Bite Size Review: Undercrown Maduro Corona Pequeña
Many times, I find myself looking at my watch wondering if I have enough time for a cigar before embarking on my next honey-do, party, meeting, quest or adventure. This usually occurs during the work week and now with extended time working remotely, the call is getting louder. Hell, if not for the “no smoking” ordinance in the office, I’d be tempted to light up during one of my umpteen daily conference calls, the bane of my existence. I’m learning, however, that sometimes you just need to make time and be wise about matching your choices of cigars along with how you’ll spend it.
A common term used throughout the cigar community is the euphemism, “dog walker,” which is used to describe a smallish cigar in size, usually something larger than a slender cigarillo yet more petite than a 50 RG robusto. The intent is to smoke something you can enjoy for about 30-45 minutes or so and in this case, while walking your dog (or cat, ferret, pot-bellied pig or miniature horse). Another good reason for smoking a small cigar is the frigid air of Father Winter. After all, if it’s cold enough for 7 to 8 layers of Lands’ End or for Dr. Pepper to freeze in your beard, you might want something quick.
Here’s the problem: cigars small enough to meet the above requirements don’t exactly grow on trees especially many, if not all, of your go-tos. Drew Estate has answered that call and has taken two of its most beloved brands, Undercrown Maduro and Shade, and chiseled out a new, diminutive vitola aptly dubbed the Corona Pequeña (tr. little, small, short). The new size was launched earlier this year in January and began shipping in February. Hmmm, winter. Perfect timing. The blend details of the Pequeña are very similar if not identical to that of their larger siblings. While we’ll be reviewing both lines, we’re kicking things off with one of Drew Estate’s perennial favorites, the Maduro.
As you can see from the image above, these little guys are snug in the palm of your hand and maintains the original trade dress of the line. Our oily petite corona looks lovely in the San Andrès skin which also shows a lot of tooth and veins, but is visually seamless. Evenly firm in the hand and to the touch, our diminutive “chocolate bar” screams, just that – chocolate. The Maduro is fragrant from cap to foot with deep chocolate and espresso notes. The foot too is awash with chocolate but with an added dusky, sweetness of cherries. The cold draw is restricted but not overtly annoying, and coats the palate with familiar raisins.
The opening profile stifles the suspense – lots of chocolate! Swirling around the sweet chocolatey nucleus are notes of vanilla crème, caramel corn and black pepper. As I note a light spice, toasted oats on the draw and savor the additional hints of tasty graham cracker on the finish I’m reminded of why this brand is much beloved. The profile settles into a woodier presence and transitions to a core of cedar with intonations of light leather, dark chocolate and espresso. As the draw improves, an uptick in spice noticeable, but not unpleasant. There’s more plumminess to the woody draw and the long, earthy finish is rife with robust espresso.
Now, roughly 40-45 minutes into our Maduro, the profile quickly becomes hot and harsh with an invasive spiciness on the lips. In all fairness, I wasn’t walking the dog, so I nursed our corona into about an hour smoke. Combustion is near flawless, but it does struggle to hold its ash. Smoke production is not an issue, and even with a tight draw the Maduro drives home the wonderful flavor palette we rekindled from those times smoking a Gran Toro. Mission accomplished as Drew Estate has masterfully shoehorned big, memorable flavor into a small package that will help take your mind off the cold …or make you forget to whip out your pooper scooper. – In Fumo Pax!
Did you Know: The Undercrown Maduro began life as a blend conceived by and smoked by the employees at the Drew Estate factory using tobaccos from the Liga Privada #9, but DE leadership also liked it and released it commercially.
- Profile: Med-Full
- Vitola: Petite Corona
- Length / Ring: 4.0″ X 44
- Purchased: Direct
- Origin: Nicaragua
- Wrapper: Mexican San Andrès Maduro
- Binder: Connecticut Stalk-Cut and Sun-cured Habano
- Filler: Brazilian and Nicaraguan
- Production: La Gran Fabrica Drew Estate
- Blade: Xikar Xi1
- Fire: Colibri Firebird
- Price: $5.50 [Box $176]
- Humidor Age: 4.5 mo.
- Box: 32
- Other Vitolas: N/A
N O T E S
Smoke Time: 1:01
Construction: Oily; seamless; veiny; toothy; evenly firm; nice cap; good smoke producer; struggles to hold 1″ ash.
- Wrapper – Heavy chocolate, espresso
- Foot – Chocolate, cherries
- Cold Draw – Raisinesque
- Initial: Chocolatey core accompanied by vanilla cream and lots of chocolate notes; hints of black pepper; graham cracker finish; hints of carmel corn on retro; toasted oats on draw; profile settles into an underlying woodiness.
- Transition: Cedar foundation; light notes of leather mixed with a dominance of dark chocolate and espresso; spice noticeable; draw improves; the plummy draw also features a cedar tang; finishes more earthy with overlay of espresso notes; gets hot and harsh with 1.5″ remaining; heavy spice on lips.
- Transition: N/A
Touch ups: N/A
Weaknesses: Draw is tight initially, but improves.
- 5 packer
- Yard ‘gar
- NR [No Recommendation]