capa offers creamy mildness, the Dominican and Sumatra tobaccos really make the spicy and peppery elements shine. Undercrown Shade is a very important product to have in our portfolio because it’s the perfect bridge for people to make the transition from our infused cigars to traditional cigars.”


Undercrown Sun Grown

Capa: Ecuadorean Sumatra

Capote: Connecticut River Valley Stalk Cut Habano

Tripa: Nicaraguan


Drew Estate extended Undercrown’s “Born on the Factory Floor” legacy with the release of its third Undercrown cigar, Undercrown Sun Grown. For years, the company had vainly tried to secure rare Ecuadorean Sumatra wrapper-grade tobacco. After a decade-and-a-half of searching, Drew Estate finally found a reliable source that promised to provide ample supply of the flavorfully rich, aromatic and potent tobacco.


Willy and the Liga Privada blending team worked together once again to craft the blend for Undercrown Sun Grown. With the addition of one extensively aged Ligero leaf from Nicaragua’s Nueva Segovia region to enhance the filler tobacco’s strength, Undercrown Sun Grown is the fullest-bodied cigar in the Undercrown profile but it is still an accessible cigar for less experienced smokers. The complex Undercrown Sun Grown blend offers woody and peppery notes with hints of toffee, cinnamon, creamy butter and toasted nuts.


“Undercrown Sun Grown is a little bit more robust and a little spicier than Undercrown Maduro or Undercrown Shade,” Pedro says. “I’d consider it a medium-plus cigar that’s very much in the everyday smoker’s wheelhouse. It’s the perfect cigar for someone who is used to smoking mild- to medium-bodied cigars and wants to push his or her palate a little more.”


Undercrown 10

Capa: Mexican San Andres

Capote: Connecticut Broadleaf

Tripa: Nicaragua


The Undercrown brand draws its spirit from the industrious Nicaraguan employees at La Gran Fabrica Drew Estate who created their own unique cigar, and the essence of Undercrown 10 is “All Dekked Out”—those hardworking Drew Estate employees dressing up for a night of celebration. For Undercrown’s tenth anniversary, Drew Estate’s Liga Privada blending team relied on the company’s vast tobacco inventory and their years of cigarmaking and blending experience to create a truly special cigar. Undercrown 10 debuts in May and the limited Undercrown 10 Factory Floor Edition Lonsdale (6 x 46) will launch in June. The Tuani (6 x 52 Belicoso) Undercrown 10 is an exclusive cigar that’s available only at events that Pedro attends throughout 2021.


“Undercrown 10 is a little bit more of an intense smoke than any of the other Undercrown cigars,” Pedro shares. “It’s got a lot more spice and it’s fuller-bodied, but it’s balanced and very nuanced. It takes you on a journey and transitions a lot with earthy sweetness and waves of black pepper spice with notes of sun-dried cherries, raisins and cacao. Undercrown 10 is the top of the line Undercrown. It’s a great cigar.


Undercrown Dojo Dogma and Undercrown Dojo Dogma Sun Grown

Initially released to celebrate Cigar Dojo’s first anniversary, Undercrown Dojo Dogma cigars have gone from a limited-edition annual release to a regular production cigar that’s available exclusively to Drew Diplomat partners. Undercrown Dojo Dogma (6 x 56) shares the same blend as the Undercrown Maduro; and Undercrown Dojo Dogma Sun Grown (5 x 54) shares the same blend as Undercrown Sun Grown. What makes the Dojo Dogma cigars unique is that they are the only Undercrown cigars that are box-pressed.


“While the blends are the same as Undercrown Maduro and Undercrown Sun Grown, the box-press on both Dojo Dogma cigars slightly intensifies and alters the smoking characteristics,” Pedro explains.


Undercrown Shady

The Undercrown Shady is a collaboration between Drew Estate’s founder and president, Jonathan Drew, and Shady Records’ president and rapper Eminem’s long-time manager, Paul Rosenberg. Two editions of the Undercrown Shady have appeared to celebrate Shady Records’ 15th and 20th anniversaries, and the small batch limited-edition cigars have become one of the most sought-after smokes in Drew Estate’s entire portfolio. When first launched, Undercrown Shady XV was available to only a select group of retailers in the Detroit, Michigan, area. Last year, distribution for Undercrown Shady XX (5 x 50 Belicoso) expanded to Drew Diplomat Program participants.


“Like Shady Records in the music business, Shady Undercrown XX is a powerhouse,” Pedro says. “It uses a blend that’s very similar to the Undercrown Maduro Corona Viva. It is full-bodied but smooth and sophisticated. Fans of both Eminem and Drew Estate love the cigar.”

Founded in 1996 in the DUMBO neighborhood of Brooklyn, New York, Drew Estate has singlehandedly defined modern day cigar culture through a hard-hitting, authentic, bottom-up approach to lifestyle branding and culture building. Our mission and manifesto is “The Rebirth of Cigars,” which we amplify through our uncanny authenticity, high energy and through deeply-loved brands produced from La Gran Fabrica Drew Estate in Estelí, Nicaragua, such as: ACID, 20 Acre Farm, Deadwood, Factory Smokes, Herrera Estelí, Isla del Sol, Kentucky Fire Cured, Liga Privada, Nica Rustica, Pappy Van Winkle Barrel Fermented Cigars, Tabak Especial and Undercrown; and the celebrated Barn Smoker, Cigar Safari and Freestyle Live experiential events. Learn more about our story and our brands by visiting Drew Estate.

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