Early in 2021, Drew Estate quietly released an addition to its Liga Privada Unico Serie known as the Year of the Ox. The Year of the Ox continued Drew Estate’s delivery of special offerings for the international (non-U.S.) market. Late in 2020, the Liga Privada Unico Serie Bauhaus was released for the European market. The Liga Privada Unico Series Year of the Ox would be an offering for China. Year of the Ox is also a cigar that commemorates the Chinese New Year for 2021. In 2020, Drew Estate brought back its Year of the Rat offering. While Year of the Rat wasn’t originally created for the Chinese New Year (it was released back in 2016), the Year of the Ox can be considered the first Liga Privada to commemorate the Chinese New Year. Today, we take a closer look at this cigar.
The Liga Privada Unico Serie is a series of cigars that feature a unique blend in a different size. All of the cigars in the series are limited and small batch in production. Some of the releases are more limited than others. The cigars are not only limited in terms of production, but in some cases have been regional, shop-exclusive, or event-only cigars. Many of the Unico Serie cigars have some ties to the Liga Privada No. 9 or Liga Privada T52 in terms of the tobaccos used.
The following is a list of the Liga Privada Unico Serie offerings.
- 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
- 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
- Liga Privada Unico Serie Nasty Fritas
- Liga Privada Unico Serie Pork Beli (Exclusive to Hyde Park Cigars)
- Liga Privada Unico Serie Pancetta (Two Store Exclusive)
- Liga Privada Unico Serie Bauhaus (European Exclusive)
- Liga Privada Unico Serie Year of the Ox (China Exclusive)
Without further ado, let’s break down the Liga Privada Unico Serie Year of the Ox and see what this cigar brings to the table:
Blend and Origin
On paper, when you look at things tobacco-wise, the profile of the Liga Privada Year of the Ox looks similar to the Liga Privada No. 9. This consists of a Connecticut Broadleaf wrapper, a Brazilian binder, and a combination of Honduran and Nicaraguan tobaccos. Production of the Year of the Ox comes from Drew Estate’s La Gran Fabrica in Estelí, Nicaragua.
Wrapper: Connecticut Broadleaf
Filler: Honduran, Nicaraguan
Country of Origin: Nicaragua
Factory: La Gran Fabrica Drew Estate
The Liga Privada Unico Serie Year of the Ox is offered in one size -a Toro measuring 6 1/4 x 54. The Year of the Ox is presented in eight-count boxes.
The Liga Privada Unico Serie Year of the Ox had a dark roasted coffee-bean color. There was some mottling on the surface of the wrapper. There wasn’t much in way of oil on the wrapper. Overall the wrapper had a rugged look with some visible veins and, despite the dark color of the wrapper, some visible wrapper seams.
There are two bands on the Liga Privada Unico Serie Year of the Ox. The primary band is a variation of the bands found on other Liga Privada cigars. This is a band that was white with a gray pattern in the background. The upper portion of the band has the text “HECHO EXCLUSIVAMENTE PARA EL HEFE UNICO SERIE” in gray font and “LA GRAN FABRICA DREW ESTATE S.A.” on the lower portion. The center of the band has the text “Year of the Ox” in a dark handwritten-appearing font. On the far right is a blue and gold Unico Serie logo.
From just under the primary band down to the footer, the cigar is covered with gold foil. Surrounding the lower footer on top of the foil is the secondary band. This band is purple with gold font. On the center of the band is an image of an ox. To the left of the ox is the text “YEAR OF THE OX” in a stacked format. To the right of the ox is the text “2021”. The far left and far right of the band have a variety of gold adornments.
Prior to lighting up the Liga Privada Unico Serie Year of the Ox, a straight cut was used to remove the cap of the cigar. Once the cap was removed, I removed the foil and secondary band. I did find this foil a little high maintenance to remove. Some have suggested sliding the foil off, but I worry this might damage the wrapper. As a result, I carefully peeled it off. While it was difficult to remove the foil, the pre-light experience is not factored into the numerical merit score and value rating.
