Geez, what can I say. There is only 7 days left to 2020 and we all know what a shit show of a year this has been. That has not stopped me from sampling cigars and talking about them here on Stogie Press. Although, some of you out there are smoking the year of the Ox, from various manufactures, I am here to report on the Year of the Rat, a cigar that actually had nothing to do with the Chinese zodiac when it was launched. In fact it had everything to do with the Miami Panthers, hockey team.
You see, in 2016, Drew Estate was going to sponsor a cigar lounge at the home of the Miami Panthers (BB&T Center in Sunrise, Fl.). The guys at Drew Estate decided there should be a special cigar to commemorate the opening of the lounge and they chose to call that cigar “The Year Of The Rat”, which is named for the year (1996) when Panthers Right Wing, Scott Mellanby, killed a rat in the locker room with his stick prior to the team’s home opener.
Mellanby proceeded to go out on the ice and scored two goals with that stick. The team coined it the “rat trick”. He quickly became a fan favorite spawning the “rat trick” craze, where fans would litter the ice with thousands of plastic rats after each Panthers goal. Twenty years later, Drew Estate sponsored the cigar lounge and introduced The Year of the Rat in 2016.
Of cours we are in the year is 2020, and the Chinese Zodiac says it is the “Year of the Rat”, and we all know the year was a shit show and we would rather forget about it. But the Drew Estate, Year of the Rat? That is worth talking about! I learned about the rebirth of this cigar at the Tobacco Plus Expo (TPE) 2020 trade show in Las Vegas way back in January, before we knew much about Covid. The Drew Estate team were handing the Rats out like candy at one of shows evening events. Yea, that was one of the last major cigar events in 2020.
As far as the Rat goes, other than the fact that the 2020 Year of the Rat has a golden outer sleeve on it, the 2020 version and 2016 version are essentially the same, with regards to size and blend.
The Year of the Rat is expressed in a single (5.5 x 46) corona vitola with a twist cap head. The blend is described as:
- Wrapper – Connecticut broadleaf
- Binder – Brazilian
- Filler – Nicaraguan and Honduran
The 2020 Drew Estate Year of the Rat comes packaged in 10-count boxes and carries an MSRP of $15.99/cigar.
For this review, I sampled two Year of the Rats, which I received as part of a Drew Estate, Undercrown 2020 sampler box earlier in the year.
Once you remove the golden outer sleeve from the 2020 Rat, you are presented with satin smooth, dark brown corona. The wrapper has some decent mottling running through it and a few veins and bumps. Giving it a light squeeze here and there, there was just a slight give along the barrel. The presentation is finished with a well applied twist cap.
The 2020 Year of the Rat is well adorned. This is one you cant miss in a humidor, with is bright gold foil out sleeve. There is also two bands that brand the cigar. The primary band is blue and while and declare this as the “Year of the Rat” with the standard Drew Estate Undercrown logo printed on the back.. The secondary footer band uses a blue and gold motif and declares the cigar as a ‘Limited Edition 2020’.
Running the Rat along the nose, I picked up a sweet floral aroma along the barrel and a slightly pungent and earthy foot.
As I sliced the cap straight across the shoulder, I gave this one a few cold draw puffs that had a decent restriction and offered notes of earth, sweetness, and pepper.
I cold puffed this a bit more enjoying the pre-light notes, but eventually I had to warm the foot and start the journey, which I did with a double flame torch. The opening notes greeted my nasals with a peppery spice and graced the palate with a hint of sweetness. Follow along as I burn the Rat to ash.
Cigar Review Notes
- Initial light offers peppery spice and a hint of sweetness
- Thick creamy smoke pours off the foot
- Dark chocolate notes quickly evolve on the palate
- White ash forms on a medium char line
- Sweetness increases moving through the first third
- Ash falls revealing a well formed and centered burn cone
- Nice oiling developing above the burn line
- Extreme smoke volume fills the palate
- Cedar notes join the mix
- Savory spice enters moving into the second third
- Early dark chocolate morphs into a Cocoa nuance
- Ash gets flaky
- Touch of citrus deep in the second third
- Delicate fruity sweetness joins the profile near the start of the final third
- Final brings notes of increased spice down to the nub
- Medium Strength
- Total Smoking Time was 1 hour and 20 minutes
Overall, the Drew Estate Year of the Rat 2020 was a delicious corona that had a well balanced array of developing flavors and aromas through the 80 plus minute journey. With minimal burn issues the rich broadleaf wrapper burned well from foot to nub. the journey started with pepper and sweetness and ended with spice and fruity sweetness. In between there were palate pleasing notes that would intrigue the most discerning palate. This is certainly a box worthy cigar to smoke some now and age the rest. I rate this a 95.
Point Deductions: (-1) Mild Wave in burn; (-1) Slightly Flaky Ash
Bonus Points: (+1) Buy A Box; (+1) Pleasant Experience Across Multiple Samples; (+1) Decent Oiling Above the Char Line