In early 2012—less than a year after the line formally made its debut—Drew Estate released the first extension to its Undercrown blend. It was a cigar designed for the connoisseurs.
The Undercrown Corona ¡Viva! used a modified version of the regular Undercrown blend, designed to be stronger, and placed it in the 5 5/8 x 46 corona gorda size that is so popular with many readers of this website.
And so, it was only a matter of time before the company did the same thing with its popular Liga Privada lines. It turns out “matter of time” equated to nearly six years.
Earlier this month at Cigars International’s Cigarfest 2018, Drew Estate hosted events with the first boxes of the new Liga Privada No. 9 Corona ¡Viva! Like the Undercrown before it, the blend had been modified to be stronger, this time adding ligero to the filler.
Cigars International got a preview, while the rest of the country will see boxes shipping following the 2018 IPCPR Convention & Trade Show in July.
- Cigar Reviewed: Liga Privada No. 9 Corona ¡Viva!
- Country of Origin: Nicaragua
- Factory: La Gran Fabrica Drew Estate
- Wrapper: U.S.A. (Connecticut Broadleaf)
- Binder: Brazil (Mata Fina)
- Filler: Honduras & Nicaragua
- Length: 6 Inches
- Ring Gauge: 46
- Vitola: Corona Gorda
- MSRP: $12.08 (Boxes of 24, $290)
- Release Date: May 4, 2018
- Number of Cigars Released: Regular Production
- Number of Cigars Smoked For Review: 3
Like the original Corona ¡Viva!, the new version features no visual identifiers that separate it from the regular Liga Privada No. 9: no special bands, no pigtails. Aroma off the Connecticut broadleaf wrapper is a mixture of leather, acidity and earthiness. It’s surprisingly mild as well. The foot is much stronger with redwoods, a brownie chocolate sweetness and a bit of sherry. The cold draw provides a lot of dry bubble gum, black pepper, nuttiness and some oranges.
The Corona ¡Viva! begins earthy with some black pepper, cedar and creaminess. While the flavors are nicely layered, they aren’t particularly special save for a bit of bourbon on the finish. Eventually, the first third shows signs of things other than earth, cedar and toast. There’s a mild amount of white pepper on the finish, while the retrohale has Ritz crackers, soy sauce and some strawberries. One sample needs a touch-up, while the other two are burning fine. Of note, despite the large amounts of smoke the cigar puts off, it does require a bit more attention than Liga Privadas of yesteryear when it comes to keeping the cigar lit. The flavor is medium-full, body is medium-plus and strength is medium-plus.
Shortly before the midway point, the cigar seems to come alive as far as flavors go. There’s apple cider, french fries, black pepper, burnt popcorn and peppermint in the mouth before a spiced rum flavor adds itself to the finish. The nose has a lot of molasses before it finishes with dry crackers and a bit of black pepper. Construction is great across all three samples with no issue. Flavor is full, body is full and strength is medium-plus.
The bourbon notes pick up dramatically as the Liga Privada No. 9 Corona ¡Viva! gets down to about an inch and a half. There’s a ton of roasted flavors in the mouth, some remind me of the rotisserie chicken section of a grocery store, others more of a fresh potato chip flavor. The finish has more of a Lay’s potato chip, some mineral water-like flavors and roasted peanuts. Towards the end, a bit of the generic earthiness comes to play, but it’s very much a secondary note. Construction remains great, save for the normal wearing smoke production as I get closer to the half-inch mark. Flavor is full, body is full and strength is just below medium-full.
- If you have not been to Cigarfest before, I recommend going, at least once. It’s an exhausting weekend and the venue isn’t great, but there’s nothing that comes close to the event in terms of its size. Cigars International also does a fantastic job running the event, as well as the dozen or so smaller events at that go in on before, during and after the main events.
- I try not to smoke cigars that I am reviewing before smoking the review samples. In this case, I was genuinely curious to see what this tasted like and smoked two before the review was assigned to me. Those were not very good. They were dry, harsh and quite boring. That was also three weeks ago and it seems that a bit of customary rest has done the cigars wonder.
- Let this be a good lesson in why we avoid reviewing cigars right off the truck and why I am a believer that you should try to let cigars rest for a few weeks after shipping. Transport is not friendly to cigars. If you need an example, check out this article from Small Batch Cigar which showed a temperature range between 43.62-94.66 Fahrenheit as cigars were being shipped across the country.
- If you told me this was a lighter version of Liga Privada I would have believed you. It certainly doesn’t have the punch that I would expect from a slightly amped up version of Liga Privada.
- For those wondering, Drew Estate has given out versions of a Liga Privada T52 Corona ¡Viva! at events. As of now, the company has not formally announced that cigar.
- This constitutes the first time we’ve photographed boxes with the new FDA-compliant warning labels. It’s not great and unfortunately, it’s likely to become the norm very soon. In addition to the obvious, the warning labels make the boxes look incredibly cheap.
- Cigars for this review were purchased by halfwheel.
- Drew Estate advertises on halfwheel.
- Final smoking time was a lengthy two hours on average.
If you were like me and were at the Cigars International event where these debuted and bought some, I hope you are willing to give the Corona ¡Viva! a shot now. It was not particularly great that weekend, but with a bit of rest, the cigar is very good. Is this as good as Liga Privada once was? No. Is this the best Liga Privada I’ve smoked in quite some time? Absolutely. I’m not ready to say Liga Privada is back, the handful of No. 9s I smoke each year haven’t wowed me in quite some time, but the three samples I smoked for this review were more than enough to leave me impressed.