When I started smoking cigars I was a fat guy, 400lbs/180kg, and I liked big cigars, robusto or thicker and refused to smoke thin cigars as I didn’t have the skills to truly enjoy them yet and because of the way it looked, I had a bowling ball shaped face and a thin cigar just looked strange I thought. But the owner of the shop that I frequented all the time, Marjolein Hartman from Hartman Cigars & More in Amsterdam, kept saying I needed to try this Cuban slim panetela, the La Gloria Cubana Medaille d’or #3. I said no a few times but because I trusted her judgement and knowledge I finally bought one and lit it. That cigar was a game changer for me, so flavorful, so dynamic and thats when I fell in love with thin cigars. I smoked the cigar in the shop and brought the box home, the box date was June 2002. This review is the last cigar I had left from that specific box.
Now back the bigger vs smaller ring cigars. I keep hearing that the popularity of big ring gauge cigars is because people get more tobacco for their money but I disagree. At Intertabac 2016 I had an interesting conversation with Steve Saka as he disagrees too but we both have a slightly different reason. Steve says its because most of the modern cigars aren’t mild to medium but medium plus to full bodied the bigger ring gauges, that tend to be milder compared to the thinner cigars, are more popular because they are milder and thats still a major part of the consumer base. I say its because a thicker cigar is easier to smoke, the burning temperature is lower so the cigar won’t overheat and won’t turn bitter (exactly the same reason why I always direct novice smokers to a robusto or thicker). On the other hand, why do other people love thin cigars so much? Because the wrapper to filler ratio is much better, wrapper gives the most flavor to a cigar, up to 80% sometimes, and if you have less filler you taste more of the wrapper plus the cigar gets way more dynamic, more evolution but you have to smoke slowly to prevent the cigar from overheating. It takes experience and skill to truly enjoy a thin cigar.
Now the cigar itself, as I said, it is a thin cigar, thinner than my beloved lonsdales and lanceros, much thinner with a ring gauge of 28 while a lancero has a ring gauge of 38. If you don’t know how to measure that, it is measured in 1/64 of an inch, so this cigar is 28/64 of an inch wide which is less than 2/3rd of my pink and I have slim fingers. The length is Lancero size though, close to 7 inch. The wrapper has a bit of a rustic look to it, get the band of, leave it on the grounds in the woods and you might even think it belongs there due to the veins, but I guess thats part of the charm too. The wrapper is mild oily and chocolate milk colored. The cigar feels evenly packed, well constructed and its very hard to roll a cigar this skinny and to apply a triple cap. The ring is cute, a yellow circle with the portrait of a woman in a red cape, black letters La Gloria Cuban with a relatively big golden ring around it with at the bottom black letters Habana. The sides have the golden lining too with a red and white striped pattern and two golden medals on each side. Not a spectacular ring, but the tiny size makes it very cute. The aroma is quite mild and I smell a soapy flavor, some pepper and a little bit of a barnyard.
Due to the skinny size it is impossible to punch the cigar so I grabbed my Xikar cutter to find a tight draw that has a little pepper. I lit the cigar with my soft flame and straight from the start I taste a beautiful mix of leather, coffee and a mild chocolate. After a centimeter I taste mild salty nuts. After a third third I taste some cedar, some bitter herbs and a mild metallic flavors. Halfway I am surprised by the amount of pepper I taste. After two thirds a nutty flavor joins the pepper, I also taste some salt.
Due to the difficult draw the smoke is thin too and not too much either. The ash is quite dark gray, layered and reasonably firm. The burn is straight as a line. There is a lot of evolution, as can be expected from a skinny cigar. The cigar is medium in both body and flavor. The smoke time is an hour and a half.
Would I buy this cigar again? They are discontinued, Habanos is moving more and more into the big ring cigars. And my preferences changed I guess, I’m not liking this as much as I used to and that counts for most Cubans.