If you are a cigar enthusiast, then May was your month as all roads led to the Drew Estate Florida Barn Smoker in Clermont, Florida and the Florida Sun Grown farm.
The 2019 Florida Barn Smoker, the 4th annual, is officially in the books and what a day it was. Sunshine, Cigars, Food, Drink, and Tobacco Education filled the day for over 600 Drew Estate fans and cigar enthusiasts. This year I attended the event with two of my Stogie Press associates, Alton Otto and Mike Holmes, both of which were Barn Smoker virgins, but not anymore.
The day started at 7 AM, as we took the 1 hour and 40 minute drive over to Clermont, FL. We arrived within about 20 min of the opening of the event. We waited patiently to get through the registration line as we chatted with fellow enthusiasts. The line moved quickly as we got our swag bag and then headed off to a second line to pick up our Barn Smoker cigar collection that costs an extra $10.00, but it was a great collection including some of the most popular Drew Estate craft, along with the featured Florida Sun Grown cigar, which is a collaboration between Drew Estate and Corona Cigar Company. The collection also included an Undercrown “A”, Feral Pig, and even a Pappy Van Winkle.
Let’s Get Things Rolling
With our cigars in hand, and registration complete, the next stop was the Tabak Especial coffee and cigar tent where we got juiced up on some amazing coffee and received a Tabak Especial cigar which was included in the $10.00 cigar cost. In fact, there was a booklet as part for the cigar package that got you more cigars as walked to different booths through the day, there was also 4 drink tickets in the booklet that got you samples of various spirits and beer. Soft drinks and water were complementary throughout the event. The booklet also served as the raffle ticket number for the raffles at the end of the event.
Once the attendees got settled in, Pedro Gomez, Jonathan Drew, Jeff Borysiewicz, and Fabien Ziegler kicked off the event which included some speeches and updates about Drew Estate and the Florida Sun Grown farm. We also had a moment of silence for all our fallen men and women in uniform.
Here is a video of the opening remarks, I know it is long, but if you are a Drew Estate fan you can handle it I am sure. Everyone was on point and the message was clear, find what you love – follow your passion – live your dream.
After the opening remarks, the attendees were then broken into 3 different groups to start the tour which included:
- Farm Tour – hosted by Jeff Borysiewicz – owner of Corona Cigars, which included planting your own seedling
- Curing Barn Tour – hosted by Jonathan Drew where you learned about the different ways tobacco is cured and the how fermentation works
- Blending Tour – hosted by Drew Estate Master Blender where you learned about the intricacies of tobacco blending
I have to say, the fields looked awesome this year and the crop seemed quite healthy. Last year they had an issue with the crop and the attendees did not get the full appreciation of fields.
Learn to Roll !
This year there was also a hands on rolling station which afforded attendees an opportunity to learn how to apply a wrapper leaf to a cigar. The event was hosted by Henry Pineda and Michael Giannini, the GM for Ventura Cigars. In case you are wondering what the connection between Ventura and Drew Estate is, the two company’s collaborated on the creation of the Archetype Axis Mundi cigar.
Here is a fun video of Michael teaching us about the technique of applying a wrapper to a cigar and the attempts of some brave souls trying it out.
600 plus Attendees
The 2019 Drew Estate Florida Barn Smoker was the largest in its 4 year history. I spoke to some of the Drew Estate staff and they were over joyed with the growing attendance that included enthusiasts from way beyond Florida itself. As I looked about under the tent I was trying to take it all in and instead of writing about it, I chose to film a fly through of the attendance using my Smove mobile device. Take a moment and watch the following video, if you were there, you are probably in the video.
Food and Libations
After the tours, lunch was ready to be served, and as it was last year, the BBQ lunch was spectacular and prepared and served by Pig Floyd’s BBQ. It included a perfectly smoked brisket, tasty plantains, beans and rice, and my favorite – buttery/cheesy corn on the cob. Lets not forget the chocolate cookies.
Of course all that goodness requires another cigar and some spirits, if you so desired. So off to the spirits tents we went, to sample some fine libations.
20 Years of ACID
As the day drew on, we took a moment to get out of the heat and entered the ACID tent. This was another new attraction for this year, as Drew Estate celebrates 20 years of the ACID line. Considering the weather was rather hot, it was nice to have an air conditioned tent with the best Chicago mix man, DJ Eli, in the house. He was flown in to play the tunes as we chilled out in a fog filled, flashing light, makeshift nightclub. We sipped cocktails and got to experience another Corona Cigar Company exclusive, the ACID Beach.
Michael Noel Leatherworx
You may have seen my review of the craft from this luxury leather works company, and they are doing something right as Bryan James was in the house with even more creations for the cigar enthusiast. If you have not checked out his line of products, I highly recommend you do. Everything made is crafted from top quality leather and made with the cigar lover in mind – by a man who is a cigar lover himself. You can see all his offerings and order directly at https://michaelnoelleleatherworx.com/ . Checkout his latest drink and cigar holder – very cool indeed!
Cigars for Warriors
Of course it would not be a Barn Smoker, if we did not raise money for Cigars for Warriors. This year, the Florida Barn Smoker raised over $12,000 for the charity through sales of raffle tickets and donations. There were plenty of raffle prizes including 3 Florida Sun Grown, Mega Standing Ashtrays!
Once the raffles were completed, the event ended for those with general admission tickets. The VIP ticket holders were guests of Jonathan Drew and the Drew Estate team for a special VIP dinner. As for the rest of us, we happily departed with plenty of cigars, swag, and a full stomach. Here is a gallery of the many happy faces at the event. You can click any picture to enlarge it.
I would like to thank Drew Estate for being a loyal sponsor of Stogie Press and look forward to more Drew Estate events in the years to come. Once again, follow your passion and live your dreams. If a young kid from Brooklyn, NY can take a small kiosk of cigars and turn it into the largest cigar factory in the world, you can certainly do what it is you dream of.