A favourite nighttime cigar for BU founder Paul Anthony, the Liga Privada No 9 by Drew Estate promises a bold experience with potent flavours and a rich body.
In this article, you will discover the Drew Estate Liga Privada No 9 as we review it according to the following considerations:
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- Brand: Drew Estate
- Range: Liga Privada N° 9
- Reviewed Vitolas: 6 x 52 Belicoso
- Wrapper: Connecticut Broadleaf
- Binder: Plantation Grown Brazilian Mata Fina
- Filler: Honduras, Nicaragua
- Factory: La Gran Fabrica de Esteli, Nicaragua
- Handmade: Yes
- Body: Full
- Estimated Smoking Time: 100 Minutes
- Pricing: $15 / Single [Buy Now]
The Liga Privada project first started in 2006 when Drew Estate President Steve Saka wanted a blend that he would enjoy. Until then, Drew Estate was best known for flavoured cigars, such as the Acid brand. The No 9’s initial version blended by Nick Melillo, who now owns Foundation Cigars, and was released in 2007. It reappeared as a boutique blend until it became part of the permanent lineup in 2011.
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Liga Privada No 9 Look & Feel
- Wrapper Hue: Aged Mahogany
- Rolling Consistency: Straight
- Spring: Firm
- Aromas: Tonka Bean, Cedar, Earth
A dark Connecticut Broadleaf wrapper conceals the potent plantation-grown Brazilian Mata Fina binder that holds together the Nicaraguan and Honduran filler. Although we sampled the 4 x 60 Perfecto Gordito Flying Pig, this review focuses primarily on the 6 x 52 Belicoso.
In both cases, the cigars present an impressively very straight roll with no discernible soft spots. The spring is quite firm, occasionally bordering on the slightly soft side, but still well-packed.
In terms of the wrapper’s hue, you’re looking at aged mahogany, which reveals an oily sheen. I’ve heard people refer to the Liga Privada as somewhat dry in appearance, but I don’t think that to be the case at all.
In fact, I think it’s remarkably oily. As for the veins though, they’re quite rustic with pronounced veins on the wrapper. Nevertheless, I would argue that it just adds to its overall charm. Meanwhile, the aromas on the body and on the foot consist of tonka bean, acidic cedar, but cedar nonetheless, and some moist earth.
That being said, although I’ll be talking about the cigar being quite full-bodied and full in flavour later, the aromas on the nose are quite subdued right now.
Drew Estate Liga Privada No 9 Review
The Liga Privada cigars were stored in a Boveda acrylic humidor with 69% Boveda packs for a period of at least three weeks to ensure that they were properly acclimated and prepared for the review. They were closely monitored using a Boveda Butler smart sensor.
- Draw: Ideal
- Aromas: Tonka Bean, Dark Chocolate, Olibanum
One thing I love about Belicoso is that you can adjust the cut according to the draw that you want. If you want something a bit tighter, you just snip the tip. Otherwise, you can go a bit further down to open it up, but of course not past the cap.
The flavours aren’t that rich on the dry draw either. You do get some tonka bean again as well as dark chocolate and olibanum or myrrh, which has a slight vanilla essence.
1st Third Smoking Experience
- Notes: Fresh Walnut, Cacao Nib, Cedar
Within minutes, you’ll notice an impressive smoke output. Similarly, the cigar’s body touts its strength soon into the experience. However, the flavour is a bit more subdued and not as pronounced.
The draw is ideal throughout the first third. In fact, a gentle draw and you’re greeted by an immense amount of smoke on your palate. Swirling it around and then letting out through a retrohale is a very pleasant experience.
The most overt flavour is fresh walnut. You could also argue brazil nut given a slight hint of bitterness. You may also detect a hint of cacao nib. It’s not really dark chocolate despite a hint of sweetness. And then there’s sweet cedarwood, which gives contrasts against the aforementioned gourmet notes.
2nd Third Smoking Experience
- Notes: Leather, Espresso, Black Pepper
The transition to the second third was subtle and subdued. You could potentially argue that it has barely changed in both body and flavour. Nevertheless, I would argue that there have been some subtle changes. First of all, the walnut, although arguably still there to a certain extent, is much woodier in character. I’d be more inclined to liken it to Rosewood instead.
Meanwhile, the cacao nib is going to be closer to dark chocolate or even espresso, it’s much thicker in texture and does have greater amounts of both sweetness and bitterness. Meanwhile, the cedar has pretty much gone and instead we have black pepper.
As for the burn, it has improved overall. It corrected itself without the need for touch-ups.
