La Galera Habano | Cigar Reviews by the Katman

Wrapper: Ecuadorian Habano
Binder: Dominican Corojo
Filler: Dominican Piloto Cubano, Dominican Criollo 98, Dominican Pelo de Oro
Size: 6 x 54 El Lector (Toro)
Strength: Medium
Price: $6.30

Today we take a look at the La Galera Habano.
I picked the cigar up at my local B&M seven weeks ago.

BACKGROUND:
Released: February, 2016
Regular Production
From the La Galera Cigars web site:
“On a warm and sunny day in Tamboril, considered to many as the cigar capital of the world, lying in the outskirts of Santiago, Dominican Republic, lies Jose Arnaldo Blanco, known to all as “Jochy”, puffing calmly on cigar. A man who has worked with tobacco for as long as he can recall and his unconditional love and passion for it is obvious to all.

“Through hard work and determination, he’s grown and processed tobacco to perfection throughout his tenure as a manufacturer and grower for the last few decades, and his factory Tabacalera Palma has been the home for outstanding cigars that have gained the love and appreciation of smokers all over the world.

“As he calmly takes a slow draw from his caramel-like colored wrapped cigar, he realizes that everything is exactly the way he wants it. Staring fondly at a painting across his desk, he appreciates rollers in the factory nearly 80 years ago and a smile starts to reflect. In his mind, this is the perfect time to bring to life exactly what he’s looking at. It’s where it all begins, la galera is where cigars are produced in a factory; it’s where the magic happens. This is when La Galera Cigars is born.”

SIZES AND PRICING:

Prices: $4.90-$8.20 per cigar
These can be bought on all the online stores. Famous Smoke has a nice 10 stick sampler for $50. (See details in Last Third below)

DESCRIPTION:
The cinnamon/copper hued wrapper is so oily that it doesn’t need bright light to see it shimmer and glisten. Seams are nearly invisible. A lot of veins but none change the beauty of this stick. The triple cap is a work of art with a slightly rounded top.

The cigar band is one of the most ornate I’ve seen. Should have bought a couple sticks but of course I did not. I would have liked to given the first stick’s cigar band to have some flattening out time for a good photo to view the busy artwork.

I bought the Maduro version and figured I’d better try it out before I did the Habano due to the less than stellar La Instructora review by the same blender. It was excellent. I have high hopes for this Habano blend.
The stick feels on the money with it not being hard and bereft of soft spots.

AROMAS AND COLD DRAW POINTS:
From the shaft, I can smell brown gravy, spiciness, cream, a myriad of baking spices, lime zest, cedar, and molasses.

From the clipped cap and the foot, I can smell a combo of black and red peppers, more brown gravy, cedar, malt, lime citrus, milk chocolate, sourdough bread, mixed nuts, and honey.

The cold draw presents flavors of lime citrus, spiciness, cedar, sourdough, chocolate, malt, cumin, and another ladle of brown gravy.

FIRST THIRD:
The draw is incredibly tight. Out comes my PerfecDraw cigar poker and with a few insertions and removals, you can drive an 18 wheeler through it now. I’m telling you that if you don’t have this wonderful cigar tool, you don’t know what you’re missing in your cigar experience. It changes frustrating overly packed cigars into the perfect cigar that doesn’t make your cheeks collapse from puffing. (Check the main page for info and my promo code.)

Smoke now pours from the foot. First up is a nice dose of black and red pepper spice. A lovely mild malt element becomes quickly apparent.

Chocolate and coffee enter. Followed by creaminess.

I would have preferred to review a smaller size but my B&M only had this one size. But 7 weeks should have given the cigar plenty of time to strut its stuff.

The flavor profile really doesn’t kick in to my satisfaction for a good half an inch or so. At that point, it opens like a rose.
Immediate complexity settles in. A roundabout of transitions begins. The finish is stretching its legs.
The black pepper is the main driving force at this point. Followed by the previous described flavors.
Strength is medium.

I have a long way to go yet but I get the feeling I fucked up by deciding to review the Habano instead of the Maduro. The Maduro had a bigger impact from the start.
At this early juncture, it seems that the La Galera Habano is going to have stage fright until some point later in the burn. It seems my first impression disappears into the mist.

Generic. The La Galera Habano tastes like a million other $7 catalog blends. The Maduro was much better. A really great blend will grab you by the balls from the get go. The La Galera Habano is taking its ever lovin’ sweet time to kick in like the big boys.

