After an auspicious release with the Herrera Esteli cigar line (the Piramide Fino was named Cigar Aficionado's No. 8 cigar of 2013), brand-owner Willy Herrera is looking to launch a new cigar—the Herrera Esteli Norteño. Unlike the original Herrera Esteli line, which is made at the Gran Fabrica Drew Estate, Norteño will be produced in the Joya de Nicaragua factory.
"I am working with Joya de Nicaragua because we are at capacity at Drew Estate," said Herrera. "Norteño is a bit stronger than the Herrera Esteli core line and a completely different blend. As for art, the main band will say ‘Herrera Esteli' with a secondary band that says ‘Norteño.'"
The blend features a dark, Mexican San Andrés wrapper, Honduran binder and Nicaraguan filler. Though slated for six sizes, the Norteño portfolio won't include any cigars with ring gauges larger than 52. Vitolas start at 4 inches by 42 ring and gradually continue at 5 1/2 by 44, 4 3/4 by 48, a 5 by 50 (belicoso), 6 by 50 and 6 by 52. According to Herrera, all sizes will be pressed.
Both the core Herrera Esteli line and the Norteño are co-owned and distributed by Drew Estate, which also owns one of the largest cigar facilities in Nicaragua and distributes all Joya de Nicaragua brands as well.
"It has truly been an inspirational experience to watch Willy Herrera transition from a Little Havana cigarmaker to a Nicaraguan cigar manufacturer," said Jonathan Drew, co-owner and primary spokesman of Drew Estate. "I guess the name Norteño encapsulates his life journey. People really love him here in Nicaragua."
Prices have not been established for the new line but Herrera expects Norteño to be out by late spring in June and he's hoping that production at Joya de Nicaragua will translate to higher volume and less restrictions on availability, as the core brand is made on a very limited basis and sometimes difficult to find.
"I chose the name Norteño for a couple of reasons," Herrera explains. "First, in Nicaragua, people from Estelí are referred to as northerners or Norteños. Also, I am a northerner in the country."
It should be noted that the Herrera Esteli cigar line has been officially renamed Herrera Esteli by Drew Estate. The words "Imported From Nicaragua" no longer appear on the band and have been replaced with the words "By Drew Estate," though older, unsold stock will still have the original bands.
For updates and ratings on the new brand, see upcoming issues of Cigar Insider.