Liga Privada T-52

Liga Privada T52

Origin : NicaraguaDrew Estate
Format : Toro
Size : 6 x 52
Wrapper : American Habano
Filler : DR, Honduras, Nicaragua
Binder : Brazilian Mata-Fina
Hand-Made
Price : ~$10-14 each
More info about purchasing Liga Privada T-52 cigars...

Drew Estate's Liga Privada No. 9 has received a fair amount of hype. Known mostly for flavored and infused cigars, when Drew Estate ventures into more traditional lines of cigars it always raises some eyebrows and draws attention. Their Liga Privada line of cigars seems to be their best received offering of traditional smokes. The T-52 is a new cigar in the line that hasn’t even been released yet. It is set to be released at this year's IPCPR convention. T.G., a very generous brother at The Herf Hut Cigar Forum, offered to share one of these new cigars that he was lucky enough to get his hands on a little early. Thanks T.G., I really appreciate it.

The really special thing about this new cigar is the wrapper. It is a new, never used before and exclusive wrapper that the folks at Drew Estate have dubbed “Stalk Cut Habano”. Rather that trying to tell the story myself I’ll just quote the information that T.G. sent me that he got from Jonathan Drew. In this explanation the wrapper is referred to as American Habano, but apparently they have changed their minds and decided to refer to it as Stalk Cut Habano. Read on…

The history of the “Liga Privada T-52″ begins three and a half years ago when Steve Saka joined Drew Estate. Just at that time, Nick Melillo, Steve Saka and I were heading back and forth to Brazil and Dominican Republic working with certain well known growers to obtain a wrapper that was heavy and clean that could be grown excusively for Drew Estate.

While we saw some amazing Brazillian Habano and Dominican Corojo wrappers, we had not yet made up our minds to move forward with the purchase, as we were looking at a half million dollar investment, and wanted a certain taste profile and dark brown, rich appearance. We were, however, very impressed by both of these wrappers.

Then it happened …

On a regular farm trip to Connecticut for the purposes of purchasing a barn of Connecticut Broadleaf Maduro with Universal Leaf Company (Lancaster Leaf), we stumbled upon a farm that was growning a very unique looking “Stalk Cut Tobacco” in addition to the Broadleaf. This American farmer (whose name I will reveal once the brand is released at the RTDA show this summer) called the wrapper leaf – “American Habano.” After a few hours of inspection, we were impressed, but we tried to keep our composure, as this beautiful leaf had the exact color and thickness qualities that we had been flying all over the damn world looking for. Over and over, I kept making hand motions to Saka to stop smiling and looking so darn excited. It was difficult, cause he’s just that kind of guy… Lucky for us, the farmer was complaining that this experimental tobacco would be the last year of crop unless he found a buyer who was willing to look past this one crop and make a real committment. He said that other brokers had loved the tobacco, but they didn't want to pay the high price which is required to grow it the right way.

In any event, we took a break for lunch and he treated us to a hamburger at a true American small town diner. During lunch, Saka and I could barely eat (just imagine that), with our complete attention on burning the hell out of that “American Habano” for combustion and flavor. Needless to say, we made our first purchase by the next morning and called the bank in Nicaragua preparing them for the good or bad news, depending on which side you’re looking at. We spent a pretty penny…!

We were excited and nervous, cause we still had to remove all the tobacco from the barn, ship it to Nicaragua, and place it in Pilones for curing. This wrapper is no joke. Thick and oily, and dark redish brown – we had no idea where the bulk would take this stuff. Well, almost three years later it finally, finally burned. Saka still had a job (just jokin … well), and I still had a bank. And together, we made one of the very finest investments in the history of Drew Estate. Welcome “Liga Privada T-52.” Welcome “American Habano” Wrapper.

