La Gloria Cubana Artesanos Retro Especiale

The year 2010 was a great year for the La Gloria Cubana brand of General Cigars.  During that year, La Gloria Cubana underwent a transition to a forward thinking brand while keeping to old school traditions of the brand founded by Ernesto Perez-Carillo Jr.  This was evident in three cigar releases by La Gloria Cubana in 2010: Artesanos de Tabaqueros, Artesanos de Obelisco, and the Serie N.  All three were great cigars and earned places in my 2010 Cigar of the Year countdown.   2011 marked the introduction of a new cigar to the Artesanos family in the La Gloria Cubana brand – La Gloria Cubana Artesanos Retro Especiale.   This cigar was unveiled at the 2011 IPCPR and once again showcases La Gloria Cubana’s niche for be innovators.   The cigar is the product of some experimentation from a blending standpoint and does produce a decent smoke.  I believe the cigar is successful at what was intended from an engineering standpoint, but in the end I’m not sold that this experiment should be a direction in which cigars should be made.

The “Retro” name comes from the classic style cigar boxes the Artesanos Retro Especiale are packaged in.  I did not snap a picture of the boxes, but they can be seen on the Team La Gloria web page.

Let’s look at this cigar and see what it is all about.  Since this is based on samples received at IPCPR, this will be a “Pre-Review”.  This will provide initial insights into the cigar. A final assessment rating will not be provided until this reaches the retailers’ humidors.

Blend Profile

The experiment was explained to us by Michael Giannini of Team La Gloria Cubana at IPCPR.  For the blend, the team was looking to engineer a cigar where it was not the wrapper providing all of the flavors of the cigar.  Instead the team looked to leverage significant flavors from the binder and filler.  To accomplish this, a special cross bred Connecticut seed was used to grow the wrapper in Honduras.  A double binder was added along with a mix of ligero and proprietary fillers.

Wrapper: Honduran Connecticut
Binder: (Double) – Mexican, Nicaraguan
Filler: Nicaraguan Ligero, Dominican Ligero, Nicaraguan Proprietary, Dominican Proprietary

As for the blend, no one can argue this is a unique blend.  This cigar is another example of  Honduran tobacco making a comeback in 2011 at the IPCPR.

Vitolas Available

At the time of this writing, there are four sizes that will be available:

Club: 5 3/4 x 47
Taino: 7 x 52
Habanero: 6 x 52
Cubano: 6 1/2 x 58

Preparation for the Cigar Experience

For this cigar experience, I sampled the Club vitola.   I placed a straight cut into the cap of the Artesanos Retro Especiale and began the pre-light draw.  The dry notes provided wood and a touch of cedar spice.  I definitely picked up the spice notes on the areas of my tongue that were touching the fillers as opposed to the wrapper, so the experiment was successful on the pre-light draw.   As for the flavors, they were average at best for dry notes.   It was now on to fire up the Artesanos Retro Especial and see what the smoking experience would deliver.

Flavor Profile

The initial flavor notes of the Artesanos Retro Especiale provided a very cedary start.  I wasn’t getting a lot of complexity in the flavor profile at the start and in general, this was a theme throughout the smoke of this cigar.  About five percent into the cigar experience, some nut notes did enter the equation and it complemented the cedar notes.  The cedar was not overwhelming in terms of spice.

By the second third of the cigar, the nut moved as the primary flavor note.  The cedar notes had now transitioned to more of a classic pepper spice. Like the cedar notes earlier, the pepper notes were not overwhelming and they were playing a complementary role to the nut flavors.  By the last third of the smoke, the nut flavors diminished and were replaced by some citrus notes.  There was not a lot of sweetness to these citrus notes.  The citrus along with the pepper notes were the flavors that would be present to the finish of  the cigar.  The finish to the Artesanos Retro Especiale featured a soft, but cool nub.   There were no harsh notes at all.  Overall, decent flavor notes, but no “wow” factor from that standpoint.

Burn and Draw

One thing that did impress me is that while there is no doubt this cigar was an experiment, it had some great attributes in terms of construction.   The burn and draw were outstanding on this cigar.  The burn was razor sharp producing a nice white ash.  There were not many touch-ups needed along the way and the Artesanos Retro Especiale burned at an ideal rate and temperature.   This also reflected nicely on the draw which pretty much was flawless throughout the smoke.

Burn of the La Gloria Cubana Artesanos Retro Especiale

Strength and Body

From a strength standpoint, the Artesanos Retro Especiale is not going to overwhelm you with nicotine.  I believe it had just enough strength to qualify it into the “medium” area of the strength spectrum.   The body was an interesting story.   This is where I think the cigar fell a bit short.   I never got flavors that I thought had a lot of depth.  The first half of this cigar was definitely mild to medium in terms of body.  Things did pick-up in the second half and I believe it transitioned more to medium-bodied smoke.

Final Thoughts

From what this cigar set out to do – mitigate the effects of the wrapper on the smoking experience, I believe it was a success.  However, this cigar gave me more of an appreciation for the importance of the wrapper on the cigar.  There is no doubt the double binder and the presence of ligero in the filler are carrying the load here, but if the wrapper had more flavor I believe there would be more potential here for what this cigar could have delivered.   I must also re-emphasize that from a construction standpoint, this cigar stands up as good as any – especially with the quality of the burn and draw.  Overall, this cigar fell short in terms of complexity and depth of the flavors.   I do think this may appeal to some cigar enthusiasts.   Novice cigar enthusiasts may enjoy what the Artesanos Retro Especiale brings to the table. The experienced enthusiast who really is interested in trying this experiment may want to give it a try.  Overall, not a bad smoke, but one that did lack the “wow” factor from a smoking experience.


Burn: Excellent
Draw: Excellent
Complexity: Low
Strength: Medium
Body: Mild to Medium (1st half), Medium (2nd half)

Source: This cigar was provided as a sample at the 2011 IPCPR from General Cigars. Cigar Coop is appreciative to samples provided but this plays no role in a final assessment.