When Willy Herrera first came to Drew Estate they threw him on the rolling floor to get a taste of how Drew Estate rolls. He quickly earned the nickname "Big Cuban," and as Jonathan told us the Nicaraguans on the rolling floor thought he was some sort of "Cuban spy" at first. If you wonder why he was called "Big Cuban" than you have never seen a photo of him, met him in person or shake his hand and watch your hand literally be engulfed. Now while he may not seem or look like your typical blender/roller, don't let that fool you because he is incredibly talented at that. He has been involved in some incredible blends, before and during his time at Drew Estate, and he really showed his skills when blending Herrera Esteli. To top the line off they decided to a limited edition this year and that cigar would be a lancero. When I look at Willy and Drew Estate I don't think of lanceros, but after smoking the cigar at Drew Estate and these samples I can tell you that they know how to make a lancero.
The Lancero is the newest addition to the Herrera Esteli line and a limited one at that. Total production is set at 30,000 cigars and they come in boxes of 15. The tobacco used is the same as the rest of the Herrera Esteli blends, but it has been tweaked accordingly for the size. The wrapper used is Ecuadorian Habano, binder Honduran and the filler blend is all Nicaraguan. The cigar measures 7" with a 38 ring gauge and along with the standard Herrera Esteli band the cigar is finished with a limitada band as well. The cigar sports a wrapper that is light in coloring, between a Natural and light Colorado, and it has some soft oils present to touch. It is very smooth in hand and the leaf picked to cover this lancero must have been gorgeous before even being applied. There are some small veins that are very soft throughout and it has a gorgeous triple cap. The aroma on the wrapper is sweet and spicy, and I am picking up some Asian spice, cinnamon, leather and cedar notes. The foot shows some similar aromas with bits of raisins and milk chocolate as well, and this is a cigar I am eager to smoke.
The first third begins by showing some amazing cedar and Asian spice notes. I am getting some noticeable flavors of cinnamon and cloves, and there are some caramel flavors present as well. Closer in I begin to pick up some toffee and nutty qualities and it is showing that finish of strong cedar notes as well. It really shows some great Herrera Esteli qualities and it has that Cubanesque/Miami flavor profile to it which I really love. When I first smoked these down in Nicaragua I thought that the Lonsdale Club was my smoke, but this tops that smoke after smoking more of them. I would say the strength and body are at a medium level to begin with and it is a cigar that I can have as the first of the day or as the last of the day. Construction is truly incredible as well and it is showing a razor sharp burn line with that lovely light gray ash on the end. The draw is cool and smooth and there is a nice bit of smoke being produced.
I am in the second third of the cigar now and it is showing an increase in flavors, body and strength. It is still showing those cinnamon, clove and cedar notes, and there is an increase in some oak notes. The wood notes are much stronger than before and I like the direction in which it is going. There are some soft coconut shaving flavors present with the cedar qualities and it is a complex and balanced third. It is a Herrera Esteli like no other and I am loving the Cubanesque/Miami flavors that are being produced. I love the flavors from the Ecuadorian Habano and while it was great with the Lonsdale Club, it is tremendous with this Lancero. The construction remains perfect through this third and it is showing that razor sharp burn line with that light gray ash on the end. The body and strength have moved up to smoking between a medium and medium full level and this is a great second third.
When I get into the final third I find that it is showing a continuation of transitioning that was present in the second third and it is growing in terms of the stronger and darker flavors. Oak notes are becoming more prominent over the cedar notes and the cinnamon, clove and remaining Asian spice notes are becoming darker as well. I am getting some caramel and soft coffee bean notes as well, and it is showing a little bit of cedar and leather on the finish. I would say this is my favorite Herrera Esteli in terms of flavors offered and it just takes the cigar a little bit further than the Lonsdale Club. The construction on the lancero is simply incredible and it is showing a beautiful burn line line with a light charcoal ash. The draw is cool and easy and there is a nice bit of smoke being produced as well. I would say the finishing body and strength level are a medium to medium level and this is a smoke that I could smoke in the afternoon and evening all the time if possible.
There are an abundance of lanceros being released this year thus far and while I am a huge fan of the size, I do not think a lot of smokers actually are. What Drew Estate did right though was release this in a limited format. Now, that does make it a little bit more difficult to get, and they won't be around forever, but that is even more of a reason to buy as many as possible. I believe this to be the best Herrera Esteli released to date and I know these smoke great now and with age they will be fantastic. I love the transitioning that the cigar shows from third to the final third and it ends like a cigar should. It has a clean finish with strong flavors that make you want to light up another one. The construction was simply terrific on the cigars from beginning to end so in every area this cigar rates well. From presentation to the finish at the nub the cigar is a winner and a wonderful achievement from Drew Estate. When we were on Cigar Safari we were told that a pair was making 70 of these a day so you can see how much time is put into the cigar. I am giving this smoke a solid 93 and look forward to my next one.
Seth's Humidor Rating: 93
*cigars for this assessment were provided to me by Drew Estate