One of the main storylines from the 2020 Tobacco Plus Expo (TPE) was how many new releases would be unveiled at the show. Among the companies that rolled out new cigars, Drew Estate had a pair of new offerings, both 4 x 44 petit coronas for its Undercrown Maduro and Undercrown Shade lines.
The two cigars are offered at $5.50 per cigar or $176 for a box of 32, before taxes. They also keep the same blends as their larger counterparts, meaning a Mexican San Andrés wrapper over a Connecticut stalk cut habano binder and fillers from Brazil and Nicaragua for the Maduro. The Shade uses an Ecuadorian Connecticut shade wrapper over a Sumatran binder and Dominican and Nicaraguan fillers.
“Corona Pequena’s are short, squat, flavor bombs that sit between the tin size and the robusto size in the Undercrown brand family,” said Jonathan Drew, co-founder of Drew Estate, in a press release when the cigars were announced. “We could go on and on about the ‘functionality’ of this short smoke during winter months – but there is something absolutely beautiful about the Corona Pequena that is more meaningful than just utilitarianism.”
It becomes the ninth vitola in the Undercrown Maduro line:
- Undercrown Maduro Flying Pig (4 1/8 x 60)
- Undercrown Maduro Robusto (5 x 54)
- Undercrown Maduro Gran Toro (6 x 52)
- Undercrown Maduro Belicoso (6 x 52)
- Undercrown Maduro Corona Doble (7 x 54)
- Undercrown Maduro Gordito (6 x 60)
- Undercrown Maduro Corona ¡Viva! (5 5/8 x 46)
- Undercrown Maduro Coronet (4 x 32)
- Undercrown Maduro Corona Pequeña (4 x 44)
Both of the Corona Pequeña vitolas began shipping to retailers in February.
- Cigar Reviewed: Undercrown Maduro Corona Pequeña
- Country of Origin: Nicaragua
- Factory: La Gran Fabrica Drew Estate
- Wrapper: Mexico (San Andrés)
- Binder: Connecticut (Stalk Cut Habano)
- Filler: Brazil (Mata Fina) & Nicaragua (Habano)
- Length: 4 Inches
- Ring Gauge: 44
- Vitola: Petit Corona
- MSRP: $5.50 (Box of 32, $176)
- Release Date: February 2020
- Number of Cigars Released: Regular Production
- Number of Cigars Smoked For Review: 3
In an era where the 6 x 52 has become the de facto size for single vitola releases, the Undercrown Maduro Corona Pequeña certainly stands out, a la Spud Webb or Muggsy Bogues did during their careers in the NBA. Size aside, the cigar looks much like any other vitola in the Undercrown Maduro line, sporting a very dark brown wrapper with a slightly oily sheen, some decent vein structure and a bit of tooth that gives the leaf some fine grit texture. The cigar is rolled firmly and capped well, with just a bit of give at the foot. Aroma off the foot reminds me of a freshly opened bag of coffee beans at first, and from there opens up to reveal black pepper, some cherry and berry sweetness, a bit of firewood and varying touches of creaminess. The cold draw is smooth, loose at times, and offers flavors of tree bark, a bit of root beer, hints at a miso soup note with the related umami, and just a pinch of black pepper that hits the front of the tongue.
The Undercrown Maduro Corona Pequeña leads off with a flavor that is quick with earth and black pepper, though finishes with a funky, slightly sour twang, which depending on how the pepper is behaving leaves a contradictory finish from what the flavor offers. There’s a bit of sweetness as well, again varying from cigar to cigar, but when the thick black grape flavor is present and on, the cigar is all the better for it. At times it tastes a bit more robust and sharper than the other vitolas, but it’s still an enjoyable profile. Even for a small cigar the thing is an absolute smoke stack, putting out far more than would be expected for a cigar of its size, even when at rest. Combustion and draw are also quite good, though one sample struggled to hold onto the even burn line.
