La Gloria Cubana Británicas Extra (ER Gran Bretaña 2017)

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Better than late than never.

That was the thought that entered my mind in early June 2020, when it was announced that this cigar, the La Gloria Cubana Británicas Extra had finally arrived in the United Kingdom and was hitting store shelves. While I wasn’t necessarily in a rush to buy it; if nothing less it brought an end to possibly the to-do on our list of stories to write that had been open longer than any other. You see, the cigar was part of the 2017 class of Ediciónes Regional cigars, and nearly three years after the year attached to it, it was finally available.

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The cigar is likely most notable for its vitola, a 5 3/8 (137mm) x 48 perfecto known as the Británicas Extra that debuted back in 2012 with the Bolívar Británicas, another Edición Regional for Great Britain, and another one that showed up late as that cigar was part of the 2011 cohort. Since then, it has been used for a few other Ediciónes Regional:

Hunters & Frankau, the importer of Habanos S.A. products in the United Kingdom, commissioned 6,000 individually numbered boxes of 10 cigars, a total run of 60,000 cigars.

Of note beyond the vitola is that the band is slightly different from regular production cigars. Jemma Freeman, executive director of Hunters & Frankau, found the design while searching the brand’s archives, and while its history wasn’t immediately discernible, it does look a bit different, notably missing Cuba after Havana.

Pricing is set at £30.20 per cigar or £289 per box of 10, which works out to about $39.43 per cigar based on current exchange rates though it was closer to $37.50 when the cigar arrived in stores.

  • Cigar Reviewed: La Gloria Cubana Británicas Extra Edición Regional Gran Bretaña 2017
  • Country of Origin: Cuba
  • Factory: Not Disclosed
  • Wrapper: Cuba
  • Binder: Cuba
  • Filler: Cuba
  • Length: 5 3/8 Inches
  • Ring Gauge: 48
  • Vitola: Perfecto
  • Est. Price: $37.50 (Box of 10, $375)
  • Release Date: June 2020
  • Number of Cigars Released: 6,000 Boxes of 10 Cigars (60,000 Total Cigars)
  • Number of Cigars Smoked For Review: 3

Every once in a while, the shape of a cigar stops me from going about my normal prelight routine, and the La Gloria Cubana Británicas Extra is one of those cigars. The perfecto has just enough of a taper to differentiate it from what would otherwise be a corona extra, but more importantly, to make you wonder why someone felt it necessary or otherwise warranted to taper the head and foot of a corona extra. Beyond the vitola, the cigar wears a reddish-brown wrapper that has the traditional puckered veins, and in the case to the first cigar a watermark and fairly visible seams. The head is also flatter than I would have expected. There is the typical Cuban sponginess, though each cigar is still fairly firm and far from worrisome. The foot of the cigar is slightly sweet and quite mild, reminding me a bit of a glazed old fashioned donut or dry corn flakes. The cold draw offers a more pronounced flavor; at its most vibrant it is still sweet and even a bit boozy, almost a subdued orange liqueur. On milder expressions, I get more of the glazed old fashioned donut flavor and none of the liqueur. The best is the midpoint between the two, which also adds a bit of creaminess and shows impressive complexity. Air moves without issue and just a bit of friction from the bunching of the filler.

While sweetness was the dominant thought of the La Gloria Cubana Británicas Extra before I lit it, that notion is quickly dashed once the cigar is burning. A fairly dry smoke marked by lumber and white pepper greets my palate, and while not always the cleanest flavor, it is familiar and not hard to enjoy. That is, as long as there isn’t the chalky sourness I found in one sample, which is rarely enjoyable, let alone when it’s the first flavor. One sample also has a bit of creaminess and marshmallow to it, making it the standout of the three but leading to further inconsistency between how each sample starts. After the first inch, it becomes a progression towards a fairly dry profile, marked by dry lumber and white pepper that has plenty of flavor if not a lot of depth or complexity. Flavor is nearly full while body and strength are closer to medium. Assuming the foot gets an even light, the burn line is even, while draw and smoke production are both very good.

