Our major game changer from IPCPR 2009 happens to be a wrapper – one that was introduced in 2009, but would not fully be felt across the industry for a couple of years.
It all started with Drew Estate’s follow-up cigar to the already popular Liga Privada No.9 – a 2008 release so popular supply could not keep up with consumer demand. The 2009 follow-up would be known as Liga Privada T52 – and would prove to be a game-changer, particularly for its use of an all-new wrapper which hales from the Connecticut River Valley.
The leaf used for the Liga Privada T52 wrapper is formally known as Connecticut River Valley Stalk Cut and Cured Sungrown Habano. However, Steve Saka and company aptly shorted the name to simply “Stalk Cut Habano”. The tobacco is a type of Connecticut Broadleaf which gets it distinct name for the way the tobacco is harvested and cured. Instead of the traditional manner of cutting each leaf from the stalk, all T52 wrapper leaves remain on the stalk as the entire stalk is what gets harvested. Each stalk is then hung upside-down to dry, allowing nutrients and minerals to flow from the stalk back in to the leaves. Once taken from the barn, the leaves are removed from the stalk and a fermentation process is then begins. This fermentation process can take anywhere from 18 to 36 months – depending on the crop, climate and conditions of each individual pilone. This highly temperamental process was explained in great detail by Steve Saka and Nicholas Melillo during a recent trip we took to Nicaragua. The end result is a fantastic cigar consisting of a gorgeous reddish-brown wrapper with varying colors of tan, brown, red, and dark-brown. The flavors coming from this wrapper are rich, complex and amazing – consisting of exotic spice, cedar, coffee, caramel, pepper and citrus.
The Stalk Cut Habano was so successful in the T52 that Drew Estate began using it in other cigars as well. Drew Estate’s Dirty Rat, L40, Ratzilla, and UF-4 all used this tobacco in their wrapper. In addition, the 2011 Undercrown also used the Stalk Cut Habano, as the binder leaf. When you factor these 6 cigars together – along with the quality and popularity of each – it is easy to see why we chose the Connecticut River Valley Stalk Cut and Cured Sungrown Habano wrapper as our major game changer for 2009.