After a few months of dealing with a non-life threatening medical condition, (I’ll spare you the gory details), I’m finally back doing what I love most…smoking fine cigars! My first cigar after this short hiatus was new to me, and something I had purchased just prior to my abstention: the Herrera Esteli Norteño Belicoso Fino by Drew Estate. I love Willy Herrera’s Esteli line, and had read good reviews of his Norteño. I bought a box simply on faith.
Upon purchase, the box of ten was immediately put away because I didn’t feel well enough to indulge at the time. That was three months ago. After recovery from surgery, I was eager to get back to my passion and the Norteño was a top priority. After cracking it open (and removing the ugly new warning labels), I was impressed by the beautiful packaging. The wooden box is exceptionally attractive, and the ten cigars come wrapped in double ribbons. One of the many great things about cigar smoking is that each new box purchase is a celebration; like Christmas throughout the year. And when a cigar maker cares enough to make the presentation this nice, it serves to enhance the ritualistic pleasure of smoking cigars. But the truth lies in the tasting, and I was eager to get started. It had been a while and my palate was more than ready to pick up where it left off.
All the cigars in the Norteño line are rather small. No 6×60 monsters here. This was fine with me; I’m partial to smaller ring gauges. The Belicoso Fino is a 6×50, square-pressed stick, and fits easily in the hand. It’s got a crude looking piramide shaped cap, and the San Andres wrapper is quite toothy. Overall, this stick has a rustic look. But this, of course, means nothing in terms of how it will taste.
After removing its cello, I could detect a nice rich aroma. This usually indicates well-fermented tobacco, and made me all the more eager to light up. The guillotine cut was clean, and the multiple wrappings held up without any unraveling. Inspection of the foot revealed perfectly random, entubado bunching, and the cigar ignited with little effort.
The proof is in the pudding.
The first few puffs were delightful; I was encouraged by its mild spice, and rich creaminess. As it progressed, a number of other flavors emerged: milk chocolate, cashews, and café au lait came to mind. This is a complex cigar of harmonious flavors. The burn was perfectly even, and to the end, no touchups were needed.
Mid way, the intensity picks up. The flavors “darken”, but without any bitterness. Strength increases, but the cigar never gets overpowering. I think this blend works so well because of its smaller ring size. A larger stick of the same blend might become bitter as it is smoked.
The final third continues to evolve, with stronger tobacco flavors, and increased spice. This is when you really start to feel its power. But this is a small cigar, and it never becomes a challenge to smoke in one sitting. From here to the nub, it is only pure cigar heaven, with each puff as rewarding as the one before. This is a cigar you hate to put down. But as it gets too small to hold, sadly, this cigar smoking adventure must come to an end.
The Herrera Esteli Norteño Belicoso Fino is an ultra fine cigar. It is obvious that much thought and experimentation has gone into its blend, and the result is a cigar that any experienced cigar lover would appreciate. If you like the rich tobacco goodness of the San Andres wrapper, this cigar is one of the best examples of how good this style of cigar can be. I highly recommend it.
Vitola: Belicoso (5×50).
Wrapper: San Andres (Mexico).
Flavors: Milk chocolate, cashews, and café au lait.
Manufacturer: Drew Estate
Blender: Willy Herrera
Country of Origin: Hon.
X Factor: 9.3
Thanks for listening,