Once the foil was removed, it was on to the pre-light draw experience. The cold draw delivered a mix of cocoa, coffee, and a slight amount of assorted spice. At times coffee and cocoa notes often can be tasted fused together in what I’ll term mocha. In this case, the coffee and cocoa notes were separate and distinct. At this point, it was time to light up the Liga Privada Unico Serie Year of the Ox and see what the smoking phase would have in store.
The Liga Privada Unico Serie Year of the Ox started out with cocoa, coffee, and wood notes. This was soon followed up with notes of black pepper and mineral. The coffee notes moved into the forefront early as the primary note with the cocoa, wood, pepper, and mineral notes became secondary. There was some additional black pepper on the retro-hale.
The second third of the Liga Privada Unico Serie Year of the Ox saw the coffee notes remain grounded in the forefront. There was a gradual increase in the pepper spice throughout this stage of the cigar. Meanwhile, the wood, cocoa, and mineral notes rounded out the flavor profile as a whole.
By the final third, the pepper notes moved into the forefront with the coffee notes. There still were some wood, cocoa, and mineral notes, but they were much more distant at this point. This is how the Liga Privada Unico Serie Year of the Ox came to a close. The resulting nub was slightly soft to the touch and cooler in temperature.
The burn of the Liga Privada Unico Serie Year of the Ox required frequent touch-ups to maintain a straight burn path and straight burn line. From time to time, the Liga Privada Unico Serie Year of the Ox saw its burn meander off the straight track and have some jaggedness on the burn line. While the touch-ups remedied things, there were more touch-ups required than I prefer. The resulting ash was nearly white in color. This was an ash that was on the firm side. As for the burn rate and burn temperature both maintained ideal levels.
There were four samples smoked of the Liga Privada Unico Serie Year of the Ox and the draw seemed all over the place. Two of the samples delivered an ideal draw with a touch of resistance. One of the samples had a draw that was more open than I prefer, while the other cigar had a draw that had slightly more resistance than I prefer. In the end, none of the four draws were subpar. At the same time, each of the four samples produced the signature big layers of smoke the Liga Privada brand has become known for.
Strength and Body
The Liga Privada Unico Serie Year of the Ox started out with medium strength and medium body. By the second third, there was an increase in strength and body. Once the cigar was in the second half, there was no further increase in the strength and body. In the end, this cigar remained in the medium strength and medium body range. Both the strength and body balanced each other off with neither attribute overshadowing the other
The Liga Privada Unico Serie Year of the Ox shares similar blend components to the Liga Privada No. 9, but it also is a very different cigar. One thing I do notice about several of Drew Estate’s Connecticut Broadleaf offerings in the Liga Privada line is they seem to taste and perform better in a smaller ring gauge. At 6 1/4 x 54, the Year of the Ox could be considered one of the larger offerings in the Drew Estate catalog, so in a nutshell, while it’s a good cigar, there are better Connecticut Broadleaf offerings by Drew Estate. This is a cigar that was meant for the Chinese market, and while a few retailers managed to bring it stateside, the Year of the Ox is a cigar that requires some hunting. Priced around $21.25 in China, and marked up by some of the U.S. retailers, this is not an inexpensive cigar. While I’m inclined to smoke this again, given one may have to go on a hunt and/or pay more, it’s the kind of cigar I’d advise trying first – as hard as that might be.
Key Flavors: Coffee, Cocoa, Wood, Mineral, Pepper
Burn: Very Good
Draw: Very Good
Body: Medium (1st Third), Medium to Full (Remainder)
Finish: Very Good
Value: Try a Sample
News: Drew Estate Announces Liga Privada Unico Serie Pancetta Lounge Exclusive for Two Stores
Price: ~$ 21.25
Source: Drew Estate
Brand Reference: Liga Privada
Photo Credits: Cigar Coop