Drew Estate Liga Privada T52 (My 2009 Cigar of the Year)

The Liga Privada T52 is truly a special cigar that has received a lot of accolades on this web-site.  In 2009, this was selected as my Cigar of the Year.   This past weekend, the cigar was officially inducted into the Cigar Coop Hall of Fame.   I figured with all of these accolades, this cigar is long overdue for a detailed assessment on this web-site.   This cigar has now been on the market for about two years, and it has already established itself as a classic.  I never tire of this blend.

 “Liga Privada”  means private blend.  This refers to the fact that Drew Estate President Steve Saka began experimenting and blending several personal blends.  The T52 the follow-up to the Liga Privada No. 9. For the past couple of years, the Liga Privada T52 and the Liga Privada No. 9 have made for some great cigar debates.  Many cigar enthusiasts are on one side of the coin or the other on which Liga Privada is preferred.   In a recent Cigar Coop poll, 63% of the readers preferred the T52 over the No. 9.  This is not a knock on the No. 9 as that is a great cigar too.

Let’s analyze what makes the Liga Privada T52 so special in my book:

Blend Profile

One thing that always is interesting with any of the cigars in the Liga Privada line is the composition of the blend

Wrapper: Stalk-cut Connecticut (American) Habano
Binder: Brazilian Mata Fina
Filler: Honduran, Dominican, Nicaraguan

The distinguishing factor is the American Stalk-Cut Habano wrapper.  The American Habano wrapper is a Connecticut Broadleaf wrapper of Stalk Cut Tobacco.  For Stalk Cut Tobacco, this means when the leaf is cut, the entire leaf is cut – including the stalk.   When the leaf is hung to dry, it is hung to dry from the stalk . For the T52, this provides a beautiful dark/reddish wrapper.   It basically reminded me of a darker shade of a Colorado wrapper.  Drew Estate is not the only company doing this (Berger & Argenti have employed this technique with their Clasico), but they have clearly taken this to the next level.

Vitolas Available

There are four core vitolas for the Liga Privada T52 blend.  The Flying Pig vitola was a limited run.

Corona Doble: 7 x 54
Toro 6 x 52
Robusto 5 x 52
Belicoso 6 x 52
Flying Pig: 4 1/8 x 60 (Limited)

Preparation for the Cigar Experience

My go-to vitola with the T52 is the Toro, so I figured this should be the vitola I discuss in this assessment.  After placing a straight cut into the American Habano cap, I was treated to some very nice flavors on the dry draw of leather, cedar, wood, and a hint of citrus.  Overall a satisfactory pre-light draw, but it’s truly the smoking experience of the T52 that makes it special – so on to firing this one up.

Flavor Profile

The initial flavors of the Liga Privada T52 provided a nice complex profile right from the beginning.  These flavors included sweet caramel, coffee, leather, a hint of orange, and some pepper.   As the flavor profile began to develop it is the coffee, orange, and pepper spices that moved to the forefront.  The caramel and leather did subside quickly.

Early in the smoke, the pepper subsided a bit, but then picked up around the 1/3 point.   I’ve noticed this happened a few times throughout the Liga Privada T52 smoke.  It is around the 1/3 point where I noticed the body of the cigar picks up and the flavor notes become deeper.  It is also around this point that I detected cream notes in the background.  No doubt, the T52 was produced a complex smoke.

It is in that second third where I noticed the cream move more toward the forefront.   The spice did subside again in the second third, helping the cream notes stand out with the coffee.   I also noticed some classic chocolate notes emerge during this part of the smoke.   The orange and pepper spice notes were still there. In a nutshell, the flavors just kept coming.

On the last third, the orange notes pretty much dissipate and the pepper spice notes finally held their position in the forefront.  The T52 has a bit of a spice kick on the finish.  The finish to the T52 was flavorful to the end.  It provides a perfect cool and firm nub to close out the smoking experience.

Burn and Draw

For a Hall of Fame smoke, one would expect consistently outstanding burn and draw.   This is exactly what the Liga Privada T52 brings to the table. Both attributes are excellent.  I would also add the term “effortless” to these categories.   The burn is razor sharp and burns at a perfect rate and temperature – no work needed to keep it going.  The same with the draw – as flawless as they come.

Strength and Body

A lot of people have categorized the T52 as a powerhouse cigar in terms of strength.  I personally think this cigar does provide a good dose of nicotine balanced against some very good flavor notes.  From a strength profile, I actually put this cigar in the medium to full range for most of the smoke.  Toward the last third, I do feel the strength profile moved into the “full” category.  As for the body, there is some wonderful depth to the flavor notes in this smoke.  The body starts out early as “medium to full” and doesn’t take long to move into the full-bodied category.

Final Thoughts

There isn’t much I can say about the Liga Privada T52 that I didn’t say above.   One thing that I think is key for a “Historic/Hall of Fame” smoke is how it stands the test of time.   Do you enjoy the cigar today as much as you did when it first came out?  Do the cigars stand up to age?  Are the batches released consistent from one release to another?  In my opinion, the answers to all of these questions are Yes to the Liga Privada T52. This is a definite recommend for seasoned cigar enthusiasts.  Novice cigar enthusiasts who appreciate what a stronger, more-complex cigar can bring to the table will also love this cigar.   From my personal standpoint, I will always have some of these in my humidor.


Burn: Excellent
Draw: Excellent
Complexity: High
Strength: Medium to Full (Full at end)
Body: Full (Medium to Full at start)
Assessment: Historic/Hall of Fame

Source: The cigars for this assessment were purchased from Outland Cigars in Charlotte, North Carolina.