And please remember, there is more to the story – Filler and Binder - which has a story of its own yet to come …

———————————–

(When I asked for confirmation that stalk cutting was what I thought it meant):

Regular Tobacco Picking is when the tobacco is picked from the field, starting at the bottom of the plant and then moving up (over a number of weeks), then put into little hands of tobacco and hung in the barn. Stalk Cut is when the entire stalk is cut and removed from the farm, then hung to dry by the stalk in the barn. Broadleaf is the only Stalk Cut tobacco that I believe Drew Estate purchases. I do not know of any other tobaccos that are stalk cut at all.

(When I inquired as to why the stalk cut):

1. Stalk Cutting has been out of fashion and basically no one does it anymore for many many years. This is because only the leaves at the bottom hit their full potential and it makes the cost of the tobacco go way up – less money for farmer.

2. Saka gave special instructions to this Farmer in Ct to Stalk Cut the tobacco, so this is an incredibly rare process these days.

3. Why Stalk Cut – By Spear Stalking in the curing brand and hanging the entire stalk, the tobacco retains its natural oils, sap and nutrients and becomes a richer, more flavorful and oily leaf.

I wish I had more information about the filler and binder but like it says above, that information is “yet to come”.

A unique thing about this being a pre-release sample is the cigar band. It is hand written on the back side of an old La Vieja Habana band that I have never seen before. Click the pictures below to see enlarged views of the band. I was not sure what the “_3″ means after the T52, but below is the date of March 23rd, 2009. Don’t know if that is the date it was rolled, or the date it was banded but either way it’s pretty cool. A quick Google search revealed for me what that number 3 means. I saw one of Jonathan Drew’s tweets in which he states “Smoking the 2 Different Final Blends for the new Liga Privada T52 Toro for August release. Very tasty – the #3 seems best.” I am assuming the number 3 blend is the final choice for this cigar since they seem to be handing them out to consumers, but I could not find confirmation of that. I also have no idea that the actual band for this line will look like but it will probably be similar is some way to the Liga Privada No. 9 band if I had to guess, and that’s all that is… a guess.

Liga Privada T52 Band

The Stalk-Cut Habano wrapper is very dark and very oily. It almost feels slippery there is so much oil on this leaf. There are several prominent veins running all over its surface and it looks a little leathery giving it an overall rustic look and feel. It is topped with a large cap that clipped off a little sloppily. It has an aroma that is slightly sweet and a little musty like a maduro cigar. A test draw reveals a nice pull with just a little resistance. Outwardly this appears to be a very nicely constructed cigar.

The first thing that jumps out at you upon lighting this cigar is the incredible amount of smoke it produces. Thick billowing clouds of white smoke fill the air. It starts off very smooth will full on cocoa and leathery notes with a slightly sweet finish. The draw is absolutely flawless and I cannot stop staring at this wrapper. It is absolutely gorgeous and is oily beyond belief. The burn is slow and cool. It is a little jagged but stays even and doesn’t require any attention. The cigar fills the air with a rich and slightly sweet aroma that is wonderful and heady. The T52 starts off amazingly well.

About a third of the way through it mellows out a bit. Cocoa is still the dominate flavor and there is a little bit of pepper that starts to come through. The cocoa dominates this smoke the entire way complimented by notes of leather, coffee bean, and pepper. It picks up a bit towards the end becoming a bit more robust and the pepper notes get stronger. It is a very good medium bodied smoke with excellent flavors, smooth from start to finish.

I have to admit whenever I have a cigar by Drew Estate I approach it with a bit of scepticism. They are so strongly associated with infused and flavored cigars which are something I just don’t enjoy. I wasn’t sure what to expect here; I never had a Liga Privada No. 9. Well I was very pleasantly surprised. The Liga Privada T52 is a strong entry into the relam of traditional cigars. I really enjoyed this cigar and will definitely smoke this one again. I look forward to its release. One of the most striking things about this cigar is the wrapper. It is an absolutely beautiful leaf and it makes an excellent and unique wrapper. I recommend you give this one a try when you get the opportunity. It is a great smoke from beginning to end. I would love to see more cigars like this from Drew Estate. I plan to try the No. 9 very soon (update: you can read my review here).

