If I were to be given the opportunity to visit a time and place in cigar history, I know that the El Credito factory in Miami’s Little Havana neighborhood during the cigar boom of the early-to-mid 1990s would be near the top of the list.
The factory was opened in 1968 by Ernesto Perez-Carrillo Sr., who had emigrated to the United States from Cuba in 1959. In Cuba, Perez-Carrillo was a tobacco buyer for Cuban Land Leaf Tobacco Co., an American company that would buy Cuban tobacco for resale. He also served as a senator in Cuba, representing Pinar del Río and winning elections in 1954 and 1958.
In addition to being a noted cigar maker, he is also the father of Ernesto Perez-Carrillo Jr., who joined his father at El Credito not long after it opened, though mainly on a part-time basis as he was still in school. Following his father’s passing in 1980, the younger Perez-Carrillo would take over the operations of the company and shepherd it through several chapters of its history.
In particular, El Credito became well-known for being the go-to spot in Miami to get cigars during the boom, including the La Gloria Cubana brand. While the Cuban-made La Gloria Cubana brand dates back to 1885, the non-Cuban version was launched by Perez-Carrillo in 1972, but really became known during the boom, when stories of people showing up with suitcases to fill started circulating and persist to this day.
In 1999, the El Credito Cigars company, including the La Gloria Cubana brand, was sold to Swedish Match AB—which eventually acquired General Cigar Co.—with production largely moving to the Dominican Republic, where Perez-Carrillo Jr. had already expanded the company’s operations to increase production capacity and keep up with demand. The El Credito factory remained open for several years following the sale, producing cigars and serving as a place for consumers and the public to experience a cigar-making operation. Eventually, the factory was turned into more of a lounge and cigar-rolling demonstration operation before finally closing, with the space becoming a retail cigar shop and lounge.
For the latest La Gloria Cubana limited edition, the brand returned to Miami, and about as close to the El Credito factory as it could get, crossing the street to the El Titan de Bronze factory to produce the La Gloria Cubana 8th Street.
“La Gloria Cubana is one of Calle Ocho’s biggest success stories and it’s a brand my team and I have long admired,” said Sandy Cobas, owner of El Titan de Bronze, via a press release. “When we were approached about collaborating on this special project, we jumped at the chance. ‘Eighth Street’ is our way of paying tribute not only to La Gloria Cubana, but also to the Cuban expatriate cigar rollers who continue to practice their craft in Miami, keeping the traditions of their homeland alive.”
The cigar is a 6 x 50 toro that uses an Ecuadorian habano wrapper, a Nicaraguan binder and fillers from the Dominican Republic and Nicaragua. The blend was developed by Cobas along with Justin Andrews, business development manager of Scandinavian Tobacco Group’s (STG) North American Branded and Rest of World divisions.
“La Gloria Cubana Eighth Street is proudly made in the USA and honors the roots of this legendary brand,” said Andrews in a press release. “For this special project, we blended to a classic La Gloria profile which means the cigar has a lot of personality, is well-balanced through its many transitions and delivers a rich, long finish. This is an elegant and complex cigar that every fan of La Gloria Cubana will want to experience.”
The cigar is limited to 5,000 boxes of 10 cigars, a total production of 50,000 cigars. Pricing is set at $21.99 per box and $219.90 per box.
This isn’t the first time that the STG-owned La Gloria Cubana brand has had cigars made in Miami; in 2008, the brand released the Artesanos de Miami, which was made at El Credito prior to its closure. It is also not the first time that STG has worked with El Titan de Bronze, as In 2021 the factory produced the Cohiba Serie M, with a second vitola released in 2022.
- Cigar Reviewed: La Gloria Cubana 8th Street
- Country of Origin: U.S.A.
