It’s amazing how the world can bring people who have seemingly parted ways back together again, and the cigar world is no exception.
The non-Cuban version of the La Gloria Cubana brand goes back to 1972 and Ernesto Perez-Carrillo Sr., the father of the bald-headed cigar maker that many smokers know today. The brand was kept in the family as father passed it down to son, that was until 1999, when the younger Ernesto sold the El Credito Cigar Co. to Swedish Match, at the time the owner of General Cigar Co. Junior would remain with General until 2009, when he started his own factory and brand.
While it seemed like the two would be destined to go their separate ways, they would eventually reunite by was of the aptly named Re+United project, a collaboration between Perez-Carrillo Jr. and Michael Giannini, who at the time was La Gloria Cubana’s brand manager. Having worked closely together in the first years following the sale, Giannini considered Perez-Carrillo a mentor, teacher, and friend.
This year, General Cigar Co. and Ernesto Perez-Carrillo Jr. have once again teamed up to create a new addition to the La Gloria Cubana line, a three-vitola series called the Colección Reserva.
The Colección Reserva uses a Ecuadorian Sumatra wrapper with the binder—a viso leaf–and fillers, seco and ligero both coming from Nicaragua. The line is available in three sizes, with production handled by Perez-Carrillo’s Tabacalera La Alianza.
- La Gloria Cubana Colección Reserva Robusto (5 1/2 x 54) — $7.59 (Boxes of 20, $151.80)
- La Gloria Cubana Colección Reserva Torpedo (6 x 54) — $8.29 (Boxes of 20, $165.80)
- La Gloria Cubana Colección Reserva Presidente (7 1/2 x 54) — $8.99 (Boxes of 20, $179.80)
In addition, the secondary band of each cigar bears the name of Ernesto Perez-Carrillo Jr., making the connection between the man and the brand that much stronger and visible.
- Cigar Reviewed: La Gloria Cubana Colección Reserva Torpedo
- Country of Origin: Dominican Republic
- Factory: Tabacalera La Alianza S.A.
- Wrapper: Ecuadorian Sumatra
- Binder: Nicaragua
- Filler: Nicaragua
- Length: 6 Inches
- Ring Gauge: 54
- Vitola: Torpedo
- MSRP: $8.29 (Boxes of 20, $165.80)
- Release Date: July 2017
- Number of Cigars Released: Regular Production
- Number of Cigars Smoked For Review: 3
The La Gloria Cubana Colección Reserva sports a dark brown leaf with some mottling, a pleasant sheen and a decent network of small veins typical for most leaves. Only one sample has enough tooth to make me take notice, which in turn makes me wonder if I missed it on the other two or it simply wasn’t there. It’s a well-rolled cigar in a very familiar belicoso shape albeit with a few soft spots found in each of the three samples. The foot has a sweet sauciness to it, almost a thin teriyaki glaze or a soy sauce-based dressing for the typical Asian salad. There’s hardly any pepper to be found at the onset; instead notes of dry pretzel and a bit of cherry pie filling fill the nose, with the pepper appearing at the tail end of each sniff. The cold draw is good if a bit nondescript at first glance; there’s touches of that same teriyaki-esque glaze that was found on the foot, with a bit of peanut and subtle red chili pepper rounding out the offering.
Once lit, the La Gloria Cubana Colección Reserva offers an easy draw of tangy, peppery smoke that wakes up the palate quite quickly. Retrohales show a bounty of white pepper that stops short of being too overpowering in either strength or amount, leaving a pleasant tingle in the nose for a few seconds after it passes through the nostrils. At rest, a complex and engaging aroma wafts from the foot, blending apple cider, cedar, and pepper together quite well. Through the first inch, retrohales definitely show more of what the cigar has to offer, as the palate is given a mild-plus flavor and body that has undertones of damp cedar, but seems to be seeking to be more palatable than provoking. There’s a bit of plain bubblegum to be found, though it manifests more through the texture of the smoke, with tangy pepper making its first appearance not too far after. The cigar has burned quite well through the first third with plenty of smoke, an even burn line, and near rock solid ash.
