While I struggle to remember most of the cigars I review, it’s going to be a while before I forget the Liga Privada Bauhaus. It’s not really because of anything I liked or didn’t like about the cigar, rather, the Bauhaus is a cigar that spurned a policy change here at halfwheel.
There was a time when reviewing a cigar before it was on shelves—we refer to them as prerelease reviews—was a massive part of halfwheel. When this website started, we carried on the tradition established by Brooks Whittington’s Smoking Stogie of reviewing cigars that were either limited, vintage, prerelease or otherwise interesting. Looking back on it, it was a bizarre set of limits and one that started to produce less than ideal results both by limiting what cigars we could review and also negatively impacting the results of some reviews.
Although we had naturally been phasing out prerelease reviews around this time last year, we were still open to reviewing cigars that were sent to us prior to them arriving on shelves. This was more the result of loosening the rules about what cigars we could review, therefore greatly expanding our options. But to pull back the curtain a bit, here are the number of prerelease cigars we reviewed by year:
- 2012 — 55
- 2013 — 66
- 2014 — 78
- 2015 — 25
- 2016 — 9
- 2017 — 2
- 2018 — 8
- 2019 — 3
- 2020 — 1
- 2021 — 1
In December 2020 we were sent a box of the Liga Privada Bauhaus by Drew Estate, well ahead of its mid-February arrival onto shelves at stores in Europe. The 4 1/2 x 50 Rothschild cigar was a new release Drew Estate created for the European market. It’s part of the company’s Único Series, a loose collection of different cigars and blends that otherwise don’t fit into one of the four different Liga Privada lines. It has an MSRP of €18 in Germany, which is roughly $20.48 as of Feb. 13, 2022, about $1.40 less than the converted price was in U.S. dollars when the cigar was originally reviewed.
As has been our procedure for quite some time, the cigars were going to rest for a minimum of one month before we reviewed them. However, because of the time of year, the cigars actually ended up sitting for more than six weeks before I started smoking them for the review. Upon smoking the cigars, it was very obvious that the cigars I was smoking were just not ready to be smoked with flavors that were a bit too sharp, a bit shorter.
This review could have been much shorter: it just needs time. There was a time when Liga Privada was declining in quality—before Drew Estate sold to Swisher—but over the last few years I’ve been very impressed with the recent Liga Privadas. I’d put the Liga Privada No 9 Corona ¡Viva!, Liga Privada 10 Aniversaioand the recent Year of the Rat against any company’s trio of recent releases. The Liga Privada Bauhaus has enough flavors, but they haven’t settled into the most appreciable mixture. Perhaps by the time the cigar goes on sale in the rest of Europe or by the time our American readers are able to have some shipped back it will have found that happy place. For me, I’ll revisit this in August or September when it’s eligible for a redux review.
After that happened, I went to the rest of our team and argued we stopped doing prerelease reviews. My first contention was that we basically weren’t doing them anyways, but specifically, I felt like the Bauhaus review was awkward. I smoked cigars that were shipped to me two months before they went to stores and the conclusion of the review was “these cigars need more time to rest before they should be smoked.” As a result, we stopped reviewing prerelease cigars entirely and pretty soon—after another one of my reviews—we stopped the process of accepting any more free cigars for review, though I suppose, this particular cigar was not purchased.
And so for me, the Bauhaus will always be the cigar that ended an era at halfwheel.
- Cigar Reviewed: Liga Privada Único Serie Bauhaus
- Country of Origin: Nicaragua
- Factory: La Gran Fábrica Drew Estate
- Wrapper: U.S.A. (Connecticut Broadleaf)
- Binder: Brazil
- Filler: Honduras & Nicaragua
- Length: 4 1/2 Inches
- Ring Gauge: 50
- Vitola: Rothschild
- MSRP: €18 (Box of 10, €180)
- Release Date: Feb. 17, 2021
- Number of Cigars Released: Undisclosed
- Number of Cigars Smoked For Redux: 1
While I love the dark color and oily wrapper, this particular cigar isn’t the prettiest specimen I’ve seen. The Bauhaus has a lot of veins but there’s one particular vein near the foot that is especially gnarly and appears to have opened up a tiny tear in the foot. The aroma from the wrapper is medium in intensity, but I find it very difficult to pick out the individual flavor. There’s some ketchup, cedar and sugar—but I don’t feel all that great about just describing it like this. The foot is both stronger and easier for me to identify the flavors: nuttiness, red wine, cedar and a bit of a sweet floral flavor. Cold draws are also medium-full with nuttiness, cereal, creaminess, sugar and a floral flavor, though it’s neither as sweet nor smooth as the sensation I typically describe as a floral flavor.
I seem to be in a rut when it comes to reviewing cigars that struggle with the first puff and the Liga Privada Bauhaus continues the trend. This time, it’s due to an open draw, which means the volume of smoke in my mouth ends up being pretty anemic. What I do pick up is a delicate mixture of oak, a mild toastiness and some creaminess. Less than five minutes in and I need to touch up the cigar to help with the smoke production. While that helps, it seems like the more helpful thing is just getting the first half-inch of the cigar burning because once I’ve reached that mark the smoke production has picked up, making it much easier to pick up the flavors. There’s a velvety earthy flavor with some deeply intertwined cinnamon. It finishes with cedar over meatiness, cinnamon and some herbal earthiness. Retrohales during the first third feature earthiness, cedar, a melon-like sweetness and some pretty distinct butter flavors. Once the smoke leaves my nostrils, I can taste some herbal sensations joined by leather and white pepper. Flavor is medium-full, body is full and strength is medium-plus. While the ash isn’t falling off the cigar on every puff, it’s flakier than I can recall any Liga Privada being. It generally stays on like most cigars, but there’s a bit more debris falling from the cigar than normal.
Before the halfway mark I begin to notice the cigar getting sweeter thanks to a mixture of sugar, creaminess and some bread-like flavors, but then the profile shifts a bit and settles on delivering lots of Kellogg’s cereal-like flavors. There’s creaminess, ketchup and some earthiness behind the Kellogg’s cereal, but an equally notable change is how thick the flavors are now coating the palate. That means the finish has tons of the Kellogg’s cereal flavor as well, though there’s also some sweet cedar, mineral flavors and black pepper, oddly the latter one yon the left side of my mouth. Flavor and body both pick up to full, while strength is medium-plus. Another touch-up is needed before I get into the final third, again to correct the smoke production. Flavor-wise, the final third is more pedestrian than the early parts: earthiness over cedar, leather and creaminess. The finish has white pepper, leather, saltiness and creaminess. I’m surprised by how the Kellogg’s cereal flavor completely disappears. Retrohales remain pretty consistent throughout with the exception of varying amounts of black pepper and creaminess, which seem to be constantly adjusting themselves in terms of intensity. By the end of the cigar, flavor is medium-full, body is medium-full and strength is medium-plus.
Looking back on what I wrote last year, I put too much stock into the idea that the cigar needed time and not enough stock in the open draw. My notes from last year suggest that the draw was loose, but I neither recall nor see evidence that I thought that draw was the main issue. And in fairness, it might not be the main problem; but it's still an issue. What's different now is that the signs that the cigar needs to rest are gone. It doesn't taste like there's too much humidity, it doesn't taste like the tobacco is too young—it performs like a cigar that has a slightly loose draw, albeit, loose enough to be causing problems. I don't know if it's the whole box or just the random cigars I've smoked out of it, but the draw is problematic enough that I still don't know what to make of the Liga Privada Bauhaus should be.