Team La Gloria is back again with an addition to La Gloria Cubana Artesanos series. This time it’s the Retro Especiale, inspired by an old humidor that they found in the El Credito cigar factory. This is the third entry in the Artesanos line, which also includes the dual-wrapper Artesanos de Tabaqueros and the pyramid-shaped Artesanos de Obelisco.
The Retro Especiale looks like a plain old cigar when compared to the eye-catching Tabaqueros and Obelisco, but the band and box design give it plenty of class. Each frontmark has a different box design, and like the band the images harken back to the early days of cigar making in Miami and Cuba.
The centerpiece of the Retro Especiale is a Connecticut seed hybrid wrapper that is grown in Honduras. It reportedly took eight years to develop the blend, which features Nicaraguan and Dominican fillers held in place by two binders: one from Nicaragua, and one from (gulp) Mexico.
Four sizes are in production:
- Club 5 3/4 x 47
- Taino 7 x 52
- Habanero 6 x 52
- Cubano 6 1/2 x 58
The wrapper on the LGC Retro Club is an attractive milk chocolate color, a touch darker than is typical of standard Connecticut Shade wrappers. The wrapper is thin, allowing the rough texture of the binder to show through. The head is rounded, which is not unusual for General Cigar products, and the roll is solid. The burn is fairly slow (although one stick canoed a bit) and the ash is surprisingly dark.
Overall good construction, with a little concern about canoeing.
The most interesting aspect of this cigar is the Honduran grown Connecticut-seed wrapper, which gives the Retro a nice creamy body from the start. Cedary spice is evident as well, with a touch of vanilla on the nose. The aroma is slightly sweet but quite pungent, and the aftertaste is very dry. The flavors become a little bolder toward the middle of the cigar, but for the most part this is a medium bodied cigar.
The second half serves up an interesting combination of sweet cream, earth, and astringency. The flavors on the palate are dry and earthy, bordering on bitter at times. I’m not sure, but I’m going to guess that’s the Mexican binder in there. The aroma doesn’t have the same floral character that I expect from Connecticut Shade, but it stays creamy and assertive to the end of the cigar. Toward the band the flavors get a little darker and pepper vies with the dryness on the palate.
Despite good construction and considerable inventiveness, I’m afraid this cigar just isn’t for me. Maybe the dryness on the palate could be remedied by a good lambic or witbier, but I would not smoke this cigar straight up or with anything that might add to the bitterness. It needs something sweet to cut the astringency.
But again, there is a market for this style of cigar, and the wrapper on this blend is quite nice. I’ll be interested to see if Team La Gloria uses this Honduran-Connecticut leaf again in a cigar that is more my style. The Club size can be found for around 4 bucks a stick, so there’s definitely no complaining about the price.
Final Score: 82
A special thanks to General Cigar for the review samples, and for so generously engaging the blogging community.