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Cigar Review: Drew Estate Liga Privada H99 Phineas Gage Lancero

March 27, 2024 By Dee Pitman

Drew Estate is always pushing the boundaries of the cigar lines they produce. The well-known and loved “Liga Privada” line includes such hits as the T52, the No 9, and the Unico series. Never willing to settle, they have once again pushed the creativity of blending to produce the H99 Phineas Gage Lancero. Taking the Liga Privada blends and putting a different twist on this cigar, aptly conveys the meaning behind the name of this lancero, Phineas Gage. As the story goes, Phineas Gage worked as a foreman on the railroad circa 1840s. In 1848 he was involved in a horrible accident with an iron rod impaling him through his head. Miraculously he survived but was forever changed due to the alterations in his brain from the accident. His personality changed, thus presenting the same person, but now with a new twist. Hence Drew Estate’s well thought out use of his name as the moniker for this hybrid cigar.

Under the Lid

Packaged in an attractive red and gold box, the lancero is instantly recognizable as a Liga Privada line cigar with its distinctive Liga label and matching red tinted font and red and gold logo. With a 40 ring gauge that provides a bit of substantial body as far as lanceros go, it has that rugged appearance which is signature to the Liga line. The body is dark brown with a few bumps and veins showing. This adds to its rugged handsomeness rather than taking away from the look of the cigar. 

  • Wrapper: Connecticut Corojo Hybrid (Stalk Cut Habano and Connecticut Corojo seed) (US Connecticut River Valley)
  • Binder: San Andres Otapan Negro Ultimo Corte (Mexico)
  • Filler: Honduran, Nicaragua, Pennsylvania Green River
  • Vitola: Lancero (7 x 40)
  • Factory: La Gran Fabrica Drew Estate
  • Release Date: *June 2022
  • Number of boxes released: Regular Production
  • MSRP:  $19.00 single / $190 box of 10

* Drew Diplomat Retail Program Partners

With a straight cut, the aromas of the cigar are pleasing with some leather and chocolate coming through the mild barnyard. The dry draw produces more of the same and it is very reminiscent to other Ligas I have smoked. The dark chocolate colored wrapper has the appearance of muted velvet with veins seen but not obtrusive. The filler is mixed with dark, medium and golden brown and the cap covers the head of the cigar nicely.

I am excited to light this slender cigar with an unusual and interesting combination of tobacco blends. I’m not sure what to expect but I’m thinking I will get the Liga experience with a twist. 

Performance Notes:

First third: The cigar is immediately rich in flavor with mineral, leather and wood emerging only a quarter of an inch in. Leather is hiding in the background a bit but during retro the notes come forward nicely. The mineral notes are a bit different than I usually taste. Somewhat muted but coating the pallet while the other flavors sit on the tongue. It is rich and full flavored with the familiarity of other Liga cigars but with a little something extra in the smoke. As it progresses, there is a milk chocolate that weaves in and out of the earthier notes which helps the cigar stay creamy and smooth.

Second third: Rich and meaty are the words that come to mind as I get into the second third. The smoke is plentiful enough that it coats the pallet nicely, leaving a tasty finish in between draws. I am pleased with the amount of smoke given its smaller ring gauge. The mineral notes have faded quite a bit and I’m enjoying the smokey rich meat flavors mixed with leather and dabs of milk chocolate interspersed.

Final third: The cigar remains very consistent and continues to give me the same notes in varying degrees as it smokes down. Rich and full but not overly powerful. This is a medium cigar for me but with a nice full flavor profile. The milk chocolate emerges more as I get into the end of the last third. That nice little burst of creamy chocolate balances the more predominant meat and leather that I have been enjoying through the main body of the cigar.

Core Flavors:  Leather, milk chocolate, meat

Strength: Medium

Body: Full

Complexity:  Medium to Full

Smokin Experience: Drew Estate got this cigar right. The combination of vitola, blend of tobaccos and adherence to the Liga line look, make this a nice looking and great smoking cigar. The construction was consistent, and the burn was spot on. One worries with lanceros sometimes that they will burn a little fast if the filler is not dense enough but be difficult to smoke with too tight a wrap. Going with a 40-ring gauge versus the 38 that we sometimes see in lanceros was a smart move as it lets this cigar smoke like a cigar with a larger ring gauge. The label removed fairly easy and there was no damage to the wrapper. The price point is steep if you are on a budget and looking to smoke these on a regular basis, and you have to have a connection with a Drew Diplomat Retail Partner in order to purchase them. However, for a routine treat, it is worth the price and will definitely provide you with an enjoyable experience. If you are a Liga line lover then this cigar is for you and if you are not, you should definitely give it a try. It might just be the cigar that turns your head.

Purchase Recommendation: Grab a Five Pack and a Box if it’s in your budget

Smokin Facts: 

  • Drew Estate (Jonathan Drew and Marvin Samel) started from the humble beginnings of a kiosk set up in New York City’s World Trade Center
  • La Gran Fabrica Drew Estate is the largest cigar factory in Nicaragua
  • Swisher acquired Drew Estate in 2014 but the workings of DE remain fully engaged in the personality of pushing the boundaries with tobacco that have been at the forefront of their cigars from the very beginning.

Smokin Wrap

Cigars smoked for the review:  Three

Average smoking time: 80 minutes

Score 90 

Diana (Dee) Pitman – Product Reviewer

Dee Pitman

Diana Pitman, known in the cigar world as “Dee” or “The Queen Of Cigars”, was born and raised in southern New Jersey. Her lifelong dream of joining the military became a reality at 43 years young. She served in the US Army Nurse Corps as an ER Nurse and deployed in support missions for Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom. It was during her military service in 2004 that she first smoked cigars. Upon her Honorable discharge at the rank of Captain in 2010, she continued smoking cigars and it slowly progressed from a coping tool to a hobby, and finally to a passion. She resides in South Jersey with her Service Dog Finn Ezekiel and looks forward to retirement from her position of Director of the Cumberland County Department of Veterans Affairs and traveling the country visiting cigar lounges and her many friends she has made through the cigar lifestyle.

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