Corona ¡Viva!, 5.625" x 46 ring gauge / $7.65, Burns
Not long ago someone asked me if Drew Estate's Undercrown was my favorite cigar; they had made this assumption based on the fact that my Twitter avi depicts me smoking one...albeit while wearing a distinctive CH hat. At the time the picture was taken, I was on a trip sponsored by a totally different company...I guess I'm kinda "brand neutral." The truth is I like the Undercrown a lot, especially in the Robusto size. While I do not enjoy it as much as either the Number 9 or T-52 varieties of Liga Privada (a close cousin, or perhaps half-brother to the Undercrown), this cigar is about half the price...not to mention the fact that you can actually find them in stock! When this newest size of Undercrown showed up at Burns a few weeks ago, I was excited to try them...given that this would be the smallest ring gauge version of the blend, I figured this might just turn out to be my favorite size of the lot. To review, the Undercrown is a multinational blend featuring Brazilian Mata Fina and Cuban see Nicaraguan filler, the T-52's stalk cut Habano leaf grown in the Connecticut River Valley, and a Mexican San Andres Otapan Negro Ultimo Corte wrapper. This review is based on my second of this size.
If you liked the way the Undercrown looked before, you will have nothing to complain about here. The band is still attractive, a play on the Liga Privada lion logo. The wrapper is still very dark, oily and a bit velvety to the touch. Bringing it to my nose, I got a rich earthiness, while the foot had more touches of strong natural tobacco. Cutting gave me a decent draw...a little tight, but not unsmokeable. The cold draw had a nice chocolate flavor and a little bit of spice.
When I got the Undercrown Corona ¡Viva! burning, I noticed a distinct earthiness that I associate with Mexican tobacco. I had not noticed it so much on the other vitolas, but it makes sense that it would come through more pronounced here since this is a smaller ring gauge. Balancing it well, though, were sweetness from the Mata Fina and pepper spice from the Nicaraguan leaf; coffee and anise also rode on the big plume of smoke that billowed out of the lit end of the cigar. Did I mention that these, like all other Undercrowns, smolder and smoke like crazy? The impression I got on the first third was that the body of this size was slightly less than on the robusto...somewhere in the medium to medium-plus range at the start.
As I burned through the second third of the Undercrown Corona ¡Viva! I noticed the distinctive Mexican earthiness increasing a bit, although it was still well balanced by sweetness and notes of anise, leather, and aged tobacco. Construction proved to be excellent, with a burn line that was quite even and an ash that held on for an inch before it fell off onto my iPad. The draw was even better than I had expected from the slightly snug prelight draw.
The final third of the Undercrown ¡Viva! continued on much as the second had, but since the earthiness mind bitterness had leveled off that was not a bad thing. Plenty of pepper came through on the palate during the last third as well. In the end, I found my enjoying this vitola, but I think the Robusto is still my favorite as it tends to mute the influence of the Mexican wrapper. If you are a fan of Mexican leaf, though, you are sure to find something you love here. The body stayed in the medium to full range and the strength was never overwhelming as it can be in some Liga Privadas. Combined with a very accessible price point, this all adds up to a very good cigar.