Since being selected as one of the brands in the General Cigar portfolio to get a significant amount of focus and attention, La Gloria Cubana has steadily added new products over the past few years that have blended design and product innovation. Their latest release, Trunk Show, which debuted at IPCPR 2012, is no exception.
From the press release:
“Yuri Guillen and I are constantly experimenting with blends, often calling upon the tobacco in General Cigar’s extensive library. Many of these tobaccos are extremely rare, which prohibits us from developing new collections with them. Instead, we are pleased to make the distinctive tastes of our Liga YG-23 and Liga LR-1 blends available in small batches, to share with true cigar connoisseurs,” commented Michael Giannini, La Gloria Cubana’s director of marketing.
The Trunk Show is being released in two vitolas, both with a surprisingly small limited run of just 13,000 cigars each:
Liga LR-1 (7 x 52) – $8.95 (Boxes of 26, $232.70) – 500 Boxes of 26
Liga YG-23 (7 x 60) – $9.45 (Boxes of 26, $245.70) – 500 Boxes of 26
What makes the cigars even more unique than the small-batch tobaccos is what is being marketed as the premium cigar industry’s first smokeable band. On the Liga LR-1, the band is produced using a patent-pending die cut process that allows the consumer to smoke right through it. On the Liga YG-23, the cigar is stamped with a patent-pending vegetable dye.
Both cigars are being produced as a singular run of 500 boxes, each containing 26 cigars, which look like this:
Now that we’ve got that out of the way, let’s light this stick up.
Cigar Reviewed: La Gloria Cubana Trunk Show Liga LR-1 (Prerelease)
Country of Origin: Dominican Republic
Factory: El Credito
Wrapper: Habano Connecticut Fino
Size: 7 Inches
Ring Gauge: 52
Vitola: Corona Doble
MSRP: $8.95 (Boxes of 26, $232.70)
Release Date: November 2012
Number of Cigars Released: 500 Boxes of 26 (13,000 Total Cigars)
Number of Cigars Smoked For Review: 1
A very textured wrapper is one of the first things you’ll notice about this cigar, as the Habano Connecticut Fino leaf is incredibly toothy and has a fair amount of veins on it. There is a rich, honey-like sweetness coming off the foot with an aroma that calls up memories of graham crackers and kettle corn with a touch of wood and hay. The cold draw is firm and packs a bit of zing on the tongue – not spice or pepper per se, but something that gets a similar reaction. The sweetness isn’t as prevalent here, with unbuttered popcorn as the standout note.
The first third opens up with a medium but tangy smoke, an animated take on what was picked up on the cold draw. It feels misleading to call it peppery or spicy, but the effect on the tongue is about the same. The burn line reveals a tight white ash, with the slightly firm draw slowing down the burn just a bit. Trying to force the issue and take some extended draws only results in an unpleasant smoke – something common across nearly every cigar. Speaking purely in generalities, the interplay between the Habano Connecticut wrapper and Nicaraguan filler is readily apparent, with the milder wrapper being slightly jazzed up by the spicier filler. The ash proves not to be as strong as originally thought, loosening up at about three-quarters of an inch.
Moving into the second third of the Trunk Show Liga LR-1, the flavors have stayed largely the same: a bit of cereal or popcorn mixed with some spice for a fairly dry smoke, though there seems to be some creaminess starting to be added. The draw remains firm, forcing the draws to be a bit slower and generate less smoke, though it’s not a problem or inconvenience. By the midpoint, there is a rounding of the flavors happening; while the pepper remains a significant part of the flavor, the dryness has softened and a creamy component has been added. It’s a subtle but very welcomed change to the profile, and begins a distinct change that does away with the majority of the dry grain notes.
What had been a near-perfect burn line up to this point starts to go askew at the start of the final third, as the wrapper has a little pocket that the burn line just can’t overcome – so it conveniently burns around it and lets it fall off. The creaminess that came out in the second third now has an almost cinnamon or nutmeg-like quality to it. While it’s not a drastic flavor shift, it’s a great progression from where the La Gloria Cubana Trunk Show Liga LR-1 started, and the smoke now carries a more noticeable bit of spice in the nose. The flavor changes just keep coming in the final inches, with an earthiness adding to the mix, and a near-meaty note coming on late. Combustion issues in the final inch or two prevent this from being taken all the way down to the nub, but even still the flavors don’t leave me feeling short-changed at all.
- I was really hoping to be able to smoke through the band, as this seems one of the big marketing points of the cigar. I have a feeling I’ll be picking up some of these when they are released in November to try that.
- With that being said, I don’t often find myself smoking the bands, as I tend to pull them off fairly quickly. In many cases, I take them off before I even light the cigar.
- I can’t recall seeing two lines of cigars under the same marca get such different packaging treatments. The high-gloss LR-1 box is almost night-and-day from the more rustic YG-23 box. When asked about the difference, Michael Giannini told me that “the Trunk Show boxes are a part of a series that gets to play off the creativity and innovation of these unique products and they just fit for this project. I designed these boxes with that in mind.”
- The LR in the name? It stands for Limited Release. As you’ve probably figured out, the YG in the other vitola stands for Yuri Guillen, the General Manager of the El Credito factory in Santiago, Dominican Republic.
- For those wondering, Tatuaje released The Face with a smokeable band, but this is a bit different. While that was simply a piece of plain tobacco, this is an actual design.
- One rep told me that these completely sold out at IPCPR, making their long-term availability that much more limited.
- This is not only a sizable cigar, but it’s slow burning as well – a bit of a surprise given that it didn’t seem very oily, but it helps keep the temperature cool and gives the flavors a lot of opportunities to develop and shine.
- When I went back to look at the photos, the toothiness of the wrapper really stood out.
- There’s no denying this is a cigar that you have to commit some time to – assuming every cigar draws like the one I did, you’d be foolish to try and get through it in less than two-and-a-half hours, and would probably be rewarded by pushing it near three.
- Michael Giannini was also responsible for one of General Cigar’s high-profile new releases at IPCPR 2012: the FOUNDRY, which draws its inspiration from the steampunk scene.
- This cigar was provided for review by General Cigar Co. at IPCPR 2012.
- Final smoking time is about two hours and 40 minutes.
The Bottom Line: This is certainly the finest La Gloria Cubana cigar that I have tried to come out since Michael Giannini and Team La Gloria was formed, topping the Artesanos de Obelisco, of which I am quite the fan. The Trunk Show Liga LR-1 certainly doesn’t have the pop of the Obelisco, but what it does have is very good flavor transitions, very good construction, and a sense of balance that is seen throughout most of the cigar and when examining it on the whole. While the slightly larger than normal 26–count box is a bit more than I would personally want on hand, I see no reason why I won’t be picking up several more sticks for the humidor.
Final Score: 88