Size: 4” x 46 ring gauge
Purchased at Burns Tobacconist
Last year, I was privileged to be included on the Drew Estate “Blogger” Cigar Safari tour in Nicaragua, which was the first time I was exposed to the KFC project they had been working on for quite some time. Kentucky Fire Cured tobaccos are nothing new, although they have never been used in premium cigars in such a way that was started in 2013. Besides Drew Estate, 2 other companies opted to use this or similar fire-cured leaf in their blends, although I think Drew Estate did the most to promote the usage of it by using “Kentucky Fire Cured” as part of the brand name. That first cigar was a revelation...something totally unique in my experience...a mix of smoky, woody flavor with other more traditional cigar notes...it was something I would not soon forget. Fast forward to November and the cigars finally started hitting the shelves. How did the final shipping product compare with that first tasting? We’ll get to that, but first a little background, courtesy of the Drew Estate website:
|image from DrewEstate.com|
“The fact that JD wanted to bring the ”MUWAT” franchise under the flag of Subculture Studios is a reflection of his love of working with other talented cigar makers. Subculture Studios is more than just a graffiti factory in Nicaragua, it is a ‘mental space’ that JD and Jessi Flores have cultivated throughout the years and reveals innovation, raw talent and creativity that you find throughout all of Drew Estate at every level.”
The boxes and paper packing of bundles definitely hit the right notes in the cigar being rustic and all-American (well, not literally all-American, but at least using some American leaf). The rough craft paper look continues with the banding, where it is enhanced with with embossing and simple black type. You’ll notice that the color of the wrapper is different above and below the band. I actually missed that on the first pre-release I smoked, until I removed the band, that is...and it became fairly obvious. The smaller upper portion near the head is finished in a bit of fire-cured leaf in order to enhance the flavor of that part of the cigar. After having this pointed out, I’m fairly convinced that this is why this blend has so much more fire-cured flavor than either of the other two that made their way to market last year. I don’t know what the bottom (lighter) wrapper leaf is...actually there is no mention made on DE’s website about where any of the specific leaves are from.
|image from DrewEstate.com|
While other Drew Estate cigars may get a majority of their flavor through whatever secret “infusion” process they employ, this cigar is getting tons of flavor through an age-old curing process. Right off the bat, the KFC tastes like a campfire or a cabin fireplace. You can easily let your imagination run wild thinking of s’mores and hot dogs on sticks over the fire...or of a pit-smoke bar-be-cue, although without the sweetness of a good sauce (unless you’re in Texas, and they they don’t believe in sauce...or pork, for that matter...which is why I tend to believe in a real “Southern BBQ” rather than the Lone Star variety). On the palate, the MUWAT Kentucky Fire Cured cigar was smoky, woody, and, yes, a little peaty, going along with a comment Jonathan Drew made to that effect. On the retrohale, the KFC was a little nutty with a very little bit of pepper spice. I found the body to be about medium, maybe medium-plus, definitely not a cigar that will be too powerful for most newer smokers or regular pipe smokers who decide to give this a try.
I found a solid construction in the KFC. The first third hung on for almost an inch, the ash was never flaky and the draw was just about right on every sample I smoked. It is a cigar you will need to puff on fairly frequently, in my experience; while the issue of consistent burn has been mostly figured out, if you let it sit for a couple minutes without puffing, it may well go out on you.
Keeping in line with the other MUWAT cigars, the value on the KFC is great. The prices are not “cheap” but definitely reasonable for a premium, handmade cigar that is unique in the marketplace.
This is a cigar you must try. Not a statement to be made lightly, but the fact is that my descriptions can only go so far. You will either like it or you won’t, and I think there won’t be much room for middle ground on this stick. Similar to DE’s infused lines, it tastes like what it is without pretension of anything more, but that’s not a bad thing. I enjoyed the KFC. In this small ring gauge vitola, the smoky, woody flavors are intense to a point where a longer cigar would cease to be enjoyable, so if you want a little less intensity in that area, opt for one of the large ring gauges. But you must give it a try.