A couple of weeks ago, Drew Estate opened up a branded cigar lounge at the BB&T Center in Sunrise, Florida – the home of the NHL’s Florida Panthers. As a part of the partnership, a new cigar called the Liga Privada Unico Serie Year of the Rat is being sold exclusively at the lounge. Year of the Rat is a Corona Gorda-sized cigar. The cigar would be the first Unico Serie release under the Liga Privada line in almost three years. It would also be the first new Liga Privada blend released in the post Steve Saka / Nicholas Melillo era. Recently I’ve had an opportunity to smoke the Year of the Rat. The Liga Privada brand, and in particular the Unico Serie line has long established a reputation for excellence. With the Year of the Rat, Drew Estate does not miss a beat. This is an excellent cigar and will probably become a cigar that will be long sought after by Liga Privada fans.
Each cigar in the line features a unique blend in a different size. All of the cigars in the series are more limited and small batch in production. Some of the releases are even more limited than others. Many of the Unico Serie cigars have some ties to Liga Privada No. 9 or Liga Privada T52 in terms of the tobaccos used. While there are some other Unico Serie variants floating around, below is a list of the 11 that have been released in one form or other.
- Liga Privada Unico Serie Dirty Rat
- Liga Privada Unico Serie “A” (Event Only)
- Liga Privada Unico Serie L40 Lancero
- Liga Privada Unico Serie Feral Flying Pig
- Liga Privada Unico Serie UF-4 (Casa de Montecristo Limited Release)
- Liga Privada Unico Serie Velvet Rat (One time Release to Tesa Cigar Company)
- Liga Privada Unico Serie Ratzilla
- Liga Privada Unico Serie Papas Fritas
- Liga Privada Unico Serie UF-13 Dark
- Liga Privada Unico Serie Year of the Rat (BB&T Center Lounge Exclusive)
The Year of the Rat is an appropriate name for this particular project. There are several ties with Drew Estate and the Florida Panthers that are captured by this name.
- 1996 is the year the Florida Panthers made the Stanley Cup Finals. It is also the year Drew Estate was founded. 2016 is the 20th Anniversary of both milestones.
- In the Chinese Zodiac, 1996 was also the Year of the Rat.
- During the Florida Panthers run in 1996, fans were known to throw rubber rats on the ice after every goal scored by the Panthers.
- “Rat” is a term used on several Unico Serie releases – the Dirty Rat, Ratzilla, and Velvet Rat.
- Drew Estate is located in South Florida and the Florida Panthers are the local team in that area.
Without further ado, let’s break down the Liga Privada Unico Serie Year of the Rat and see what this cigar brings to the table.
The Year of the Rat uses a four country tobacco blend. The cigar is highlighted by a dark Connecticut Broadleaf wrapper.
Wrapper: Connecticut Broadleaf
Filler: Nicaraguan, Honduran
Country of Origin: Nicaragua (La Gran Fabrica Drew Estate SA)
The Liga Privada Unico Serie Year of the Rat is available in one size – a 5 1/2 x 46 Corona Gorda. The cigars are packaged in ten count boxes.
The Connecticut Broadleaf wrapper of the Liga Privada Unico Serie Year of the Rat had a rich dark chocolate color to it. The surface of the wrapper had a light coat of oil on it. Overall I consideredd this a smooth wrapper. There were some thin visible veins as well as thin wrapper seams. The cap is finished with a fan-shaped tail on the cap. I also found the Year of the Rat to be a well-packed cigar.
The band to the Year of the Rat is a standard Liga Privada Unico Band with black and gold Unico lion logo. On the band, Year of the Rat is in a large “handwritten style” text on gray dotted field. Over the UF-13 text it says “HECHO EXCLUSIVAMENTE PARA EL JEFE… UNICO SERIE” (which means made exclusively for “El Hefe” – a.k.a. former Drew Estate CEO Steve Saka) along top row. On the bottom row in a larger gray font it says “LA GRAN FABRICA DREW ESTATE S.A”.
One unique thing about the Year of the Rat is it is the first Liga Privada cigar to have a secondary band. This is a footer band that has a “Undercrown Blue” color to it. On the band is the text “20TH ANNIVERSARY FLORIDA PANTHERS STANLEY CUP FINALS” in gold font. There is a gold pinstripe above and below the text.
