With the endless “boutique” (I use the term loosely) brands on the market, it is easy to overlook, or even avoid, the stogies that are coming out of the manufacturing giants. However, there are a handful of cigars from General Cigar Company that I smoke on a semi-regular basis, specifically the La Gloria Cubana Serie R and C.A.O. La Traviata (Maduro and Natural). I am not sure if I gravitate towards La Gloria Cubana cigars because of the past connection with Ernesto Perez-Carrillo or due to the fact that they are just solid smokes. Being a big fan of the Serie R, I had to try the new Nicaraguan puro, Serie R Esteli.
The La Gloria Cubana website has this to say about the Serie R Esteli:
Serie R has always stood for rich, bold taste. But the spirit of discovery is laced throughout Team La Gloria Cubana and it compels us to journey beyond our past successes and into untapped fields and obscure aging barns where great new flavors await. And on a mountainside high above the Jalapa Valley floor, that’s where our journey for a new Serie R began when we found rare Jalapa leaf that practically begged us to create great things.
Yet the creation of great things often unfolds differently than planned. And that’s exactly what happened when not one, but two great blends bested the rest in the race to become the next Serie R.
By design, both were super flavorful Nicaraguan puros blended from a host of Nicaraguan tobaccos from farms throughout the northwest, including those from the Jalapa Valley and in particular that from the Jalapa mountainside. And while their quality separated them from other blends, it was their distinctiveness from one another that made the decision difficult.
And ultimately drove us to launch both.
Team La Gloria Cubana is proud to introduce La Gloria Cubana Serie R Black and La Gloria Cubana Serie R Estelí.
Unlike the original Serie R that is produced at the El Credito Cigar Factory in the Dominican Republic, the Serie R Esteli is produced in……wait for it….. Esteli, Nicaragua. The Esteli is available in three sizes: No. Fifty-Four (6 by 54), No. Sixty (6 by 60), and No. Sixty-Four (6 ¼ by 64). The Serie R Black is exclusive to select internet and catalog retailers, while the Serie R Esteli is exclusive to brick & mortars. I have to admit I was and still am more than a little confused on the differences between the Black and Esteli, other than the medium in which they are sold.
Samples Provided by General Cigar Company
Size: 6 by 60
Wrapper: Nicaraguan – Jalapa Sol
Smoke Time: 1 Hour and 40 Minutes
The medium brown Jalapa wrapper is coated in oils and has a slight orange tint. Not only can you see the light reflect off the oils, it can be felt on my fingertips as I do my pre-light inspection. An equal amount of veins are founds on the rugged leaf, with color imperfections and bumps across the stick. I do not locate any soft spots on the Serie R Esteli. The wrapper aroma is surprisingly faint with barnyard and chocolate.
The foot gives off chocolaty goodness and I am beginning to feel a sneeze coming on. I think this stick may have some spice to it. A shallow cut through the double cap opens up a great draw and the flavors on the cold draw match up to the aroma off the foot of the cigar. Tons of chocolate, graham cracker, and rich tobacco are present. My expectation for the Serie R Esteli has significantly raised from the awesome cold draw.
The Serie R Esteli is off to the races with a bang. With the 60 ring gauge cigar lit, a satisfying amount of smoke is filling my mouth. The smoke seems just as oily as the wrapper. The flavors are full with notes of rich cedar, deep earth, pepper, and a very mild cocoa. The spice, while present, is not nearly at the level I was anticipating. However, a slight tingle can be felt at the back my throat. The spice is not shy on the retrohale as sharp pepper notes are at the forefront. A sweetness is hitting the tip of my tongue but is quickly overwhelmed by the other flavors. The edgy burn-line is leaving behind a layered ash that is holding close to an inch.
The pepper has settled as I burn down the La Gloria Cubana Serie R Esteli. The mild cocoa seems to be shifting to a sweet chocolate and there is dark fruit notes that are now accompanying the cedar and earth. The pepper remains sharp on the retrohale. Outside of the chocolate, there is an additional sugar-cane sweetness that is really picking up. The cedar is jumping back and forth from a dry, pencil shaving flavor to a rich cedar. The burn is still edgy and the ash has become a bit flaky but still dropping in one inch chunks.
The large band comes unglued with ease and I am into the final third of this 6 by 60 Nicaraguan puro. Bread-like and toasted notes have entered the mix, and with the combination of sugarcane sweetness, I am tasting something similar to roasted marshmallows. The cedar, earth, and fruit remain in the flavor profile. I am just beginning to feel a little nicotine kick, with my final analysis of the strength being at the high-end of medium. No changes in the ash or burn to report on.
The Serie R Esteli had some big shoes to fill and without a doubt this cigar was able to fill those shoes. The great draw, sufficient amount of smoke, firm ash, and, a little edgy, but decent burn made the Esteli a relaxing, effortless smoke. I even forgot that I was smoking a 60 ring gauge cigar. The strength never made it over the full hill to me, but I would definitely say the cigar is full flavored. The flavor change-ups held my interest for the entire hour and forty minutes. And if I wasn’t so lazy, I could have squeezed another twenty minutes out of the cigar. When taking into consideration the price on this bad boy of $6.99, the Serie R Esteli is a must try cigar. I know I will be hunting more of them down.