So, you guys should all be familiar with Jeff by now. He’s our honorary Casas Fumando writer, and he kicked out tons of great reviews. If he keeps this up we are going to force him to join us full time. Until then, enjoy his newest “Guest” review.
Happy New Year!
While perusing the cigar list at Cuenca Cigars, I came across a brand that I hadn’t heard of before, El Galan. Doing a little research on the internet, despite not a whole lot of information out there, I was intrigued enough to want to try some of their blends out, so I picked up a handful of the Reserva Especials from Cuenca. Blended by Felix A. Mesa and rolled at his factory El Galan S.A. in Esteli, Nicaragua, the Reserva Especial is a Nicaraguan puro. According to Cuenca, the wrapper is a Habano Oscuro (although I haven’t seen any other site, even El Galan’s listing it at anything other than Nicaraguan). They are all box-pressed and come in Airosos – 5×52, Gallardos – 6×52 torpedo, Apuestos – 5.75×54, and Obesos – 6×60. All sizes come in boxes of 24 and carry a list price between $6.80 and $7.40. Here’s hoping that my first reviewing experience of 2016 is a happy one!
Wrapper: Nicaraguan Habano Oscuro
Size: Airosos 5×52
Smoking time: Two hours
Pairing: Avery Ellie’s Brown Ale (ABV 5.5%)
The El Galan Reserva Especial comes clad in a dark chocolate brown leaf with slight variations in hues. It is rather smooth and fairly oily, with a very firm and solid feeling roll and very minor veining which leads to what my aging eyes seems to be a triple cap. The double bands nicely offset the wrapper color with their red, gold, black, and white color motif featuring a portrait of a rather dapper gentleman (“el galán” translates to “handsome man” or “ladies’ man”, and yes, I had to Google that), although for some reason they have all been applied a bit off center on all of the ones I have. Not that that will make any difference once I light up. The wrapper scent is rather slight earthy, manure-y barnyard, while the foot is more of an earthy tobacco. The first cut of the cap reveals a rather tight draw, and a second trimming brings just a small amount of relief. The cold draw shows sweet spicy cedar.
Upon lighting, I am greeted by the sweet spiciness, wood, and earth, along with smooth pepper and great meaty savoriness on the retrohale. The draw is indeed very snug, but producing a decent amount of medium-bodied smoke, while burning at a bit of a slant. The woodiness is now more of an oak, as the sweetness has dropped back and some bready notes slip in, while the burn has evened itself out with the ash tapping off at a solid inch. As the cigar closes out the first third, it has remained at a medium body, and I’m feeling no nicotine.
As the El Galan Reserva Especial enters its middle portion, the bread notes have increased, and I’m picking up some medium-roasted coffee in the mix. The oaky and savory flavors still dominate, but the combination of flavors is very pleasant. The stationary smoke, however, is plentiful and rather pungent. The draw has opened up somewhat, making things much more enjoyable. The smoke is now very smooth and the pepper is still present in flavor, but not in bite, as it climbs toward medium- full.
Into the final section of the El Galan Reserva Especial, I finally have to give it a touch-up, as it was going off a bit and threatening to go out. There hasn’t been much of a changeup in flavors, save for a slight bit of char, but the body has moved into the medium-full range and there is now a little bit of a nicotine kick. Some sweetness has returned to round things out, along with a peppery tingle on the lips. The Reserva Especial has smoked cool all the way down to the nub.
Despite the draw problem I encountered, the El Galan Reserva Especial provided a nice range of coordinated flavors and solid construction, making for a good amount of enjoyment. I really liked the juxtaposition of the light sweetness to the savoriness, although one should not expect a whole lot of transitions other than a ramp up in body and strength. As a side note, this one was a little tougher on the draw than the three I had previously smoked, and it did eventually open up to an easier going level. I may have to consider transferring these to a drier humidor when I get more. Combined with the easy to take price and surprisingly long smoke time, I have no reservations recommending that you give it a try. I do now intend to see about the other lines that El Galan has to offer.
Avery is known for their special release and seasonal brews, but Ellie’s Brown Ale from Avery is one of their flagship core beers, and a great pairing for this cigar. With a smooth, easy going sweet maltiness and notes of caramel and light chocolate, it matches up well with many cigars and this one is no exception. I think that a Scotch ale, strong ale, or sweet porter would also be a terrific pairing for the El Galan Reserva Especial, although with the cold season here, a lightly sweetened coffee would also be ideal.