My personal history with the Liga Privada H99 series from Drew Estate is a long and somewhat frustrating one… so bear with me here. I smoked my first two samples of the original toro at the 2018 PCA trade show and instantly fell in love.
Due to production issues with the unique Connecticut corojo crop, it would be several years until I was able to finally get my hands on the toro release again, which ended up being rewarded as our #2 Cigar of 2022. Skip ahead to late last year and our good friend Rev Java was gracious enough to donate a handful of the newly released robustos for us to review on the podcast (Yes, just because we are “cigar media” and are sponsored by Drew Estate that does not equate to us getting boxes of DE product delivered to our doorstep daily. We often have to beg, barter, and scour the internet just like you normies out there). I smoked one immediately, you know for professional purposes, and believed it to be even more impressive than the initial offering. Stay tuned for a future TNCC episode on that stunner in the very near future…
But then, in May of 2022, the cigar wizards at Drew Estate announced a 3rd extension of the H99 brand, as if I wasn’t having a hard enough time keeping up, and it was a limited-edition lancero to boot. Once again, our hero Rev Java swooped in to save the day and sent me a stick for review. Thanks brother, let’s do this!
Size: 7 x 40 (lancero)
Wrapper: USA (Connecticut Corojo)
Binder: Mexico (San Andrés Negro)
Filler: Nicaragua & Honduras
The reddish brown corojo wrapper of the Phineas Gage is devoid of surface oils and features both well-worn leather and dense barnyard aromas, there’s also a syrupy sweetness reminiscent of Red Man chewing tobacco found when sniffing the foot of the lancero directly. Or, as it’s now called, The Washington Football Team chewing tobacco substance.
Rich sweetness and very faint milk chocolate are detected on the cold draw. Warm, medium-strength black pepper spice lights up my nostrils upon ignition; while the initial draw produces notes of cedar, freshly cut lumber, and just a hint of café con leche on the backend. How’s that for interesting bedfellows? Construction early on is superb with a smooth draw and straight burn line.
While the black pepper is not dialing down whatsoever, around the 1.5” mark a mineral component has now joined the spice along with a touch of that distinctive café con leche on the retrohale as well.
The lumber note has dissipated entirely here at the beginning of the middle portion of the Phineas Gage, with the cedar and café con leche now standing toe-to-toe as the dominant flavors via the draw. Wouldn’t it be nice if a yellow cake flavor were to strut its way in to the party and start dancing with the retro’s pepper and coffee? Well that’s exactly what goes down right before the fifty yard line – if you’re not blowing smoke out your nose with this puppy you are a damn ignorant fool. Smoke production is copious, more than worthy of the Liga Privada brand designation, and the overall construction remains excellent.
You will want to tap that ash every inch or so, your lap will thank you. It may sound slightly odd given the multitude of typically more milder flavors that I’m experiencing, but the Phineas Gage is creeping in to medium-full body territory. It’s not quite driving a nail through my noggin but it’s packing quite a fucking punch for the slender lancero vitola.
So the yellow cake, café con leche, and cedar flavors are all commingling to highly enjoyable results now. The retrohale’s steady black pepper, still supported by a touch of Nica mineral, is balancing those core notes expertly. With the late addition of a nicotine kick, the Phineas Gage is now officially a full bodied, flavor beast. I’m not saying that you have to eat a big meal prior to smoking this sucker but I certainly wish that I had. Throughout its 78 smoking duration, the Phineas Gage required absolutely no touch-ups or corrective maintenance whatsoever.
You just read the above review so you should be able to see where this is going from a mile away – The Liga Privada H99 Connecticut Corojo Phineas Gage Lancero by Drew Estate is a kick ass cigar that will kick your fucking ass if you’re not properly prepared for the full-bodied, über flavorful experience that lies ahead. If you’re fortunate enough to find one, the hunt is well worth it my friends. Big Time.