- Factory: El Titan de Bronze
- Wrapper: Ecuador (Habano)
- Binder: Nicaragua
- Filler: Dominican Republic & Nicaragua
- Length: 6 Inches
- Ring Gauge: 50
- Vitola: Toro
- MSRP: $21.99 (Box of 10, $219.90)
- Release Date: October 3, 2022
- Number of Cigars Released: 5,000 Boxes of 10 Cigars (50,000 Total Cigars)
- Number of Cigars Smoked For Review: 3
I really like the shades of blue that the La Gloria Cubana 8th Street uses on its bands; the mix of navy, teal, and baby blue all work incredibly well. They work so well that it feels as if the gold ribbon around the foot feels a bit out of place, though it does draw nicely on the gold trim of the bands. It’s also a collective color scheme that sits well against the medium-brown wrapper, a well-tanned, maybe nutty brown color. The leaf has a bit of sheen to it, most noticeable when I turn the leaf and it catches the light. Veins are small and sparse, noticeable mainly because the color gets just a bit lighter in their immediate vicinity. The cigar looks to be rolled quite well, and is medium-firm in density, firm but with a bit of give. The wrapper doesn’t offer much of a distinct smell, while the foot reminds me a bit of a full-bodied white wine with a woody edge and pepper on the tail of each sniff. Out of that, I pick up aromas of apple cider and cloves, as well as apple fritters, albeit without the overt sweetness. Air moves incredibly smoothly on the cold draw, I just wish it carried a bit more flavor. There’s a very smooth, medium-intensity wood flavor with some apple pie and crust, followed by the tobacco imparting a tingle on my lips.
The La Gloria Cubana 8th Street starts off with a fairly full body of smoke that is incredibly soft on my taste buds, led by a bit of creaminess on the front end, transitioning to a subtle wood and pepper on the finish. The profile can easily be accented by retrohales, which have a more forthcoming mix of black and white pepper. Just before the one-inch mark, the profile really comes alive, as a soft pepper gets to work on my senses, while a bit of that full-bodied white wine flavor now sits in the background. What is most interesting, however, is the apple pie flavor that shows up in varying levels of intensity across the three samples. When it is on, it is fantastic, a distinctive flavor that adds a lot to the profile without completely dominating it. There is a good amount of pepper through the retrohales in the first inch, but as it does on the flavor, the pepper takes some steps forward from the time it is lit until the time the first clump of ash drops. After the cigar makes that initial change, the profile holds pretty steady through this section, though both the flavor and retrohale continue to fill out at a gradual pace, adding just a bit on a puff-by-puff basis. Flavor is medium, body is medium-full, and strength is mild but building. Construction thus far has been great, though the ash can be a bit flaky at times with small chunks coming off along the way. Technical performance is very good, with one cigar needing a bit more attention from my lighter as I figure out the puffing rate.
The creaminess of the profile takes off not long into the second third, particularly by becoming a more significant part of the retrohales beyond just a textural contributor. While not as consistent of a change, there is more pepper and now some spice in the profile, a change that is easier to detect and recognize through retrohales before the taste buds notice it. Once the creaminess changes, the profile largely holds steady, a full-bodied, medium-plus flavor profile that is accented by some fragrant aromatics of cedar and the kind of fruity and floral combination found in Chardonnays, though that white wine aspect appears to be fading. That said, there are some times when the profile makes a quick departure towards a drier profile, a change that forces me to make some amendments to my notes. At some points I get a very dry espresso sensation, while at other points I think of almonds. One thing that seems to be certain is that the start of the second third shows a decent amount of variation among the three cigars. The midway point continues the changes, as the back half of this third brings about a slightly sharper profile. It’s a change that seems to be attributable to a reduction in creaminess, though the change feels gradual enough that I don’t notice it until the balance of components finally tips and I realize I’m getting a noticeably different profile. Flavor is medium-full, body is medium-full, and strength is shy of medium. Combustion hits some occasional rough spots and requires touch-ups or a relight, but the draw, smoke production and burn line are very good on the whole.
