After months of delay, La Galera, the newest brand from Dominican cigarmaker José "Jochy" Blanco, is now on its way to cigar stores throughout the world, with new sizes having been added specifically for the European market.
Originally slated to hit the U.S. market late last year, Blanco opted to hold La Galera in favor of shipping to the United States and Europe at the same time. According to Fabian Barrantes, director of marketing and sales for Blanco's newly acquired IndianHead USA, which is distributing La Galera, the decision was influenced by a holdup in the production of the boxes that are scheduled for Europe. Rather than rush, Blanco decided to wait until his Tabacalera Palma workers, the factory in the Dominican Republic that Blanco owns and where La Galera is being made, came back from their traditional holiday break.
"The U.S. release was ready in December," Barrantes told Cigar Aficionado.
The European boxes of La Galera are packed with 20 cigars in two rows of 10. The U.S. boxes are not as wide, with Connecticut containing five rows of four and Habano three rows of seven. This design, Barrantes says, is meant to be easier for U.S. retailers to fit into their humidors.
There are two varieties of the value-priced La Galera: Habano and Connecticut. La Galera Habano is blended around an Ecuadoran Habano wrapper and incorporates a Dominican Corojo binder with a filler combination of Piloto Cubano, Criollo '98 and Pelo de Oro tobacco. La Galera Connecticut showcases an Ecuador Connecticut wrapper around a Dominican blend of Piloto Cubano, Criollo '98 and a varietal that Blanco calls T-112. With the exception of the wrapper, Blanco grows all of La Galera's tobacco in the Dominican Republic.
La Galera Habano is shipping to the U.S. in four sizes, all named with a cigar factory theme: Chaveta, at 5 inches by 50 ring gauge; El Lector, 6 by 54; Cortador, 6 1/4 by 52; and Pilones, 6 1/4 by 60. They have suggested retail prices from $6.20 to $8.20 per cigar. Additionally, Blanco has created three new sizes for the European market: Perillas, measuring 7 1/4 inches by 38 ring gauge ($7.00); Bonchero No. 4, 5 1/2 by 42 ($4.90); and Cabeza Caracol, 7 by 47 ($7.50).
La Galera Connecticut will ship to U.S. retailers in five sizes: Chaveta, which measures 5 1/8 inches by 50 ring gauge; El Lector, 6 by 54; Torpedo, 6 1/8 by 52; Short Gordo Pilones, 5 1/4 by 60; and Tabaquero Presidente, 7 1/4 by 50. La Galera Connecticut cigars have suggested retail prices ranging from $4.95 to $6.10. Like the Habano version, Blanco has also created three new sizes of Connecticut for Europe: Cepo, measuring 5 inches by 38 ring gauge ($3.50); Bonchero No. 4, 5 1/2 by 42 ($4.50); and Pegador, 6 by 46 ($4.75).
"The European market tends to like smaller ring gauge cigars," Barrantes said.
Cigar Aficionado smoked a La Galera Connecticut El Lector, non-blind, and found it to be surprisingly bold, with a lush draw and notes of rich earth, white pepper spice, cream and some rock salt on the finish.