To re-live the Gilded Age a century later / Notes on a Cigar from La Gloria Cubana

Ring for a La Gloria Cubana - Gilded Age - Toro / Leica D-Lux 4
Ring for a La Gloria Cubana – Gilded Age – Toro / Leica D-Lux 4

In our modern world we tend to focus on the future. Feeling we have arrived today’s moment, which could be seen as a physical reality, we look ahead, inventing, thinking, constructing and planning. Thus we invest a great amount of energy in letting the future be manifested today. Those who do that are praised as visionaries, minds ahead of their time and individuals that understand a general sense of urgency for composing and creating with the aim of avoiding stagnation and possible future mistakes.

Another mindset coexisting in our modern society is the one that likes to look back, at times with a sense of romantic; other times in the belief that a true progression must include reflection on thoughts and feelings of the past. In the lively world of aesthetics – fashion, food and lifestyle – we see many signs of the latter.

While the molecular cuisine has been bringing us new experiences for the palate, the Slow Food movement is pointing to the need for a simpler, at times archaic approach to food and eating. We have sausages with chocolate and chocolate bars with bacon. On the other end, those – like me – looking for vintage and antique arts and artefacts are not few. Not a day or two go by, in which I do not exclaim or hear – “those were the days!”

The Gilded Age (1870-1900) – in the words of Mark Twain – served as the mask for a troubled era, by gilding everything with a thin gold leaf. The short-lived era known as the Roaring Twenties (1920-1929) consisted of dramatic social and political changes that lead to not previously seen abundance that accumulated at a magnificent speed. Finally, Art Deco slipped in and the subsequent decades were basically about lavish ornamentation and the transforming of ‘art’ into ‘decoration’ – a continuation of over-abundance and a tendency to superficiality. Though for different reasons, all these eras were about opulence and consumption, about pride and celebration. And it was the time where the French where delivering the Statue of Liberty to the wonderful city of New York.  Now the Famous Smoke Shop has re-ordered the feeling of days passed – in a cigar.

La Gloria Cubana – founded in La Habana, Cuba, in 1885 – has created the cigar “Gilded Age” for the Famous Smoke Shop of Eaton, Pennsylvania.  With it they have intended to recapture the feel of that prosperous time in the history of the United States of America, where the spirit of the country was very much alive.

It is a fine cigar. The voices tasting otherwise are very few and not very loud. The composition was unveiled at the 2013 Cigarnival, Famous Smoke Shop’s own yearly cigar spectacle. Not long ago I received a few embodiments of that era from the Famous Smoke Shop itself and have been smoking them every couple of days, trying to capture in every sense, as much from it as possible.

Just visually grasping it is a joy. The ring displays a pleasant mixture – the aesthetic design of that era, surrounding the logo of La Gloria Cubana, which happens to have a very similar aesthetic to that of the turn of the 19th century. And as stylish and solid as the ring, is the cigar in its optic.

Once I light a cigar, I like to pay most of my initial attention to the first smoke stemming from the foot – not from the draw. The notes obtained from the toasting and from that initial development of the ash are very special in its spiciness, freshness, and they seem to be exceptionally powerful when it comes to helping the brain in the release of dopamine. Under those premises, nothing can go wrong.

It begins with a mild earthy tobacco taste with a light sweetness to it, then a bit of cedar and citrus. All these are the introduction to a strong medium body of taste, mostly for the first third of the smoked cigar. Then, without overpowering the senses, it gains strength that I must connect with a good brew of black tea leaves. Also of cherry and figs I am reminded, wood and much of dark vegetable tones. In the end, smoking is another form of ingesting vegetable leaves, is it not?

I look forward to many Gilded Age Cigars in the future and happily add it to about six cigars that, until now, I count to my regulars when it comes to reliability and joy of taste. But beware, time here is relevant. It is neither a cigar for silly pop songs, nor for short moments. I suggest you light one after putting Richard Wagner’s Parzival on cue – for the density of palate and sound, as much as for the lengthy time you will be spending.

Sila Blume

Purchase this cigar from the Famous Smoke Shop

La Gloria Cubana – Gilded Age, Toro –


Stregth: Medium (a strong medium – I would say)

Shape: Toro

Size: 6 x 54

Country of Production: Honduras

Factory: Honduras American Tobacco S.A.

Wrapper Color: Natural

Wrapper Origin: Ecuador

Wrapper Leaf: Sumatra

Filler: Nicaraguan Ligero and Viso

Binder: Honduran

Retail price: about $7


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