Preparation for the Cigar Experience
For my smoke of the Year of the Rat, I opted to use a straight cut instead of pulling the fan-tail cap off. This is a typical approach I use when dealing with pig-tail styled caps. Once the cap was clipped, I moved on to the pre-light draw. The dry draw notes delivered a mix of smooth chocolate and earth as well as subtle notes of cedar and black cherry. Overall I considered the pre-light draw of the Year of the Rat to be excellent. At this point, I was ready to light up the Year of the Rat and see what the smoking experience would have in store.
Right out of the gate, the Year of the Rat delivered a burst of cocoa notes along with some earth and white pepper. The earth notes quickly moved to the forefront while the chocolate and pepper moved into the background. This was soon joined by some subtle black cherry notes in the background. Meanwhile there were notes of black pepper on the retro-hale.
During the first third of the Year of the Rat, the earth notes remained grounded in the forefront. At times the cocoa and pepper made their way into the forefront. On the after-draw, I also picked up some cocoa notes that had a pleasant lingering effect on the tongue. The black cherry notes remained secondary.
During the second third, I found the cocoa and pepper continue to make their way into the forefront and this was joined by some of the black cherry notes. By the midway point the chocolate and black cherry were well grounded with the earth notes in the forefront. The black cherry had a slight, but not overwhelming coating effect on the palate. Toward the later part of the second third, I also detected some coffee notes in the background.
Moving into the last third of the Year of the Rat, I found the coffee notes and pepper notes now made their way into the forefront joining the earth notes. The black cherry notes diminished and eventually dissipated. There still was some chocolate in the background. Toward the end there was a touch of harshness, but by this point it was time to put down the Year of the Rat. This is the way the Year of the Rat came to a close. The resulting nub was slight warm, but still near firm to the touch.
Burn and Draw
The Year of the Rat scored nicely when it came to both the burn and draw. While there was a slight curvature on the burn line, I found burn path remained straight from start to finish. This wasn’t a cigar that was in danger of tunneling or canoeing. The resulting ash had a mostly white color with some darker speckling mixed in. I found the ash to be on the firm side and the ash came off the cigar in nice clean chunks. The burn rate was ideal. I also found the burn temperature ideal except for the very end when there was a little bit of warmness on the nub.
Given this was a well-packed cigar, I found the Year of the Rat had s slight amount of resistance on the draw – which is something I like. I was amazed at the volume of smoke production from this Corona Gorda. This surprised me because this cigar did not a loose draw. The smoke production remained me of what I detected on the Nica Rustica El Brujito.
Strength and Body
When it came to strength and body, I found the Year of the Rat to be a cigar where both of these attributes built up as the cigar experience progressed. From a strength perspective, I found the Year of the Rat started out medium. As the smoke progressed, the strength increased linearly. By the second third, the strength moved to medium to full and in the last third the cigar was performing at full strength. Meanwhile the flavors started out medium to full-bodied out of the gate. By the second third, the flavors moved to full-bodied. I found the body continued to increase more, but by the second half the increase in body leveled off.
In terms of strength versus body, I gave a slight edge to the body throughout the smoking experience.
Very simply, the Liga Privada Unico Serie Year of the Rat is a cigar that fires on all cylinders. It has excellent flavor, plenty of complexity, and great construction. This is a cigar that seems to be smoking at its peak. At this time I don’t have a read either way how this cigar will respond to long time aging. What I can say is that this cigar should satisfy the Liga Privada fan base. Given this is a cigar that has some kick, it’s a cigar I would gear more toward an experienced cigar enthusiast. As for myself, this is easily a cigar I would smoke again. It’s certainly a cigar worthy of fighting Chuck Norris for.
Strength: Medium (1st Third), Medium to Full (2nd Third), Full (Last Third)
Body: Medium to Full (1st Third), Full (Remainder)
Assessment: 4.5-Fight Chuck Norris for Them
News: Drew Estate Lounge and Liga Privada Unico Serie Year of the Rat Coming to BB&T Center in Sunrise, Florida
Source: Cigars Provided by Manufacturer *
Stogie Geeks Podcast: Episode 182
Stogie Feed: Liga Privada Unico Serie Year of the Rat by Drew Estate
I will be grabbing a box of these when they are finally released. A buddy of mine went to the opening night of the lounge, bought a ticket to the game to grab some boxes and they weren’t released yet…bummer considering he wasn’t a hockey fan and left the game (almost) empty handed. Anyways, this has me even more excited for them to finally come out.