Drew Estate Liga Privada Serie Unico Velvet Rat Cigar Review

Following our review of the Drew Estate Liga Privada No 9, we felt it was time to look at some of this range’s limited releases as well. Therefore, this review will cover the Drew Estate Liga Privada Único Serie Velvet Rat according to the following considerations:

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  • Brand: Drew Estate
  • Range: Liga Privada Único Serie
  • Reviewed Vitolas: 6.25 x 46 “Velvet Rat” Lonsdale
  • Wrapper: Connecticut Broadleaf
  • Binder: Brazilian Mata Fina
  • Filler: Nicaragua, Honduras
  • Factory: La Gran Fabrica Drew Estate, Nicaragua
  • Handmade: Yes
  • Body: Medium – Full
  • Estimated Smoking Time: 80  Minutes
  • Pricing: $16.70 / Single [Buy Now]

First released in 2012 as part of a limited run, the cigar then became part of the full lineup in 2017. While Drew Estate is the brand and Liga Privada is the range with the cult following, “Único Serie” implies that it’s a one-off instalment whereas the name “Velvet Rat” actually refers to the vitola, which is a 6.25 x 46 Lonsdale.

Drew Estate Liga Privada Serie Unico Velvet Rat Cigar Look & Feel

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Liga Privada Velvet Rat Look & Feel

  • Wrapper Hue: Chocolate Fondant
  • Rolling Consistency: Mostly Straight
  • Spring: Firm
  • Aromas: Tonka Bean, Leather, Labdanum

One of the first things you may notice about the Velvet Rat is that the wrapper appears to be dripping with oils. Its dark and shiny wrapper has a chocolate fondant colour. In fact, you could just picture opening it up to let the gooey interior ooze out.

Its roll is somewhat rustic. However, if you’re familiar with the Liga Privada No 9, you’ll realise that this aspect is part of the charm. The body has a nice, firm spring. Meanwhile, the veins are quite present.

As for the aromas on the foot, it has a rich bouquet of gourmand notes. Tonka bean is one of the most notable but you may also detect leather and musky labdanum. It also seems to have a certain fruitiness but I couldn’t pick up any individual notes.

Drew Estate Liga Privada Único Serie Velvet Rat Review

As is standard with our cigar reviews, the Liga Privada Único Serie Velvet Rats were stored in a Boveda Acrylic Humidor for a period of three weeks with 69% Boveda Packs. They were monitored closely with a Boveda Butler to make sure that they were properly prepared for the review.

Pre-Lighting Experience

  • Draw: Ideal Airflow
  • Aromas: Chocolate, Praliné, Agarwood

The draw is ideal and delivers slightly fruity, caramelized notes. I noted aromas of chocolate, praliné and agarwood. The agarwood note produces a slightly resinous and musky essence, which has elements of vanilla and leather.

1st Third Smoking Experience

Drew Estate Liga Privada Serie Unico Velvet Rat Cigar First Third

  • Notes: Burned Caramel, Dark Chocolate, Rosemary

The first third reveals an inch or more of beautiful white ash as well as an almost perfectly straight burn line. its flavour profile is unctuous, sweet, and flavoursome. Yet, it’s quite complex and hard to discern individual notes.

Burned caramel is one of the most noticeable aromas and it offers a slightly bittered sweetness. There is also very dark and bold chocolate – something akin to 90% cacao with a buttery texture. Meanwhile, a slight aromatic quality also has an element of spice. Currently, it bears a resemblance to charred rosemary.

2nd Third Smoking Experience

Drew Estate Liga Privada Serie Unico Velvet Rat Cigar Second Third

  • Notes: Rosewood, Cacao Nib, Charred Bay Leaf

The ash fell off towards the end of the second third to be replaced with a flakier one. Meanwhile, the burn line is perfectly straight but thinner than expected. The second third displays an evolution in flavour, but it’s quite modest.

The profile is woodier and has taken on bitter characteristics. The aromatic element is more reminiscent of charred bay leaf than rosemary. Otherwise, it reveals notes of fragrant rosewood and cacao nib, which is less chocolatey than the first third.

