Guide to Drew Estate Natural Cigars (aka Drew Estate Larutan Cigars)

Drew Estate has made a name for themselves by doing the unusual. They first made waves in the cigar industry by popularizing premium flavored cigars. Then, they won over the natural cigar community with a stick wrapped in a gnarly and forgotten Connecticut tobacco.

After his success with Liga Privada, Jonathan Drew must have decided it was time to push the envelope even farther when it comes to natural tobacco blends. So he launched the “Natural” line, now known as Larutan, which is just “Natural” backwards, though it's also Indonesian for “solution” if anyone was wondering, but we doubt that's what Drew had in mind. Then again, who knows – he's a madman.

So what makes these sticks so remarkable? Each one contains a unique blend of tobaccos from such exotic places as Syria, Turkey, and Louisiana. We know what you're thinking – what happened to Nicaragua or the DR? Well, there's plenty of Nicaraguan tobacco in there too but don't expect a normal cigar experience.

In fact, Drew won't tell you this himself, but the Natural/Larutan line is really a brilliant cross-over between the cigar and pipe worlds. The Turkish tobacco includes Cyprian Latakia, which many pipe smokers cannot get enough of, and the Louisiana tobacco is the rare and ultra-fermented tobacco known as Perique. Which is also almost exclusively used for pipe tobacco (and certain American Spirit cigarettes).

While the component tobaccos are largely the same between the different Larutan cigars, the ratios are wildly different and the wrappers exert a strong influence over each blend to create many variations on the same delightful theme. Here are the five classic Larutan blends to get you started on the little-known Drew Estate line:

Drew Estate Natural Pimp Stick

Trust Drew Estate to come out with a cigar called “Pimp Stick”. What can we say, Jonathan has always been happiest when he's ruffling feathers.

Pimp Stick was actually one of the first cigars released in the line and is a great starting point for Drew Estate fans who want to try out the small-batch sub-brand. It skips some of the more aromatic pipe tobaccos and sticks to more traditional leaves with one notable exception: the long fillers are largely Dutch. That's right, these tobaccos hail from Amsterdam – the name's starting to make a little more sense...

The other long-fillers are earthy and reliable Esteli leaves and the wrapper is an aromatic and sweet Cameroon. The cigar is an eye-catching figurado that tapers down to nothing at each end. This vitola allows you to choose your draw depending on where you cut it and results in a dynamic smoke as the cigar widens and narrows again over the course of the session, allowing the unusual long-fillers to assert themselves for a lively half-time show.

The palate is one part traditional Cameroon/Nicaraguan and one part... something else. There's earth and pepper from the Esteli leaves and aromatic cedar galore from the wrapper. But those Dutch leaves make the smoke thicker and creamier than seems natural and insert Irish cream notes that work surprisingly well with the Cameroon wrapper. What can we say? The man knows what he's doing.

Drew Estate Natural English

We see you pipe smokers out there nodding in anticipation. Yep, the Drew Estate English is the ultimate pipe-cigar combo.

What do we mean? Well, there's one undisputed king of the unflavored pipe world: the English blend. It's generally a mix of flue-cured tobacco (the closest to traditional cigar tobacco) and an insanely smoky leaf called Latakia. Novice pipe smokers often hate the stuff, but you'd be hard-pressed to find a veteran smoker who isn't hooked on it.

To put it in liquor terms, English blends are the Islay Scotch of the pipe world: sweet and smoky and hated by wives everywhere.

Jonathan Drew and crew haven't gone nearly that far – the Latakia is kept at a minimum and just imparts a delightful sweetness and body to the smoke that's like no other. There's a hint of smoke but it's not too strong at all. But the folks at Drew Estate carried the pipe theme farther with this cigar by incorporating a rich Nicaraguan Maduro wrapper that adds creamy vanilla sweetness not unlike an aromatic blend.

Overall, the English is a clean-smoking blend that is sweet and indulgent, the perfect after-dinner smoke. The draw is perfect, the body is wonderfully creamy, and the palate is a delight of chocolate, coffee, vanilla, and subtle sweet smoke.

Drew Estate Natural Medusa

One look at the Drew Estate Medusa and you might say that Jonathan Drew has jumped the shark. But he's actually using an old Phillipine technique.

