There are only a few cigar-related numbers, if any, that make the staff at halfwheel perk up quite like 109.
It’s a reference to a vitola, but really more to a specific type of way cigars are capped. Rather than using a normal belicoso head, which typically comes to a point like the end of an ice cream cone, or the standard parejo cap which is rounded like the top of a human head, the 109 is a hybrid. It’s got the angular build up but it then rounds off like a normal cap, similar to how a loot of handgun ammunition looks like.
The size was made popular by the Partagás 109 but its modern reemergence traces back to the Edmundo Dantes Conde 109, an Edición Regional for Mexico in 2007 and 2008, which measured 7 1/4 x 50.
Last year, Habanos S.A. and Intertabak AG released the La Gloria Cubana Orgullosos, the 2018 regional release for Switzerland. It uses the 7 1/4 x 50 dimensions and marks the second time Switzerland has received the shape as an Edición Regional release following the Punch Clasicos in 2011.
For those unfamiliar with the Edición Regional program, here’s the basic breakdown:
In 2005, Habanos S.A. introduced a new series of limited production releases that would eventually become to be known as Edición Regional (Regional Edition). The program took regular Habanos S.A. brands and gave their regional distributors special sizes that aren’t part of the respective brand’s regular production line-up. In some cases, like the Bolivar Gold Medals, Habanos S.A. gave specific distributors sizes that had been discontinued, but most are sizes that have never been available for that brand prior. There’s one major exception to the rule and that would be perhaps the most famous ER, the Edmundo Dantés El Conde 109, which is an ER available for Mexico that is related to the Montecristo brand, but is largely its own brand.
The first Edición Regionals didn’t feature the red and silver secondary bands that read “Exclusivo (Region Name)” that has become synonymous with the ER releases.
Pricing is set at 29 Swiss Francs ($28.89) per cigar and it was limited to 6,000 boxes of 10 cigars. Perhaps most notably, it’s part of the 2018 Edición Regional program and it was actually released in 2018.
- Cigar Reviewed: La Gloria Cubana Orgullosos Edición Regional Suiza (2018)
- Country of Origin: Cuba
- Factory: n/a
- Wrapper: Cuba
- Binder: Cuba
- Filler: Cuba
- Length: 7 1/4 Inches
- Ring Gauge: 50
- Vitola: 109
- MSRP: $28.89 (Box of 10, $288.90)
- Release Date: Nov. 14, 2018
- Number of Cigars Released: 6,000 Boxes of 10 Cigars (6,000 Total Cigars)
- Number of Cigars Smoked For Review: 3
The Orgullosos has a hue that is typical of La Gloria’s more recent releases. There’s a fair amount of red, a slightly above average amount of oil and a color that is a bit below the typical mark in terms of lightness. Aroma off the wrapper is leather and acidity over some floral flavors, cedar and clay, around medium-plus. The foot is promising with floral, Spanish cedar and some raisin, nearly medium-full. Flavors are better on the cold draw with floral notes leading the mixture over citrus and a flavor that reminds me of a weird margarita, once again medium-full.
Despite all of the floral flavors surrounding the unlit La Gloria Cubana, it’s nowhere to be found once the foot is lit. Instead, initial flavors are a deep woodiness, wheat bread and a bit of sweetness on the finish, right at the medium level. An inch in and the flavor is a mixture of cedar, sweet creaminess and a muted sweet bread flavor that reminds me of a cheap ice cream cone. The finish has damp woods, which isn’t the most appetizing flavor, along with some cinnamon on the back of the throat. Retrohales have a familiar sweetness that reminds me of what happens when I have a plugged cigar, which I suppose leads me to tell you that all three cigars have issues with the draw. The best of the bunch is a cigar with a medium size knot that restricts airflow, while the worst is the sample photographed for the first third which shows me nearly drooling on the cigar. Flavor is medium-full, body is full and strength is medium-full.
There’s a mixture of creaminess, paprika and burning woods that eventually emerges as the profile in the second third of the La Gloria Cubana Orgullosos, but the highlight is the retrohale. Peppermint, earthiness and some generic barbecue sauce flavor emerge through the nose. Due to the combination of the flavors and an awful draw, I really want a drink of water. Flavor is medium-full, body is closer to medium-full and strength is medium-full. Two of the three cigars have worsening draws with one being nearly unsmokeable. In addition to the draw issue, keeping the cigar lit is becoming an increasing challenge due to the lack of airflow.
By the end, all three La Gloria Cubana Orgullosos have been relit a handful of times, which isn’t helping the flavor. It’s sweeter than the second third, though not as sweet as the opening puffs. The increased sweetness is like a result of the creaminess, which alongside oak, is now the dominant flavor. Some puffs can deliver the complexities of earlier parts, including the peppermint I found so appealing in the second third, while others lack both flavor and physical smoke. White pepper dominates the finish, which doesn’t add to the profile which my notes describe as “an absolute mess.”
- This will inevitably be the lowest score that we’ve given out in quite some time. Our scoresheet makes it tough, albeit possible, for a cigar to score below 70. In order to do that, the construction has to be awful, which is what happened on two of the three samples here. Even then, the one sample that didn’t struggle as much wasn’t great but inevitably brought the score up in a pretty significant manner.
- I considered not finishing the final sample because it was on the verge of not being smokeable, which only happens once or twice per year. Had it been that unsmokeable at the middle portion, I would have gone ahead and given up.
- For those wondering, our protocol would still be to include that score, however, it would get zeros for whatever wasn’t smoked. So if I didn’t smoke the final third, that particular sample couldn’t score above around a 70. It’s not exactly 66.67 because the balance score is given out collectively to all three thirds, so presumably, a cigar that got perfect marks in the first two thirds, zeroes in the final third and a perfect balance—admitedly a very odd expereince—would probably finish in the low 70s, not 67.
- I’m fascinated by the 109 shape. People, including our own Brooks Whittington, sometimes go gaga over the cigar. I could understand the fascination if belicosos or perfectos didn’t exist, but it’s not like we haven’t seen a rounded cap. I suppose people just like to be different. And it’s not like there is any evidence that the unique cap makes the cigar taste better.
- There could also be some truth in suggesting that the original Dantes Conde 109 set expectations super high.
- I think the Illusione Cruzado Marelas Supremas is probably the best regular production 109-capped cigar on the market. It’s also one of the better Cruzado vitolas.
- All three cigars had knots or twists, i.e. tobacco that was not rolled the way it should be, in the upper half of the cigar, one of which was located on the side right near the secondary band, which meant I could feel it with my fingers.
- I would imagine this cigar would taste quite a bit different had it not been plugged or nearly plugged.
- I’ve begun to think about the flavor that I get when a cigar is plugged and I’m led to believe that it’s probably a combination of increased salivation and cooler temperature of the smoke. It’s a very distinct flavor and it appears nearly every time I have substantial draw issues.
- The box code of this box is MSU AGO 18.
- Cigars for this review were purchased by halfwheel.
- Final smoking time was two hours and 20 minutes to nearly three hours depending on the draw.
One of the three La Gloria Cubana Orgullosos I smoked was a somewhat young, large Cuban with a draw that could be better. Unfortunately, I'll remember the cigar as being an annoyance to review. Had I not been reviewing the cigar, neither of the other two samples would have been finished. It was clear pretty early on that the cigars had significant draw issues, that they were getting worse and that the flavor wasn't good enough to keep fighting it.