17 November 2009

CIGAR REVIEW - NEW RELEASE: Drew Estate - Liga Privada T-52

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.


  1. Stephen P said,
    on November 20th, 2009 at 15:20
    Nice review. I may have to give this cigar a shot. I’ve seen it at my B&M so I may pick one up over the weekend

  2. DJ said,
    on November 20th, 2009 at 16:20
    Wow! VERY nice review — and good call on the port! Def. something to track down…

  3. Cap'n, I just love your reviews! Nicely detailed, but with no fluff.

    I love the Liga Privada but haven't had the T-52 yet. I'm drooling now to give it a try!

    Co-host, DogWatch Cigar Radio

    "The most futile and disastrous day seems well spent when it is reviewed through the blue, fragrant smoke of a Havana Cigar" ..Evelen Waugh

  4. There you go. I probably wouldn't have tried it being a Drew Estate, but that's a commendable review and now I'm curious too. I guess they've made some $$$ selling their Lolly Pops and are re-investing wisely.
    CRA/NRA Protect Your Rights
    "You can easily judge the character of a man by how he treats those who can do nothing for him."
    ~ James D. Miles

  5. alaskancamel

    Join Date: Jun 2009
    Location: Anchorage Alaska
    Posts: 12
    Liga Privada
    I couldnt agree with you more. I also picked this one up at the IPCPR and thouroughly enjoyed it.

  6. CM said,
    on December 2nd, 2009 at 18:28
    I prefer a plug cutter for all but my torpedoes. As soon as I started to cut the plug, the wrapper split to the band. This may have been a storage problem at the shop where I bought it, but I was still disappointed. I was sorry I spent the $12.95.

  7. Ed said,
    on June 18th, 2010 at 17:11
    I recently had a chance to smoke the T52 – what a great cigar. The flavors and aromas written in the review are dead on. It produced a very long ash, and I too nubbed this one. Excellent smoke!


  8. Steve Saka said,
    on February 10th, 2010 at 23:48

    I am not sure about using a plug cutter on a torpedo, however we will definitely give you replacement smoke.

    Btw, it must have been the No. 9 blend, because the T52 is not currently available in a figurado shape. Which means it had a No. 1 Dark CT Broadleaf ligero wrapper, which will make using a plug cutter extra difficult on this cigar. Just too thick a capa imo.

    Regardless, just email John Brook (jbrooke@drewestate.com) and he will hook you up with a new smoke! Sorry for the problem…


    Steve Saka
    President, Drew Estate

  9. MikeS said,
    on February 11th, 2010 at 03:55

    I think CM ment he uses plug cutter on everything “but” torpedo. Certainly a plug would be extremely difficult on a torpedo. I enjoyed your interview (forget periodical) where you recount first joining Drew Estates Cigar Company. Having to report sooner than planned only to witness chaos at meeting. Hope your still having fun and life is good. When you see Johnathan tell him I ran into his old friend John on South Side of Chicago at “For Men Only” cigar shop. He is a great guy and has great stories.
    PS Nice of you to reach out to CM. I respect a president that keeps his ear to the ground. See Ya

  10. Steve Saka said,
    on February 11th, 2010 at 19:54
    MikeS: You are right – thanks for the correction. My apologies to CM… maybe someday I will actually learn to read.

    CM: Doesn’t change the fact that we owe you a replacement smoke, so please be sure to email John Brooke (jbrooke@drewestate.com) – thanks!



  11. Ed said,
    on June 18th, 2010 at 17:11
    I recently had a chance to smoke the T52 – what a great cigar. The flavors and aromas written in the review are dead on. It produced a very long ash, and I too nubbed this one. Excellent smoke!


  12. Doug Jacobson said,
    on July 27th, 2010 at 18:57
    I tried one of these yesterday at the recommendation of the salesman of my favorite B&M. I don’t usually smoke drew estate for the sane reason as the author, just not my thing. All I cab say is wow! This cigar is beautifully constructed, had a flawless burn, and the review is pretty close to what I tasted so nice job. My only regret is that I haven’t tried Steve Saka’s personal cigar before yesterday. I really enjoyed it and will try other non-flavored offerings from drew. This is in my top three with My Family and MJ12 which are in my reg rotation. Everyone should try this one.

