If I had to give an award for the best trade show walkthrough, it would go to General Cigar Co. Each tour is a series of stations, dedicated to showcase each brand and their respective new releases. There’s rarely attempts at non-new product, there is always an employee assigned to each station to serve as the ambassador for the brand and the new product, and even first thing in the morning of day one, it’s a well-choreographed walkthrough.
For the most part, each of the company’s major brands gets a new release and for most, it’s a single new product. This year, La Gloria Cubana is going to Nicaragua. While there have been La Gloria cigars with Nicaraguan tobacco in them before, this year, the cigar was coming from Nicaragua. It’s called La Gloria Cubana Estelí, a nod to the STG Estelí factory that is producing the cigar, and like most new cigars from General, it’s priced extremely aggressively.
- La Gloria Cubana Estelí Robusto (4 1/2 x 52) — $4.99 (Boxes of 25, $124.75)
- La Gloria Cubana Estelí Toro (5 1/2 x 54) — $5.99 (Boxes of 25, $149.75)
- La Gloria Cubana Estelí Gigante (6 1/4 x 60) — $6.99 (Boxes of 25, $174.75)
While the story might be the first time La Gloria Cubana cigars are being made in Nicaragua—most of the non-Cuban versions have been made in the Dominican Republic for quite some time—the cigar itself is not a Nicaraguan puro. It uses a Nicaraguan wrapper from Jalapa, but the binders and fillers coming from two areas in Honduras.
- Cigar Reviewed: La Gloria Cubana Estelí Robusto
- Country of Origin: Nicaragua
- Factory: STG Estelí
- Wrapper: Nicaragua (Jalapa)
- Binder: Honduras (Jamastran Valley)
- Filler: Honduras (Jamastran Valley & La Entrada)
- Length: 4 1/2 Inches
- Ring Gauge: 52
- Vitola: Short Robusto
- MSRP: $4.99 (Boxes of 25, $124.75)
- Release Date: Aug. 2, 2018
- Number of Cigars Released: Regular Production
- Number of Cigars Smoked For Review: 3
The first thing I notice is the cap of the cigar, which isn’t applied evenly. I’ve dedicated two bullet points in the final notes—where you can also see a picture—to that topic, so I’ll move onto say that the dark wrapper looks nice against a metallic version of the La Gloria Cubana band. Aroma off the wrapper has lots of chocolate over some leather and dry leaves. While the wrapper is medium-plus, the foot is very full with chocolate, creaminess and some strawberry notes. Some spices stick around well after the foot of the cigar leaves my nostril. The cold draw has some chocolate milk flavors behind some weird flavor that I cannot really identify, something that’s present on two of the three of the cigars. When I take a harder puff, there’s some acidity followed by black pepper. The draw on all three cigars is open, and I’d peg the flavors at medium in intensity, but there’s not a ton going on.
The La Gloria begins very bready with pizza dough over top of earthiness and almonds with faint hints of spices, then settles into some peanuts and earthiness with some black peppers. Retrohales provide a thick, sweet apple note that reminds me of the inside of an apple pie with some pita bread. The pepper lingers at the outside of the top half of the back of my mouth and then builds throughout my mouth as a whole. Flavor is medium-full, body is full and strength is medium-full. The ash is ugly, but the burn is fine and avoids a touch-up.
The La Gloria Cubana Estelí Robusto gets a nice toastiness and redwood mixture in the second third. It sits on top of a lemon creaminess that reminds me of a hollandaise sauce. On two cigars, there’s a distinct metallic flavor on the sides of my mouth. Black pepper remains heavy on the finish. Flavor is full, while body and strength are medium-full. One sample has some burn issues, but the other two are burning well, though a bit slower thanks to a slightly tighter draw.
At some point in the second third the toastiness and woody flavors mix into what ends up being a more generic earth flavor. Walnut is now the second strongest flavor, overtaking the aforementioned hollandaise, though it is still present. After a good hour of black pepper, my palate is struggling to detect the difference between that and just a generic sharpness. Slower puffs push the limits of the burn, but allow for the lemon and creaminess to last much longer into the finish, something that is much better than the sharpness. Flavor and body remain at their levels, full and medium-full respectively, while the strength seems to drop off a bit to medium-plus.
- If there’s one thing that’s pretty much automatic about our scoresheet it’s the appearance category. We award one point—or one weighted point—to the appearance based off of the simple question of: whether we would buy the cigar based on appearance? The idea here is that if there’s a massive crack running down the cigar, or lots of glue, or something that would otherwise inspire us to put that particular cigar down and pick up the next one in the box, we should take a point off. It’s pretty rare that I even contemplate not giving the point, but the La Gloria Cubana Estelí makes me ponder that. Each of the three caps aren’t entirely finished with pretty obvious bumps.
- In the end, I awarded the point as I wouldn’t put these cigars back. It’s a small thing and given that I’m going to immediately cut the cigar, not something I am terribly concerned about.
- I recently reviewed the Punch Diablo and mentioned that these two cigars, both new releases from General, seem to be very much in direct competition. The Punch is made by A.J. Fernández and about $2 more expensive, but they share several traits: historical brands being brought to new factories; aggressively priced cigars; and somewhat full cigars. I wouldn’t recommend either, but if forced to choose I would recommend the La Gloria Cubana, even regardless of price.
- In that review, I pointed out that I didn’t understand why General chose to give the vitolas obscure names. I certainly prefer General’s basic naming scheme here.
- This is the second review in a row where I’ve been tough on General’s products, but I still think the company is doing quite well. It seems like the risks General is taking—lower price points, aggressive shelf plans, the introduction of Diesel into humidors and innovative cigars for its two most notable brands—Cohiba and Macanudo—seem to be working at an incredibly well rate.
- On a different note, it felt like this year, in particular, we’ve seen many companies try to introduce cigars around $5, something General has been doing for many years.
- For what it’s worth, it seems like many online retailers are selling this vitola for $100 per box, making it a $4 cigar.
- We don’t factor price into scores, but that makes it a lot more of a compelling case.
- La Gloria Cubana was once the main arena for General Cigar Co.’s innovations as far as cigars go. There were limited editions, unique shapes and an accompanying energy that seems all but gone at this point. That change seems to be directly related to the introduction of Foundry. I would argue that today CAO is that brand, although General’s newest Cohiba and Macanudo would suggest the company seems more willing to spread the love around as far as innovations go.
- Cigars for this review were purchased by halfwheel. In the interest of full disclosure, General Cigar Co. provided samples to halfwheel at the 2018 IPCPR Convention & Trade Show, but we opted to buy the cigars.
- Final smoking time is one hour and 45 minutes, which is odd given how quick the cigar started burning.
- Site sponsors Atlantic Cigar Co., Cigars.com, Corona Cigar Co., Famous Smoke Shop, JR Cigar, Serious Cigars and Thompson Cigar Co. all carry the La Gloria Cubana Estelí Robusto.
The last two years of new cigars coming out of the STG Estelí factory can very easily be described as: CAO and everything that is not CAO. There have been six ratings of CAO-branded cigars, with an average of 89.67 points; there have been four reviews—not counting this one—of non-CAO cigars from STG Estelí scoring an average of 83.25 points. My own personal results are the same story. If there’s anything else the cigars have in common it’s that the CAO releases have been generally higher priced, whereas the non-CAO cigars have been aggressively priced. The results seem to speak for themselves and the narrative continues here. On one hand, it’s nice to see that the more expensive, and oftentimes limited, products are better; but I also wonder why the CAO products seem to be better. While the score isn't the best, at potentially $4 per cigar there's a ton of value for the La Gloria Cubana Estelí.