The Drew Estate Liga Privada Único line got significantly stronger with the addition of the Year of the Rat. Okay, maybe addition isn’t the right word, considering the cigar was initially released back in 2016. That initial iteration was a DE shop exclusive for their then-newly established Drew Estate Lounge at the home of the NHL’s Florida Panthers, the BB&T Center in Sunrise, Florida.
Fast forward to 2020 and the Year of the Rat was given a national release this January, set to become available at Drew Diplomat events this spring. In a press release, Drew Estate revealed “Each store hosting a Drew Diplomat event will be able to purchase up to four boxes that will be made available for sale to consumers.” Things may change with the current ban on events, but that remains to be seen. You’re gonna want to be ready to pounce regardless of when this beauty gets released.
Year of the Rat Breakdown
- Wrapper: Connecticut Broadleaf
- Binder: Brazil
- Filler: Nicaragua | Honduras
- Factory: La Gran Fabrica Drew Estate (Nicaragua)
- Production: Limited
- Vitola: 5½” x 46 (Corona Gorda)
- Price: $16.00 (MSRP)
The Year of the Rat looks like a slightly beefed up version of the Dirty Rat. It sports the classic blue and white Liga Privada Único band with the trademark flag cap. “Year of the Rat” is written in the same handwritten font as other Únicos. In other words, it fits right in. Images of the final packaging are awesome, showing the cigar adorned in gold foil and a 2020 foot band—adding allure to a cigar that, frankly, doesn’t need it. After all, it’s not like these are going to be sitting on store shelves waiting to be purchased. However, the additional flair does do a nice job of distinguishing this YotR from the previous release.
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The pre-light process is ritualistic. Everything has to be just so, though it changes depending on the cigar. I grabbed my current favorite cutter and lighter (funny how our favorites change too) along with my notepad and went to work.
The Connecticut Broadleaf wrapper had the look of dark and weathered leather. Notes of damp earth and black pepper were present, along with some mild black licorice. The cold draw was sweet and woody, with notes of milk chocolate chips, bread, and oak.
The palate is hit with tons of sweet milk chocolate from the word go. That sweetness was met with some hickory BBQ that added a slight saltiness to the profile. Notes of earth and mild red pepper added to the big and chewy profile as the first third continued. The retrohale was packed with earthy black pepper. The first third was extraordinarily complex and flavorful. What else could you ask for?
You could ask for more, right? Why not get a little greedy? The middle third was seemingly prepared for your greedy and demanding ways. Everything ramped up. There was a bit more strength and an uptick in flavor intensity. The smoke hit the palate with layers of flavor. The overall profile went in an earthy direction and that red pepper morphed into a less hot and more earthy black pepper. The milk chocolate sweetness was joined by a nutty almond note that kicked the complexity of this gem over the top. The strength sat at a medium-plus, though I would not fault you for calling this a full-strength smoke.
The final act featured a slight downturn in flavor, with a noticeable increase in black pepper spice. The overall flavors stayed the same, but their intensity waned a bit.
Would I Smoke This Cigar Again?
150 percent—assuming I can get my hands on a few more.
- The Liga Privada Único Serie Year of the Rat (2020) was unveiled at the TPE trade show in late January 2020.
- Availability will be limited to Drew Diplomate events.
- This was one of the best Únicos that I have smoked to date.
- The cigar is set to hit the market in spring 2020.
- The final release version of the cigar will be packaged in gold foil with a “2020” foot band (the cigars I smoked and photographed do not reflect the final packaging).
- Year of the Rat was originally named after the Florida Panthers’ 1996 Stanley Cup run, where the team’s fans were known to celebrate goals by throwing rubber rats onto the ice. The 2020 version of the cigar swaps the meaning for the current Chinese zodiac, Year of the Rat, as represented on the 2020 Chinese calendar.
- Drew Estate no longer sponsors the BB&T Center cigar lounge, replaced by the XIKAR Cigar Lounge in Oct. 2018.
- Flavor: Full
- Strength: Medium-plus
- Body: Full
- Milk chocolate chips
- Smoky BBQ
- Smoke Time: 1 hour, 48 minutes
- Pairing Recommendation: Your favorite bourbon (as long as it isn’t barrel-proof) | Espresso | Dark-roast coffee | Oskar Blues Hotbox Coffee Porter | Rogue Ales Chocolate Stout
- Purchase Recommendation: Grab ‘em whenever you see ‘em. If a box purchase opportunity presented itself, I would snatch it up.
- Supremely complex
- Flavor for days
- Seemingly endless pairing potential
- Gonna be hard to find
- A bit pricey