Trip Report: Drew Estate Cigar Safari – Part 2 (And a Contest!)

After visiting the Oliva Tobacco operations, we returned to the Drew Estate compound for a delicious lunch.  The food is always great on the Cigar Safari, no need to worry about going hungry.  I’ve evolved over the years, instead of having a cigar in my hand the entire time, I’ve begun waiting until down time to enjoy a smoke.  There just seems to be too much to take in on these tours to be concerned with a cigar, and I’m juggling cameras as well.  I’ve lost track of what I smoked when, but all the cigars smoked there were good!  More on that later…


DSCN3237Since Will Cooper ( recently posted an excellent article on the Joya de Nicaragua factory history, direction and the presentation that we were given, in today’s installment I’ll focus on an exercise administered by José Blanco, a gentleman who is a legend in the industry and whom we had the great privilege to spend quite a bit of time with on this trip. In the past we took part in a blending session consisting of wrapper, binder and filler tobaccos from the Esteli, Condega and Jalapa tobacco growing regions of Nicaragua.  I must say that I still enjoy the cigars I blended at Joya de Nicaragua on my last visit in March of 2011, I have 2 left. Since we had all done that before, José Blanco and the group there decided that we should do something different. We were given an exercise.  We would be given three little cigars that Jose called “Grado Puro”, which were made entirely of one leaf variety, binder, wrapper and filler.  These were different than the fumas style cigars I’ve had in the past for tasting tobaccos in that they were very nicely rolled little petit coronas. We were tasked with trying to determine the country of origin, the priming (Seco, Viso or Ligero) and list what we liked and disliked about each variety.  Of course, this was a disaster for me, as well as many of my media compadres.  I was fairly adept at mis-identifying each tobacco, and I probably didn’t even get my likes and dislikes right!  I don’t think any of us expected one of the puros to be Peruvian tobacco! I had a Peruvian puro not too long ago and I missed that completely.  After we fried our palates on the Grado Puros, we were asked to evaluate a 6″ x 60 unbanded cigar that we assumed may be a new offering, fully appreciating the folly of trying to taste anything at that point in the afternoon! Many bailed after the first inch or two, but I stuck with it for a while and while it started out a little slow, it built into a nice tasting smoke by the middle.  I’ll be interested to see what this was, I suspect it was NOT a Nicaraguan puro, but what do I know?

Here is a slideshow of some photos I took while we were there:

 Of course, The folks at Joya de Nicaragua were excellent hosts.   Mario Perez is always a very knowledgeable and articulate host, and they have some younger folks working to update their image through social media and the like.  The renovations they have done to the building, inside and out, are major improvements.  The natural light and brightly painted walls make for a pleasant working environment inside, and the renovation to the facade of the building is both updated and an homage to the past simultaneously.  Juan Martinez, Dr. Cuenca’s eldest son, is the new president of the company, and he’s obviously got his head on straight because he’s got a great group of folks and a terrific product to work with.  I smoked an Antaño 1970 Consul last night and it was a terrific smoke, dense, rich and delicious!


Joya beforeandafter_1


Joya beforeandafter_2


You can see in the above before and after pictures the dramatic difference that they’ve made!  Thank you to everyone at Joya de Nicaragua for rolling out the red carpet to us last week. I never tire of visiting your lovely factory!



What the heck, I have some extra goodies laying around here that are relevant to the subject matter described herein, so let’s give stuff away!  I have two 5-packs of My Uzi Weighs a Ton Baitfish, I MUWAT trucker cap, an Acid Bulletproof cutter, and some assorted surprise odds and ends I’ll scare up!  I’m going to make you work this time.  While I was at Cigar Safari I saved all of the bands from the cigars I smoked. Some were regular production, some had factory ID bands, but I have them here, and I need you to guess how many I have.  The winner is whoever guesses correctly, or is closest by Sunday, May 12, 2013.  Ties will be decided by the timestamp on the comment, so pay attention! Good luck, it may not be as easy as it sounds!


Here’s Will Cooper’s video of the presentation I mentioned earlier. Thanks, Will, for saving me the trouble of editing mine!



That’s all for today, until the next time,







Filed under Contest, Trip Report

27 Responses to Trip Report: Drew Estate Cigar Safari – Part 2 (And a Contest!)

  1. Brian Impson

    I’ll take a pure guess of 11.

  2. Patrick

    This is amazing, I really would love to take a trip like this. Looking at these pictures makes me even more jealous. As far as the contest I would say 17

  3. MattSRoss81

    Great contest, Craig – glad to hear you had a great time.

    I’ll go with the number I think I had when I went on Safari – 23!

  4. eric garofalo

    Great report Craig.I’ve done the Rocky tour but would love to do the safari. I’ll say you enjoyed 16 sticks.

  5. jay

    must be at least 25!

  6. Curt Williams

    22 bands

  7. jjo

    I’ll have to go with 18 bands. Thanks Craig!

  8. commish

    24 Looks like a nice round tasty number. What a fantastic trip.

  9. Brian

    I’ll go with 31!

  10. Lloyd L.

    I say 13.

  11. foozer69

    32…….. I hope!!!

  12. Craig

    Another great post, the trip looks amazing. I am going with 22

  13. Renegade

    69 cigar bands!

  14. Agent 86

    28 isn’t taken.

    Sounds like you had a great time. Also, unbanded cigars are sometimes the greatest treat of all, no expectations heightens the experience.

  15. JScott


  16. czerbe

    I say 26 Bang….

  17. Smokin Aces

    I say 39 Bands.

  18. Greg Zeller

    Hey brother!

    Count me in! I hope all is well my friend

  19. Jef Ketcham

    Going wIth 33

  20. james

    Great read, great contest! I’ll guess 20.

  21. Dennis

    16 easy peasy

  22. Loomisglx

    Sounds like a great trip.
    Since my 1st guss in the contest is already taken, I’ll go with 19.

  23. William Whitley II

    Have enjoyed the commentary on the trip, etc. I will go with
    Just 21 banded. Enjoy!

  24. Loomisglx

    I’ll go with 27 sticks.
    Thanks for sharing, sounds like a great experience.