This is my review of the Drew Estate Liga Privada No. 9 in the Robusto vitola.
The wrapper has a balanced scent of chocolate and earth with an oak background. The nose isn't overpowering but definitely inviting.
This is the Liga No 9 Robusto (5x54). Like the T52 or other Drew Estates cigars, the construction is flawless from cap to foot. No imperfections to be found. The wrapper has a dark mocha shade to it and there are no soft spots.
The first few puffs were all sweet creamy tobacco. Once I moved past the creaminess a nice pepper front hits you. As I continued to enjoy the sweetness and pepper combination I start to pick up some dried fruit that I identified as either raisins or dates. I was taking my time to really gauge this stick properly as I had previously found the T52 to be the best cigar I had every enjoyed. Halfway through the first and I'm finding it quite good, but not as complex as the T52. I also found the first third to be stronger than the T52.
The transition from first to middle was marked by bitter chocolate. I was picking up espresso in with the chocolate and tasting the strong earth flavor that I picked up in the nose. As I got to the halfway mark I was really starting to feel the strength of this cigar get to me. I was a bit light headed. Just like the first the flavor through the middle was very consistent and none of the sweet creamy flavor from the first.
More chocolate as I entered the third, but more sweet than the middle. The final third finished out very consistent just as the first and middle did.
As with other Drew Estate cigars I've enjoyed, absolutely no burn issues whatsoever. The draw is nice and smooth, not too open and produces tons of thick, white smoke. Smoking time was approximately 1 hour 50 minutes.
As with the T52s the issue is not even about price but availability. If you're looking to try singles Famous-smoke has a test flight cigar sampler of 4 which is readily available around $55. Singles, if you can find them, are going to run you around $12-$15. Boxes, if you're able to find them, are going to run you around $250 for a box of 24. If I enjoyed these as much as the T52 they would be worth it for me. Unfortunately I find the T52 to be superior, so for me the rarity and cost of these wouldn't be justified.
I haven't had a Drew Estates cigar that I didn't enjoy to date, and although I enjoyed the No. 9 it's a premium cigar that is difficult to find. For me it's a question becomes whether I would choose this over a T52. Although the No. 9 seems stronger, the T52 is more complex in flavor so it's the clear winner. Opinions on these two sticks vary greatly so I welcome you to pick up a No. 9 for yourself and weigh in.