  13. MikeA said,
    on November 21st, 2010 at 00:50
    You’ve got to be kidding. Normally I love Drew estate, both the dirt and acid varieties are rich and flavorful. So when the tabacco shop had neither I was sold the pricey T-52 and it was the worst smoke I ever had. It was strong, harsh, and flavorless. The only thing that I can say is good about itnis that it holds together well and provides a smooth draw. I told the shop owner that I don’t like strong cigars and he told memthat this is less strong than the Dirt Naturals – he needs to have his head examined. As someone who grew up smoking Cubans it amazes me how people in the US equate strong, bitter, and flavorless cigars (like the T-52) with Cubans. What they fail to understand is that a good Cuban cigar is not strong, just very full of flavor. I would have far preferred a $7 La Gloria Cubana to this $15 monstrosity. Drew Estate should be ashamed of themselves.

  14. The Cap'n said,
    on November 23rd, 2010 at 15:17
    Mike, Thank you for your input; however there seems to be some miscommunication here. No where in the review did I equate the T-52 with a Cuban made or “Cuban style” cigar and browsing the comments above, neither did anyone else. Let me repeat what I always say, “taste is highly subjective.” What one person likes, another may not and when posting public comments a gentleman should be mindful not to be insulting to others.

    The Acids and Dirts are highly flavored and / or sweetened cigars which most aficionados of traditional and premium cigars do not smoke. They appreciate the true flavors and nuances of a cigar which come solely from the tobacco itself and the way it is cured and aged, not from adjuncts added to it. Additionally, strength is a measure of the amount of nicotine and certain other things which create the sensation of “spice” in a cigar as well as the “buzz” you get from some, NOT the body, flavor, or complexity of a cigar. As for the “Cuban cigar myth,” well that is a write-up all of its own.

    Enjoy yours and let others enjoy theirs,

  15. Steve said,
    on December 13th, 2010 at 07:45
    Just finished smoking a T52. It’s a nice cigar that had an excellent draw and perfect brun. However, my impression is that this is not a tremendously flavorful or aromatic stick. As mentioned above, it is a very mellow cigar and it is very difficult to pin down the flavors because they are so mild. I smoked a wonderful Illusione Phantom LE (similar price but hard to find) several hours before the T52 and the T52 does not hold a candle to it. I honestly expected more. The wrapper had my mouth savoring over lighting up this stick but it just didn’t deliver all the way. I am certainly not saying it’s a bad cigar and I thought it was quite good. It just fell a little short of my expectations. Perhaps strengthen up these babies and you’ve got a winner.

  16. MikeK said,
    on January 5th, 2011 at 07:10
    Being from Canada, I appreciate good cigars when I seldom get them. This cigar started with thick smoke and amazing subtle leather and strong spice and cocoa flavor. 1.5 inches in now and its still a great smoke, but is losing some of the amazing cocoa flavor it started with. It still has a perfect draw, ash and burn. The other 4 I have will have to sit in my humidor for awhile, if I can rsist them. The one I am smoking I received today in the mail and I couldn’t wait for it to rest. 2 inches now and it is staying consistent. Easy on the tongue. Less peppery than when it started, but I like it better that way. 1/2 done now and it is tasting bit ashy, but otherwise is still a good smoke. I don’t know what it cost, but it would rate along with a good $11 cigar. I will nub this one.

  17. Benjamin said,
    on March 25th, 2011 at 05:48
    Today i went to a well known and respected shop in Arizona looking for a Illusione for they are my fav. Upon finding them(illusione) the associate introduced me to the T52 and to my surprise i was highly impressed. While enjoying the T52 i decided to run a search on it and came across this review. The review of the T52 is spot on to exactly what i was experiencing at that moment. It’s now less than 15 minutes after enjoying it and I am still feeling and tasting the beautiful flavors and relaxation of the T52. I am now hook, line and sunk to this cigar and cannot wait to buy my next T52. I paid $10.25 for it and i feel it couldn’t be better priced.

  18. jim scott said,
    on June 29th, 2011 at 04:15
    i was introduced to the t52 while on vacation, in march, down in key west, fla., at the key west cigar club on duval st. i loved it. when i got back to los angeles, i was unable to find it at my usual cigar shop and was told that it was hard to find and only released in limited quanities and to very few shops. since i doubt i will be back to key west anytime soon….thank god for ups!

  19. abomb60 said,
    on August 11th, 2011 at 03:46
    Bought one a week ago at a local smokeshop and just went back today to get an entire box. Seems to be a little hard to find them online but luckily my local shop has them for a good deal.