Drew Estate traces its beginnings back to 1995 in Manhattan, New York, where company co-founders Jonathan Drew and Marvin Samel began selling cigars out of a 16 square foot kiosk at the World Trade Center Mall. The duo eventually expanded, having their own brand—La Vieja Habana—made by La Rosa Cigars and (eventually) Nick Perdomo of Tabacalera Perdomo fame.
The company made their formal introduction to the cigar industry in 1998 (attending the annual industry trade show), followed by the gutsy decision for Drew to move to Nicaragua full time; living and working out of the factory where the cigars were being rolled. In 1999 the company collaborated with Scott “ACID” Chester to debut the now-world-famous ACID brand, using Chester's likeness and artistic styling for the cigar's design. To this day, the company remains tight-lipped about the infusion process, only divulging that it is a natural process, involving authentic oils, herbs, wine, and more for the cigar's unique flavor profiles.
In 2004 Drew Estate moved its headquarters from New York to Miami, followed by the hiring of industry guru Steve Saka as president in the summer of 2005. This decision proved integral in establishing the company as a leader in the realm of ultra-premium traditional smoking experiences; namely, through the debut of the Liga Privada brand in 2008. The Liga brand has since proved to be not only among Drew Estate's most popular, but one of the most highly regarded maduro blends in America. In the years following, Liga Privada has been followed by multiple sister blends, including the Liga Privada T52, Liga Privada Único Serie (a collection of limited Liga-style blends), and Undercrown.
Drew Estate purchased a plot of land on the outskirts of Estelí in 2006; an area locals considered a slummy within the humble city. The outlook turned a one-eighty when Drew Estate converted the plot of land into over 96,000 square feet of cigar manufacturing potential. La Gran Fabrica Drew Estate is now the largest factory in Estelí, as well as a top-five contender in the world. The factory is home to Drew Estate's in-house art studio—Subculture Studios—run by graffiti artist Jessi Flores. In addition, the company hosts "Cigar Safaris" throughout the year, with guest lodging, a cigar lounge, pool, and more, located within the compounds of La Gran Fabrica.
In 2011 Drew Estate hired Willy Herrera, former blender at the boutique El Titan de Bronze factory in Miami's "Little Havana" neighborhood. The decision helped to bolster the company's reach among traditional cigar enthusiasts, with Herrera's Cuban-inspired Herrera Estelí brand launching in 2013. Herrera has since been promoted to the role of Master Blender at Drew Estate, overseeing blends such as Undercrown Shade, Undercrown Sun Grown, Herrera Estelí Norteño, and more.
The company announced it was acquired by Swisher International Inc. in 2014, a company known for its mass-market Swisher Sweets brand. The details of the agreement have never been disclosed, and Drew Estate has since continued to operate under its original founders as a subsidiary of Swisher; with Jonathan Drew recently regaining the title of president at Drew Estate to more closely influence the future of the company.
La Gran Fabrica Drew Estate
La Gran Fabrica Drew Estate is located in Estelí, Nicaragua. The factory is among the industry's largest, producing nearly all of Drew Estate's cigars and housing Subculture Studios and guest rooms for the popular Cigar Safari excursions each year.
Factory size: Corporate