|Liga Privada Unico Serie “A”|
The “A” size vitola has been a vitola that has intrigued many cigar enthusiasts. This is because this vitola is extremely long in length – exceeding 9 inches. The “A” vitola is actually nickname for Gran Corona and can be traced back to Cuban origins. Last year, Drew Estate began circulating an “A” size vitola as a part of their Liga Privada Unico Serie line. The “A” vitola release is called the Liga Privada Unico Serie “A”. For the most part, this has only been made available at Drew Estate events – although it has been made available for sale at Casa de Montecristo in Countryside, Illinois. The Unico Serie “A” is described as a variation of the blend of our 2009 Cigar of the Year – the Liga Privada T52. I’ve recently had a chance to smoke one of these. I can attest that this is a very different profile than the T52 – and very different than its siblings in the Liga Privada line. Overall, I did have some positive qualities to this smoke, but I’m not sure this will bump a lot of Liga Privada cigars out of my personal humidor.
The Liga Privada Unico Serie is based on a simple concept – one blend in one vitola. The Unico Serie concept was introduced with the Liga Privada Unico Serie Dirty Rat. When that blend was released, Drew Estate President Steve Saka explained the Unico Serie as follows: “At this point, we have made 200 or more Liga Privada blends. There are probably 9 or 10 of them so far that are exceptional, however their blends differ from both the No. 9 and the T52 branded cigars. They’re cigars that work as a particular size, such as a lancero or corona, with the blend being unique to that particular vitola.” Unico Serie blends have been introduced with the Liga Privada Dirty Rat, Liga Privada L40 Lancero, and the Liga Privada Feral Flying Pig – and thes have proved to be popular with cigar enthusiasts.
Let’s break down the Liga Privada Unico Serie “A” and see what this cigar delivers. Up front, I will disclaim that this assessment is based on a single smoke of this cigar.
There is nothing officially published on this blend. As mentioned, the blend is a variation/tweaking of the Liga Privada T52 blend. Most likely there is some variation in the filler tobaccos.
Wrapper: Stalk-cut Connecticut (American) Habano
Binder: Brazilian Mata Fina
Filler: Honduran, Dominican, Nicaraguan
The American Stalk-Cut Habano wrapper is a distinguishing characteristic of this cigar. 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 plant is cut – including the stalk. When the leaf is hung to dry, it is hung to dry from the stalk.
Since the Unico Serie is “one blend, one vitola”, there is only one size of the Liga Privada Unico Serie “A” that has been made. It is a classic Gran Corona a.k.a “A” vitola that is 9 1/4 x 47 in size.
From inspecting the wrapper of the Liga Privada Unico Serie “A”, it is obvious that this shares the unique Stalk-cut Connecticut Habano wrapper of the Liga Privada T52. I describe it as a coffee bean colored wrapper with a touch of colorado in it. There are a few dark spots on the wrapper. There are some wrapper seams that are visible, and I would describe the cigar as slightly toothy. There is a small pig-tail on the cap. The cigar itself is well-packed with no soft spots.
The Unico Serie “A” features the trademark Liga Privada Unico Serie band highlighted by a big letter “A” that is slanted to the right.
|Liga Privada Unico Serie “A”|
Preparation for the Cigar Experience
As I do with all pig-tail capped cigars, I opted to place a straight cut into the cap. When I commenced with the pre-light draw, I detected notes of wood and leather. Eventually the dry draw produced some notes of coffee. Overall, it was not a very exciting pre-light draw, but since I don’t score pre-light into the assessment, I figured I would move on and fire up my Liga Privada Unico Serie “A”.
The start to the Liga Privada Unico Serie “A” was very different than the T52. While the T52 was robust at the start, the flavors to the Unico Serie “A” were more muted and subdued. The initial flavor profile consisted of primarily the leather and wood, I had got on the pre-light draw. In the next few minutes, some coffee notes entered the equation. By about the five percent mark, there were some light pepper notes that emerged. Overall, no flavor really stood out. I will say, while the flavors weren’t deep, there was more complexity than one might think.
Around the ten percent point, hints of orange sweetness and cloves entered the equation. The orange notes were something I had picked up on the T52. Again, the flavors were not very deep and no flavor really stood out between the orange, pepper, wood, coffee, and leather. By about the end of the first third, the wood and pepper moved into the forefront, and the orange flavors dissipated.
In the second third of the smoke, the depth of the flavors did increase somewhat. It still wasn’t as bold as the T52. The coffee notes were now more in the forefront and were joined by some earth notes. The wood, and leather flavors were secondary. The pepper spice also diminished significantly and moved into the background.
On the last third of the Liga Privada Unico Serie “A”, the earth notes would move into control. The coffee notes diminished significantly. There was a slight increase in spice, but nothing that would have categorized this as a spicy finish. The finish wasn’t the smoothest, but it was not harsh either. The nub was cool in temperature, but soft to the touch at the finish.
Burn and Draw
For the most part, the Liga Privada Unico Serie “A” burned pretty straight. This particular cigar did get a slight crack in the wrapper, but it didn’t hinder the cigar experience. The cigar did require several touch-ups along the way (even before the crack). The burn rate and burn temperature were ideal for this lengthy smoke (which was about 2.5 hours). The draw was flawless from start to finish – something that is very good on a long smoke.
Strength and Body
The strength and body attributes were perhaps the most intriguing part of this smoke. When I heard T52 variation, I was expecting the full strength and body that the T52 provided for the majority of the smoking experience. As you can tell from the flavor profile, this cigar did not start out very full. From a strength perspective, this cigar actually starts out mild. The nicotine level does increase and by midway into the smoking experience it hits medium and holds for at that level the remainder of the smoke.
The body also falls into a similar profile. The subdued flavors early on were not very deep – and this fell into the mild-bodied range in my book. The notes did increase in depth an by the midway point – also falling into the medium-bodied range. The medium-bodied notes hold for the remainder of the smoking experience. During the smoke of the Unico Serie “A”, the strength and flavors do complement each other well.
This was a very different experience than any other Liga Privada I have had. It shows that a blend tweak can really change a cigar. The fact that this cigar starts out both mild in strength and body was a shocker to me. The fact that it didn’t move past medium in both of these categories also shocked me. While I think the depth of the flavor notes hurt this cigar a bit, I particularly am not a fan of very “earthy’ tasting cigars. As mentioned, this cigar does provide some complexity as there is a lot of variation and nuances in the flavor profile. This would be a nice cigar to introduce a new cigar enthusiast to the “A” vitola. Experienced cigar enthusiasts might be disappointed as there is not enough depth in the flavors. It should also be noted while this is a promotional cigar, it does sell for $24.99 at the store it was purchased at. Price is not factored into this assessment, but it certainly is something worth thinking about.
Strength: Medium (Mild to start, and progresses to Medium in 1st Half)
Body: Medium (Mild to start, and progresses to Medium in 1st Half)
Assessment: Nice to Have
Source: The cigar for this assessment was purchased from Casa de Montecristo in Countryside, Illinois