The second third of the Undercrown Maduro Corona Pequeña brings about what I generally think of when it comes to the Undercrown Maduro profile, meaning some earth, black pepper and a bit of berry sweetness, though that sweetness feels subdued here. Individual samples dance a little too closely with the black pepper, which has a habit of turning charred at times and really irritating the tongue. One thing that is also becoming abundantly clear is that with the smaller ring gauge, the cigar gets hot very quickly, even more quickly than I would expect from a 44 ring gauge cigar. That progression to the familiar Undercrown Maduro profile continues through this section, and by its end it feels pretty dialed in if just a touch harsh thanks to some misplaced white pepper and a bit of char on the finish. It’s an interesting balance between those aspects and the increasing creaminess which tries its best to soften the rest of the profile. It’s become medium-full in flavor and body, and strength is starting to creep up as well. Each cigar generally burns very well, though one is a bit fussier and messier than the others.
I’ve been trying to think of the best term to apply to the Undercrown Maduro Corona Pequeña, and my mind keeps returning to intense when it comes to comparing this with the other vitolas and my general memory of the cigar’s profile. In particular, the pepper seems much more forward in the profile and its effects on the tongue and throat are more pronounced, so much so that I’m thinking about lighting up another vitola for comparison. There are times where the smoke grates a bit too hard for my liking, which has me not quite as fond of the profile in this vitola. There’s still a solid earthiness but at times it gives way just enough to reveal a bit more of the dark berry sweetness. As the cigar hits its final puffs, it does a remarkable job dialing in the profile one more time before black pepper takes over and delivers a bit of a stinging tingle to the tongue.
- When I started smoking my first sample, one of my neighbor’s smoke detectors was going off, an interesting coincidence given how much smoke this little cigar puts off.
- There were a few times while smoking the Undercrown Maduro Corona Pequeña that I started thinking about the Undercrown, Liga Privada T-52 and No. 9 Coronet, the 4 x 32 vitola that comes in tins. I wasn’t a fan of either one and the experience between those two and the Undercrown Corona Pequeña were a bit different, but it led me to wonder if some of the Drew Estate blends just don’t function well in smaller ring gauges.
- That said, the Undercrown Corona ¡Viva!, which is a 46 ring gauge, is very enjoyable.
- For sake of comparison, I pulled out an Undercrown Maduro Toro Grande, and while it’s probably just old enough that it wouldn’t be fair to do a head-to-head comparison, I wanted to see if the profile I had in my head was what the cigar actually offered. It wasn’t quite as smooth as I remember it, but it was a bit better.
- I didn’t get a ton of nicotine strength from this cigar, something I wasn’t terribly surprised about.
- halfwheel and its predecessors have reviewed a number of Undercrown releases, including the Gran Toro, Corona ¡Viva! (reduxed), Flying Pig (reduxed), plus offshoots including the Dogma, Dojo Dogma 2018, and ShadyVX (reduxed).
- Final smoking time was just over one hour, though I could see getting through this in closer to 45 minutes.
- Drew Estate advertises on halfwheel.
- The cigars for this review were purchased by halfwheel.
- Site sponsors Famous Smoke Shop and JR Cigar carry the Undercrown Maduro Corona Pequeña.
For as much as I have generally enjoyed the Undercrown Maduro blend, there are times where it just doesn't work, and in my experience, it tends to be in the more slender vitolas. For as much as people—on this site included—call for smaller, more slender cigars, the reality is that it doesn't always showcase the blend as ideally as bigger sizes. In the case of the Undercrown Maduro Corona Pequeña, the profile gets a bit sharp at times, and while there are good spots in the cigar, it's that roughness that stands out, especially when there are plenty of other size options from which to choose. I want to be sure that I'm not attributing the performance solely to the size, as the tobacco might as well be contributing to the experience, but for now, I think I'd steer towards the slightly bigger vitolas in the Undercrown line when I want to enjoy what it has to offer.