Col·lab·o·rate
/kəˈlabəˌrāt/
verb
  1. to work jointly with others or together especially in an intellectual endeavor
    An international team of scientists collaborated on the study.
  2. to cooperate with or willingly assist an enemy of one’s country and especially an occupying force
    suspected of collaborating with the enemy.
  3. to cooperate with an agency or instrumentality with which one is not immediately connected
    The two schools collaborate on library services.

For the past few years, that word has been tossed around the cigar industry like a purloined Raggedy Ann on a kindergarten’s playground. While it may appear to be just another marketing gimmick, the collaborative process has given birth to one or two excellent cigars and a few memorable blends, with the remainder unfortunately falling into the average category. A.J. Fernandez is perhaps the “King of Collaboration”—producing “boutique” cigars for H. Upmann, Hoyo de Monterrey, Montecristo, and Romeo y Julieta, along with high-volume private brands for Cigars International and JR Cigar. Other notable participants in the “collaboration game” include Ernesto Pérez-Carrillo, Robert Caldwell, Matt Booth, and Willy Herrera.

At the 2017 IPCPR Trade Show in Las Vegas, General Cigar Company showcased the La Gloria Cubana Colección Reserva—a collaboration with Ernesto Pérez-Carrillo. Ernesto initially developed the La Gloria Cubana line after inheriting the El Credito cigar factory from his father. Using the memory of a Cuban Davidoff cigar he had smoked in 1982 as a guide, Pérez-Carrillo finally perfected the blend, which went on to receive high scores in the premier issue of Cigar Aficionado. In 1999, Swedish Match—the owner of the General Cigar Company (at the time)—bought the brand from Ernesto. Pérez-Carrillo continued to work for the new owners before finally retiring from the company in March of 2009. A few months later, Ernesto established the EPC Cigar Company with his son, Ernesto Pérez-Carrillo III, and his daughter Lissette.

In commenting on his new collaboration with General Cigar Company, Ernesto said—

La Gloria Cubana Colección Reserva is based on a blend I created in the 1980s after I took over our Little Havana factory from my father. I am very proud of this cigar because it complements the other blends in the line and has a taste profile that will appeal to people who have smoked La Gloria since the brand first hit it big in the 90s. To me, Colección Reserva speaks to the legacy of La Gloria Cubana and proves that while so much has happened with the brand, nothing has changed.Ernesto Pérez-Carrillo

Jhonys Diaz of the General Cigar Company noted—

My team and I have always admired Ernesto for his unique approach to cigar blending, and have remained friends since he left the company to establish EPC Carrillo in 2009.Jhonys Diaz

La Gloria Cubana Colección Reserva Breakdown

  • Wrapper: Ecuadorian Sumatra (Los Ríos Province)
  • Binder: Nicaraguan Viso
  • Filler: Nicaraguan Seco | Nicaraguan Ligero
  • Factory: Tabacalera La Alianza S.A. (Dominican Republic)
  • Production: Regular Production
  • Vitola: 5½” x 54 Robusto
  • Price: $7.59 (MSRP)

La Gloria Cubana Colección Reserva cigar box open

The La Gloria Cubana Colección Reserva is actually the second collaboration between the brand and Ernesto Pérez-Carrillo following his retirement from the company. The first was the Re+United project, which was developed by La Gloria Cubana’s brand manager, Michael Giannini, in 2014. Colección Reserva is offered in three sizes— the Robusto (5½” x 54, $7.59 MSRP), the Torpedo (6” x 54, $8.29 MSRP), and the Presidente (7½” x 54, $8.99 MSRP). Individually wrapped in cellophane, the vitolas are shipped in twenty-count boxes with a hinged lid. The overall design of the box was inspired by one of Pérez-Carrillo’s personal humidors.

The composition of the cigars utilizes the three primary areas of a tobacco plant—seco, viso, and ligero. Its Ecuadorian Sumatra wrapper was grown in the Los Ríos province of the Quevedo region, where the microclimate produces a leaf abundant in natural oils with primary flavors of earth and spice. The binder is Nicaraguan viso, which surrounds a filler blend of Nicaraguan seco and Nicaraguan ligero—both of which are limited to a singular annual harvest.

The Nicaraguan visos and ligeros that we use for this project are La Gloria all the way. Sumatra has a certain texture…a certain silkiness and a particular smell. I think it’s a tangy wrapper, peppery, and medium to full bodied.Ernesto Pérez-Carrillo

Appearance

Click images below for full resolution

The La Gloria Cubana Colección Reserva Robusto is a hefty cigar, with overall dimensions that many manufacturers would classify as a robusto extra or a robusto larga. Its Sumatra wrapper is a bit rustic—with a few lumps, fairly tight seams, two predominant veins, a touch of tooth, and a triple cap. On the “Shades of Brown” spectrum, the cigar’s color is a mixture of Seal brown and sepia with Bistre (almost black) mottling scattered across the face. A medium amount of oiliness produces an ethereal sheen when held in direct sunlight.

