Cigar Review: Florida Sun Grown by Drew Estate

  • FSG_straightVitola: Robusto
  • 5” x 54 ring gauge
  • $11.50
  • Purchased at Corona Cigar Company

Background

I recall one prominent cigar manufacturer saying, “Most of the places you grow tobacco around the world are places you would want to live…unstable political climate, lots of dangerous people, and weather that is definitely inhospitable.” Checking off the list of major cigar places…Nicaragua, Honduras, Dominican Republic, Cameroon, Ecuador…you start to really believe that every country has at least one of those problems. The exception, at least in most people’s eyes, is the U.S. Connecticut River Valley has been producing some exceptional wrapper leaf for a very long time, in terms of both Connecticut Shade and Broadleaf plants…as well as the occasional Habano grown there. Pennsylvania has risen in prominence and there have even been experiments with growing in Kentucky and other places…though from what I’ve tried, I can’t recommend them. The most obvious state remained unused…until last year.

Jeff Borysiewicz, the owner of Corona Cigar Company in Orlando, also owns some land outside the city that he decided to allocate for tobacco growing. I didn’t see anywhere a mention of how long it took from original idea to actually having cigars in hand, but in 2016, the Florida Sun Grown…FSG…was released. This is a collaborative effort with Drew Estate and DE’s master blender, Willy Herrera. The FSG grown for the project is Corojo seed and is used in the filler, along with select Nicaraguan fillers, a Honduran binder, and a Brazilian Arapiraca wrapper.

I had not had the opportunity to try this new cigar before the recent Road Trip to Orlando, but it was one of the highest priorities on my list. I have smoked a couple before this review sample; all of them were purchased at Corona Cigar Company.

FSG_bandPrelight

FSG uses steal and gold color motif, with a little white and orange in the mix as well. The band is hard to confuse with anything else, with it’s very large “FSG” lettering. One thing that did surprise me a bit was the lack of any branding from Drew Estate anywhere on the band. The wrapper leaf was a dark chocolate brown with very little variation or mottling in color. It was smooth and a little oily to the touch, with a large, ripe earthiness to the nose. The foot of the stick had a more interesting mix of flavor…earth and cedar, grass and bell pepper.

The cold draw of the FSG was very good and had a flavor mix of cocoa powder, cedar and bell pepper.

Flavor

Before I smoked my first FSG, I smoked a “Fresh Farm Roll” puro that Corona had on sale next to the FSGs…probably because they had just had the Drew Estate Barn Smoker the day before. This gave me a chance to experience the FSG all by itself. From that I mostly got a very distinct cayenne pepper note…spicy but not overly hot…along a mild and odd sweetness. It’s easy to taste the influence of the leaf in this blend. The sweetness is bolstered by the Maduro wrapper and its comes out as a dark chocolate in this context…maybe a very, very high cacao level of dark chocolate, though, with just a little sweetness in a lot of bitterness. The pepper notes were medium in heat, but higher in intensity, while being very short-lived. There was definitely an earthy core and a little French Roast coffee in the middle of the palate, while the retrohale was nutty and very peppery. As the first third picked up steam, I got a more consistent smooth, rich coffee note up front, with a continued cayenne spiciness and a touch of citrus.

Making my way through the second third, I noted that the smoke took on a creamier aspect, which is unusual looking at the makeup of the cigar. I still got a solid earthiness and a strong coffee note. The sweetness at this point was more of a dried fruit note than chocolate and the cayenne pepper kept up a solid low-level burn on the palate and nose.

The last third of the FSG had a resurgent pepper on top of the smooth, creamy coffee note, counterbalanced with a touch of chocolate sweetness coming back into the mix.

FSG_bandbackConstruction

I had to make a couple minor touch-ups, which isn’t unusual with a Maduro wrapper. The ash was solid up to almost an inch and the draw was perfect.

Value

The price was a little elevated, but that’s most likely due to the use of very limited production tobacco. I find the price worth the experience, but just barely.

Conclusions

The first time I smoked an FSG I wasn’t sure what to think of it and the unique taste the Florida-grown leaf brought to the table. This is about my fourth one and I’ve enjoyed each one more than the last. It’s a very interesting and decently complex medium-plus bodied cigar that has a great peppery note from the Corojo tobacco used along with a wonderful sweetness from the Brazilian wrapper. At the price, I probably wouldn’t smoke a ton of them in any given year, but I do intend to buy more at some point and keep them on hand.

By-The-Numbers

Prelight: 2/2
Construction: 2/2
Flavor: 4/5
Value: 1/1
Total: 9/10

David Jones

David has been smoking premium cigars since 2001. He is co-founder and editor-in-chief of Leaf Enthusiast. He is a full-time retail tobacconist, working for Burns Tobacconist in Chattanooga, where he has also organized the Chattanooga Tweet-Up for the last four years. He is also an independent graphic designer and typesetter. Twitter: @dmjones1009

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