In case you missed last weeks Cigar SmackDown, you can (click here) to get up to date. I pitted Oliva V against Oliva O and it looks like Oliva V got the most love.

Rob over at Serious Cigars made a good point though, he said “you can’t talk about the O without discussing the O Maduro.” Note taken Rob, I’ll bring the Oliva O Maduro into the fold in a future SmackDown!

This week puts two powerhouses up against one another; the Liga Privada No. 9 vs. T52.

Before I share my thoughts, which do you think is better between the two?

Each has its own passionate following and I have heard families have been broken up over this debate. So allow me to add more fuel to that fire and jump right into this weeks Cigar SmackDown.

Liga Privada No. 9 Parejo Toro (6×52) |vs| Liga Privada T52 Toro (6×52)

Team LP9

Wrapper: Connecticut Broadleaf #1 Darks
*wrapper aged 18 months
Binder: Plantation-Grown Brazilian Mata Fina
Filler: Select Honduran and Nicaraguan Cuban Seed
Vitolas: 6
*finished cigar aged 12+ months

Here is what Drew Estate has to say about the No. 9:

Translated to English, “Liga Privada” means “private blend.” It is the perfect name, as this cigar was originally crafted not for resale, but for our own personal humidors. Dozens of intricate blends were created, but No. 9 was flawless in both flavor and character. Rich, complex and full bodied without being harsh, this amazing vitola is best described in one word: satisfying.

When you light a Liga Privada No. 9, you are smoking a puro that was intended and expected to be smoked by us. Aged a full year, no expense has been spared or shortcut taken in its creation as we expect cigar perfection with every puff.

Exquisitely crafted from aged tobaccos from seven farms, this cigar was originally created for our personal humidors rather than sale. It is guaranteed to be flawless in construction, flavor and character. Rich, complex and full bodied without being harsh, this vitola is best described in one word: Satisfying.

Liga Privada means “private blend.” Seven different tobaccos from seven distinct vegas are included. Wrapper is hand fermented for 18+ months, no sweat allowed. Only four pairs within our factory are certified to produce. Each pair is allowed to craft only 250 cigars per day. Cigars are aged a full year before offered for sale. Very limited production, available only from Appointed Merchants. (source)

My initial thoughts:

About a year ago, I went on a total detox which included cigars. After two weeks of agony, headaches, mood swings and other excruciating withdrawal symptoms, I was able to kick my sugar & coffee habit. But, I couldn’t fathom life without cigars. So I picked up a couple of cigars I smoked pre-detox and they tasted like hell.

I was worried I wouldn’t be able to smoke another cigar again since my palate had become so sensitive. My last hope was to return to the Liga No. 9 which I always enjoyed; at first puff I was relieved to learn it wasn’t my taste for cigars that was ruined, it was my taste for crappy cigars that was forever altered.

Thank goodness for the No. 9!

Review Begins Here: 

When a cigar maker guarantees the cigar will be flawless, that is a tall order to deliver each time. However, I have been smoking No. 9’s for a couple of years now and it has yet to fail me. Not once have I had a poorly constructed cigar or one that tasted any different from the last.

You can argue Davidoff is the cigar industry’s defacto standard bearer for quality, but you have to hand it to the folks at Drew Estate; they don’t jack around with quality control.

The No. 9 is a medium to full bodied cigar with a lot of dense, earthy flavors. I often pick up hints of spice and dark chocolate. There is very little sweetness to speak of, but that works well for the well aged wrapper.

No. 9’s true beauty comes out towards the last third of the cigar as all the flavors crescendo into one meaty puff after another. It really is like taking the last few delicious bites of a juicy rib-eye.

In 2015, it made the top 10 in Cigar Aficionados Top 25 Cigars of the Year listing. (source) That year the Rocky Patel Edge Habano got ranked #7 ahead of the Liga No. 9; how that happened is beyond me… (see for yourself)

If you ask me and a horde of loyal fans, the No. 9 could easily be the Cigar of the Year every year and no one would blink, unless they prefer something less potent.

