Thursday, October 29, 2009

Liga Privada T52 toro Cigar Review

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I was fortunate to be able to sample two of three finished blends for Liga Privada by Drew Estates. This review is for the T 52 which was released at this year's IPCPR in New Orleans. It is a Toro shape measuring 52 ring gauge by 6 inches. From Steve Saka, President of Drew Estates:

"Like the No.9, it's a very complex, balanced blend but spicier with more pepper and less earth. It sports an amazing stalk cut, river valley grown Habano capa grown exclusive for us. We have been fermenting this leaf since September 2006. Not aging, fermenting! It has been a ball breaker, but the result has made it worth it, imo."

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So far I haven't found too many retailers selling this cigar but the one I did find lists the tobacco in the cigar as a filler blend of Dominican, Nicaraguan and Honduran tobaccos, with a Brazilian Mata Fina binder and a proprietary stalk cut Habano wrapper. The price listed for a box of 24 is $242.99.

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The cigars I sampled were pre-released with hand-written cigar bands. If the final product is anything like the ones I've smoked then no one should be disappointed. The cigar is beautifully made with a neat symmetrical cap, tight seams, and not an obtrusive vein in sight. The cigar had wonderful oils and feels smooth to the touch. The color was a dark mahogany with dark blemishes all over. The scent was an unusual perfume-like fragrance with rich leathery overtones.

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The cigar has definite heft to it. It feels evenly packed with a slight give. I clipped the cap with a Xikar cutter and found the draw to be perfect. It was clear with a slight pull of resistance. The pre-light flavor was definitely peppery, causing a tingle to my lips and tongue.

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After lighting the cigar, I was able to confirm that the draw was outstanding. Billows of smoke come through to coat your entire mouth. The cigar is full of rich flavor and spice. Notes of dark coffee followed by toasty wood with a heavy dose of black pepper on the finish. The spiciness is off set slightly by a nice creamy sweetness. The first inch was a little rough, as the cigar showed a tart cedary note and the dash of pepper a little too heavy. But stay patient because once the cigar settles down you get a very pleasant smooth and balanced blend of cedar, sweet raisins and pepper. At times I tasted a mild roasted nut flavor as well. Eventually a dark coffee flavor returns and progresses to a full rich leathery body. The pepper never goes away, which really was not a bad thing, as I feel it added interest to the entire smoke.

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Another thing that impressed me about the Liga Privada T52 toro is the fact that it was full flavored without being a nicotine bomb. I bought some Padron Anniversary Exclusivos recently and I swear the roller must have went crazy with the ligero because it was way too strong for my taste. The T52's on the other hand, contained just the right amount of ligero for ideal strength without knocking you down.

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In the last third, my cigar developed some large holes in the filler which caused the draw to really loosen up and the tobacco to burn a little hot. Care had to be taken to smoke a little slower at this point. The smoke volume was still thick and the flavor became mostly dark coffee, leather, black pepper and a touch of sweetness. Once the flavors got syrupy, I put the cigar down. This left about an inch an a half of the cigar remaining.

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Overall, I was very pleased with the way the Liga Privada T52 toro smoked and tasted. The burn line stayed even with very little effort and the ash was nice and compact, holding on for well past the one inch point. The ash color was dirty gray and no beauty to behold, but if I had to choose between flavor or appearance, I would definitely choose the former. The Liga Privada T52 toro is delicious, and for the effort involved in fermenting the wrapper, I think it's worth the ten dollar plus price tag per cigar.

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