To say that the BOTL.org cigars have become a phenomenon in the online cigar world would be a bit of an understatement. In an era of limited releases from nearly every cigar manufacturer that often sit on shelves for weeks if not months after their release, the BOTL.org sticks literally fly out the door as soon as they are released.
Debuting in 2010 as a project between the online cigar forum BOTL.org, which stands for Brothers of the Leaf, and Abe Flores’ Pinar del Rio (now PDR Cigars), the first batch of cigars were originally released at Burning Leaf Cigars in Plainfield, Ill. Like the subsequent releases, the initial batch was small – just 200 boxes of 20 cigars for a total run of 4,000 cigars.
After a year off in 2011, the BOTL.org cigars returned in 2012 with a new manufacturer and new retailer, Drew Estate the former and Tim Podwika, a former employee of Burning Leaf and owner of the recently created PodmanCigars.com the latter.
Podwika tells the story of how that 2012 BOTL.org cigar came about:
The story of the BOTL 2012 begins over 2 years ago when I went to the Drew Estate Factory on a retailer Cigar Safari. During this trip I blended a lancero that I thought was pretty good. Knowing I would be back in a few months Jonathan graciously agreed to make a few more to keep at the factory to age until I returned. In the time between trips the BOTL Small Batch 2010 from PDR hit the shop. Jonathan happened to come in for an event and saw this project. He was immediately interested in having Drew Estate be a part of this. Time went by and the cigar changed a little due to the availability of certain tobaccos with the help of JD and Nicholas of Drew Estate. I was in touch with Eric, the owner of the forum BOTL.org, about the project and we both agreed it would be great to have Drew Estate on board with this. I sent him a handful of cigars to try to get his opinion and seal of approval. Then, with his blessing, the cigar is what we have now. The cigar is a medium-full to full bodies lancero measuring 7X38. It features a beautiful Connecticut Broadleaf wrapper which is the same one Drew Estate uses on their very popular Feral Flying Pig. It drapes a pure Nicaraguan filler blend which is held together by a Ecuadorian Connecticut Shade binder. It is full-flavored, warm, chewy, earthy cigar with notes of cocoa and a hint of pepper. They come in beautiful boxes of 15 cigars. Many thanks go to JD, Nicholas and most importantly Eric for making this project come alive.
There had been chatter about the cigar for some time before its release, mainly because it was tied in with news of several other upcoming Liga Privada releases. It wasn’t until May 2012 that it was announced that Drew Estate would be making the next BOTL.org release, and when that announcement was made, the buzz around 2012’s release intensified, and with just 3,000 cigars to go around the demand for them was fierce.
Earlier this year, it was announced that there would be a second release of the Pinar del Rio BOTL.org Small Batch 2010 and that there would be a new Drew Estate BOTL.org release, a 6 x 46 Corona Gorda, bringing the number of BOTL.org releases to four.
With the Drew Estate BOTL.org 2013 selling out in just under three hours, BOTL.org’s administrative team arranged for a second release from Drew Estate this year, a new 5 1/4 x 42 Corona vitola that became the fifth BOTL.org release.
- Pinar Del Río BOTL.org Small Batch 2010 (6 x 46) — $6.25 (Boxes of 20, $120.00) — July 2010 — 200 Boxes of 20 Cigars (4,000 Total Cigars)
- Drew Estate BOTL.org 2012 (7 x 38) — June 7, 2012 — $12.95 (Boxes of 15, $194.25) — 200 Boxes of 15 Cigars (3,000 Total Cigars)
- Pinar Del Rio BOTL.org Small Batch 2013 (6 x 46) — May 28, 2013 — (6 x 46) — $7.00 (Boxes of 20, $140.00) — 200 Boxes of 20 Cigars (4,000 Total Cigars)
- Drew Estate BOTL.org 2013 (6 x 46) — June 9, 2013 — $12.00 (Boxes of 15, $180.00) — 100 Boxes of 15 Cigars (1,500 Total Cigars)
- Drew Estate BOTL.org Corona (5 1/4 x 42) –– October 10, 2013 –– ($10.00) (Boxes of 15, $149.95) — 300 Boxes of 15 Cigars (5,000 Total Cigars)
Like the previous two Drew Estate productions for BOTL.org, the Corona uses a Connecticut Broadleaf wrapper, Ecuadorian Connecticut binder and Nicaraguan filler. There have been reports that the wrapper used on the BOTL.org 2013 is the same as that used on the Feral Flying Pig, though we haven’t been able to confirm just how identical it is.
The filler is also notable, as Nicholas Melillo, Drew Estate’s executive vice-president of international operations, said that “ASP ligero is almost impossible to get and is one of the most powerful and flavorful ligeros in the world.” He also noted that the DE Jalapa ligero adds natural sweetness to the mix as well as strength.
