Celebrating American Tobacco: A Look at Drew Estate’s Barn Smoker Program

Jonathan Drew at the Drew Estate Barn Smoker

Jonathan Drew at Drew Estate Barn SmokerFor approximately 20 years, Drew Estate has been shaking up the cigar industry and causing people to reimagine their view of cigars and the people who enjoy them. With its Acid premium cigars as well as its more traditional offerings, such as Liga Privada and Herrera Esteli, Drew Estate has blended a formula that includes great-tasting cigars; unique, gritty urban art; and raw, hip hop-inspired marketing campaigns. The combination makes cigar smoking more accessible to those who might not be attracted to the traditional and sometimes stuffy image that has surrounded cigar enjoyment for so long. Drew Estate’s “Rebirth of Cigars” has inspired a lot of people to not only try the company’s cigars but also to adopt its lifestyle, with many consumers proudly wearing Drew Estate gear or even tattooing themselves with Drew Estate logos. Their adoration for the company is real, and the company zealously returns that love in a number of ways, including the Drew Estate Barn Smoker program, which brings consumers and retailers to the farms where some of the tobacco used in making the company’s brands are grown or processed for a fun day of education and fellowship.

“The Drew Estate Barn Smoker program is a completely unique experience, bringing the cigar consumer to the barn level and teaching them about the ins and outs of tobacco growing, processing and finishing,” says Joe Gro, Drew Estate’s digital marketing manager. “Jonathan Drew envisioned the Barn Smoker program to highlight the real American tobacco experience when he started the first event in Hopkinsville, Kentucky, in 2014.”

Drew Estate Barn SMoker

That first Barn Smoker showcased the dark fire-cured tobacco used in Drew Estate’s Kentucky Fire-Cured cigars, and it was held on the farm where the tobacco goes through the fire-curing process. The event featured local cuisine, and Drew Estate’s partnerships with liquor vendors allowed the company to offer tastings of spirits as well. It also proved successful at raising money for Cigars for Warriors, a nonprofit organization that sends cigars and cigar accessories to soldiers and sailors deployed overseas. In all, the event was so popular that the company made plans to return to Hopkinsville the following year and to expand the program to other locations.

“As a whole, the Barn Smoker events promote tobacco or tobacco processes utilized by Drew Estate to produce its cigars,” Gro explains. “Our other main focus is to raise money for Cigars for Warriors. We provide both a portion of the ticket revenue as well as unique items from Subculture Studios that are raffled to attendees. Our efforts at Barn Smokers result in at least $10,000 raised per event in donations.”

Barn Smoker and Mark Ryan at Drew Estate Barn SmokerOver the next four years, the company expanded the program. In 2015, the company added the Connecticut Barn Smoker in the heart of the Connecticut River Valley, where the company sources the wrapper leaf for all of its Liga Privada cigars. In 2017, Drew Estate partnered with the L.A. Poche Perique processing facility to bring the Barn Smoker program to Louisiana. In 2018, the company significantly expanded its Barn Smoker program with the addition of the Florida Barn Smoker and the Pennsylvania Barn Smoker. The Florida Barn Smoker was held at Jeff Borysiewicz’s farm in Clermont, Florida, where the Florida Sun Grown tobacco used in Drew Estate’s FSG cigars is cultivated. Held in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, the Pennsylvania Barn Smoker focused on the area’s rich history in tobacco growing and highlighted a preview of two cigars containing Pennsylvania Broadleaf tobacco that have yet to be released.

“These events are hugely popular for the communities that host them,” Gro says. “They’re proud of their historic association with tobacco, and they want to tell their stories to the rest of the world. The Barn Smokers also align with Drew Estate’s mission of consumer education and engagement, allowing our consumers to take their passion for cigars beyond the smoking experience and gain a new appreciation for the multifaceted processes involved in the creation of the cigars they love and enjoy. By demonstrating how tobacco is grown, harvested and produced from seed to cigar, we create a more knowledgeable, passionate and dedicated consumer, all of which benefit not just Drew Estate but the entire premium cigar industry.”

From the Barns to the Show Floor
For 2019, Drew Estate is expanding its Barn Smoker program yet again—this time adding a special presentation to be held on the floor of the Tobacco Plus Expo (TPE) in February. Dubbed the West Coast Barn Smoker, Drew Estate will be offering the interactive, entertaining and educational experience at the Drew Estate Lounge on the show floor all three days of the TPE. The company will highlight its Acid, Tabak Especial and Herrera Esteli brands during the show. While the company is keeping details of the first West Coast Barn Smoker secret, TPE attendees can be sure to know that they’re in for an experience of a lifetime.

“We plan on capturing the essence of the Barn Smoker program and bringing it in an exciting format for the West Coast Barn Smoker,” Gro concludes. “It’s going to feature similar elements to a normal Barn Smoker and be a complete experiential event for attendees.”

Make plans to attend the premier West Coast Barn Smoker at the Tobacco Plus Expo from Feb. 11-13, 2019. To register, visit tobaccoplusexpo.com.

This story first appeared in the January/February 2019 issue of Tobacco Business magazine. Members of the tobacco industry are eligible for a complimentary subscription to our magazine. Click here for details.

– By Stephen A. Ross, senior editor of Tobacco Business Magazine.