In the last two months or so, Drew Estate has become more aggressive with new single store releases for some of its larger accounts. It started when the company announced six exclusive vitolas for Corona Cigar and in the last month it’s added exclusives for Famous Smoke Shop and Arango Cigar Co.
Another large account, Alliance Cigar also received an exclusive: a new size of the company’s MUWAT Fire Cured line. Unlike Corona and Famous, Alliance is not a store, rather, it’s one of the larger distributors selling to accounts primary in the northeast.
Alliance’s release shipped about a month ago. It’s known as the Fightn’ 69th, a 5 1/2 x 52 version of the line. It’s the ninth size in the line, which debuted two years ago, although the line now stands at 10 vitolas after the Famous release.
- MUWAT Kentucky Fire Cured Chunky (4 x 46) — 2013 — Regular Production
- MUWAT Kentucky Fire Cured Fat Molly (5 x 56) — 2013 — Regular Production
- MUWAT Kentucky Fire Cured Just a Friend (6 x 52) — 2013 — Regular Production
- MUWAT Kentucky Fire Cured Flying Pig (4 1/8 x 60) — 2014 — Regular Production
- MUWAT Kentucky Fire Cured Delfinas (6 x 26) — 2015 — Regular Production
- MUWAT Kentucky Fire Cured Kyotos (5 1/2 x 34) — 2015 — Regular Production
- MUWAT Kentucky Fire Cured Hamhock (3 3/4 x 56) — 2015 — Regular Production
- MUWAT Kentucky Fire Cured Yard Bird (5 x 50) — 2015 — Event Exclusive
- MUWAT Kentucky Fire Cured Fightn’ 69th (5 1/2 x 52) — 2015 — Alliance Cigar Exclusive
- MUWAT Kentucky Fire Cured Hog’s Tooth (6 x 46) — 2015 — Famous Smoke Shop Exclusive (Not Pictured)
MUWAT Kentucky Fire Cured was one of the most ambitious cigars in Drew Estate’s recent memory. A blend of tobaccos from Brazil, Mexico, Nicaragua and the U.S. At first glance, that sentence is hardly ambitious, but the tobacco from the U.S. is not simply Connecticut broadleaf or shade tobacco, rather, it’s Kentucky-grown tobacco that is then fire-cured.
Almost all tobacco in cigars is air-cured. After the leaves are picked from the stalks[ref]Or the stalks themselves are cut with the leaves still intact.[/ref], they are placed on long, usually wooden, poles and hung in barns. Over the course of weeks the leaves turn from green to brown as they cure. While sometimes small fires are lit inside barns to help deal, they are small, controlled and generally very short.
Fire-curing is exactly what it sounds like.
The tobacco is hung in a barn similar to air-curing, but various woods are burned inside the barns so the tobacco can absorb the flavor of the smoke as well as be affected by the higher temperatures.
Drew Estate was not the first to bring a cigar with fire-cured tobacco to market, the company is the only one that continues to be promoting the product with any sort of seriousness. This includes Drew Estate’s Kentucky Barn Smoker, an event the company held for the second time last month. The event, which takes place in Hopkinsville, Ky., allows consumers to walk through barns used for the fire-curing process with Drew Estate’s co-founder Jonathan Drew educating participants on the labor-intensive process.
- Cigar Reviewed: MUWAT Kentucky Fire Cured Fightn' 69th
- Country of Origin: Nicaragua
- Factory: Fabrica de Tabacos Joya de Nicaragua S.A.,
- Wrapper: Undisclosed
- Binder: n/a
- Filler: Brazil, Kentucky & Nicaragua
- Length: 5 1/2 Inches
- Ring Gauge: 52
- Vitola: Robusto Extra
- MSRP: $7.50 (Bundles of 10, $74.95)
- Release Date: Oct. 13, 2015
- Number of Cigars Released: Regular Production
- Number of Cigars Smoked For Review: 3
While the fire-cured aroma penetrates the air the moment the cigar is removed from its cellophane, the Fightn’ 69th doesn’t have the same sort of intensity that so many other MUWAT Kentucky Fire Cured cigars have had in the past. The cigar looks like many other Kentucky Fire Cureds with its dual wrappers being noticeable, although not as noticeable as some of the early batches. Aroma from the wrapper has a familiar flavor, it’s sort of like peat, but much sweeter with a supercharged Kraft barbecue sauce flavor surrounding it. The foot is similar, even sweeter, and there’s some sort of note going on that seems almost paint-like due to its foreignness. I can’t describe it real well other than to say its unique and almost chemical-like in terms of its artificialness. Cold draws deliver some of the sweet burnt woods flavors that the aroma had, alongside some charcoal and a gigantic beef jerky flavor.
