Officially introduced at the 2014 IPCPR Convention & Trade Show, the Herrera Estelí Norteño line was the much anticipated followup to Drew Estate’s popular Herrera Estelí brand. It debuted in six different vitolas, all of which have a soft box-press, and the name translates into northerners from Spanish. The word is used in Nicaragua to refer to people from Estelí, which is located in northern Nicaragua.
In July, Drew Estate announced the first addition to the Herrera Estelí Norteño line, the 7 x 48 Edición Limitada. The churchill is not only the first new size since the line launched, but is also the first limited edition, with only 2,000 Boxes of 15 produced.
“The Norteño has been one of my favorite blends for many months now, with its meaty, spicy flavor; it just fits my palate perfectly,” said Willy Herrera, Drew Estate’s master blender, in a press release. “This new Edicion Limitada is based on the same Herrera Estelí Norteño blend profile with a few changes here and there. Any fan of our Herrera Estelí lines will definitely enjoy these sticks. Pick them up soon as they’re sure to sell out quickly.”
In terms of the blend, the Norteño Edición Limitada is identical to the rest of the vitolas in the line, incorporating a Mexican San Andrés wrapper covering a Honduran binder along with Nicaraguan filler tobaccos. The newest size is priced at $14 each, and unlike the original six vitolas, it is sold in 15-count boxes instead of boxes of 10.
With the addition of the Herrera Estelí Norteño Edición Limitada, there are now seven different vitolas in the Norteño line.
- Herrera Estelí Norteño Coronita (4 x 46) — $10 (Boxes of 10, $100) — Regular Production
- Herrera Estelí Norteño Corona Extra (4 3/4 x 48) — $10 (Boxes of 10, $100) — Regular Production
- Herrera Estelí Norteño Belicoso Fino (5 x 50) — $11 (Boxes of 10, $110) — Regular Production
- Herrera Estelí Norteño Robusto Grande (5 1/2 x 54) — $12 (Boxes of 10, $120) — Regular Production
- Herrera Estelí Norteño Toro (6 x 50) — $11.50 (Boxes of 10, $115) — Regular Production
- Herrera Estelí Norteño Lonsdale (6 1/2 x 44) — $11 (Boxes of 10, $110) — Regular Production
- Herrera Estelí Norteño Edición Limitada (7 x 48) — $14 (Boxes of 15, $210) — 2,000 Boxes of 15 (30,000 Total Cigars)
- Cigar Reviewed: Herrera Estelí Norteño Edición Limitada
- Country of Origin: Nicaragua
- Factory: La Gran Fabrica Drew Estate
- Wrapper: Mexican San Andrés
- Binder: Honduras
- Filler: Nicaragua (Esteli & Jalapa)
- Length: 7 Inches
- Ring Gauge: 48
- Vitola: Churchill
- MSRP: $14 (Boxes of 15, $210)
- Release Date: September 2015
- Number of Cigars Released: 2,000 Boxes of 15 Cigars (30,000 Total Cigars)
- Number of Cigars Smoked For Review: 3
Like the other Herrera Estelí Norteño vitolas, the Edición Limitada is covered in a dark espresso brown wrapper that features quite a bit of tooth as well as a noticeable amount of oil. The box press is soft around the edges, but significant enough that the foot has an oval shape, and the cigar is very spongy when squeezed. Aroma from the wrapper is a combination of dank earth, dark chocolate, leather, manure, cedar and grass, while the cold draw brings flavors of oak, leather, creamy nuts, hay and bourbon.
Starting out the first third, the Herrera Estelí Norteño Edición Limitada features a strong earth and leather combination that almost overwhelms any other flavors for at least 10 puffs before starting to recede. This allows other notes to fight through and be noticed in the profile, including creamy peanuts, milk chocolate, espresso beans, cedar and barnyard funk. There is a nice maple sweetness on the retrohale that plays nicely with some black pepper that is also present, as well as a touch of spice on my tounge that never gets very strong. The overall smoke production is quite high and shows no signs of abating, while both the draw and burn are excellent so far. Strength-wise, the Norteño Edición Limitada begins quite mild, but ramps up quickly, ending the first third fairly close to the medium mark.
The maple sweetness that is present on the retrohale increases noticeably in the second third of the Herrera Estelí Norteño Edición Limitada, hitting a high point right after the halfway point. In addition, while the earth and leather combination that was so dominant in the first third is much reduced, it is still a fairly major part of the profile. The dominant flavor is an interesting meaty note that meshes nicely with other flavors of nuts, creamy cedar, dark cocoa, bitter coffee and hay. Construction-wise, the new Norteño continues to impress, with a wonderful draw and a burn that has not needed much attention at all, along with an enormous amount of smoke production that shows no signs of abating anytime soon. The overall strength has increased compared to the first third, but only reaches a solid medium mark by the time the second third comes to an end.
During the final third of the Herrera Estelí Norteño Edición Limitada, the dominant flavor shifts to more of a dark chocolate and espresso bean combination, although the meatiness from the second third is still very noticeable as well. Other notes of leather, gritty earth, almonds, grass and an interesting citrus flit in and out, while the maple sweetness continues to be a major part of the profile, albeit not as strong as in the second third. The draw remains excellent and the smoke production remains high, but the the burn has started to waver noticeably, forcing me to touch it up a couple of times to prevent it from getting out of hand. In addition, while the strength has increases compared to the second third, it is not by much, and ends up just slightly above the medium mark by the time I put the nub down with about an inch to go.
- Drew Estate has also announced new packaging options for the Norteño line, including 28-count trays for all sizes, a 75-count tray for the Lonsdale Deluxe, Robusto Grande and Toro Especial sizes and 25-count bundles for the line. In addition, there are 50-count humidor boxes for the Lonsdale Deluxe, Robusto Grande and Toro Especial vitolas.
- While I am usually a fan of box-pressed cigars, the oval-esque press this vitola has is a bit disconcerting when you put it in your mouth.
- You can see my portrait of Drew Estate master blender Willy Herrera here.
- The bird on the band is a depiction of the national bird of Nicaragua called a Guardabarranco. Also, while the bird looks like it is holding something in its claws, that is actually what its tail looks like.
- Early on, Norteño was scheduled to be made at Joya de Nicaragua, but production was finalized at Drew Estate shortly after that announcement.
- Our coverage of the Drew Estate booth at the 2015 IPCPR Convention & Trade Show can be found here.
- The cigars smoked for this review were purchased by halfwheel.
- The final smoking time for all three samples averaged one hour and 40 minutes.
- If you would like to purchase any of the Herrera Estelí Norteño Edición Limitada cigars, site sponsors Atlantic Cigar Co., Elite Cigar Cafe (972.661.9136), JR Cigars, Lone Star State Cigar Co. (972.424.7272) and Serious Cigars have them in stock.
I never liked the Norteño blend as much as the original Herrea Esteli line, finding it too earthy, too spicy and lacking any major sweetness to cut that note with. Thankfully, the Herrera Estelí Norteño Edición Limitada solves all three of these issues: not only is the earthiness and spicy notes less dominant than other vitolas after the first few puffs, the maple sweetness on the retrohale is a major part of the profile, especially after the first third. Construction was excellent, with the draw being the standout in all three samples, and the strength is very well integrated. A wonderful addition to the line and my favorite vitola to date.