The wrapper is the story on this latest offering from La Gloria Cubana – it’s a crossbred Connecticut seed that was grown in Honduras. Depsite being lighter in color, La Gloria Cubana promises that it’s a full flavored leaf. The cigar uses a double binder of Nicaraguan and Mexican leaves, with the filler comprised of Nicaraguan and Dominican ligero as well as General Cigar’s Nicaraguan and Dominican leaves.
The cigar has four vitolas with names that echo back to the early days of the company. Each comes in 25-count boxes, with each of the four vitolas getting unique box art . The name. The 7” x 52 Taino comes with a price of $7.50 per cigar and $187.50 per box; the 6” x 52 Habanero has prices of $7.25 for a single and $181.25 per box; the Cubano measures 6 ½” x 58 with a price of $8.15 and $203.75; while the 5 ¾” x 47 Club sells for $7 per cigar and $175 per box.
When reviewing cigars from the IPCPR trade show, the norm is to smoke one as opposed the standard three cigars that get smoked for a review. The reasons are simple – it’s not always practical to smoke three cigars as manufacturers often don’t make that many available, particularly at the show; and second, because many retailers have to decide whether to bring a cigar in based on just one sample, it gives a more accurate feel of trying to judge a cigar on just one stick and how decisions are made on the show floor.
However, the Retro Especiale was a bit of an exception – first General Cigar provided several samples for review, allowing more opportunity to try it in different settings. But more importantly, this cigar seemed to need a few trials to figure out just what it was trying to deliver. Officially, two cigars in the Club vitola were smoked for this review, but another three to five of varying vitolas were smoked in non-review settings just to see if it delivered something notable, or if possibly the samples received were off for some reason.
From the moment the cigar is lit, it seems like the full taste isn’t really there – there’s a good bit of creaminess, a touch of spice, and some flavor, but calling it full flavor seems a bit misleading. There is little aftertaste – good or bad – and it doesn’t evoke memories of any other tastes which is what highly-rated cigars often do.
If anything, the cigar seems to pick up tastes from other sources. One was smoked after a meal that featured tres leches for dessert, and despite repeated rinsing of the palate, the taste of the cake couldn’t be shook and the cigar just seemed to echo it. Another day it was smoked while drinking a can of Modelo beer, and again, it mimicked the beer’s flavors without putting out any of its own.
The creaminess dissipates just a bit as the cigar progresses, with drier notes of wood and a bit of spice starting to enter the equation in greater proportion. As one of the cigars smoked crossed the midpoint, it picked up a somewhat unpleasant bitter note, which is surprising given how well the tobaccos in La Gloria Cubana cigars are fermented and aged to get rid of those unpleasant tastes.
In the final third, the pepper seems to pick up a bit, though it stays mild and never crosses into the realm of what is generally described as a ‘peppery’ cigar.
Having liked several other La Gloria Cubana offerings, including the Obelisco and Reserva Figurado, it’s hard to consider the Retro Especiales anything but a bit of a disappointment. Given that LGC’s parent company, General Cigar, has created a team of people to work on the brand, and is positioning it as their more boutique offering for the discerning smoker, it would seem that flavor would really be the driving characteristic of this cigar. While several of their other offerings have plenty of flavor, the Retro Especiale falls sadly short.
On this palate, it’s a three-star cigar at best, but given the experience a two-star rating seems more accurate since it doesn’t seem to be a cigar worth returning to, and while it doesn’t warrant demerits for being a bad cigar, it’s hard to overlook the disappointment from its lack of flavor. On a 100-point scale, it sits in the low to mid 80s for its failure to capture attention and stimulate the palate.
Read reviews of more cigars by clicking here, including cigars from the 2011 IPCPR Trade Show.
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