Even still, I’m amazed at how different and unique the Kentucky Fire Cured tastes prior to being lit, because once I finish lighting the cigar, it tastes pretty much like any other cigar. There’s sweet woods and a lot of toasty earth, but only a faint hint of the Fire Cured flavor on the finish of the first few puffs. As the cigar gets going, there’s more and more of the distinct sweet toasted woods flavors that I’ve come to associate with the line. The Fightn’ 69th is very much earth-forward with an array of different grilled meats coming in and out of the profile as the first third burns down. I wouldn’t say any one meatiness defines it because they seem to change so often, but all are very much grilled and part of the thicker woodsy flavor. Strength is medium, while body is medium-full. Smoke production isn’t immense and quite honestly below average for a Drew Estate product, but it’s still more than enough.
Taking longer breaks in between puffs definitely helps bring out some other flavors. The Fightn’ 69th actually becomes even earthier, but now there’s a lot of other flavors. On the mouth, the jerky notes return alongside a very restrained black peppercorn and something I can only say tastes similar to how gasoline smells.[ref]I’m one of those people that finds the smell of gasoline to be pleasant. I know it’s not terribly uncommon, but writing it out seems weird.[/ref] Through the nose there’s Plugra and some burnt orange peels along with the earth. I pick up some raw pasta, cranberries and a bit of walnuts on the finish up until the hallway mark. The flavor and body are now full, while strength is still medium. Smoke production takes a big uptick and is now at levels I associate more often with Drew Estate.
The fire-cured aroma picks up a lot in the final third, something that wasn’t so apparent for most of the previous two thirds. While there’s less sweetness than the second third because the earth recedes so much in the final third, the flavor seems sweeter. The meatiness from the first third returns replacing the jerky alongside the peppercorn. Through the nose there’s some sweet vanilla and water chestnuts which extend to the finish. With an inch or so left, the fire-cured flavors become much more apparent thanks to the wrapper change and the aroma transitions into wood-grilled hamburgers.
- Kentucky Fire Cured is not the only Drew Estate product using tobacco from Kentucky. The company’s Pappy Van Winkle Barrel Fermented Cigars also use it.
- For those wondering, I’ve found the Pappy Van Winkle Fermented Cigars to be very mild and much prefer most of the Kentucky Fire Cured line.
- Alliance Cigar is no stranger to exclusives from Drew Estate. The company also has two exclusives in the regular MUWAT line: Kemosabe and W.O.P.R.
- The aroma of a Kentucky Fire Cured cigar smells very much like a mixture of a campfire and sweet barbecue sauce. It’s also much more aggressive in terms of how it stays in my clothes.
- There’s a shift with the wrapper change in the Kentucky Fire Cured cigars, but it’s not as easy to detect as other cigars like, José Blanco’s blending seminar cigars. The reason for this is two-fold in my opinion. First, those blending seminar cigars are made specifically to allow you to notice the change and the fillers aren’t particularly flavorful. Second, the change occurs so late in the cigar, your palate has already been exercised pretty heavily.
- For some, they may never make it to the change as the wrapper split is around the band. I remember a Stogie Review video from sometime back when Jerry Cruz stated that he rarely smokes beyond the band as he oftentimes finds the flavors don’t improve. Of course, that was back before the days of the massive Camacho and La Sirena bands.
- As for this particular change, I’ve always found the earthiness dissipates quite a bit when the second wrapper starts burning.
- When the line first launched, Jonathan Drew recommended keeping the Kentucky Fire Cured cigars in a separate humidor, a sentiment I’d recommend as well.
- Interestingly, I’ve never been in a retail shop where that advice has been followed. I can’t even recall an instance of where the retailer has put them in the flavored cigar section.
- That being said, most of the Kentucky Fire Cured I’ve handled have been fairly fine, so long as you don’t take them out of cellophane or even take them out and put them back. The aforementioned Pappy cigars have always had a much stronger aroma to me.
- Final smoking time was one hour and 50 minutes on average with the cigar noticeably slowing up over the last two inches.
- Cigars for this review were sent to halfwheel by Alliance Cigar.
- Alliance Cigar sells the cigars online through its Superior Cigars storefront.
While one sample underperformed a bit, the MUWAT Kentucky Fire Cured Fightn’ 69th was a fairly complex cigar. Every single indication I got, from how the bundle didn’t admit excessive amounts of aroma to how my hands smelled while handling the cigar leads me to believe this is a bit of a toned-back version of the Kentucky Fired Cured blend when it comes to its signature tobacco(s). Don’t get me wrong, the fire-cured tobacco is still very much prevalent the moment you take the cigar out of cellophane and was noticeable while smoking, but it wasn’t as strong. The ratio of fire-cured tobacco depends on the size and while I haven’t smoked every vitola, it seemed to be slightly less of a factor than the rest of the line. I’m not generally into cigars that are very earth-forward, but this was an excellent example of marrying the fire-cured tobacco with more traditional cigar counterparts. If you haven’t found the Kentucky Fire Cured line to be enjoyable before and are willing to give it another shot, I’d highly recommend the Fightn’ 69th.