Cigar Reviews

Drew Estate Liga Privada Unico Year of the Rat

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Coming at you from a nice, cool 99 degree backyard I take on the Drew Estate Liga Privada Unico Year of the Rat paired with a can of Jester King’s Dark Matter Imperial Coffee Stout.

The Good Stuff:

Originally released in 2016 as a Drew Estate Lounge exclusive as well as an event only release when Jonathan Drew was present the Year of the Rat has been one of the most elusive Liga Privada blends released to date. Earlier this year Drew Estate announced that they’d be widening their release this year to include Drew Diplomat events, which, well, aren’t happening for obvious reasons so now these cigars are starting to pop-up in extremely limited batches as Drew Diplomat retailers. I was lucky enough to pick some up from our friends at Fox Cigar Bar. The blend, which is closed to the Velvet Rat, No.9 and the UF-13 in that it starts with a Connecticut Broadleaf wrapper (vs. the Connecticut Sungrown Habana wrapper found on the Dirty Rat and T52) over a Brazilian binder and Honduran and Nicaraguan fillers. The Year of the Rat comes in a single 5.5 x 46 format packaged in boxes of 10 running $16 per stick.

  • Size: 5.5 x 46
  • Wrapper: Connecticut Broadleaf
  • Binder: Brazilian
  • Filler: Honduran and Nicaraguan
  • Body: Full
  • Strength: Full
  • Price: $16
  • Pairing: Jester King Dark Matter (Imperial Stout 10.3% ABV)

Prelight:

First. let’s remove this huge ass foil wrapping. Once that’s gone we can finally take a good look at the cigar. The Liga Privada Year of the Rat starts with a very consistent, almost black, dark-brown wrapper. It almost reminds of of looking at a bar of Hershey’s dark chocolate. The wrapper’s texture is very toothy and gritty with a ton of oils, a few larger veins, and a good amount of natural tobacco webbing in the leaf heading up to the cigar’s round, pigtail style cap. The cigar is then polished off with the elegant Liga Privada style band we have all grown to expect with the words “Year of the Rat” printed across it. Anything below the band is covered in a gold foil with a blue and gold foot band with the year “2020” embossed across the front.

The wrapper on the Liga Privada Year of the Rat gives off a very musky/floral aroma while the foot of the cigar carries the same musk over more natural tobacco scents. The cap cut clean and easily using my Xikar XO double bladed cutter. The muskiness carries into the cold draw along with dark chocolate and rich oak.

First Third:

The Liga Privada Year of the Rat starts out with a quick burst of black pepper which faded after the first few puff leaving behind bold oak, musk, and dark chocolate notes over light blackberry, cinnamon and coffee. As I smoke on a nice floral flavor that I picked up in the prelight keeps coming and going. This flavor profile is bangin’. The Year of the Rat kicks out a ton of thick white smoke with each and every puff while the cigar releases a whole mess of stationary smoke while it rests in my ashtray. The burn line is razor thin and dead even leaving behind a trail of tightly compacted white/light gray ash which held on for an inch before falling into my ashtray.

Second Third:

Into the second third of the Year of the Rat and the musk, dark chocolate, and coffee are now leading the charge back by oak, blackberry, and more of the floral flavors I picked up in that first third. The retrohale is very sharp hitting my nasal passage with loads of spice and pepper so I don’t find myself doing it too often. The burn line is still sharp and even while I close out the second third with a minor little nicotine kick.

Finish:

Into the final third of the Year of the Rat the oak and musk have really taken control of the flavor profile backed by black cherry, spice, and coffee. It took me two full hours to smoke this cigar down to the nub and I wished it would never end. I never once had to reach for my torch to touch-up or relight the cigar. There was no harshness, nor extended heat while the cigar did leave me with a decent little Nic-kick.

Overview:

This cigar actually reminded me much more of a No.9 than a rat, and that’s likely why I enjoyed it so much. The flavor profile was spot-on with what I look for in a cigar, the burn and construction were perfect, and the burn was so slow it really allowed me to get more comfortable with the cigar. All in all this is a near-perfect cigar if it wasn’t for the availability which I really hope expands more in the near future as I’d love to keep this in my daily rotation.

Pairing:

I decided to pair this Year of the Rat with Texas’s own Jester King’s Dark Matter. Dark Matter is an imperial Stout brewed in Austin, Texas with Guatemalan Catuai / Caturra coffee from Dark Matter. Coming in at a solid 10.3% ABV Dark Matter leads with a ton of roasted malt, black coffee, dark chocolate, and a hint of spice with a very heavy mouthfeel before finishing with more coffee and malt. This isn’t a very complex beer, and it didn’t need to be. The coffee and chocolate notes married up perfectly with the notes found in the Year of the Rat resulting in a perfect pairing.

Tony Casas is a 32 year old Creative Managing/Webdesigning/Craft Beer Drinking Cigar smoker from El Paso, Texas. When he isn't loving his wife he is either sleepy, hungry, or suffering from a headache.

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