Team T52

Wrapper: American Habano
*wrapper aged 24 months
Binder: Plantation-Grown Brazilian Mata Fina
Filler: Select Honduran and Nicaraguan Cuban Seed
Vitolas: 5
*finished cigar aged 12+ months

Here is what Jonathan Drew has to say about the T52:

“On a regular trip up to Connecticut for the purposes of purchasing a barn of Connecticut Broadleaf, we stumbled upon a farm that was growing a very unique looking “Stalk Cut Tobacco” in addition to the Broadleaf. The farmer called the wrapper leaf “American Habano.” After a few hours of inspection, we were impressed, but we tried to keep our composure, as this beautiful leaf had the exact color and thickness qualities that we had been flying all over the damn world looking for.

Lucky for us, (and for you too!) the farmer was complaining that this experimental tobacco would be the last year of crop unless he found a buyer who was willing to look past this one crop and make a real commitment. He said that others had loved the tobacco, but they didn’t want to pay the high price which is required to grow it the right way. Needless to say, we spent a pretty penny, but damn it is worth it. All this, just for the wrapper leaf! Wait ‘til you get the story on what’s inside….

This was a blend that was in a holding pattern for a very long time, as we were working with a new stalk-cut capa since September of 2006. To be blunt, this leaf is a pain in the ass and I thought we might have pissed away $400k on it. Luckily, we didn’t and the result is phenomenal in my opinion.

Anyhow, there were seven base iterations of the T52 blend. As fate would have it, #3 and #4 again turned out to be the best, even though the T52 #3/#4 differ from the Liga Privada No. 9 #3/#4 – and again the #4 was the stronger of the lot. For months, I was sold on the #3, then the #4, then #3, and so on – we even put the #4 into real production, to change our minds yet again – in the end, the final blend is actually between the two… so #3.5 is the official Liga Privada T52 blend. Ya got all that!” (source)

My initial thoughts:

To be honest, I really think this is the same leaf and damn near similar blend to the No. 9. It just seems to be aged for a longer period of time.

The reason I say this is because asides from looking nearly identical, the T52 is a bit sweeter than the No. 9; this is what a true maduro should taste like. The sweetness can only be achieved over a long period of aging on a tobacco leaf which draws the sugars out.

Review Begins Here:

As stated above by Jonathan Drew and in conjunction with my own initial thoughts, this is Liga No. 9 2.0 or 3.5 according to J.D.

The difference between the two is like regular gas and premium unleaded, but from a major station like Shell or Chevron. They are both good, but one just makes your car run a bit smoother.

In this case, the T52 smokes much smoother than the No. 9. It is definitely sweeter by a long shot, even the smoke has a sweet, velvety aroma to it.

The other flavors aren’t quite as bold or complex as the No. 9, but instead you get a more harmony out of the T52. They are both constructed well, but the T52 is slightly softer between my fingers.

As creamy and sweet as the cigar starts off, the flavor turns a bit more bitter towards the end. You get a lot of dark chocolate from the 2nd third on to the end of the cigar.

While the increasing intensity of flavors works well for the No. 9, it takes away from the elegance of the T52’s first third. However, you can’t help but to enjoy the aroma from this cigar as it fills the air with a sweetness that is very hard to find in cigars.

Aging tobacco this well can only be done by a few manufacturers, most rush the process to get product out, but Drew Estate has built its reputation on patience and craftsmanship with is evident in this cigar.  

The Verdict:

If the No. 9 starts off well, but finishes like a great movie. You want a sequel to this summer blockbuster. I think the finish is what makes this cigar so damn popular; it’s your last memory of the cigar and all you want is another one.

Very few cigars hit you as smoothly as the T52. Davidoff comes to mind, but we are talking about two radically different blending profiles and strengths. It is impressive what Drew Estates have done with the Connecticut Broadleaf wrapper; with so much age on it.

If the T52’s sweetness wasn’t overpowered towards the end, this would have to classified as a dessert instead of a cigar, however as the dark chocolate takes over; it can create mixed feelings towards the end.

As both of these cigars are priced $15.00 & up, I think the No. 9 wins out in my book. The No. 9 reads like a good story, it engages you on the front end and blows you away towards the end. While the T52 starts off well, but changes towards the end. It’s like two plots in one, but aren’t connected to one another.

Sorry T52 fans… if I only had to chose to enjoy one of these for the rest of my life, it would be the No. 9!


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