After hoofing it around Drew Estate’s planet-sized booth with Pedro, we climbed to the top of the bridge at the heart of the booth to talk to Jonathan Drew about his new venture, John Drew Brands.
JD tells us that the next step for him doesn’t involve leaving Drew Estate behind, it’s a matter of combining two separate aspects of his life. Drew Estate being one of them and John Drew Brands the other.
5 years ago he and Jeff Borysiewicz from Corona Cigars bought 10 acres of land in Orlando to build a distillery. The product is just hitting the market now, with most of it shipping in January. The first John Drew Brands product is an innovative 90-proof spirit called Brixton Mash Destroyer. It’s a 4-year old Kentucky straight bourbon mashed with a 5-year old Florida rum. JD tells us that the Brooklyn of London is called Brixton, which is the reason for the name, and that the label incorporates the work of a veteran graffiti artist from Italy. The idea being to develop an American spirit with both international elements and appeal.
The next product is 90-proof rye whiskey from Alberta, Canada called John Drew Rye. This is the first entry in the John Drew Collection, which will eventually also include a bourbon. The choice in the source for the rye is a good call, as it is also used by heavy hitters like WhistlePig (a favorite of mine).
The third product that is a part of the initial spirit launch is the 80-proof Dovetail Rum. It’s a sweet “friends and family” rum JD describes as having a big finish and notes of caramel, nougat and vanilla. It is aged for 4 years in spent bourbon barrels.
Switching to the Drew Estate side of the spectrum, JD talks about the Pappy Van Winkle cigar, a Kentucky fire cured cigar aged in bourbon barrels and made exclusively for Pappy & Company. There’s a new Pappy Van Winkle Tradition cigar, which is a traditional cigar blended by Willy Herrera and approved by Julian Van Winkle.
From there JD talks about other new Drew Estate products as well as Philip Zanghi’s Debonaire and Indian Motorcycle cigars. Drew Estate’s history and philosophy are also discussed. JD ends our interview talking about how important legacies and interpersonal connections in the cigar industry are to him, and his excitement and optimism for the future.