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Staff Reviews

La Gloria Cubana Serie R #6 Staff Review

Shane K. K's picture

Shane K.

I am reviewing La Gloria Cubana Serie R in a chunky 5.875 x 60 format called the #6. The La Gloria Cubana brand dates back to 1885 in Cuba but was purchased by the Cifuentes family, the makers of Partagas, in 1954. Following the Cuban Revolution, the Cifuentes family sold La Gloria Cubana to Ernesto Perez-Carrillo Sr. in the mid-1960s and the brand was made in small batches at his El Credito factory in Miami’s Little Havana neighborhood.

In 1976, Perez-Carrillo’s son, Ernesto Jr., began working with his father and focused on making the cigars stronger and more complex by introducing Nicaraguan tobacco to the blend. After his father’s passing in 1980, Ernesto Jr. built a loyal local audience for La Gloria Cubana over the next decade.

When Cigar Aficionado launched in 1993 and the Cigar Boom kicked in, the brand rose to distinction thanks to high ratings from the critics who considered La Gloria the first “boutique” cigar. In 1999, Perez-Carrillo sold La Gloria Cubana to Swedish Match, parent company of General Cigar, who folded the brand into their growing cigar portfolio alongside Macanudo and the non-Cuban editions of Cohiba, Punch, Partagas, and others. Perez-Carrillo stayed on with General Cigar as a brand ambassador for the better part of a decade before launching his eponymous E.P. Carrillo label in 2009.

Today, La Gloria Cubana is best known for Serie R – a line of big ring shapes. There are two versions of Serie R, a Natural wrapper and a Maduro. Both are handcrafted at General’s massive cigar factory in the Dominican Republic. I am smoking the Natural which is blended from an oily Ecuador Sumatra wrapper with Dominican and Nicaraguan long-fillers underneath. The #6, with its 60 ring gauge, is one of the most popular sizes.

The cigar is firm to the touch. Its appearance is splotchy but less so than other La Gloria cigars I’ve encountered. I once opened a box of the classic La Gloria blend and the entire top row resembled a bad spray tan with lumpy texture. Serie R is certainly an improvement. The cap comes off with a stiff cut in my guillotine and cold aromas of leather and cocoa come off the foot. The cigar seems promising at first with notes of molasses and wet hay hitting my lips before I light up. From there, it unravels.

La Gloria Cubana Serie R blasts the palate with waxy texture the second it’s lit. Notes of newspaper ink and candle wax characterize a borderline repellent taste, although there is residual sweetness from the wrapper leaf. The burn is wavy and flaky ashes flutter away from the foot throughout the first third of the cigar. I manage to endure it past the first half when creamy notes of wood and spices come into play. However, what’s bad about Serie R persists. Its medicinal taste and the ChapStick-like texture of the smoke prevent its better qualities from shining through.

It’s a struggle to smoke it past the band, but it can be done. La Gloria Serie R finishes with abysmal flavor and a meandering burn. Its poor combustion and harsh aftertaste leave me wondering if licking an Indy tire would taste better. La Gloria Cubana once ruled the roost in fine cigar shops, but sales have plummeted in recent years due to diminished quality and unpleasant blending. The brand’s consistency has been woeful at best, and its mundane marketing efforts leave much to be desired. In all fairness, I will smoke another to follow up, but for now, I’m glad this one’s done burning.  

If you’re in the market for a premium Cuban-heritage brand rolled in big ring gauges, try La Aroma de Cuba. You’ll save around $2 to $3 per cigar for a top-shelf brand blended by the legendary Jose ‘Pepin’ Garcia. I bet you’ll enjoy it a thousand times more, but if you don’t believe me, pick up our La Aroma de Cuba & La Gloria Cubana 20-cigar sampler. You can smoke La Gloria Cubana Serie R (Maduro) side by side with La Aroma de Cuba to see which one’s better. Game over. 

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