Deep in flavor. Deep in your mind.

Saturday, September 12, 2015

La Gloria Cubana Médaille d'Or No. 1 - Cigar Review


I made haste to the tobacconist here locally whom I hate the least. I don’t feel that ringing endorsement deserves any further endorsement.

I have been reviewing, thus ingesting, several larger ring gauge offerings as of late. These, I am very gracious for, as they were mainly gifted to me either personally, or in the opportunity to do write-ups of (professionally). One (this one, anyways, me/I) does wish to smoke a thin gauge on occasion. I chose a handful of Panetelas but let's talk about one in particular and for now:

The Cigar:
La Gloria Cubana
Médaille d'Or No. 1 - Delicado Extra
Ecuadorian Sumatra wrapper
Nicaraguan binder
Dominican Republic, Nicaragua filler
Panetela DeLuxe (Long Panatela) 7 1/4 x 36
Very veiny, some bunching at seams. The cap is resting somewhat askew atop the stick-- and still, it’s sexy. Long and lean and style and grace, baby. I am put in mind of Fred Astaire and his over-sized hands.

The band is perfection. Old world charm and gold leaf’d ornamentations.

To the nose, there are an array of sweet spices that lay on earthy tones. Some leather notes. Something like a chocolate liqueur can be sniffed at the foot. Mainly, though, the smell is of spices. Nutmeg, cinnamon, and something reminiscent of gingerbread cookies --

As noted, the cap is off center but gives the nice feel (on top of the aforementioned Astaire) of a tilted film noir fedora brim. Peeking at the foot, I can see a quite dense packing. Very firm feel, and even roll.

I opt to employ my Old Timer in shaving off the chock full o’character cap. The cold draw is as you’d expect from a panatela, firm but nothing indicative of a potential issue. The flavors are of red earth. Ginger(bread) and nutmeg and cinnamon. There is a distant clay backing. LIke a ray of sun kissing Georgia earth.

The light is a bit restricted by the tight draw, but not so bad as I can’t light it on the toast, given its dapper narrow gauge.

The first what feels like sip from the stogie is so full of soft and subtle nuances that I can’t rassle them all down. All the aforementioned notes are at play. The second pull is retro-haled and offers up a quite wonderful cushiony and warm red pepper. Or not -- perhaps the pleasant bite (I hesitate using that word) comes from the gingerbread cookies being almost ready to cool on the rack. Perhaps, both. The third draw adds the building of a sumatra inspired finish of sweet earthern floral notes that stay well to the next pull.
Act I:
The draw has loosened a tad and the ash piles up thick and white with a very even burn. As we heat up, the red pepper does distinguish itself (with fruitiness in tow) and too elevates but is still cozy. There is a slight cardamom now. Too, the nicaraguan influence is felt in notes of cocoa and an emerging and deep tobacco. The stick is warm and I keep thinking “red.” Exotic but familiar insofar as comfort level. My grandfather’s Canal Street apartment in the heart of bustling chinatown; with it’s strange Oriental furnishings yet comfortable Yiddish-spoken shtick.

I’m loving the red pepper draw and the restraint of its play. With it comes that nice fruitiness of lighter fruits in heavier syrups. I’m too loving the sweet finish on my palate that is completely tobacco and not vanila, cream, or any other metaphor. The ash clumps off on my cardigan at ¾” and so what? All the tastes are so nuanced and subtle. The cocoa transitions from almost Baker’s to almost Hershey’s. On the back of a barely forefront nutmeg, cinnamon gingerbread and red pepper swirl around one another. The finish is never the same twice, but always sweet and never sickly so.

The final pull of Act I offers nutmeg transitioning quickly to a muted form and allowing the red pepper and cinnamon to dance. Then the cocoa comes in and on the finish settles into that near milk chocolate and sweet, deep but not dense tobacco.

Medium bodied, full -flavored, and mild-medium strength. Beautiful really, thus far. A very soft and smooth mouthfeel which is not of cream, but of well-balanced spices laid on an easy palate.

The output of smoke off the foot is just a hair off of medium toward mild and is quite sweet.

Act II:
Smoke input and output reach a quite sudden yet dainty explosion. I ravage a whisper trim more off the cap. This does not loosen the draw, as it was not intended to do so, it simply makes my pulls more productive and even more flavorful. I clump off the ash at just shy of an inch (and continue to do so) in order to give my cardigan a break.

The finish is the loveliest part of the cigar and is unchanged from my prior drivels, but too is growing in intensity and legs. The sweetness is now suddenly distinctly cardamom after some soft hints prior, and has become the focal point of the draw and finish.

The red pepper/fruitiness has subdued to a lively hum on the tip of my tongue and the chocolate has amped up in a dark yet airy fashion. Cinnamon is still there, but muted, and is now dancing with the nutmeg, which has not wavered from being delicate.

At the close of the second act, smack dab in the middle of the stick, we have hit a transition. The tobacco lightens and allows floral notes to mix with the cardamom. A cinnamon cocoa emerges toward and into the finish which leads to a very soft red pepper and a nutmeg finish. The gingerbread cookies are cool on the rack, but their heated depth still lingers in the kitchen.

I must say that the sweetness is of cardamon alone and is worth the price of admission here. I would like if the tobacco stayed a few notches deeper, but it’s muting really lets the other notes be experienced.

I have stated elsewhere that I adore a Panatela, and this offering does not disappoint for all the right reasons. Complexity, nuances, transitions, and all the subtleties lacking in a fat stogie. A chef’s plate nibble in lieu of a country buffet gulp.

Act III:
A cedar note appears now, mainly on the retro-hale, all the notes mentioned above remain the same.

A note on construction: The stick softens a bit mid third act, but to only a slight and expected degree. The draw is consistent, the burn is near perfectly even.

Gentlepersons, I feel as though it’s time for me to shut up and take bigger sips at this offering until the chef decides to toss me out the back door. Barring any changes, I shall see ya in the next section.

The red pepper does strengthen at the last few pulls as it separates from the fruit notes and warms my palate to a tingle. The cigar itself stays cool as Larry Fine’s underplayed verbal reactions. That meaning, surprisingly.
A friend recommends a double patty with cheese and bacon and the works and I nod. Stepping up to the counter, I order a plain, small burger. I like to tip toe into charred cow dalliances.


This is not an introductory level course in tobacco, this stogie. There are varying and subtle nuances with which a complexity is built upon. Then rebuilt. Smoke a few years, then graduate to the joys of the panatela vitola. Lest you risk mistaking such beauty for unfulfilling mottling.

A snootful of sherry so dry, it doth pucker. Lightly roasted coffee. Perhaps a spiced tea.

Final Grade: A
A buzz woulda garnered a +.
(I hear word that these age exceptionally well and the buzz, she comes.)
(I hear too that these are discontinued. Good news! Soon they’ll all have age.)

I think I’ll leave this red rose in my hatband, thank ya. One (this one, anyways, me/I) do(es) like to feel pretty. It smells funny out here behind the bistro.