|Liga Privada Unico Serie UF-4
The Liga Privada Unico Serie UF-4 is currently being offered as a retail exclusive cigar to Casa de Montecristo in Countryside, Illinois. The Liga Privada UF-4 has actually been around for a while. Through events or other encounters with Drew Estate, some folks have had the opportunity to sample a cigar called the JD4. The JD4 eventually became rebranded as the Liga Privada Unico Serie UF-4, and became a second Liga Privada exclusive to Casa de Montecristo (joining the Liga Privada A). The UF-4 is a part of the Unico Serie concept of the Liga Privada line. The Unico Serie cigars consist of cigars that are one blend, one vitola. Recently, I’ve had an opportunity to sample a couple of UF4s, and I was extremely impressed with this cigar. In fact, it has proven to be right at the top when it comes to Liga Privada cigars.
Here is some background on the Liga Privada Unico Serie. 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, Liga Privada Feral Flying Pig, Liga Privada A, and the unreleased Liga Privada UF-13 (which has ties to the UF-4) – and these have proved to be popular with cigar enthusiasts.
The Liga Privada UF-4 can trace its origins back to the Liga Privada T52 blend. There sometimes is some confusion with another Unico Serie blend, the UF-13(currently being offered as a an even only cigar). In this post from BOTL, Saka explains the origins of how they got to the UF-13 and its relationship with the UF-4. This also covers how the JD4 became the UF-4.
T52-4 was the final head to head blend that was competing internally with T52-3 to become the T52 final blend.
T52-4 was exceptional, in fact JD (Jonathan Drew) and I both liked it a slight bit better, but we were concerned that it tended to overpower some of the nuances in the liga and that we were sacrificing flavors for strength, so we ultimately decided that the T52-3 would be the final T52 blend.
JD for his own smoking pleasure kept having T52-4s made, but we banded them as JD4 so as to not cause confusion in the factory or with those he shared them with.
After he started handing them out, he decided that he didn’t like putting his personal name on the product, so we started ringing them with MF-4 – it stood for what you think it does.
In the factory we kept tinkering with the T52-4/JD4/MF-4 blend to try to improve it (in our opinion) – goal was to keep the octane, but restore the depth of flavors… so we made a variety of minor liga tweaks and vitola changes to try and get it “perfect”.
The result was the MF-13 – a robusto format. I think the MF-13 is better, not sure where JD stands on this – truth is the difference is so very minor between the two cigars I doubt most folks could even tell there was any difference unless they smoked them side by side… and maybe not even then, but we can tell… or so we tell ourselves. ;>
We started sharing both MF-4s and MF-13s at events and out of our pockets and they started to get some buzz online.
JD came to me one day with a My Father cigar and pointed out that Pepin’s rings have an MF in the center of them. How both of us missed this is kinda crazy since we both smoke a lot of their cigars, but we did. So we decided to change the name to UF out of respect – we take pride in not knowingly copying others, so we rebanded all the MFs as UFs on our own accord.
UF stands for “Unico Fuerte.”
So MF-4 = UF-4 and MF-13 = UF-13
Neither blend is really in testing per se, both are finalized blends. It just that neither is being produced for retail at this point.
Let’s dive in and look closer at the Liga Privada Unico Serie UF-4.
Top Quality Cigars, which distributes for Casa de Montecristo had some information on their blog concerning the blend. Here is the information they provided:
Wrapper: Connecticut Valley Stalk Cut and Cured Sun Grown Habano
Binder: Plantation Grown Brazilian Mata Fina
Like all of the cigars under the Unico Serie umbrella, they only come in a single vitola. In this case its a 6 x 52 Toro.
The wrapper of the Liga Privada Unico Serie UF-4 has a coffee bean color, but it also has that touch of colorado red – something common to Connecticut Valley Stalk Cut Habano wrapper. The wrapper has an oily complexion to it (this was different than the UF-13 which had more of a sandy texture). The wrapper seams are well hidden, but there are visible veins. From the foot, there was a barnyard aroma reminiscent of what I detect on Dominican cigars,
The band to the UF-4 is a standard Liga Privada Unico Band with black and gold Unico lion logo. On the band, UF-4 is in a large “handwritten style” text on gray dotted field. Over the UF-4 text it says “HECHO EXCLUSIVAMENTE PARA EL JEFE… UNICO SERIE” (which means made exclusively for “El Hefe” – a.k.a. Steve Saka) along top row. On the bottom row in a larger gray font it says “LA GRAN FABRICA DREW ESTATE S.A”.
Preparation for the Cigar Experience
For my cigar experience with the Liga Privada Unico Serie UF-4, I went with a straight cut into the cap. The dry draw provided me flavors of coffee, leather, and cedar spice. Overall, I found the flavors of the dry draw to be similar to what I had detected with the Liga Privada UF-13. The one difference is that the UF-4 had a little bit of a pungent sweetness to it. This was a good pre-light draw, so it was time to toast the foot of my UF-4 and begin the cigar smoking experience.
The start to the UF-4 treated me to a heavy blast of pepper to start. This pepper was reminiscent of a pepper blast made by the Garcia family. The pepper settled down into a mix of coffee and pepper. These notes were soon joined by some secondary cream notes. The pungent sweetness that I had gotten from the pre-light draw could still be detected on the after-draw – particularly on the early stages of this smoke.
As the cigar experience moves through the first third, the coffee and pepper notes have fused very nicely in the forefront. Meanwhile in the background, the cream notes have been joined by some oak. While oak sounds like a generic flavor, I find at times it can really do a lot for a cigar – and help give it a very traditional taste without sacrificing or overwhelming the other flavors.
At the midpoint of the cigar experience of the UF-4, the coffee flavors took on the flavor of a light espresso syrup. While the flavors were outstanding up until this point, these espresso notes were perhaps the best part of the smoking experience. As the smoke headed into the last third, the oak and cream notes diminished. The pepper notes moved back into the forefront, but the cigar never got overwhelming in terms of spice. The close to the cigar was still very flavorful and did not have that overly spicy finish. The resulting nub was outstanding – firm to the touch and cool in temperature.
Burn and Draw
The Liga Privada line is known for hitting home runs when it comes to the construction attributes of burn and draw. The Liga Privada Unico Serie UF-4 also is a cigar that fits into this category. The burn remained straight for the duration of the smoking experience – requiring only minimal touch-ups. The burn rate and burn temperature were ideal. The resulting ash was tight. It was also white in color with a touch of salt and pepper to it.
The draw was flawless from start to finish. After understanding the time and care Drew Estate puts into making a quality draw, I’ve come to appreciate it greatly.
Strength and Body
Overall this is what I term a classic “full-full” smoking experience. In other words, a full strength and full-bodied smoke. This cigar will provide some nice pop to it. I found this to be as strong as the Liga Privada Unico Serie Feral Flying Pig. There is going to be plenty of flavor with this cigar, and that’s why I assessed this to be a full-bodied smoke. The nice thing about this cigar is the strength and body balance each other very nicely with neither attribute overshadowing the other.
When I mention the Liga Privada T52, it is worth noting that this is one of the best cigars I have ever had. It was the Cigar Coop 2009 Cigar of the Year, and was subsequently inducted into our Hall of Fame. I mentioned that the Liga Privada Serie Unico UF-13 comes “pretty close” to the T52. When it comes to the UF-4, I think it comes even closer. This is one outstanding cigar. This is a cigar I probably would lean toward recommending to a seasoned cigar enthusiast as it is more full in strength and body. As for myself, this is a cigar I would deem worthy of purchasing a box.
Source: The cigars for this assessment were purchased from Casa de Montecristo in Countryside, Illinois.