Well, it was high past time that I reviewed another infused cigar. As much as I’m not a fan of Drew Estate infusions, as a reviewer I can’t allow my biases to influence my opinions. So with that sense of determined fairness I approached the next installment in my Drew Estate Five Card Stud Sampler from Pipes & Cigars, the Drew Estate Ltd. Irish Hops Toro.
Like most of the Drew Estates I’ve reviewed this one was a rich chocolate colour, some veins, a matte finish and a barber-pole wrapper swirl; clearly comprised of well-fermented leaves. The maduro wrapper was hard to the touch, and its note was distinctly bitter, like the stale essence of menthol cigarettes in an old strip joint. My intuition told me that this probably meant it was significantly different, since the other Drew Estates I’ve tried generally smell like ambrosia and taste like slightly-spoiled fruit. It was a big one; six inches long and a 52 ring gauge with a rather firm pack. And I was intrigued by its deliberately unfinished foot, which is usually a sign of real quality in tobacco. It features a Cameroon wrapper and Nicaraguan fillers.
I clipped its almost-seamless double cap cleanly with my double guillotine cutter. Toasting that unfinished foot produced a smell of roasted nuts and Irish cream. And my intuition proved correct; I found the first draw to be outstanding. Irish cream mixed with Frangelico, set on fire. I loved it! Though I found it amusing that the only one of us who didn’t mind the smell thought it tasted like an Old Port that had gone off. So perhaps that the Acid test <inside joke> with Drew Estate Naturals is whether or not you like the smell of the wrapper note. If you do, it’s probably not for you. I found it also plumed voluminous smoke into the air, and within a couple of draws a faint buttery flavour added itself to the cornucopia. Finally I have some idea why aficionados seem so excited about Drew Estates.
However, the first sign of trouble came when it went out within the first ten minutes and it had to be re-lit. I struggled with continuing to keep it lit during the entire first third, which lasted about forty minutes. Hmm; that’s a whole star discounted I’m afraid. By this time, the necessity of continually smoking this medium-bodied cigar without giving it much of a chance to rest brought about a real nicotine buzz to match my nicotine lip tingle. I find this interesting because other reviews I’ve read say that the stick simply wouldn’t go out. I see, however, that the reviewer in the link I provided was smoking a torpedo; so maybe that makes a difference.
I gave up about an hour into the smoke. Which is unfortunate, because I really enjoyed it. Lots of deep complex flavours hiding under the Irish cream; nut, coffee, a little bit of dirt, a hint of spice, that unique maduro ferment flavour. I am deeply disappointed that I couldn’t make it function for me.
So, I’m sorry to say that my relationship with Drew Estate Naturals is still rocky, and I can only give it:
You can get the Irish Hops at Cigars International for $119.00 USD for a box of 24, or $30.00 USD for a five pack; and you can also find them at Pipes & Cigars for the same price; only they make a single available for $6.80 USD; and of course I got mine as part of the five card stud sampler.
That’s a lady’s perspective!