Photo provided by Luke of aspiringgentleman.com
La Gloria Cubana isn’t too new to the cigar market, but it’s one of the newer Cuban-doubled brands to gain recognition. The (Dominican) company started with Ernesto Perez-Carrillo, Cuban Senator and tobacco grower. He fled Cuba in 1959 and began making cigars in Little Havana in Miami, FL. Years later his son, Ernesto Jr., would blend Dominican and Nicaraguan tobaccos together and create a combination that would really take off. Since then La Gloria Cubana has gained a reputation for rich bold flavors that have impressed many.
The Artesanos Retro Especial line is their newest offering. The tobacco used in the blend is nothing short of extraordinary. The leaf used in the wrapper was specially created for this cigar by cross breeding a Connecticut seed and cultivating it in Honduras. The initial crops gave a “hearty, golden wrapper as noteworthy for its color as it is for allowing each of the cigar’s components to enjoy equal bearing on the overall taste of the cigar.” Not only is the wrapper unique, but so is the rest of the cigar. The Artesanos Retro Especial also has a double binder of Nicaraguan and Mexican leaf, and a blend of Nicaraguan and Dominican ligero and additional proprietary leaf.
The vitola I was gifted to review was the Habanero, measuring in at 6 x 52. It has a lovely milk chocolate brown wrapper with the slight golden tint that La Gloria Cubana describes it as. There is mild veining and very mild tooth. There is a nice oily sheen on the wrapper, clearly visible in the sunlight. The wrapper has the texture of parchment paper that’s been worn smooth. It’s not quite rough, but not quite smooth either, nor is it off putting. The texture matches the appearance, which is more on the rough and rugged side. The scent of the cigar is quite strong, and doesn’t need to be brought too close to my nose to pick up on the floral and cedary notes.
I start to toast the foot with my Rikang lighter and get it glowing to a nice bright red before cutting the cap. It cuts cleanly and produces a nice easy draw, letting the medium-full bodied smoke flow freely. I’m greeted with bursts of red and black pepper, like I’m biting into a spicy Latino dish. Cedar and hickory follow, much milder than the pepper, but no less sharp. The finish is sweet and earthy, with slight hints of cream on the aftertaste. The flavors settle a little more and flow more smoothly after the first quarter inch. The flavor profile starts with sharp and bold red and black peppers, followed by the woody core flavors of cedar and hickory. The finish starts sweet and creamy, but gradually shifts more towards licorice.
There is a definite shift in flavors as the cigar progresses. The peppery notes in the beginning tone down over the length of the cigar, but are still sharp and clear. A slight licorice note develops with the peppery notes, adding to the spiciness, and is most noticeable in retrohales. The core flavors remain fairly consistent throughout with cedar and hickory. The earthiness in the finish shifts more towards the core flavors as the finish changes from earthy and creamy to sharp with notes of licorice. The flavor changes are fairly gradual, and the changes are nice.
I’m quite impressed with this cigar. The flavors are bold, sharp, and well blended. There is plenty of complexity to the flavor profile, and I like how it shifted gradually as the cigar progressed. The transition was smooth and kept me very interested from start to finish. At the same time, the core flavors were consistent enough that I could enjoy my evening without having to think too deeply on what I tasted to enjoy the cigar as well. The construction is excellent, and produced a slow even burn that let the cigar last for approximately two hours. The pricing on this line is quite nice, with this vitola holding a suggested retail price of $7.25 per cigar, or $181.25 per box of 25. Other vitolas sell for equally competitive prices, and I’d happily pay the SRPs to have a few more in my humidor. This line has been out since September, so you should be able to find these around. If you do, then I highly suggest trying one.