Drew Estate – Liga Privada Unicos UF-13 Dark Cigar Review
I haven’t been around as much as I’d like to lately. Some of you may know, there was some issues with my father that needed to be taken care of. Thanks for all your support he is doing much, much better. That being said, I should be back to my normal routine, just in time to bring you guys a review of Drew Estate’s newest offering, the Liga Privada Unicos UF-13 Dark.
The Good Stuff: The UF-13 dark is the ninth installment to the Unicos series following the Dirty Rat, Ratzilla, “A”, UF-4, L40, Feral Pig, Papas Fritas and the Velvet Rat. The UF-13 has been floating around the cigar community for a long while now pending it’s final March release. I got the chance to smoke a few while I was at the Drew Estate Factory in Nicaragua last year and could not wait for the release. The main difference is the unique pig tail that sits on top of the UF-13 Dark was not present in any of the samples I smoked, or saw on the internet. Since this tail is so unique Drew Estate did not want any photos shown until the final release to ensure no one would mimic the cap.
Here is what Steve Saka, Drew Estate’s President had to say about the blend:
“T52-4 was the final head to head blend that was competing internally with T52-3 to become the T52 final blend.
T52-4 was exceptional, in fact JD and I both liked it a slight bit better, but we were concerned that it tended to overpower some of the nuances in the liga and that we were sacrificing flavors for strength, so we ultimately decided that the T52-3 would be the final T52 blend.
JD for his own smoking pleasure kept having T52-4s made, but we banded them as JD4 so as to not cause confusion in the factory or with those he shared them with.
After he started handing them out, he decided that he didn’t like putting his personal name on the product, so we started ringing them with MF-4 – it stood for what you think it does.
In the factory we kept tinkering with the T52-4/JD4/MF-4 blend to try to improve it (in our opinion) – goal was to keep the octane, but restore the depth of flavors… so we made a variety of minor liga tweaks and vitola changes to try and get it “perfect”.
The result was the MF-13 – a robusto format. I think the MF-13 is better, not sure where JD stands on this – truth is the difference is so very minor between the two cigars I doubt most folks could even tell there was any difference unless they smoked them side by side… and maybe not even then, but we can tell… or so we tell ourselves.
We started sharing both MF-4s and MF-13s at events and out of our pockets and they started to get some buzz online.
JD came to me one day with a My Father cigar and pointed out that Pepin’s rings have an MF in the center of them. How both of us missed this is kinda crazy since we both smoke a lot of their cigars, but we did. So we decided to change the name to UF out of respect – we take pride in not knowingly copying others, so we rebanded all the MFs as UFs on our own accord.
UF stands for “Unico Fuerte.” So MF-4 = UF-4 and MF-13 = UF-13.
Netiher blend is really in testing per se, both are finalized blends. It just that neither is being produced for retail at this point.”
Hopefully that clears up some confusion. You can actually check out my review of the JD4 here and the MF-13 here. Mind you, the MF-13 blend I smoked actually has a different wrapper on it. The UF-13 Dark carries a slightly tweaked wrapper containing “high broadleaf mediums”, Hence the name UF-13 Dark.
The UF-13 Dark is composed of a Connecticut Broadleaf (dark mediums) wrapper, Brazillian Mata Fina binder, and Cuban Seed Nicaraguan and Honduran filler. The UF-13 will come packaged in boxes of 12 running $167.40, or $13.95 a stick. These cigars are not limited outside of being released only to Liga Privada authorized retailers. Drew Estate was kind enough to shoot a few samples over to us for review.
Size: 5.5 x 52
Wrapper: Connecticut Broadleaf (dark mediums)
Binder: Brazillian Mata Fina
Filler: Cuban seed Nicaraguan / Honduran
Pairing: New Belgiun Lips of Faith La Folie (7% ABV Sour Brown Ale)
Prelight: The UF-13 Dark starts out just as it’s name suggests, with an extremely dark wrapper. The wrapper is a crazy dark brown, almost black. In fact, it’s pretty much black in some areas surrounding the webbing of the tobacco. The wrapper feels very, very solid as the toothy texture gets pressed between my fingers. The wrapper gives off a nice shine from the subtle oils covering the cigar. The thick body leads up to a round, “Pig Tail” cap. Essentially it’s a triple twisted pig tail similar to the one of the Dirty Rat, only it’s coiled a few times at the foot of the tail before flaring out.