Each of the previous two BOTL.org releases from Drew Estate have come in thick and heavy boxes, this version is no different.
Cigar Reviewed: Drew Estate BOTL.org 2013 Corona
Country of Origin: Nicaragua
Factory: La Gran Fabrica Drew Estate
Wrapper: Connecticut Broadleaf
Binder: Ecuadorian Connecticut
Filler: Nicaraguan ASP Ligero & DE Jalapa Ligero
Size: 5 1/4 Inches
Ring Gauge: 42
MSRP: $10.00 (Boxes of 15, $149.95)
Date Released: October 10, 2013
Number of Cigars Released: 300 Boxes of 15 Cigars (5,000 Total Cigars)*
Number of Cigars Smoked For Review: 3
*According to Tim Podwika, 300 boxes were put up for sale, with an additional 500 cigars produced to be used for various other purposes.
The wrapper is a blend of dark and darker browns, with an even darker brown for the small, flat veins. It has a good bit of oily sheen and there’s just a bit of give throughout its length when squeezed. The pre-light aroma is fantastic, loaded with a bright grape jelly note, wheat toast, damp manure, tree bark and a bit of beef jerky. The only thing lacking is a noticeable amount of spice or pepper, and it’s not to be found on the cold draw, either. There isn’t much resistance on the cold draw as the air moves freely and carries subtler versions of the flavors above.
The cigar comes out of the gate swinging with a medium to full bodied smoke that is peppery, bright and tangy, going right at the front of the tongue and producing lots of smoke, while some of the excess pepper carries over from the smoke and makes a run for the eyes. The flavor profile turns just a bit before there’s even a half an inch of the tight, bright white ash showing, as the cigar picks up a slight note of chalk and earth. Much like the rest of Drew Estate’s products, the Drew Estate BOTL.org 2013 Corona puts off a good amount of smoke both while being puffed on and while at rest. The ash holds on very well and the burn line is straight and sharp in the early goings.
It continues to offer a tight flavor profile in the second third with meaty steak notes standing out. The Drew Estate BOTL.org 2013 Corona isn’t overly peppery but is big in flavor, and unless you are an absolute pepper fiend you won’t find yourself missing it. A note of leather joins the equation at the midpoint and furthers the flavor progression of the cigar, while a touch of rich, syrupy sweetness comes along to thicken the flavor profile and add even more complexity and balance. The draw, burn and smoke production remain about as perfect as you could ask for, with the complexity, balance and flavor transitions making for an incredibly enjoyable smoking experience.
The cigar keeps its core flavors but adds a sauciness to its underlying texture giving the smoke a rich feel in the mouth. While the cigar hasn’t been overly spicy or peppery up until this point, some notes of peppercorn start to come out and kick the pepper component up to a level that it hadn’t been at previously. An additional touch of sweetness comes along in the final puffs that guides the Drew Estate BOTL.org 2013 Corona to its natural conclusion, which happens pretty far down as the heat never seems to become an adverse factor.
- Two of the cigars I smoked for this review seemed to be more of a 5 x 44, at least according to my measurements. I neglected to measure the third before I lit it up.
- It’s amazing how closely the color of the band matches the color of the wrapper.
- There should be no mistaking who made this cigar, given their logo on the band.
- I also like and appreciate that the year is included on the band; with the ever growing number of annual releases, it’s helpful to have the manufacturer tell you what year it’s from.
- That said, I still believe in having some blank bands or Post-It notes on hand so you can label your cigars with such relevant notes.
- In the same vein, given that BOTL.org has two manufacturers making their cigars, it makes sense to have the manufacturer’s name and/or logo included.
- I also can’t recall seeing this kind of glue remnant left on a cigar band:
- Having smoked a number of similar sized cigars recently, I was a bit surprised by how quickly I got through this one.
- BOTL.org donors got an early jump on the sale, with 200 of the 300 boxes allocated to fulfill their orders, and the remaining boxes put on sale to the public in early October.
- Podwika told me that 500 cigars were reserved for overflow, damage and other various purposes.
- Drew Estate is a halfwheel sponsor.
- Final smoking time is about one hour and 15 minutes.
Every once in a while cigars come along that just do everything right: they burn well, they're the right size, and most importantly, they offer incredible tastes and smells. The Drew Estate BOTL.org 2013 Corona is one of those cigars. From the time you take your first whiff of the unlit foot until the last possible speck of tobacco is burnt, this cigar delivers. It's complex and balanced with a steady stream of delicious notes that never overstep their bounds or overstay their welcome. This is simply a fantastic cigar that earns Tim Podwika and the Drew Estate team my kudos. If you have some, savor them; if you don't, find a way to get some.