Puffing it this morning reminded me of my first La Gloria, which I smoked before I started working at Cigar Aficionado magazine. Before I worked at the magazine, I was a reader, and I used the cigar ratings to expand my taste in cigars. I wrote down the high scoring cigars, taking note of the flavors that seemed appealing, and headed out to cigar stores. Usually I could find what I wanted, but not a La Gloria.
If you’re a longtime cigar smoker you remember what it was like to find a La Gloria Cubana in the mid 1990s. After James Suckling told the world about this phenomenal brand, they were nearly impossible to find.
It must have been 1994 when I got my hands on my first La Gloria. I was in Manhattan on business one day, and I stopped at a cigar shop called Arnold’s, on 42nd and Madison. (Sadly, it’s no longer there.) Arnold’s seemed to have everything a cigar smoker would ever need, and in true New York style it was crammed into a very small space. I looked at the endless cigar selection, and there it was, sitting behind glass—a partially filled box of La Gloria Cubana Corona Gordas. I bought a few, took the train home, and lit one up as soon as I sat down in my car.
The cigar was brilliant. I can’t remember the specific flavors, but I know it was delicious. It had a little kick to it, spicier than most of the cigars I smoked in those days, and I remember how wonderfully it was constructed. I have this distinct image of looking down in the darkness in my car at the burning ash and watching the red glow, perfectly framed by the rings of the cigar’s ash.
I had a big smile on my face, happy because I had obtained a hard-to-find smoke, and exuberant because the rare gem was living up to its considerable hype.
It’s great when a cigar you expect to truly enjoy lives up to its billing. Have you had any similar experiences?