Drew Estate is rolling out a new shipment of its Pappy Van Winkle cigars, a small-batch blend meant to be paired alongside the highly sought-after Bourbons and ryes. For the 2016 release of Pappy Van Winkle Family Reserve Barrel Fermented, the company is adding a Churchill vitola as well as a unique figurado called Pappy Drew Limitada, which will only be available to customers who purchase a box of each size.
"We launched in 2015 with the Pappy Van Winkle Family Reserve Barrel Fermented Robusto and Toro sizes only," said Jonathan Drew, co-founder of Drew Estate. "This year we added the Churchill and the Pappy Drew Limitada sizes."
Pappy Van Winkle Family Reserve Barrel Fermented is blended with two wrappers: a Kentucky-grown barrel fermented leaf over a Mexican San Andres leaf. Drew Estate refers to the process of combining wrappers as "tapa negra." The binder and filler is made up of all-Nicaraguan tobaccos.
The cigars are produced at the La Gran Fabrica Drew Estate factory in Estelí, but the barrel fermented wrapper tobacco is cured and fermented in the United States before it's shipped to Nicaragua.
"The tobacco leaves selected for the blend are cured in the traditional Kentucky style, via fire curing," said Drew. "We then ship the leaves from Hopkinsville, Kentucky, to Saint James Parish, Louisiana." This is where the tobacco undergoes barrel fermentation.
Tobacco produced for premium cigars generally ferments in pilóns, a dense pile of cured tobacco stacked on boards inside a warehouse. According to Drew, this alternative barrel fermenting process uses car jacks to compress up to 500 pounds of tobacco into a 53-gallon barrel.
"The intense pressure is what ferments this Kentucky seed. ... When you walk into the rooms of the barrel fermented tobaccos, you get a smell very similar to the yeasty smell of a distillery. That's the beautiful smell of fermentation," Drew said.
The Churchill measures 7 inches by 48 ring gauge and costs $17 per cigar. The Pappy Drew Limitada, which Drew describes as a "tweaked size based off the Liga Privada Feral Flying Pig," is a 4 7/8 inches by 60 ring gauge vitola that ships in soft packs of three. The new sizes join the 5 1/4 by 52 Robusto ($13) and the 6 by 52 Toro ($15) that were released last year. The three main sizes ship in boxes of 10 emblazoned with the Pappy Van Winkle Family Reserve logo.
The cigars are shipping now, but can only be ordered through the Van Winkle family's online marketplace, pappyco.com.