Double Toro, 7” x 52 ring gauge / MSRP ~$8.95, Burns
In the push to try doing things new and different in the industry, La Gloria Cubana decided to tackle the issue of “smokable bands” in 2012. In all fairness, I’ve seen smokable bands before: the 3rd Tatuaje Monster Series, The Face, had a “band” made of a lighter colored tobacco leaf cut into an irregular and ugly shape. More an aesthetic thing than anything else there, but still the first time I’ve seen a truly smokable band. For the 2012 IPCPR show, La Gloria unveiled two “Trunk Show” cigars featuring different methods of doing such a band. The Trunk Show concept was something the company had done some years before, actually taking the show to shops around the country and selling some limited edition stuff at each stop; at least that’s how it was told to me...I never saw one of the actual events. This time around, it seems to be more about making some limited release sticks, and at about 13,000 sticks per Trunk Show release, I guess that is fairly limited for a big company like General Cigar. The LR-1 is meant to showcase “rare tobaccos, each aged between 8 and 10 years” according to the press release. It has Nicaraguan filler and double binders, in addition to a “silky Habano Connecticut Fino wrapper.” The band is an contrasting color of tobacco leaf, die-cut with a patent-pending process; it looks like a laser cut to me, but I have to admit that looking at the band, it looks like a homogenized tobacco paper, too. There is no visible vein structure, but it does seem to have a “grain” like paper. The other La Gloria Trunk Show release (YG-23) does use a tobacco paper band, but this is supposed to be an actual leaf...I just wish it looked like one. I bought one cigar for this review.
The look is interesting. The die-cut band has a rough approximation of the La Gloria Cubana logo, although if a person doesn’t know what that logo looks like already, they won’t know what they’re looking at here...just ask my wife, who said it looked “neat” but couldn’t tell what it was supposed to be. The wrapper of the stick was a golden brown color with mostly medium-sized veins, but a few that looked a little bigger than medium. It had a slightly oily feel to the touch and a musty aroma to it. The foot had more mustiness and a bit of earthiness. I used a straight cut on the cap of the LR-1 and got a very good draw that had mostly hay notes with just a touch of earthiness.
The rather lackluster pre-light flavors actually bloomed into something better once fire was applied, though. The Trunk Show LR-1 started off with a core of earthiness, with some more subdued notes of cedar, graham, and sweet molasses. On the retrohale, I got just a bit of pepper spice in what was overall quite nutty. I'll be honest in saying that I had not expected much of this cigar, but by the end of the first third, I was quite impressed with its pleasant flavor; not a world-beater, perhaps, but definitely a nice cigar so far.
As I burned through the second third of the LR-1, I noticed that the construction quality was excellent. The burn line remained very even with little need for touch up so far; the ash was solid and held on for an inch or so before I forcibly tapped it off; and the draw was excellent. I continued to get mildly sweet graham flavors and some earthiness, but this was joined by a bit of a creamy coffee flavor as well as an increase in pepper spice on the palate.
As I got into the final third, the LR-1 got less sweet and more earthy with a bit more pepper spice. With all the hype made about the smokeable band, I was surprised to find that handling the cigar and holding it by the band (a natural thing to do) caused the band to start peeling in parts before I even got to it; then it didn't seem to burn at the same rate as the wrapper, requiring some touch up flame. In all, though, I found this La Gloria Cubana to be one of the best I've had from the brand. It had plenty of flavor and it was very good and decently complex. The smokeable band was a little gimmicky but I still give credit to Team La Gloria for trying something different. Body started off strictly medium but progressed to a medium to full place by the end; it was about the same in strength. I would love to see this same blend in a regular line with vitolas a little more to my liking, but overall I found this to be a very enjoyable experience.
If your local shop does not carry the La Gloria Cubana Trunk Show series, call Burns at 423-855-5200.