There is a bit of dry, cured meat beginning to emerge in the flavor at the start of the second third, an interesting development but one that doesn’t seem out of character for this blend. I find the contrast between how the cigar presents on the palate and through the nose to be rather interesting, as the latter is much more pepper-laden and assertive, while the former shies away from it in favor of a more succulent if somewhat tame profile. At the midpoint, the retrohales get a bit more peppery by way of black pepper joining the aroma, with just a bit of that newfound sensation making it down to the tongue. In the final puffs of this section, the cigar quickly shifts to a fuller, more robust profile as the pepper gets a touch stronger and sharper, and the lusher notes of damp cedar from earlier in the cigar have nearly faded away completely.
The final third of the La Gloria Cubana Colección Reserva opens up with a bit more sweetness materializing both through the nose and on the palate, almost meaty at times and at others its more of a dark berry sweetness. It’s not a dominant note by any means, as the cigar still wants to push forward into a bit more robust of a profile, though it has slowed its trek quite a bit between the midpoint and the start of the final third. For a few puffs it appears that the La Gloria Cubana want to revisit a number of the flavors it has shown off before, as the cured meat note returns, falling somewhere between very dry pepperoni and salami, a flavor of which I’m quite fond. The cedar returns well, fortunately holding on to a bit of the dampness that gives it its depth and character. A bit of heat turns the flavors charred in the final two inches, and while the flavor picks up some pepper it’s more than just that affecting the profile, with the final inch turning unpalatable enough to put the cigar down despite a bit of sweet nuts trying to salvage things.
- The La Gloria Cubana Colección Reserva was shown off at the 2017 IPCPR Convention & Trade Show, the lone new entry for the brand.
- The tobacco used in this project was sourced from both General Cigar Co. and E.P. Carrillo.
- Take the band off this cigar and I’d easily list a Cuban Montecristo No.2 as what I think it might be.
- I do find it quite interesting that all three ring sizes are 54 ring gauge, as usually companies want a bit more variety. At the same time, as a fan of single vitola releases, I think the idea of keeping the ring gauge the same while varying the length is a commendable approach to a project.
- The ash on the La Gloria Cubana Colección Reserva Torpedo holds on remarkably well, even calming the nerves of a nervous asher like myself by the third sample.
- I find the La Gloria Cubana brand—both Cuban and non-Cuban—one of the more interesting brands around. I love the name and the artwork, and at its best the Cuban version offers some wonderful slender cigars, yet they don’t have the global appeal of a number of other brands. On the non-Cuban side, General has kept the La Gloria Cubana brand a focal point for a number of years, releasing some interesting projects under the brand’s header, yet I still don’t get the feeling it’s an incredibly popular brand. I know a handful of stores where it sells quite well, but I can’t say I’d ever put it on a list of the hottest or best-selling brands on the market.
- The cigars for this review were purchased by halfwheel.
- Final smoking time was one hour and 55 minutes on average.
- Site sponsors Atlantic Cigar, JR Cigar , Elite Cigar Cafe (972.661.9136) and Payless Cigars & Pipes carry the La Gloria Cubana Colección Reserva.
I've heard the La Gloria Cubana Colección Reserva referred to as one of the sleeper hits of the 2017 IPCPR Convention & Trade Show, and after smoking three of them, I'd have to say I agree. The blend is quite friendly to the palate, and while not the most complex I've smoked, offers more than enough flavor to be engaging, with retrohales providing a somewhat disjointed but still complementary experience that is rich in pepper yet balanced enough to rarely overstep. Technical performance only helped this cigar, as each sample burned near flawlessly. I'm definitely impressed by this cigar and intrigued to try the other two sizes to see if the parejo shape and variations in length have any appreciable effect, or if the blend is just as enjoyable in those other formats.