The Herrera Esteli is the second blend from Willy Herrera and Drew Estate. Unlike the original Herrera Esteli, the Norteño is manufactured at the Joya De Nicaragua factory because they are at capacity at La Gran Fabrica Drew Estate.
The blend features a Mexican San Andrés wrapper, Honduran binder and Nicaraguan filler. There are six box-pressed Vitolas, none of which go beyond a 54 ring gauge: 4 x 46 Coronita, 4.75 x 48 Corona Extra, 5 x 50 Belicoso Fino, 5.5 x 54 Robusto Grande, 6 x 50 Toro, 6.5 x 44 Lonsdale.
The name Norteño was chosen because people from Estelí are referred to as northerners or Norteños. Also, Willy Herrera is an actual northerner to the people of Nicaragua, coming from Miami. Herrera was the former cigar blender at Miami’s El Titan de Bronze factory before he joined Drew Estate in 2011.
Country of Manufacture: Nicaragua
Rolled: La Gran Fabrica Drew Estate
Size: 6.5×44 Soft Box-Press
Wrapper: Mexican San Andrés
Filler: Nicaragua (Estelí & Jalapa)
Sample: purchased by CM
Quantity smoked: 1
The Norteño Lonsdale is a striking cigar. It’s very long with a wafer-like thinness due to the soft box-press. When you look at it from the side it’s very flat and the foot is a long horizontal oval.The wrapper is toothy, with a few flattened veins on the back and the color is reminiscent of medium roast coffee bean. My sample was much lighter in color than many San Andrés wrapped cigars on the market. It feels a bit lightweight in the hand, exhibits a spring when squeezed and has a few minor soft spots. The foot looks well packed with a nice cross-section of tobacco and the head is finished off with a triple cap.
The wrapper has aromas of wood while the foot is very oaty with a bit sweet molasses. The cold draw is a touch open and provides oats/wheats/grains with a bit of cedar, dried fruit and molasses. There was no pepper at all.
The first few puff’s are deceptively smooth, but very shortly I am assaulted with a powerful black pepper and gobs of flavor to back it up. The profile is composed of soil and pepper backed by a substantial berry-like sweetness that lingers on the palate. Peaking through are undertones of wood, spices and a touch oats. Due to the easy draw the Norteño burns quickly yet produces copious amounts of chewy smoke. The pepper remains king for the entire third, lingering in the sinuses and settling on the lips, throat and tongue. Surprisingly, the Norteño doesn’t exhibit the distinctly chalky or gritty mouth-feel of many San Andres wrapped cigars but instead leaves my mouth salivating. When combined with sweetness it creates a syrupy quality to the mouth-feel that pairs wonderfully with the peppers. The ash flakes off rather quickly but the rest of the construction remains quality throughout the third. Strength is around medium but the body is full and the flavors are extremely rich.
The pepper does begin to mellow a hair at this point but remains the key player in the profile. At this point the Norteño Lonsdale is exceptionally rich/full in flavor even though it lacks some balance. Towards the half, the wood takes a step from the shadows, pairing with the soil and berry sweetness. The pepper further mellows after the half while nuts and toast make an arrival and very occasionally some coffee/chocolate peak through. Still, the finish lasting with a tons of berry sweetness, earth and pepper. Strength-wise there isn’t a much of a nicotine kick to this cigar at all.
While the pepper keeps humming along it has migrated from the nose to the tongue. This is probably due to this particular sample burning quick and a little bit hot. The flavors don’t evolve a whole lot but what the Norteño lacks in evolution it more than makes up for in flavor intensity. Finally as I round the bend into the last inch and half, the soil-laden earthiness becomes the dominant flavor but is never lacking for a dance partner in the syrupy berry sweetness and robust pepper that permeate. Hints of oats, nuts and oaky wood pair with a toasty aura as a constant reminder of the solid complexity found in this quick burning lonsdale. I usually expect to find loads of cocoa and coffee with a gritty mouth-texture when I smoke a San Andrés and awaited their takeover for the entire cigar only to find they never fully developed. The Norteño only shades in that direction but it’s never fully realized. Things get a bit too hot at the nub and I set it down earlier than I would have liked.
Going in I was expecting the typical dark flavors of cocoa and cofee because of the Mexican San Andrés wrapper but instead I was greeted by berry sweetness, soil, oats, black pepper and lesser notes of wood, spices, nuts and toast.
The Herrera Esteli Norteño Lonsdale is an absolute flavor bomb. Gobs of flavor coat the entire mouth, from roof to every inch of the tongue. It always hovers right below overpowering and manages to stay mostly balanced from beginning to end. Pepper is the ever present entertainer in this cigar coming in waves and shifting in terms of intensity. That pepper is offset wonderfully by a berry sweetness and an earthy core. While I normally prefer a profile like that of the original Herrera Esteli, I have to say that I enjoyed the Norteño even more. It has become one of my favorite San Andrés wrapped cigars and I can’t wait to try the other vitolas. Another great blend by Herrera who’s got a bright future ahead of him with Drew Estate.