Review: Undercrown Shade

WARNING: Captain Obvious moment approaching…So, one thing I’ve realized when evaluating a cigar is to not drink. Anything. I know, I know drink pairings are an important part of the whole cigar mojo. Even if the drink is a perfect complement to the stogie in your hand, your taste buds and sense of smell are tainted and it may give you either a false sense of flavors or perhaps hide the actual flavors of the cigar. So there I was with a buddy, sitting out back relaxing on his patio putting away a 6-pack of IPAs when its cigar-thirty. My stick for the evening? My first Undercrown Shade by the fine folks at Drew Estate. I fell in love with the Maduro so naturally I couldn’t pass up a matching set. The first few minutes with the shade were as wonderful as the Maduro, but as I got more into the conversations around the table and cleared more space in my buddy’s refrigerator I suddenly realized I was on the last third of the cigar. Dammit. I’m just going to have to go get more and do this again. Ain’t life a bitch?

Shade1

I geeked out over the whole Liga Privada story and mentioned it prominently in my previous review of the LP #9 (check it out here). The Shade is simply an extension of that serendipitous experiment on the DE rolling floors. The second of now three in the Undercrown series, the Shade is the first cigar released in the DE stable to be blended by the master, Willy Herrera himself. Using the 3 Cs of a great cigar – Connecticut, Criollo and Corojo – Willy has done a smokin’ job using Dominican Criollo ’98 and Nicaraguan Criollo and Corojo long fillers to create a medium, lush smoke. The Shade is offered in 6 vitolas and are available as singles and in boxes of 25 (the Coronets come in tins of 10).

Here are the stats:

 

  • Profile: Medium
  • Vitola: Gran Toro
  • Length / Ring Gauge: 6.0″/ 52
  • Purchased: Local humidor
  • Origin: Nicaragua
  • Wrapper: Ecuadorian Connecticut Shade
  • Binder: Sumatra
  • Filler:  Dominican Criollo’98 & Nicaraguan Criollo and Corojo
  • Cutter: Xikar xi1
  • Lighter: Matches
  • Price Range: $8-$9

This is my mulligan stick and this time I made sure there would be no distractions. The seams of the Shade Gran Toro are almost invisible, a tribute to the DE rollers. The sumptuous peat-colored Connecticut wrapper is toothy and slightly veiny. The body of the cigar is nice and firm from head to foot and features a smoky aroma with hints of hay and herbal tea. The foot entices you with a little spice, raisins and a whiff of licorice. The cold draw was excellent even with a shallow cut and it too shared aromas similar to the foot with a definite raisinesque profile.

Shade2

Upon first light, the Shade overflows with rich  billows of creamy smoke with immediate notes of nougat, hay and a light spice. This lays the foundation for the 1st third as it melds into a profile of coffee bean with hints of hemp and vanilla. Her warm smoke adds a little black pepper and toasted nuts to the mix. Getting towards the 2nd third, the burn is dead on.

Shade3

The transition into the 2nd third adds a little more body to the Shade featuring a profile balanced with notes of cedar, hay and licorice, but remains delightfully creamy. Hints of coffee return as you smoke with a just a hint of toffee. She is also getting a bit spicier in the finish now. The burn is getting slightly uneven in places, but for the most part she keeps pace. She likes to be smoked so don’t leave her to her own devices too long otherwise she tends to weaken a bit. A good puff or two every half-minute or so will do just fine. In the final third she keeps the party going.

Shade4

This has been an absolute dynamite smoke and in the final third she’s developing more of an oaky profile with the return of a licorice finish. The flavors of the Shade are a little off-balance but still delicious and toasty. The burn continues to get a little uneven at times, so be patient as she tends to right herself every time. I tend to spin or twirl my cigars as I smoke and this may help to some degree. I’ve always done this, so I really don’t have any experience with smoking a cigar in a single position and thus what the consequences of that, if any, might be.

 

As usual, I’m blown away by yet another of Drew Estates fine sticks and thoroughly enjoyed the Shade on a nice cool evening. Over the past few days, some of the sticks I’ve smoked required either some touch-ups or even a re-light. Not the Shade, no sir. Not one intervention. This Connecticut has a bit more of an attitude, more zip compared to say the Perdomo or the Hoyo particularly in the 2nd and final thirds, which is not a bad thing. The first and second thirds are my favorite which feature the most diverse flavor palate. I still prefer the Shade’s maduro sibling, for one because I think it is better balanced over more of the cigar than the Shade. The flavor palates are different so there’s no comparison there. Nonetheless, this will always have a place in my humi. This is a stick for any occasion, any day and can certainly serve as a perfect go-to any time. With this stick, you have it made in the Shade! – In Fumo Pax!

 

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