I’ve been talking about some changes in the direction of this web-site and the big change is I want to make this more of a hard-core web-site.  In my opinion, part of accomplishing this goal is to provide a good balance of new cigar reviews as well as classic cigar reviews.  Today is one of those days, I look at a classic cigar review; and this one is one of the great ones – the Drew Estate Liga Privada No 9.

It’s hard to believe that this cigar is now one that is deemed a classic.  This cigar has already been around for three years.  This was the inaugural cigar in Drew Estate’s now popular “Liga Privada” line – which means private blend.  This refers to the fact that Drew Estate President Steve Saka began experimenting and blending several personal blends.  The “No 9” (aka number none) resulted when Saka selected the ninth blend as his favorite.

For the past couple of years, the Liga Privada T52 and the Liga Privada No. 9 have made for some great cigar conversations.  Many cigar enthusiasts are on one side of the coin or the other on which one they want.   I selected the T52 as my 2009 Cigar of the Year and in a recent Cigar Coop poll, 63% of the readers preferred the T52.  Does this mean the No.9 is not a good cigar?  Not at all, this still makes for a great cigar experience.

Blend Profile

One thing that always is interesting with any of the cigars in the Liga Privada line is the composition of the blend.  The Liga Privada No. 9 blend consists of tobaccos from seven different farms.

Wrapper: Connecticut Broadleaf Maduro
Binder: Brazilian Mata Fina
Filler: Honduran, Nicaraguan

Vitolas Available

Three are four core vitolas for the Liga Privada No. 9 blend:

Corona Double: 7 x 52
Parejo 6 x 52
Robusto 5 x 52
Belicoso 6 x 52

There is also a limited edition 4 1/8 x 60 size vitola called Liga Privada No. 9 Flying Pig.  This blend differs slightly from the core Liga Privada No 9 blend in that it has extra ligero in it.   The information in this review will refer to the core Liga Privada No 9 blend and not the Flying Pig.

Preparation for the Cigar Experience

For this cigar experience, I selected the 6 x 52 Parajo which is a classic toro.  I placed a straight cup into the cap.   Upon taking some dry draws on the pre-light draw, I detected cocoa powder with a slight hint of pepper.  Given the deep rich color of the Connecticut Broadleaf Maduro wrapper, these flavor notes did not surprise me.   I then toasted the foot and prepared to enjoy this cigar.

Flavor Profile

The initial draws produced a lot of smoke but also some very interesting flavor notes.  In addition to bittersweet chocolate and cherry sweetness, but there was also exotic spice in the background.  Around 5 percent into the smoke, the spice subsided a bit and I still got some pepper hints through the nose.  Closer to 10 percent into the smoke, the bittersweet chocolate morphs into more of a classic coffee/espresso flavor.   The sweetness adds on some raisin notes to go along with the cherry.   At the same time, I even detected some cream in the background.  This cigar is a prime example of what a complex cigar should be all about.

Around 20 percent into the Liga Privada No 9 cigar experience, the exotic spice that was still present had morphed into more of a traditional baker’s spice.   This would be in the background as the cherry/raisin sweetness and coffee/ espresso notes were still in the forefront.   Around one third of the way into the cigar experience, the coffee notes take on more of a roasted coffee flavor (or what I term the “chock full o nuts” roasted coffee flavor you get in New York City).

At the midway point the baker’s spice now morphed back into more of a classic pepper spice.  Some of the sweetness also began to subside.   I detected flavor notes of nut.  Each time I smoke the Liga Privada No 9, I try to figure out the specific type of nut, but have been unable to do so.   This nut flavor does move toward the forefront and competes with the coffee notes.

In the last third, the nut moves more toward the background and the coffee notes make a return.   It is on the finish where a lot of the flavors that present seem to all come together: coffee, the unique cherry/raisin sweetness, pepper spice, and nut.  In this last part of the cigar experience, I detected pepper through the nose.

The nub is cool and firm on the finish – not harsh at all.  This is consistent each time I have the Liga Privada No. 9.

Burn and Draw

A staple of the Liga Privada line by Drew Estate is flawless construction.  This carries through to the Liga Privada No. 9.   This cigar gets high marks in burn and draw time and time again – excellent burn and excellent draw.

Strength and Body

The Liga Privada No. 9 has just the right amount of strength.   It’s in the upper end of the medium range, but not quite into the medium to full range (this comment excludes the Flying Pig blend because it has more ligero).  As for the body, the flavor notes are rich and robust (and reflect its beautiful wrapper).  I put this one right into the full-bodied category.

Final Thoughts

My reasons for liking the T52 are the little extra pop that you get in the strength flavor.  However, one cannot underestimate the quality and flavors from the Liga Privada No. 9.  This cigar offers a lot in the way of complexity as well.   While these are a currently a core Drew Estate product line, the tobaccos used in these cigars are limited so it is not unusual to find this back-ordered.  Still this is a special cigar and one of these cigars that will satisfy novice and experienced enthusiasts.


Draw: Excellent
Burn: Excellent
Complexity: High
Strength: Medium
Body: Full
Assessment: Memorable

Disclaimer:  The cigar for this assessment was purchased from Outland Cigars in Charlotte, NC.