Understanding Our Cigar Blends: Tradition vs Barrel Fermented

In 2014 we launched our line of Pappy Van Winkle Barrel Fermented cigars, in partnership with Drew Estate, the largest producers of handmade cigars in Nicaragua. Then in 2020 we launched a second line of cigars with Drew Estate, known as the Pappy Van Winkle Tradition. With two distinct Pappy Van Winkle cigar blends, customers now can enjoy two different styles in a range of vitolas. With more choices, customers often ask us what is the right cigar for me and what is the difference between the two blends? We hope this serves as an introduction to what makes the Barrel Fermented and Tradition each unique and why both make for a great cigar to be enjoyed with your spirit of choice.

Our Pappy Van Winkle Barrel Fermented cigar is a long-filler, premium cigar rolled in limited quantities at La Gran Fabrica Drew Estate in Estelí, Nicaragua. Deep barrel fermentation is the process that makes this cigar vastly different from anything on the market. Hand selected tobacco leaves, from Kentucky, are packed into small torquettes (or bundles of tobacco), which are then loaded into Pappy Van Winkle bourbon barrels. Water is then added, while immense pressure is applied to the torquettes via railroad jacks. The tobacco is removed 2-3 times per year, shaken out, then repacked. The total process of fermentation takes 12-18 months, leaving a truly unique flavor profile and aroma that contributes to its hickory, charcoal and overall earthier flavor.

One could argue this also creates a lightly stronger and richer flavor profile, when compared to the Tradition, best paired with spicier spirits such as rye. Our Barrel Fermented cigar is hand rolled in a double wrapper, featuring a “tapa Negra” wrapper over a Mexican San Andres base wrapper, and uses tobacco from Kentucky, Mexico and Indonesia. They come in a hand-crafted box of 10 cigars available in the following vitolas: Robusto, Toro, Churchill and Flying Pig.

Our Pappy Van Winkle Tradition features an Ecuadorian Habano Oscuro wrapper, Indonesian Binder and aged fillers from Nicaragua and the Dominican Republic. This is considered a very traditional "el habano" cigar, using Cuban seed, a handpicked blend and the traditional Cuban “entubado” rolling style. This cigar is meant to honor our family’s bourbon legacy and the classic cigar making process.

Our father, Julian Van Winkle picked this blend, created by master blender Willy Herrera in 2012, and is considered the ultimate cigar pairing for bourbon and American whiskeys. It is also considered a slightly stronger cigar with a flavor profile that is a little spicier, seedier, and more of a natural tobacco flavor, compared to the Barrel Fermented. The Tradition also is considered a slightly cleaner smoke, and is very balanced. This full bodied, leathery, earthy cigar can best be enjoyed on vacation at the beach or on the golf course with your friends. The Tradition also comes in a hand-crafted box of 10 cigars available in the following vitolas: Robusto, Toro, and Churchill.

We created both lines of cigars to be enjoyed by the novice and cigar aficionados alike. While each blend has its own unique flavor profile we believe both blends can be enjoyed by anyone who appreciates a premium cigar. We encourage you to sample both blends and let us know which you prefer best and why.