Cigar Safari at Drew Estate–Part Four

Ahh, the end of Cigar Safari. All good things must come to an end. We woke up to another fine breakfast and then headed to the airport. The 2 1/2 hour drive was bittersweet. Our cigar trip was coming to an end but we celebrated the trip with another fine cigar. Our last cigar of the trip was a Tabak Especial Negra. This cigar has a slightly sweet cap but is a nice medium-bodied smoke.

We arrived at the airport without incident, said our goodbyes, and headed home. Thank you Drew Estate for the opportunity to learn about the art of cigar manufacturing and to spend time with a great group of cigar aficionados.

Before I close this out, here are a few random observations I made during the trip.

  • Drew Estate is an incredibly advanced cigar manufacturer. Their dedication to improving the craft of cigar production is truly amazing. They are also a little whacky, with a free-spirited culture focused on making great cigars, whether they be the traditional Liga Privada line or the non-traditional Acid line.

  • Drew Estate is not a boutique, infused-cigar company. From my observation, a common myth in the cigar smoking world is that Drew Estate produces infused cigars for a relatively few people. This could not be further from the truth. Drew Estate produces over 2 million cigars each month. Boutique it is not. Also, while Drew Estate is perfectly happy making infused cigars, and makes millions of them, their cigar lines are as broad as it gets. From Acid to Liga Privada, and everything in between.

  • “C.Gar, why didn’t you write about the infusion process?” Hmm, apparently it is a damn state secret at Drew Estate. No one would talk about it. We were told by a few employees not to ask Marvin Samel, co-founder of Drew Estate. We asked him anyway and he avoided the question like an experienced politician. What I did learn is that the infusion process occurs in a secret, locked room that only a handful of employees are allowed to see. I have a few theories about the secrecy, however.

    • First, the infusion is so simple that Drew Estate is embarrassed for us to know how they do it. Perhaps Jonathan Drew was eating a peanut butter and jelly sandwich many years ago while rolling different blends. A bit of peanut butter and jelly fell into the tobacco and he smoked it because Drew Estate was so poor at the time. He liked what happened and the rest is history.

    • Second, their process is just a rip-off of the method other companies use by spraying the tobacco or dipping the cigar in gunk, honey, monkey poo, or whatever.

    • Third, Jonathan Drew is a warlock and he has trapped fairies and witches in a room who are spewing fairy dust and throwing in eye of newt, etc. into the cigars. Since this does not meet Federal guidelines, he has to keep it a secret.

  • Where the hell was the lector? In other articles about cigar manufacturing, the writer usually talks about the lector. The lector is a person who reads the newspaper, books, and other reading materials to the rollers while they work. In the three factories we visited, I did not see or hear from the lector. Perhaps this is just urban legend or old school. Or, perhaps they were on strike or coincidentally on a cigar smoke break.

  • Nicaragua is a very poor country and cigar manufacturing is a significant contributor to their economy. Drew Estate employees over 1,300 people in Nicaragua. Before the crazies at the FDA regulate cigar companies out of business, perhaps they should consider the impact on countries like Honduras, Dominican Republic, and especially Nicaragua.

  • Cigar smoking is “The Great Equalizer”. I’ve said this many times but my belief was proven once again. No matter where you come from, what you do for a living, or how much money you make, cigar smokers are an extended family that welcomes everyone to the family.

  • The trip cost $650 plus airfare. The $650 included all transportation, food, drink, lodging, cigars, etc. You can’t beat the price and it was worth every penny.

  • I love my XIKAR Ultra Single Flame Jet Lighter. I brought one lighter with me in my checked luggage using a TSA-approved container. The lighter did not run out of fuel the entire trip. Multiple people used my lighter and there must have been 50 cigars lit using the lighter. Damn, this lighter is awesome.

  • We gonna be kidnapped! My friends and family were worried that Smokey Butts and I would be kidnapped by some crazy terrorist group in Nicaragua. In reality, we felt safe at all times. The people are great and poverty appears to be the biggest driver of crime. With the exception of our first meal in Managua and the tobacco field we visited, there were armed guards protecting every other place we visited. 

  • We are going to die from malaria, dystery, and mad cow disease! Before going to Nicaragua, I visited the State Department and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention web site to determine what vaccinations and preventative medicine I would need for the trip. I also contacted Drew Estate to get their view on the issue. I then visited my doctor. Although the CDC had numerous recommendations, in the end, I settled on malaria pills and a Zithromax Z-Pak three-day antibiotic. While in Nicaragua, I took one Zithromax each day. For the malaria pills, I started before entering Nicaragua, continued the regimen throughout my stay, and then continued for three days after I returned. I had no side effects from either medication. In retrospect, the malaria pills were probably overkill but since there were no side effects, it was a prudent decision.

  • Don’t drink the water! On our way from the airport to Esteli, Pedro warned us not to drink the tap water, avoid getting water in our mouth while showering, and not to brush our teeth with tap water. This created an interesting dynamic for a burgeoning germaphobe like me. I wash my hands numerous times a day to minimize germs but washing my hands in the tap water added bacteria. So, I used hand sanitizer until I ran out. Then, I stopped washing my hands. I stopped touching my face. I paid close attention to what I touched and how I ate so as to minimize the chance of contamination. It was weird. It was mentally uncomfortable. My hands were sticky all the time. When I landed in Miami, my first stop was the a restroom where I washed my hands for a few minutes. So, the moral of the story is to bring plenty of hand sanitizer with you.

The Cigar Safari trip was an absolutely fantastic experience. If you get a chance. . . go!

c.gar

c.gar

c.gar loves all things cigar-related. He typically falls in love with cigars that are discontinued shortly thereafter. His first cigar was a Swisher Sweet with a wood tip. Sadly, these are still in production.

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