A retrohale at the start of the final third of the La Gloria Cubana 8th Street delivers a decent hit of white pepper to my nostrils, while the flavor hits my palate with a bit more creaminess and now a slightly greasy potato chip flavor. As for the pepper, there is some that makes its way to my taste buds, but it feels latched on to a bit of a mineral and chalk, even though neither one has enough character to really affect the overall profile. Having noticed some variance among the three cigars in the second third, I pick up some more in this section when it comes to the spice of the cigar. There are some spots where the leading sensation isn’t pepper nor is it the kind of spiciness of a red chili pepper, but something in between those points, and as someone who doesn’t cook a lot, I feel like I lack the knowledge of the spice aisle to provide a more specific description. The once full body of the smoke has thinned out quite a bit, a change that results in some more pronounced sensations throughout my mouth and into the top of my throat. It’s a change that has me longing for the first third and its creaminess, apple pie, and Chardonnay flavors. This new profile takes the cigar to its conclusion, with the flavor finishing around medium-plus, body at medium, and strength around medium as well. Construction had a bit more variance than I would have liked, as while one cigar burned near perfectly, one needed some maintenance, and the third reached the point where it struggled to stay lit.
- While I wouldn’t call it revolutionary, I do like the packaging on the La Gloria Cubana 8th Street. It is beautifully done, the box is just different enough from the standard model that it is eye-catching, the colors are vibrant, and the underside of the lid makes for a great canvas for a big print of the design elements on the band.
- Along those lines, I know that Cohiba is the flagship line in General Cigar Co.’s portfolio, but in terms of design and presentation, La Gloria Cubana seems to get a lot of top design work.
- In the early 2010s, General Cigar Co. put a lot of energy into the La Gloria Cubana brand; as you might recall, Michael Giannini was the director of marketing; Rick Rodriguez was referred to as a premium cigar apprentice; Yuri Guillen, production manager of General Cigar Dominicana became a face of the brand; as did Leo Peraza, a master cigar roller who often worked events and showed consumers the intricacies of the craft.
- On the whole, combustion was good across the three cigars, but there were a few spots where it felt like the puffing rate needed to change in order to keep the cigar burning. None of the three cigars felt like they had humidity issues, making me wonder if there were simply some spots where the filler tobaccos were a bit heavier and needed some quicker puffs.
- While the neighborhood has changed quite a bit since the cigar boom of the 1990s, and even the 2010s when I visited, I’d still encourage a cigar smoker to visit Calle Ocho in Miami. Seeing El Titan de Bronze is definitely worth it, and there are a number of cigar shops and lounges within a walk or short drive. There are also tons of restaurants and other places to visit, and it makes for a great jumping off point to explore more of Miami’s cigar culture.
- The La Gloria Cubana 8th Street never reaches a strength level where I feel any nicotine buzz, but there are a handful of spots in the second half where it feels like a hit of strength might be coming.
- General Cigar Co. advertises on halfwheel.
- The cigars for this review were purchased by halfwheel.
- Final smoking time was two hours and 30 minutes on average.
- Site sponsors Atlantic Cigar Co. Cigars Direct, Corona Cigar Co. and Famous Smoke Shop carry the La Gloria Cubana 8th Street.
It's an increasingly rare treat to smoke an American-made cigar, so I was eager with anticipation to see what the La Gloria Cubana 8th Street would deliver. On the whole, I was quite impressed by the cigar, particularly the first half with its impressively distinctive flavor profile marked by a full-bodied creaminess and two things I don't tend to find in many cigars: apple pie and full-bodied white wine. Where the cigar struggles is in its second half, which sees the profile unable to hold onto that rich and very enjoyable complexity. As the creaminess begins to fade, a number of drier flavors begin to emerge, all of which elicit a less-enjoyable reaction from my taste buds. That second half isn't inherently unpleasant, it just seems like too much of a departure from the stellar first half, enough that it creates a bit of a disjointed overall experience. I'd smoke the first half of this cigar as many times as I could, and I'm interested enough to see if the profile develops to bring the two halves into closer alignment, as this could evolve into a very enjoyable cigar that is a great tribute to one of the homes of American cigar making.