Review: Drew Estate Liga Privada #9
Jonathan Drew has come a long way from hawking sticks at a kiosk in the World Trade Center to building one of the hottest brands on the planet. Beginning with a simple idea of shaking up the cigar cosmos continuum with infused cigars, he continues to reshape the cigar landscape with top-rated traditional smokes that are taking the world by storm. The Liga Privada or “private blend” line started as an internal project designed to line the company’s own humidors and wasn’t intended for consumer release. The company spared no expense in developing this line of cigars using only the finest, and in some cases some of the rarest, tobaccos available. Again, not for us, but for themselves! Since the DE torcedores are allowed to smoke the blends they roll, it didn’t take long for them to latch onto this baby. In fact, they were smoking them so much, that the company had to remove the #9 from the list of sticks they could smoke due to the rarified nature and high cost of the tobaccos used. Taking matters into their own hands, they developed another blend using a different set of primings from the #9 which would evolve into the much heralded Undercrown series.
With a hand-fermented espresso-colored Connecticut broadleaf wrapper cloaking a Brazillian mata fina binder, the #9 puro offers a rich blend of Cuban-seed long fillers from over 5 farms in Nicaragua and Honduras. The construction is flawless with a firm foot and is taught throughout. Run your nose over the somewhat toothy #9 wrapper and you’re greeted with a lush floral aroma mixed with notes of tea and a hint of molasses. If this lady is sitting on top of your humi, she won’t last long.
Here are the stats:
- Profile: Medium-Full
- Vitola: Parejo Toro
- Length / Ring Gauge: 6.0″ (152mm) / 52
- Purchased: Local Humidor
- Origin: Nicaragua
- Wrapper: Connecticut Broadleaf #1 Darks
- Binder: Plantation-Grown Brazilian Mata Fina
- Filler: Select Honduran and Nicaraguan Cuban Seed
- Cutter: Xikar punch
- Lighter: Colibri Firebird 4-jet
- Price Range: $12 – $14
My recommendation is to use a good cutter for this complex mama. A punch is a viable option, but I think you lose some of the complexity and potentially some flavor. Still, you’ll get a solid cold draw from just a punch. Finally, when using a punch, do not exert too much force because the cap, at least on this particular cigar, was on the delicate side. The cold draw offers hints of leather, espresso and earth, but there’s A LOT going on. The taste of the wrapper is delicious and because you’re so lost in Liga Land, you don’t notice your hand involuntarily lighting up your Colibri until you open your eyes and see the flame dancing around the foot.
The initial inhale is a burst of flavored complexity punctuated by delicious notes of earth and espresso. The finish is semi-sweet and toasty. Rich and chewy, the #9 continues to dive into its flavor palette with a complex, lush blend of oak and molasses. The second and final thirds offer a savory mix of leather and wood within a continued complexity that will require many of us to smoke a box of these things before we can adequately do justice to the #9’s overall flavor wheel. Again, the build and roll is perfect evidenced by a flawless burn. Don’t rush her and she’ll reward you with lovely near-white ash down to the nub. No small wonder this baby earned #10 honors on Cigar Aficionado’s 2015 Cigar of the Year.
The #9 is one of the industry’s finest creations and shouldn’t be missed. Dig through the cushions of your couch and run to the nearest humidor – pronto! You don’t need to put gas in your car, walk. These fine ladies come in boxes of 24 and 48, but they are a limited run. Boxes of 24 can top out at over $300 and singles can run as high as $14. But that fourteen bucks can buy an awful lot of heaven. One of my top 5 for sure and will continue to be. – In Fumo Pax!