Final Third Smoking Experience
- Notes: Leather, Espresso, Black Pepper
The final-third does have a notable transition and comes with a wallop. Indeed, the body increases significantly, as does the flavour profile.
On this occasion, we’re greeted by some leather, a hint of espresso, as well as the black pepper from the second-third that persists throughout the cigar. The body is impressive and it’s ill-advised to smoke a Liga Privada No 9 on an empty stomach. Similarly, it’s not quite recommended for beginners.
The overall complexity isn’t quite as nuanced as you may expect. When it was first released, the tobaccos used were at their prime and with ageing, some argue that their flavours have started to dwindle.
According to Nick Melillo, you can age them for a few more years and their flavour and complexity will return over time.
Nevertheless, the mouthfeel is very smooth, very pleasant and velvety, leaving a thin texture on the palate. As for the astringency, it’s very balanced with light salivation at the back of the palate. Overall, the palate stimulation is very balanced across the whole palate with no areas where there’s too much concentration of flavour.
Meanwhile, although the second third does kind of chug along, the lifecycle offers a decent evolution in flavour. The finish is very lingering. If you enjoy having a palate cleanser after a cigar, I would highly recommend espresso.
Finally, the Liga Privada surprisingly leaves a pleasant residual scent in the room once finished despite its powerful smoke output and rich body.
- Ash Backbone: Strong
- Burn Angle: Mild Waviness
- Temperature: Cool
- Draw: Ideal
- Final Smoking Time: 100 Minutes
The cigar’s draw is both ideal and consistent throughout the whole experience. Similarly, the temperature remains cool even when you’re right down to the nub. While the first Liga Privada tested had some wavy moments, the burn line remained straight on all the others.
In fact, it’s quite impressive in terms of construction and the backbone is incredible. The Liga Privada that was evaluated and photographed for the video review did produce nice ash, which plopped off a few times.
However, if you like at the photo here, you’ll note that I once smoked a Liga Privada all the way down without losing any ash!
Therefore, if you like to produce large ash stacks or put the cigar on its head after you’ve finished smoking it, this is something that you can do with the Liga Privada No 9.
The band may not be to everyone’s taste, but I quite like the handwritten artisanal back shop style that has been continued since 2007. The box is similarly styled but it does have a hint of luxury inside. For instance, it’s made from solid cedar wood with dividers and other attentions to detail.
Meanwhile, the value of the cigar is an interesting question. You’re looking at $15 RRP for a single stick in the case of the Belicoso. You could probably get it at about $14.75 per stick if you buy a whole box of 24.
There’s some debate as to whether it’s worth it. I personally believe that this is a wonderfully unique cigar that provides value in the sense that it’s original. You may want to age it as Nick Melillo suggested. However, Steve Saka believe that the tobaccos have a three-year lifespan for optimal ageing.
Any longer and you may not see any benefits. Nevertheless, I’d be inclined to side with Nick and it’ll be worth the investment if you’re ready for long-term ageing. As a result, it would be a cigar that you’d keep for a special occasion. However, like champagne, it may be best enjoyed as soon as you buy it!
It may also not be an overly versatile cigar. After all, it’s artisanal handwritten band may not be suitable for some formal occasions. However, I don’t think it’s that off-putting and the cigar does appear very luxurious. Since it’s not beginner-friendly, though, I would refrain from taking a box to an event like a bachelor’s party or wedding.
Otherwise, it’s an excellent nighttime cigar to intimately enjoy with some close friends or even on your own. If you’re reuniting with a close friend for an evening of libations and cigars, it’s the perfect choice.
Drew Estate Liga Privada No 9 Pairings
I would argue that the Liga Privada No 9 is best served as a digestif rather than accompanying a meal. However, consider pairing it with snacks like fresh walnuts, dark chocolate or caramelised peanuts. These each have unique gourmand characteristics that may enhance the cigar’s complexity.
As for beverages, when Paul and I meet, we often enjoy a Liga Privada No 9 with a glass of añejo rum. If that is your drink of choice, consider a Zacapa 23 or even an English-style Jamaican rum such as the Appleton Estate 21.
Meanwhile, a bold Fine Champagne cognac would be a fine choice. That said, I would be more inclined to opt for a Highland single malt whisky. Finally, espresso coffee, albeit short, would offer a beautifully harmonious accord with the Liga Privada No 9.
If you’re looking for a full-bodied cigar, the Liga Privada No 9 offers one of the best experiences that you’ll find. While it may lack some nuance, it’s opulent and rich in flavour. Yet, if you’re willing to age your cigars, you’ll likely be rewarded with renewed complexity!
"Excellent construction and both bold body and flavour, the Liga Privada No 9 may not be complex but it will certainly entertain you."
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