The transition to the second third sees the La Gloria Cubana pick up a bit of white pepper, not really accelerating across the transition but quickly showing up once the burn line is fully in this section. There’s still more of the dry lumber flavor both at the base and in some of the more vibrant notes, but there also seems to be the first indications of what this cigar could evolve into with proper rest and patience. The cigar flirts with getting a bit aggressive at times as the white pepper seeks to find some balance for itself, and while the occasional retrohale probably isn’t a help, it does a pretty good job toeing the line. So much so, that in one sample, I found myself enjoying it enough that it became a very in-the-moment experience; the flavor had picked up a bit of creaminess, the pepper had minimized and whatever rougher edges of the wood have largely faded away. It’s almost as if as soon as I mention it, the experience begins to unravel a bit, but it does show what the cigar seems to offer for some point in the future. The draw and smoke production have both been very good, while the burn line has a bit of variance that tempts me to pull out the lighter. Flavor is medium but accented by a lot of white pepper, body is also around medium, and strength so far has been a non-factor, medium-minus or so.

While the white pepper has stayed on its leash, the overall profile of the La Gloria Cubana Británicas Extra gets a bit rougher, bringing back the dry lumber flavor from the first puffs and really taking the moisture out of the mouth, leaving a tingle on the tongue and lips in its wake. It’s not inherently a turnoff, but it’s a near-immediate indicator that this cigar is still quite young and not ready to show its fully developed profile, a point reinforced by knowing these samples are less than a year old. There’s an interesting, Altoids-like sensation that hits the senses near the very end to the Británicas Extra, and while it’s not minty per se, it does deliver the same physical reaction. The cigar finishes fairly decent on the palate, though it can’t hide that it still has some rougher spots to resolve with time. Construction has generally been excellent, with no relights or draw problems, decent amounts of smoke and an even burn line. It finishes around medium-full in flavor, medium in body, and medium to full in strength, depending on the individual sample.

Final Notes:

  • These cigars came from box number 5967/6000, with box code UBM OCT 19.
  • The abrupt cut of the foot not long after the taper begins seems to add even more to its visual interest.
  • While they might not be quite deserving of the term iconic, I really like the La Gloria Cubana band and artwork. Given the name, it feels like it deserves a better treatment on the bands, with a bit more shine and sparkle
  • As a comparison, the Bolívar Lusiadas ER Portugal that was part of the 2017 group and the same vitola as this cigar, was released in April 2018.
  • Also, this cigar came out after the El Rey del Mundo La Reina, a 2018 Edición Regional for the United Kingdom. That cigar came out in 2019.
  • For those counting, this is the 10th Edición Regional to wear the Exclusivo Gran Bretaña band. There have also been seven cigars designated as Exclusivo Reino Unido, or United Kingdom and one that got a special band for the 225th anniversary of Hunters & Frankau.
  • While I didn’t get a lot of nicotine strength for most of the samples, something had me feeling a bit woozy in the final third. This cigar seems to have some sneaky strength to it.
  • The cigars for this review were provided by halfwheel.
  • Final smoking time was one hour and 15 minutes on average.
87 Overall Score

If you read the notes, you can probably guess how this summary is going to go, so stop me if you’ve heard this one before. The La Gloria Cubana Británicas Extra is a decent cigar now, but is seemingly nowhere near where it will be after a few years of rest. The flavors are tight and at times shallow, with three samples providing just a quick glimpse or two into what this cigar might hold down the road. Wood and white pepper do too much of the work, while sweetness and creaminess fight for some off-the-bench minutes even though they will almost certainly come to be the hallmarks of this cigar in time. Were these to be offered in increased balance and harmony, I have to think this cigar would score much better. If you’re willing to be disciplined hold onto these for some time, I have almost no doubt that time and rest will get things where they need to be.

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Patrick Lagreid
About the author

I strive to capture the essence of a cigar and the people behind them in my work – every cigar you light up is the culmination of the work of countless people and often represents generations of struggle and stories. For me, it’s about so much more than the cigar – it’s about the story behind it, the experience of enjoying the work of artisans and the way that a good cigar can bring people together. In addition to my work with halfwheel, I’m the public address announcer for the Colorado Rockies and Arizona Diamondbacks during spring training, as well as for the Salt River Rafters of the Arizona Fall League, the WNBA's Phoenix Mercury and the Arizona Rattlers of the Indoor Football League. I also work in a number of roles for MLB.com, plus I'm a voice over artist. I previously covered the Phoenix and national cigar scene for Examiner.com, and was an editor for Cigar Snob magazine.

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