Final Third Smoking Experience

Drew Estate Liga Privada Serie Unico Velvet Rat Cigar Final Third

  • Notes: Cherrywood, Black Pepper, Molasses

The final third features exellent smoke production and an exceptional burn line. The fruity and woody properties of the cigar produce a tasting note of cherrywood. A sprinkle of black pepper reveals itself in the retrohale while black treacle molasses produces a succulent mouthfeel and bitter caramelised flavour.

The Velvet Rat is quite complex from start to finish with varying nuances and notes throughout the experience. Its mouthfeel remains smooth and velvety if a little heavy on the palate. Otherwise, the astringency and palate stimulation are balanced.

The lifecycle is a little subdued and the evolution between each third isn’t very pronounced. Similarly, the finish is also quite short compared to the Liga Privada No 9.

Finally, the residual scent in the room is very strong and it’s recommended to smoke with good ventilation or even outdoors.

Overall Burn

Drew Estate Liga Privada Serie Unico Velvet Rat Cigar Burn Quality

  • Ash Backbone: Mostly Strong
  • Burn Angle: Straight
  • Temperature: Occasionally Warm
  • Draw: Ideal Airflow
  • Final Smoking Time: 80 Minutes

The Velvet Rat offers an excellent draw with good airflow all the way through. Meanwhile, the smoking temperature will remain cool if smoked slowly. However, given the narrow ring gauge, it can become quite warm if you rush.

Otherwise, the burn line is impeccable and the ash backbone is generally strong save for a few flaky moments.

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Overall Experience

Drew Estate Liga Privada Serie Unico Velvet Rat Cigar Bands

The cigar features an identical band to the Liga Privada No 9 except that the handwritten part says “Velvet Rat” rather than “Liga Privada No 9”. It follows the same design as the Liga Privada No 9 that suggests a private blend. This is emphasised by text at the top that says “exclusivamente para el jefe” or “exclusively for the boss” in English.

Similarly, the box features the same design as the Liga Privada No 9. It’s black with a wooden interior. It’s more similar to the Flying Pig vitola rather than the Belicoso.

Admittedly, the Velvet Rat is somewhat pricey. It’s more expensive than the larger Liga Privada Belicoso at $16.70 for a single or $158 for a box of 10 cigars. Meanwhile, the Liga Privada No 9 retails for a bit less at around $15 for a single.

That said, it offers a unique and intriguing experience so you may argue that there is value in the purchase.

The Velvet Rat’s elegant shape makes it ideal for formal occasions. It’s the definitive nighttime cigar and despite the artisanal band, it suits black tie events. Otherwise, consider it for nights of quiet contemplation and a glass of cognac alone or with a good friend.

Liga Privada Único Serie Velvet Rat Pairings

Drew Estate Liga Privada Serie Unico Velvet Rat Cigar & Whisky Pairing

Dark chocolate is probably the best pairing you chould choose. It will offer additional creaminess and impart some pleasant flavours on the cigar’s bouquet. If combined with an aged spirit drink, the trio would work well. Alternatively, you could opt for roasted chestnuts if you prefer something savoury.

Otherwise, it could follow a dinner of beef stew or if you like smoking cigars while eating, they could accompany one another. The opulence of the meal would marry well with the cigar’s aromatic and savoury aspects.

Finally, consider cognac among the beverages. A mature Fine Champagne X.O. such as the Courvoisier would be a great choice. Otherwise, a dark and mature añejo rum such as the Jamaican Appleton Estate 21 would be an excellent option.

Meanwhile, espresso coffee would be a great palate cleanser and I would suggest serving one when halfway through the final third.

Closing Thoughts

If you’re looking for a full-bodied cigar that’s nuanced and complex, the Liga Privada Velvet Rat is a good choice. While it may warrant further ageing, it’s an overall rich experience that delivers a potent tasting experience.

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"A rich and flavoursome cigar with potent notes and a balanced body."
Bespoke Unit Rating: ★★★★★

Further Reading

If you enjoyed reading this cigar review, feel fry to check out more related content:

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