The Colección Reserva is encased with two bands. The primary band is the one traditionally found on a La Gloria Cubana cigar (albeit with a retro feel more akin to the Cuban variant), while the secondary band identifies the Robusto as an “Ernesto Pérez-Carrillo Colección Reserva.” This combination is discrete and sophisticated. Very firmly packed from the foot to the cap with one small soft spot beneath the secondary band, the wrapper aroma is delicate and pleasing—coffee, cedar, natural tobacco, and spice—while the open foot smells of earth, hay, light manure, and a hard-to-identify sweetness.

After the cap of the Robusto is opened with a double guillotine cut—to ensure the maximum amount of taste from the wrapper, binder, and filler—the initial cold draw is fairly open. Flavors of coffee, chili pepper, natural tobacco, and peanuts immediately touch the palate, while a touch of teriyaki and hot sauce formulates on the upper and lower lips.



Smoking Experience

After toasting and lighting the cigar with a soft double-flame lighter, the first few draws produce a tangy and peppery sensation on the tongue. This initial flavor is quickly enhanced with touches of strong French press coffee, hardwoods, and milk chocolate. The draw of the Colección Reserva is nearly perfect with just a smidgen of desirable resistance. Additional aromas and flavors of cedar, toasted white bread, and stewed apples mingle together with the primary notes, while white pepper is dominant on the nearly sinus-clearing retrohale.

As the robusto enters into its second third, it begins to display the following general characteristics—medium in body, medium-to-full in strength, and medium-to-full in flavor. The notes present in the first third of the cigar continue to dominate the profile, with a dry-cured meat flavor appearing at intervals. Flavors and aromas of assorted nuts, espresso, red pepper, and Toblerone candy flirt in and out of the mix, adding to the overall complexity of the cigar.

La Gloria Cubana Colección Reserva Robusto cigar review

Room aroma is reminiscent of freshly ignited Kingsford charcoal in a Weber grill at a Thanksgiving family gathering. The burn line is quite sharp, holding over one and one-quarter inches of battleship gray ash highlighted with streaks of ebony between the stacks. On the retrohale, the white pepper present in the first third is replaced by fairly strong black pepper with very subtle amounts of anise and cardamon.

During the final third, a bit of berry sweetness compliments the flavor profile at intermittent moments. Otherwise, the overall notes are almost identical to those experienced in the second third of the cigar. The draw remains open, requiring only single puffs to produce a prodigious amount of smoke. A touch of bitterness, meatiness, and minerality appears near the end of the cigar’s life, producing a touch of roughness at the top of the throat. After a few additional draws, the cigar is placed in an ashtray to naturally extinguish itself.

La Gloria Cubana Colección Reserva Robusto cigar ash

Would I Smoke This Cigar Again?

The answer to that question is, “Yes.” The first “boutique blend” that I smoked was the La Gloria Cubana Wavell shortly after it received a high rating in the premier issue of Cigar Aficionado magazine—purchased at Georgetown Tobacco in Washington, DC and initially lit on the premises. I left the store with multiple boxes, along with a D. Marshall humidor and an S.T. Dupont lighter. Smoking the La Gloria Cubana Colección Reserva Robusto brought back pleasant memories of that cigar and that high-rolling decade.

  • Smoking Time: 1 hour, 50 minutes
  • Pairing Recommendation: espresso, stout beer, bourbon, dark-whiskey cocktails
  • Purchase Recommendation: box split

La Gloria Cubana Colección Reserva Robusto cigar nubbed

Images without Cigar Dojo watermark were provided by General Cigar Co.

La Gloria Cubana Colección Reserva Robusto
Capitalizing on the current “collaborative trend” in the cigar industry, La Gloria Cubana recently partnered with company founder Ernesto Pérez-Carrillo to create the Colección Reserva. Produced in three sizes, including the robusto smoked for review, the blend is composed with an Ecuadorian Sumatra wrapper, a Nicaraguan viso binder, and limited-availability Nicaraguan seco and ligero filler leaves. Using the initial La Gloria Cubana smoking profile as inspiration, Pérez-Carrillo has created a very affordable cigar that delivers aromas and flavors of assorted nuts, berry, cedar, chocolate, coffee, natural tobacco, toast, and spice. It can be enjoyed by both the novice and the more experienced cigar enthusiast.
Appearance91%
Burn/Construction92%
Draw94%
Flavor92%
Complexity88%
PriceValue90%
Pros
  • Price point
  • Construction
  • Overall flavor
Cons
  • Medium complexity
91%Deja Vu