Drew Estate has announced that it has finally shipped the Pappy Van Winkle-branded cigars, but not before changing quite a few things.
It starts with the name, now Pappy Van Winkle Barrel Fermented Cigars, changed from Pappy Van Winkle Family Reserve from when the project was announced in November. Maybe. While the press release made no mention of “Family Reserve,” the boxes and other artwork keep it, along with the “Barrel Fermented Cigars” part. Whatever the reason, the name tweak is likely due to the fact that the blend has completely changed.
In November, the company announced a cigar with an Ecuadorian habano wrapper and Nicaraguan fillers. When asked, a spokesperson told halfwheel that neither the cigar nor any of the tobacco in it was aged in barrels. Now, aging in barrels has become a central part of the company’s announcement of the new blend.
The new cigar uses dual Mexican San Andrés and “tapa negra” wrappers over a blend of fire-cured Kentucky and Nicaraguan tobaccos. Jonathan Drew, co-founder of Drew Estate, explained to halfwheel that both the top leaf and the filler tobacco are grown in Hopkinsville, Ky. and smoked in barns for 14 days. A video on a Pappy Van Winkle Cigar website explains that the tobacco is then transferred to St. James Parish, La. where they are placed in spent whiskey barrels for over a year before ultimately being transferred to the company’s factory in Estelí, Nicaragua.
The Mexican San Andrés wrapper, which covers the bottom portion of the cigar, is not fire-cured.
Pappy Van Winkle Barrel Fermented Cigars are offered in two sizes Robusto (5 1/4 x 52, $13) and Toro (6 x 54, $15)—both in boxes of 10. Drew told halfwheel production is limited, but that the cigars will be released in monthly batches.
“Our relationship with the Van Winkle family has significant meaning to the Drew Estate legacy,” said Drew in a press release. “Anyone who knows me, knows JD loves brown spirits, so when we received the opportunity to work with the legendary Van Winkle family, I was truly inspired. We can’t wait to share this important premium tobacco expression, the best of both worlds.”
The cigar was announced late last year as the Pappy Van Winkle Family Reserve, but ultimately delayed. Drew Estate offered samplers of its Liga Privada No. 9 to customers who had pre-ordered the Pappy Van Winkle cigar as a gesture of good faith due to the delay.
It took numerous iterations for us to be satisfied with the final blend,” said Michael Cellucci, president of Drew Estate.
“We are excited to bring the Pappy Van Winkle Barrel Fermented cigar to market with the barrel fermented wrapper, something that has never been featured on a premium cigar in this way. We think everyone who smokes this blend will be as excited as we are about it.”
Pappy Van Winkle Barrel Fermented Cigars are sold exclusively through Pappy & Company, a licensing company owned by three daughters of Julian P. Van Winkle III, president of Old Rip Van Winkle.
The cigars are produced at La Gran Fabrica Drew Estate.
Update — Added more clarification on the wrapper and Drew Estate’s lack of statement on what barrels are used for aging.
Update (April 21, 2015) — Added statement from Jonathan Drew, clarified that whiskey barrels are used for aging.
This story was originally published on April 15, 2015.