You see, the Medusa is actually three cigars that have been woven together – traditionally known as a “culebra”. Unsurprisingly, culebra translates to “snake”. Legend has it that culebras were invented by cheapskate factory owners who didn't want rollers making off with more than their allotted free smokes. So they twisted the ration of three cigars together so that they could easily tell if a factory worker was smoking a purloined cigar. Other people say that it's always just been a novelty item – but we don't talk to those people.

So how about the Medusa? Each triple-cigar comes in its own coffin-shaped box for added effect. Both ends of the cigars are uncapped, as appropriate for a culebra, so no cutting is required. As for the blend, we really don't know what tobaccos go into it. But we'd guess the fillers are mostly Nicaraguan and the wrapper is an Ecuadorian Sumatra or Habano. It's right there in the traditional “brown” wrapper range – neither Connecticut Shade nor Maduro.

For all its tough looks, the Medusa is a pretty easy going smoke. Expect smooth cedar, light leather, and hints of coffee. It won't knock your socks off but it's perfect for sharing with friends and enjoying the conversation. And believe us, it'll start conversations alright.

Drew Estate Natural Root

While Latakia is the star of the English, the Root features a whole other pipe tobacco. Made in just one parish in Louisiana and until recently at just a single farm, Perique is one of the rarest tobaccos in the world. It's made through a process that the Cajuns adapted from the native Choctaw and Chickasaw tribes – and it's crazy enough to make even Jonathan Drew happy.

Basically, the farmers prune the plants to keep them to exactly 12 leaves, allowing the nutrients and flavors to get more concentrated. Then they pull up the whole darn plant and flue-cure the tobacco for two weeks before finally plucking the leaves. Which they then pack into old hickory whiskey barrels, using enormous screw-jacks to press almost all the air out of the barrels. And then leave them to ferment, for a YEAR.

The resulting tobacco is fruity, spicy, and virtually impossible to smoke by itself. But it's amazing as part of a blend. You'll find out what we’re talking about as soon as you light up a Root.

These Maduro-wrapped beauties contain a patented and secret blend of tobaccos, but they seem to be mostly Nicaraguans with a healthy dose of Perique. Which makes for a seriously awesome and unusual combination. Add in the rough and appealing shaggy foot and you know you're smoking a cigar that is far from ordinary.

The unlit aroma is surprisingly sweet. Not just Maduro sweet from the wrapper, but darkly fruity like dates or prunes. That's the Perique waving hello.

Light it up and you'll be met with a rushing wave of fruity sweetness and tongue-tingling pepper: a wild combo if we've ever seen one. The fruit recedes to the background after a few puffs though, remaining just to turn the earthy coffee from the Nicaraguan long-fillers and Maduro wrapper into creamy, delicious mocha. The Root probably won't become anyone's all-day, every-day cigar but it's one of the best dessert cigars we've ever come across.

Drew Estate Natural Dirt

If any cigar could edge out the Root for best dessert cigar, it's the Drew Estate Dirt.

Not the most appetizing name, we'll admit. But it's actually named in honor of the rich, dark, loamy soil of Pueblo Nuevo just on the edge of the Honduran border in Esteli. The area is defined by lush hillsides wreathed in clouds that keep the vegetation growing and make the soil some of the best in the world.

And it's in those perfect conditions that created the Dirt's gorgeous Maduro wrapper. It's rich, oily, and incredibly appealing. Underneath is another secret blend of long-fillers, but they seem to be mostly Nicaraguan with just a touch of the exotic tobaccos found in the English and Root. That means that Dirt is one of the most traditional tasting cigars in the Natural/Larutan lineup, with just a little twist.

The wrapper is the star of the cigar, no question. It gives the smoke enormous body and wave after wave of creamy cocoa and coffee. The Nicaraguan long-fillers add an earthy backbone that is more malty than it is spicy, the perfect complement to the sweet, rich wrapper. And the aromatic tobaccos from across the world add a hint of sweet smokiness that operates mostly on a subconscious level. There's some white pepper there too from the long-fillers, but the Dirt is mostly a sweet and smooth ride despite its tough name.

Check out our full selection of Drew Estate Natural Cigars at your leisure.