At last year’s IPCPR Convention & Trade Show, Drew Estate showed off two new sizes for its Nica Rustica line: Belly, a large torpedo, and Short Robusto.

There wasn’t a release date described back then and it wasn’t until May that we heard anything else about the cigars. Turns out, the Belly would change size—now a 7 1/2 x 54 instead of 7 1/2 x 50—and it would be released in late July at an event at Cox’s Smoker’s Outlet. At that time, there was still no update on the Short Robusto.

That update came a few months later when it was announced the Short Robusto would ship alongside the Belly in August.

Both cigars were on display at this year’s IPCPR Convention & Trade Show. It was shown off with a new retail display tray that will hold all three vitolas.

Nica Rustica Vitolas

  • Nica Rustica El Brujito (6 x 52) — $6.95 (Box of 50, $347.50) — August 2013
  • Nica Rustica Belly (7 1/2 x 54) — $7.95 (Bundle of 25, $169) — July 2015
  • Nica Rustica Short Robusto (4 1/2 x 50) — $5.95 (Bundle of 25, $119) — August 2015

Nica Rustica uses a Connecticut broadleaf medium wrapper, Mexican San Andrés negro binder and filler tobaccos from Nicaragua. The line is inspired by El Brujito, an image of a shaman that was found on a rock dating back to pre-Columbian times. Shamans were the first known users of tobacco in Estelí and the image of El Brujito can be found in various place around the city.

Nica Rustica Belly 1

  • Cigar Reviewed: Nica Rustica Belly
  • Country of Origin: Nicaragua
  • Factory: La Gran Fabrica Drew Estate
  • Wrapper: Connecticut Broadleaf Mediums
  • Binder: Mexican San Andrés Negro
  • Filler: Nicaragua
  • Size: 7 1/2 Inches
  • Ring Gauge: 54
  • Vitola: Belicoso Extra
  • MSRP: $7.95 (Bundle of 25, $169)
  • Date Released: July 30, 2015
  • Number of Cigars Released: Regular Production
  • Number of Cigars Smoked for Review: 3

There’s a very defined pointedness at the top of the Belly, but otherwise, it looks like a Nica Rustica. The orange-gold band congrats nicely against the dark and oily wrapper. I pick up lots of cocoa, sour leather and some minty flavors from the broadleaf. Like the original, there’s a covered foot which oddly provides a different aroma from the wrapper. There’s still sour leather, but it’s joined by oatmeal cookies and some fruitiness. The cold draw has a big sweetness, like an oatmeal cookie ice cream sandwich, grain, the aforementioned mint and some sharp pepper behind it.

After making sure the foot was fully lit and witnessing the smoke explosion that is Nica Rustica, my first puffs of the Belly show earthiness, creaminess and some underseasoned steak. There’s lots of salivation likely because of the steak note and its semi-saltiness and the big pepper note on the back end. While the flavors were relatively similar, my Nica Rustica Belly experiences are not similar. On two cigars, I spend quite a bit of time keeping the cigars evenly lit because one side or the other seems to want to go out every 10 or so minutes. This, mind you, is all happening to a cigar that puts out an insane amount of smoke. As for the other, it burns without a single touch-up from start to finish. Flavor-wise, it’s big on a variety of earthiness, some leather, white pepper and baked beans. Strength starts medium, but is quickly heading into the medium-full category.

Nica Rustica Belly 2

Retrohales are a bit punishing in the first few inches, but by the second third I can find some redeeming qualities. Alongside a very gritty and somewhat harsh stream of flavors, there’s some floral notes. I’m not entirely sure if it’s worth it, particularly a deep retrohale, but it helps to addd some diversity to the mouth flavor, which is still dominated by earthiness. The white pepper on the back actually increases in its presence and the only real change I pick up on in the mouth is an added mineral water-type flavor at the bottom. Strength is solidly medium-full and continuing to rise.

Nica Rustica Belly 3

The mineral water flavor continues to pick up in intensity, but it’s going to need four inches to overtake the earthiness—and there’s only two inches of the Nica Rustica left. The flavor is otherwise left unchanged in the mouth, although the retrohales have become far more manageable and I now find myself taking two to three puffs through the nose for every one through the mouth. The flavor finishes full and after nearly three hours of smoking, the amount of nicotine has definitely built up.

Nica Rustica Belly 4

Final Notes

  • I have not smoked the Short Robusto size.
  • The touch-ups mystified me a bit. Two of the samples just wouldn’t stay evenly lit and yet despite parts of the cigar not burning, the smoke production was still absolutely insane.
  • Here’s a video of Drew Estate’s factory ambassador, Pedro Gomez, talking about the two new sizes

  • Neither of the two sizes appear to have shipped to retailers yet.
  • For those retailers who really want it, the cigars will be available in 50-count boxes of their own, but the company is trying to get retailers to purchase the single tray that holds all three.
81 Overall Score

While I most certainly enjoy the original El Brujito size a lot more, the Nica Rustica Belly lives up to its name a lot more than the 6 x 52 ever has. This was a gritty, earthy and in many ways, a rustic cigar. Its downfall for me is that it was extremely monotonous throughout the nearly three hours it took me to smoke it. I’m not entirely sure what to make of the burn issues, they happened, I don’t really think it affected flavor, but due to our scoring system, it definitely affects the number on upper lefthand corner of this box. Perhaps these will get better with more time in the humidor, but it’s going to take a pretty dramatic shift for me to ever grab these over the original.

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Charlie Minato

I am an editor and co-founder of Media, LLC. I previously co-founded and published TheCigarFeed, one of the two predecessors of halfwheel. I have written about the cigar industry for more than a decade, covering everything from product launches to regulation to M&A. In addition, I handle a lot of the behind-the-scenes stuff here at halfwheel. I enjoy playing tennis, watching boxing, falling asleep to the Le Mans 24, wearing sweatshirts year-round and eating gyros. echte liebe.