My two cigars for our annual Holy Grail Week are two cigars that I couldn’t really find much information about.
What we bought was a cigar that was described as a La Corona Corona that was from the 1940s. It is certainly a La Corona Corona and it is from the 1940s, at least.
Those familiar with Cuban cigars of the 20th century will recognize the La Corona name as a factory, which it has been, but La Corona started as a brand, not a factory. Jose Cabargas y Cia. founded the brand in 1845 and it has been bought and sold numerous times since. It seems possible that the cigar I’m smoking was rolled in Trenton, N.J. because then-owner American Tobacco Co. moved production of La Corona and others from Cuba to the Henry Clay and Bock & Co. factory in 1933 following a strike in Cuba. However, a box allegedly from the 1950s shows that La Corona was once again being produced in Cuba.
From the research I’ve done, it seems that sometime after World War II, La Corona moved to a different band, where the word “Corona” wasn’t placed inside of the crown.
I was able to find a picture of a newspaper ad from June 19, 1930, that showed the cigar with the same band as the one I’m reviewing. It also indicated that the La Corona Corona was a favorite of Al Capone.
- Cigar Reviewed: La Corona Corona
- Country of Origin: Unknown
- Factory: Unknown
- Wrapper: Unknown
- Binder: Unknown
- Filler: Unknown
- Length: 5 3/10 Inches
- Ring Gauge: 42
- Vitola: Corona
- MSRP: Unknown
- Release Date: Unknown
- Number of Cigars Released: Regular Production
- Number of Cigars Smoked For Review: 1
There aren’t many obvious signs that this is an old cigar. Even the band doesn’t show a ton of age, though there are some signs of discoloration on the back of it. The wrapper is decently dark with a pretty firm box-press. Once I pick up the cigars, it’s apparent that this cigar has pretty much no oil and the cigar itself is rock hard. Given that this cigar has been in our humidor since April, I’m quite concerned about how it was stored over time. Upon closer inspection, the cigar is bent in a couple of directions, something that isn’t entirely noticeable unless I lay it flat on a table and inspect it closely. I can’t pick up any aroma from the wrapper. I try a few different places, but there’s nothing. The foot has a deep meaty flavor that reminds me of a bag of beef jerky. It’s an odd sensation, one that takes some time to fully develop. The cold draw has some floral flavor, though the more notable taste is something that reminds me of Aquafina water. Unlike my last review, airflow is great.
The draw is a bit tighter than I expected, but that’s the least of my concerns. The La Corona Corona starts with a really bizarre creaminess flavor that reminds me of cottage cheese. It sits over some pine and nut flavors and then finishes with a dry cracker flavor. It’s rather detailed and very unique, but I also am getting a bit of a gag reflex due to the unpleasantness of the flavors. It gets a bit worse, namely, that cottage cheese-like creaminess that probably wouldn’t be all that bad as a food item but is very weird to be tasting on a cigar. At some point, it shifts back to the Aquafina-like flavor on top of the cottage cheese and a pineapple-like combination of sweetness and acidity. Unfortunately, the finish is really what’s upsetting me. There’s a really bizarre texture on the tongue that I just can’t shake. A similar water-like flavor emerges, though this time it reminds me of stale bottled water that’s been in a car for a few months. There’s also a very defined wood flavor. Retrohales aren’t great either with some more of the stale water flavor over some mustiness and a bit of sugar. Flavor is medium-full, body is medium and strength is non-existent. While the construction is fine, I wish the cigar was burning much quicker because it’s really not pleasant.
As if cottage cheese and stale water weren’t enough, the second third of the La Corona adds to the list of unpleasant things. There’s some nuttiness, which is fine, but just behind that is a mushroom flavor that is strong and lasts through the finish of the cigar. It’s joined by some bizarre creaminess and a mustiness, the latter of which might be the second most normal flavor on the cigar. The finish is better but still awful. There’s a sweetness that reminds me of the inside of a pecan roll over the stale water flavor, mustiness and meatiness. I’m not sure if the meatiness is truly that bad, but when it’s joined by the water and mustiness it’s quite awful. Retrohales add more mustiness and some weird creaminess, meaning I avoid blowing out smoke through my nose more than once. Flavor is medium-full, body is mild to medium and strength is non-existent. For all that is wrong with this cigar, it is incredibly smooth. I spot some tunneling on the cigar, though don’t need to make a touch up until right before the final third.
I’m not sure I’ve ever been more excited to finish a cigar because of its flavor than this. There’s the familiar bad water flavor over earthiness, weird creaminess, sourness, leather and a very sharp black pepper. At this point, I’ll take the black pepper as it’s the least offensive sensation in my mouth. The finish has more of the water flavor and then a barrage of mustiness before super dry crackers come in. That dry cracker flavor is better than most of what’s going on, but I’m not sure if something drying out the mouth is really making things better. Flavor is unfortunately full, body is medium and strength is basically not there. Outside of the touch-ups, construction remains fine, though that is hardly enough in which to take solace.
- I have smoked cigars that are older than this that haven’t been awful. Some have actually been enjoyable.
- Unfortunately, just like with wine, cars or anything else—how the past owner(s) took care of the cigar is a big factor. I suspect that at some point—or points—this was not stored in great condition.
- This was bad enough that it would not surprise me to learn that the cigar I smoked had mold inside of it.
- I didn’t puke, dry heave or come close to either, though it did feel like—particularly in the first third of the cigar—that I was in the early stages of doing it. The cigar actually didn’t get any better, it got worse, but I guess I got used to it.
- Some of the flavors probably wouldn’t have been bad as parts of food or if I was drinking out of an actual water bottle, but having them in a cigar was offputting. Furthermore, the way the smoke coated my mouth after the first third was just really unfortunate.
- This is the downside to doing a cigar review. If I just had to smoke a puff or two for an Instagram Story, fine. But having to smoke this thing down past the two-inch mark was not fun at all.
- A retailer sold a full box of these that it claimed were stored properly. There is zero way of knowing that, but I wouldn’t be opposed to at least trying another one under the condition that I can throw it away whenever I’d like.
- Of note, I measured my cigar at 13.5cm long, not 14cm like that listing says.
- We paid $75 for this cigar in the spring of 2020.
- Final smoking time was one hour and 45 minutes, about one hour and 44 9/10 minutes longer than I would have liked.
While it didn’t occur to me while smoking this cigar—largely because I was genuinely concerned I might start gagging—I was reminded when writing this review that I watched someone go through a very similar experience. I was with Brooks when he smoked the My Father Baseball Bat, a cigar we later learned wasn’t created with the intention of being smoked. He looked like he was about to puke and it wasn’t due to the nicotine. I am guessing that storage is the largest culprit for why this cigar tasted like this, but it was truly awful. There are parts of our score sheet that read, “bought it, (but I would still) throw out now”—that was more generous than how I graded some parts of this. Some cigars are better to look at than smoke, then there is whatever this was. While our new scoresheet doesn't punish it as much as it should, this was the worst cigar I've ever smoked in my life.