Herrera EstelÍ Brazilian Maduro Robusto Grande

One of the platitudes often slung around here is the whole don’t judge a book by its cover thing. And thanks to our curiosity, and occasional devil may care approach to our selection process, we’ve discovered some genuine diamonds in the rough. Well, sometimes that “diamond” turns out to be a cubic zirconia. We reviewed a cigar last week that by all appearances, and brand, should have been a no brainer. We had high hopes for this name brand cigar, albeit a contract blend from one of the Cigar of the Month Clubs, gifted to us by a friend. Long story short, and in a rare occurrence, we halted the review due to a really unpleasant, unusual flavor.

Nonetheless, our fervent belief will continue to be giving every cigar we consider for review the benefit of the doubt despite another cautionary maxim, all that glitters is not gold. Fortunately, our most recent review fared much better. I’ll be honest, knowing Drew Estate’s Willy Herrera was behind the wheel instilled some much-needed confidence after our latest dumpster fire. The fourth installment in his heralded line is the Brazilian Maduro, a cigar released in 2018 and shod with Brazilian Mata Fina leaf, tobacco usually reserved for binder and filler. Unlike Brazil’s flavorful Arapiraca tobacco, Mata Fina’s subdued flavor wheel spins more towards the bold and smoky side.

“The Herrera Brazilian Maduro is my expression of the floral and earthy Brazilian Mata Fina tobacco. We use it typically as a binder or accent tobacco in the filler but I wanted to showcase its dynamic and unique texture.”

Willy Herrera, Master Blender

The fact that this is Herrera’s first use of Brazilian leaf in his line doesn’t bother me, although I’ll admit his use of Mata Fina for the wrapper is a bit puzzling. For a maduro, the shade of the wrapper is on the lighter side, taking on a mottled toffee hue. A nice looking robusto, the seamless stick is dense, a little lumpy with a light glaze of oil in places and is topped by one of the nicest looking caps I’ve ever seen. The Mata Fina oozes with a nifty mint and chocolate aroma which goes nicely with the piecrust intonations from the foot. The cold draw is effortless and offers subtle hints of tangy Worcestershire.

This thing gets right down to business without relying on a lot of nuances. Behind a mesquite core lies a savory, spicy mélange of light vanilla, leather and toasted almonds. There’s a smoky mesquite essence in the nose, a dash of salt and black pepper on the palate and a balancing finish of semi-sweet nuts. This Brazilian smolders as it shimmies into a smoky persona with intonations of charred wood and cocoa. Transitions are equally bold, but with spicier foundations in dark chocolate and cedar yet it maintains smooth manners and excellent balance with hints of cinnamon on the draw/retro. More body and strength are to be expected but does not overpower.

There is a “dark complexity” that emanates as our robusto finishes with a motley mix of cacao, earth and a malty finish of macchiato. Cedar and pecan notes dominate the retro at the end. While the cigar stymies me, due largely to the one-dimensional ending, there’s still a lot going on here. The profiles are finely layered like rows of sashimi and while the flavor palette leans more towards the bolder, dark side, the hardy, yet well-balanced essence makes this cigar your de facto after-dinner espresso.

Performance is solid as combustion is mostly even with occasional bouts of helmeting. Our maduro is a great smoke producer, the draw is effortless and she’ll hold a strong 1”, white ash. The cigar does get a little hot with over 1” to go and the last transition was a tad disappointing. The particular flavors and nuances are also off target for my taste, but Herrera’s blending touch, and intent, is clear which is to provide a cigar with a dark elegance and unique textures. It literally has me on the fence for a recommendation. This is not a cigar for every palate, is not your father’s maduro and is a blend that must be appreciated. The fact that it kept my attention and was very enjoyable is the clincher. – In Fumo Pax!

Recommendation: Boxworthy

Did you Know: The Brazilian Maduro is the first in Willy Herrera’s line up to include tobacco from Brazil.

  • Profile: Med-Full
  • Vitola: Robusto Grande
  • Length / Ring: 5.5″ x 52
  • Purchased: Online
  • Origin: Nicaragua
  • Wrapper: Brazilian Mata Fina
  • Binder: US Connecticut Broadleaf
  • Filler: Nicaraguan
  • Production: La Gran Fabrica Drew Estate
  • Blade: Xikar Xi1
  • Fire: Colibri Firebird
  • Price:$8.20 [Box $205]
  • Humidor Age: 7 mo.
  • Box: 25
  • Other Vitolas: Short Corona Gorda [5 7/8″x46], Lonsdale Deluxe [6″x44], Toro Especial [6″x52], Piramide Fino [6″x54]

N O T E S

Smoke Time: 1:01
Draw
: Effortless
Construction: Dark, mottled, toffee hue; light oil; seamless; beautiful cap; minimal veins; firm throughout, but head spongy; good smoke producer; holds strong, 1″ white ash.
Aromas:

  • WrapperMint chocolate, leather
  • Foot – Pie crust
  • Cold Draw – Hint of Worcestershire

Tasting Notes:

  • Initial: Savory, spicy mesquite core; retro melange of vanilla, leather and roasted almonds; salty and smoky; black pepper notes on palate; smoky mesquite in nose; semi-sweet finish of nuts and charred wood; hints of cocoa at tail end of retro late.
  • Transition: Just a hint of cinnamon on draw and front end of retro; very smooth; next level spice on palate; finishes more robust with notes of charred wood and dark chocolate; heavy oak and cedar intonations with residual tail of cocoa; more body and strength; well balanced; not over powering; core of dark chocolate, espresso.
  • Transition: Heavy foundation of dark chocolate and earthiness; malty finish with notes of espresso; woody intonations of cedar and pecan; spice maintains; gets hot with ~1.5″ remaining.

Complexity: Very Good
Balance: Excellent
Touch upsN/A
Combustion: Very Good
Weaknesses: A bit one dimensional late
Recommendation: Boxworthy

Recommendation scale:

  1. Go-to
  2. Boxworthy
  3. 5 packer
  4. Yard ‘gar
  5. NR [No Recommendation]

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