On January 30th, 2017, Drew Estate announced that Jonathan Drew will now fill the role of President and Founder. Two years ago Swisher International, maker of Swisher Sweets and other brands, purchased Drew Estate for an undisclosed sum. Around this time company leadership mostly went dark or left the company outright, including Steve Saka, Chief Executive Officer; Nicholas Melillo, Executive Vice President of International Operations; and others. Based on this, I’m guessing that Swisher International paid a tidy sum for Drew Estate. For the most part, Jonathan Drew went silent as well and started John Drew Brands, which focuses on bourbon, rye, and rum spirits.
Based on the text of the press release, it appears Drew Estate may have lost its creative spirit when Jonathan Drew faded away after the Swisher International purchase.
Below is the full text of the press release.
Drew Estate Returns to its Roots and Announces Jonathan Drew as President of Drew Estate in Multi-Year Deal
Orlando, Florida – Drew Estate announces that Company Founder, Jonathan Drew will return to an executive operating role, following a two-year period since the sale of the company. In a multi-year agreement, Drew Estate has named the entrepreneur, market disrupter, and art curator as “President and Founder” with oversight for the entire portfolio of brands.
The deal is important for the boutique cigar company, as it looks to return to its iconic roots and core values. The objective is to unleash the entire team’s creative power under the leadership of JD who will also continue with his new venture into the spirits industry as CEO of John Drew Brands, a start up initially focused on bourbon, rye, and rum.
“Jonathan Drew is a dynamic entrepreneur, respected tobacco man, and a tenacious brand evangelist. He is the original Disruptor, and I am excited to help build a team around JD that is raw, provocative, and unafraid to challenge the mainstream and take risks,” explained Drew Estate’s CEO Glenn Wolfson. “Jonathan Drew will reduce his travel and event schedule, instead focusing on the Rebirth of Drew Estate with a conceptual lens toward brand building and team building.”
“I’m a student of graffiti … and philosophically I look at tobacco the same way. There is an evolution to the painted walls in the streets, just like there was on the subways back in the day. Change is natural and accepted. You just have to bomb harder and stay true to your technique and style – and always keep loyal to your crew. There’s a lot to learn from areas outside of our main canvas at DE. We will return to high-level curation, mixed media platforms, and true collaboration. We have lost our way a bit, but DE will bubble back 1,000 times stronger. Believe me,” stated Jonathan Drew.
Jonathan Drew, and his business partner Marvin Samel founded Drew Estate in 1996 first as a small shop in the World Trade Center, and later in 1998 JD moved to Estelí, Nicaragua with the vision to blend the urban walls of New York City with the art of premium hand-made cigars. In 1999, JD released the ACID Infused Cigar Brand, and built a small production facility where he could manage the company’s cigar manufacturing, which later turned into many small factories scattered across the city. In 2006, JD broke ground on La Gran Fabrica Drew Estate overlooking a majestic valley. At over 174,000 square feet it is one of the largest hand made cigar factories on the planet. In 2014 Jonathan Drew, and Co-Founder Marvin Samel sold Drew Estate for an undisclosed sum to Swisher International.
About Drew Estate, Inc.
Founded in New York City in 1996, Drew Estate has become one of the fastest growing tobacco companies in the world. Under their mantra “The Rebirth of Cigars”, Drew Estate has led the “Boutique Cigar” movement by innovating new elements to the tobacco industry with their unique tobaccos and blending styles that have attracted new and traditional cigar enthusiasts. In their Gran Fabrica Drew Estate, the Nicaraguan headquarters, Drew Estate produces a variety of brands such as ACID, Herrera Estelí, Herrera Estelí Norteño, Kentucky Fired Cured, Liga Privada, MUWAT, Natural by Drew Estate, Nica Rustica, Pappy Van Winkle Barrel Fermented Cigars, Tabak Especial, Undercrown, and Java by Drew Estate.
Smokey Butts and I have met time with Jonathan Drew many times. He treats our father like royalty. We love this guy. He is a creative force in the cigar and now the spirits industry. We wish him all the best in his return to Drew Estate.
On the other hand, I’m not sure how he can execute on his creative tendencies in the U.S. with the strict FDA (FUFDA) regulations currently in place. Maybe Drew knows something we don’t. . . the end of FDA regulation of premium cigars.