The rebirth of cigars truly encapsulates what Drew Estate has brought to the industry for over 20 years.Hiring Willy Herrera as master blender gave some lines a more traditional expression, but the sale to swishes International provides Jonathan Drew with more opportunities.
Has Drew Estate changed since the Swisher deal? Yes – but we are in a constant state of change. Appointing Willy is an example of this. We are in a good place, but like any cigar business we face our own challenges.
Challenges include processing a huge amount of leaf and ensuring there are no dips in quality, which can stem from fierce growth. Swisher size provides Drew Estate with increased capabilities, providing regulatory, corporate, and financial insight, says Drew. The company was the right choice for Swisher to enter the premium cigar market.
Drew Estate has always had an organic, holistic approach; we didn’t have a traditional corporate approach. It’s been important for both businesses as it adds to each organisation’s ecosystem. Swisher still relies on the Drew Estate team for product delivery, he says, but they haven’t told us how to run our business, which some other larger premium cigar companies may have done. They allow us to focus on our core competency, which even before cigars, is imagination, philosophy, and ideation.
Recently appointed to distribute Royal Agio Cigars in the USA, Drew notes that Drew Estate brings a mature American approach to the Balmoral premium line of cigars. The 18 years old Brazilian wrapper was almost unbelievable! He says, praising the Balmoral Anejo 18. Unfortunately they are out of it now, but the Anejo XO will do similarly well.
Excited about taking on a larger role with the Nicaraguan cigar festival Puro Sabor, Drew wants to add even more value for guests. Right now the festival logistics are sound and reliable, but we want to build on the romance side of things.
This festival is going to be mind blowing. We have juicy, interesting aspects of Nicaraguan tobacco culture to showcase to the world. Jonathan regards his Kentucky Fire Cured cigars as a distant cousin to the Pappy Van Winkle cigars, which received an amazing response and are currently sold out.
He admits they don’t taste anything alike but share some genetics. Both cigars contain Kentucky tobaccos, but one of the main differences is 500 pounds of pressure applied to the Pappy cigars during barrel fermentation by using car jacks that replicate the pressure of a pilot in the barrel.
What’s next for Jonathan Drew? Drew Estate still takes up much of his time, but through Jonathan Drew Brands, he has a line of premium rum, whisky, sangria, and coffee in the pipeline – a tangible outcome of the re-birth of ideation.