I usually smoke a full bodied, full flavored, strong cigar. Most of the new cigar releases that put my salivary glands into overdrive are smokes of that nature. Who wants to write, or for that matter read about mild, shade wrapped, girly, breakfast sticks? Don’t bother answering that, just keep reading. The answer to that question should be “All of us!”.
The reason most of us stopped smoking mild cigars a long time ago is that they got boring. Boring or not, mild cigars form the base of the retail cigar sales pyramid. I’ve been told by a trusted source that the Champagne blend by Perdomo accounts for over 30% of Perdomo’s sales. Here is a manufacturer with more than ten front marks, each available in multiple wrapper leaves and one blend, in one wrapper which is mild, smooth yet flavorful, dominates their sales. Ask Oliva how valuable the Connecticut Reserve is to their portfolio. The Camacho Connecticut breathed new life into that line as well. As a retailer, I have to keep up with all the “hot” new boutique, full-bodied, spice bomb, ass-kickers for the minority of cigar smoker who buy Cigar Aficionado, follow fantastic cigar blogs like this one and stay on the cutting edge, but if I want to sell tons of cigars I have to keep the humidor filled up with mostly mild to medium-bodied cigars, under seven bucks each.
What I really wanted to talk to you about today is a specific mild cigar. Several years ago Drew Estate took a chance and stepped outside their comfort zone to produce an uninfused cigar. It was called the Industrial Press and was a pretty tasty cigar ,which came in ridiculous sizes and packaging that looked like it was designed in the Soviet Union during the cold war. After that epic fail, their next attempt at a premium, uninfused cigar was dramatically more conservative. Chateau Real.
Chateau Real is a beautiful cigar. The wrappers have been consistently flawless for years. The construction is impeccable, an impressive testament to Drew Estates production abilities. The blend is exquisitely smooth, nutty, creamy and mild. Drew’s website compares them to pre-embargo “Clear Havanas”. I’m not old enough to remember those but if this is what they were like, giddy-up!
My quandary is, why doesn’t the Chateau Real cigar dominate it’s segment of the market. Is it the packaging? I personally love the classic, Cuban-style box and band with perhaps a little French flare. Is it Drew’s reputation as a maker of “infused” cigars? Liga and Undercrown should have secured their rep as a manufacturer of uninfused, premium cigars.
Perhaps a little of both. Perhaps a lack of support on the marketing end for the last few years. Whatever the case, I fear that this cigar is in danger of going away and I don’t want to see that happen. This cigar is simply too good to go away. Could a redux of the packaging and sizes save this brand?
It blows my mind that Chateau Real isn’t one of the best selling, moderately priced, mild cigars on the market. If you haven’t ever smoke one, do yourself a favor.