I was recently given a new cigar to try by one of the lovely ladies of the Pecunes family, owners of The Humidour Cigar Shoppe in Cockeysville, MD and some of the most respected Tobacconists I know. She said it was one of their favorites from the 2009 IPCPR convention and they were going to be selling them at their shop. The cigar; the new Liga Privada T-52 from Drew Estate. Well when I hear Drew Estate, what comes to mind is "flavored" and "infused", not necessarily premium cigars; however, I respect the Pecunes families opinion, so I settled back into a big leather chair in their cigar lounge with it. Please understand that I am not being critical of anyone's personal taste, "flavored" and "infused" cigars just aren't my preference is all. Don't forget, taste is subjective!
Liga Privada means "Private Blend" and Drew Estate claims it was originally intended not for general release but to be smoked by their President, Steven Saka. They say that while looking for something unique, they discovered a farmer in Connecticutt who was experimenting with a new sungrown Connecticutt broadleaf stalk-cut varietal he called, "American Habano." According to Drew Estate, this new American Habano capa (wrapper) is hand-fermented, not sweated; the capote (binder) is Brazillian Mata-Fina; and the tripa (filler) is a combination of Dominican, Nicaraguan, and Honduran tobaccos, with each finished cigar aged at least a year. They are being released in various vitollas ranging in price from $10.65 to $14.20. The one I smoked was a Toro, 6 x 52.
The T-52's wrapper was dark and oily with a color I put somewhere between colorado-maduro to maduro. It had a nice texture with slight teeth and an almost slippery feeling. The pre-light aroma was very mild but pleasant and a cut with a double-guillotine revealed a very good draw with an interesting flavor that left a slight sensation of pepper on the tip of the tongue. The 52 lit easily and I noticed right away that the heat made oil extrude from the wrapper up to about 1/4 inch from the ember. I have heard about some unreputable makers coating their cigars with adjuncts and claiming it was an oily wrapper, but I have to say, this looked like the real thing. The flavor started off mellow with subtle notes that were hard to pin down; maybe cocoa, maybe coffee bean. Retro-exhalation was pretty easy overall with mild to moderate spice sensations from around mid-sinus all the way to the end of the nose. It produced a light-grey to almost white smoke with moderate amounts from the draw and lots from the foot making me wonder if it was burning too fast. The smoke was cool and smooth though and by the end of the first 1/3, pepper notes began to emerge down the sides and on the tip of the tongue with the slightest note on the back of the throat.
I was more than 2 inches into it and the medium to dark-grey ash, which was crisp and grainy, was still hanging on. I finally knocked it off just to keep from eventually making a mess of myself and looking like an amateur. In the middle 1/3 a mouth watering flavor developed inside the lips and slightly more pepper emerged with the overall flavor picking up around mid-mouth and on top of the tongue. I detected leathery notes around the mid-way point which I realized may have been one of the flavors earlier that I wasn't able to pin down. Past the half-way point I detected creamy, chocolaty notes, and that mouth watering flavor progressed. Into the final 1/3 a fair peppery spice emerged which carried through to the end.
The T-52 didn't require any touch-ups or re-lights until close to the nub and the easy retro-exhalation continued until the final 1/3. There was some complexity of flavor, which while subtle throughout, was certainly present. I have to say it, this was a good cigar and I recommend it. I even tried one with a glass of ruby Porto and they went well together. Drew Estate may not make most of their living in the realm of traditional cigars, but that doesn't mean they don't know how. Good job guys.