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10 Comments on “Liga Privada T-52”

  1. Charles Jannace says:

    Israel at Uptown Cigars in Kingston NY gave me a T52 last week and told me that it is Drew’s new flagship cigar. I am smoking it as I read your review. Every aspect of your review is spot on target.
    I was skeptical before lighting this Robusto. That’s why I waited a week. I’ve never wanted to smoke an Acid but have enjoyed other Drew Estate cigars years ago when I smoked non-Cs. I used to buy boxes of Brooklyns from Uptown until the blend changed and turned into way too mild of a cigar.
    The T52 looked surprisingly inviting. The wrapper is everything you said. Beyond that, the construction of the cigar is first rate. Solid in my hand, the head is toothy and supple. The draw is darn near perfect. It started out stronger than tastier but the cocoa came through in spades very quickly. The pepper is present but not overpowering. That sweet aroma, so very Drew, is all through my study now.
    I can see why Israel said flagship. The investment in this line is very obvious. It’s a serious non-C smoke.

  2. Wow, drew estates made something smokable? This makes me feel a bit less nervous about the Dion team up with Drew on the Nosotros.

  3. Ben…you don’t think Drew makes “smokable” cigars? Why…you don’t like ACID? Fact is, its the best selling cigar in the US right now. So obviously, there are people out there that like them. I don’t like the ACIDs, but I love the Liga Privada, which has been a major success for them. Also, the Chateau Reals are a great smoke for someone looking for something mild. Did I mention that all the above smokes burn great? That’s right…they’re ALL smokable. And as for Dion’s teaming up with Drew, that just means that Dion’s smokes will be a perfectly rolled cigar. Nothing but good news for both him and Drew Estate.

  4. I know I will get flamed for saying this, but I am a “serious” cigar smoker. I smoke 5 to 6 cigars a week. And when I am in the mood to switch it up I like to pick up an Acid or a Java. Say what you want about infused cigars, those Drew Estates guys hit the balance perfectly and make a very different, but still quality, flavored cigar.

    Now the Liga is in a class of its own. Deep, rich, incredibly complex and one of the prettiest cigars I have smoked in a long time. I am looking forward to smoking this one as well. Only wish I could afford a box of them.

  5. No flames here man. You might get flamed on a forum, but not here. Everybody has their own tastes. If you enjoy an Acid once and a while, then good for you. Everyone should smoke what they enjoy. My motto is “The best cigar is your favorite cigar”.

    I was really impressed by the T52 and will try the no.9 soon. Like I said, I’ve never been a fan of DE cigars. Even his non-infused one, but the Liga Privada seems to be in a different class from their previous offerings.

  6. The Liga Privada #9 is one of my staple smokes, and I was blown away by the T52. Definitely a much stronger blend than the original. While I don’t usually enjoy flavored or infused cigars, I definitely enjoy the Tabac Especial Negra line…perfect balance between the tobacco and coffee flavor. I recommend giving them a try.

  7. I was amazed with the Liga Privada No.9, very well constructed cigar, good looking, a lot of flavor, and specially a LOT of smoke!!

    I’m looking forward to trying this one with great expectation…

  8. This new cigar is packed with flavor and amazing from the first puff. HIGHLY recommended full bodied smoke.

  9. I’m not a big fan of infused cigars but I do like the Def Sea. Excellent cigar. I also enjoy t he La Vieja Habanas in the larger ring size and I am looking forward to buying a few Liga Privada’s.

  10. I’ve recently smoked several of the No.9s and T52s and found them to be delicious and satisfying. The fact that Steve Saka smokes very little else speaks volumes to thier quality. I also enjoy the Chateau Reals and La Vieja Habanas, as well as the occasional Tabak Especial. Drew Estate is makeing exceptional traditional blends, as well has having the best selling cigar (Kuba Kuba) in their stable.

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