The UF-13 feels really solid. As mentioned above, the wrapper is very thick and dense, but the cigar itself feels jam-packed with tobacco and almost rock-hard. Let’s hope that doesn’t plug up the draw any. Along with the hardness of the cigar, the stick is also heavy as hell. I could probably use this cigar to prop up a car while I change the oil. The wrapper on the UF-13 Dark lets loose a very strong, sweet, cedar and spice aroma while the foot of the cigar releases some very strong tobacco and pepper aromas. The cold draw was a bit firm, but it kicked out some really nice cedar, strong tobacco, prune and lots of sweetness.
First Smoke: My fear of receiving a plugged cigar immediate diminished as every puff from the start pumped out mouthful, after mouthful of extremely thick smoke. I was expecting a lot more of a pepper greeting from the UF-13 dark, instead it started out with only a slight bit of pepper, but a ton of strong, sweet tobacco, cedar, black cherry, and musk. Right off the bat this cigar is full in flavor and strength. The burnline on the UF-13 is razor sharp and perfectly even. The ash left behind is bright white and very thick and compacted. In Fact, after an inch and a half I decided to finally ash the cigar before it fell into my lap and it took some extra pressure from my ashtray before it finally snapped off.
Halfway There: A word of advice, beware of the retrohale on this cigar. I took a few deep puffs and it left with coughing. The retrohale was very, very, very sharp coating with strong black pepper, sweet cedar, and lots of very strong tobacco. The flavors are still very full with little change ups. Still lots of strong, sweet tobacco, cedar, cherry, and musk with a bit of earthiness starting to creep in. The burnline is still razor sharp and it’s crazy how there is this secondary burnline where you can actually see the oils burning off creating a whole mess of stationary smoke. I don’t know exactly what it is about most Liga Privada blends but the oils are insane as well as the stationary smoke. I am feeling a nice little nicotine kick as I close in on the end of the second third.
Finish: As I venture into the final third of the UF-13 Dark a mysterious creaminess has moved in. Usually with cigars of this strength and body, you encounter a ramp up in both areas. Not in this case. The flavors are still the same with a ramp up in sweetness and lots of cedar with cherry and tobacco undertones, but the have muted a bit making for an incredibly smooth finish. This is probably a good thing cause this cigar is really starting to kick my ass in the nicotine category. All in all it took me almost 2 hours to take this cigar down and it required absolutely no touch ups or relights the entire time. Perfect burn.
Overview: I am happy to announce that the buzz about the UF-13 dark is all true. The cigar is another masterpiece to be added to an already wonderful portfolio in Drew Estate’s Liga Privada line. The cigar has everything you want, tons of flavor, lots of strength, superior construction, perfect burn, and a decent price tag. Some may say $13+ for a cigar is pricey, but I know from experience that any fan of the Liga Privada line is willing to pay the cost for these cigars, and in this case it is well worth the coin. In comparison to the previously mentioned MF-13, the UF-13 dark’s wrapper has seemed to really bring some deeper sweetness that the MF-13 was lacking which really spoke volumes to my profile. I crave that sweetness and the UF-13 has plenty of it. These are selling out all across the US, but Drew Estate is working frantically to keep them on the shelves. If you see them, pick them up and get as many of them as you can. This is a box worthy purchase for sure.
Pairing: There are certain pairings that look awful on paper, but pair up perfectly once they come together and the UF-13 Dark and New Belgium’s La Folie 2013 is one of those pairings. When you think of the deep, woodsy, sweet flavors of the UF-13 you normally wouldn’t reach for a sour ale, but not doing so is a mistake. New Belgium’s Lips of Faith Series La Folie is a Strong Brown Ale brewed at the New Belgium Brewery in Fort Collins, Colorado coming in at 7% ABV. La Folie is an annual release which has been released every year since 2004. I have had the pleasure of enjoying the 2008, 2009, 2010, 11, 12, and now the 13th. As the name describes, this is a Sour Brown Ale. For those of you who haven’t had the chance to enjoy a sour ale, it’s basically a very tart, yet sweet brew. Especially in the case of the sour browns. The La Folie leads off with lots of tart citrus, sharp zest, and sweet spices. While it’s the exact opposite of the flavors featured in the UF-13 the flavor profile pairs up perfectly without overpowering the cigar. Heck, I don’t think there are much out there that could. The UF-13 Dark would go great with a Belgian Strong Brown Ale, Bruin, or and Indian Brown Ale.