I was truly hoping that I would rave about this blend after tasting the Maduro version. Now I find myself in the same wheelhouse as the less than impressive La Instructora by the same manufacturer. Sonovabitch. OK. The LGH is better but far from being impressive.

Experience tells me this blend will kick in at the halfway point or the last third. Now I know it isn’t lack of humidor time as the Maduro rested right alongside the Habano and it was delectable.

Sometimes I think that Blanco blends follow the lead of Patel blends. Jose Blanco produces so many blends that they can’t help but be hit or miss.
I’m also forced to correct the char line every few minutes…nothing major but I don’t want it out of control.

Creaminess pushes the spiciness out of the way and dominates the flavor profile. The malts dig in giving it a well-rounded approach.
I’m struggling to find descriptive words that will make you want to purchase this blend.

Even at this early point, I can say unequivocally that the Maduro is the blend you want to stick in your humidor. The Habano? Not so much.
I’m making an educated guess that I’ve now been taken off Jose Blanco’s Xmas card list as I’ve now dissed two of his blends in a row.

SECOND THIRD:
Smoke time is 35 minutes.

Finally. Life! The composition of leaves is making a more indelible imprint on my lizard brain.
The complexity that dallied with my affections at the start is now in full swing. Transitions begin in earnest. The finish is solid.

Still, the flavor profile is limited. It will never reach flavor bomb status.
Damn. My music story after the review needs to be really good to salvage this review.

The La Galera Habano is priced perfectly. I like spreading my money around between online cigar purchases and B&M purchases…but my local shop charged me $10 for this $6 stick. Wisconsin cigar taxes are very low so I believe I got ripped off.

Strength continues at medium. I like ‘em stronger.

“Pleasant” is the most accurate description of this blend. It’s much better than its cousin; La Instructora.

Here they are: Creaminess, malts, milk chocolate, savory spices, black pepper, and a touch of almonds, raisins, lime citrus, fresh bread, cedar, and honey.

The La Galera Habano continues to improve with a savory character. Unlike myself who is considered very unsavory by other reviewers.

Nearing the halfway point, the blend kicks into high gear. The LGH is a roller coaster of flavors. One moment, they flourish and the next; dullsville. Fingers crossed that we have surpassed that medical condition and the blend is now in full swing.
The blend becomes very enjoyable. I just wish it were so from an earlier point in time.

All of a sudden, flavors explode. Now we’re talking. Halle-fucking-leujah!

The blend shifts from being kin to a $5 Torano to a very nice boutique blend. There was no passion discernible in the first half. That has all changed.
We are kicking ass and taking names at last.

This was how the Maduro started. The Habano took a long time to get to the same place.
Absolutely delightful now.

The $50 La Galera sampler looks like a good deal. It includes the following:
1 La Galera Connecticut Chaveta (5 1/8 x 50) 1 La Galera Conn El Lector (6 x 54) 1 La Galera Habano Chaveta (5 x 50) 1 La Galera Habano El Lector (6 x 54) 1 La Galera Conn Cortador (6 1/8 x 52) 1 La Galera Conn Cepo – Pigtail (5 x 38) 1 La Galera Conn Bonchero No.4 (5 1/2 x 42) 1 La Galera Habano Cortador (6 1/4 x 52) 1 La Galera Hab Cepo – Pigtail (5 x 38) 1 La Galera Hab Bonchero No.4 (5 1/2 x 42)
Unfortunately, it does not include the Maduro. Still the myriad of sizes makes it an interesting buy.

On its upward trajectory of complexity, I may just forgive the first 2-1/2” of non-descript essentials.
I can’t remember seeing such a major transition in a cigar blend like the La Galera Habano has just incurred. It is now killer.

It’s taken almost an hour to finish the first half.
I don’t relish using this frame of view but the blend is nearing flavor bomb status after half a stick of indecision.

Moments like this makes me question humidor time. Is 7 weeks insufficient? Or is it just the organic nature of the blend? Maybe it takes 3 months of rest. I have no fucking clue.

As my reviews have slowed down due to the high cost of new cigars, my favorite part of the day is my first cigar in the morning shortly after arising from my crypt. It makes or breaks my day if the cigar doesn’t perform. So I pick my first cigar carefully.

Ever get your tiny penis caught in a silverware drawer? When I was a teen in high school, I remember this like a snapshot in time. I was in the kitchen making a bowl of cereal when I grabbed for a spoon. I wear boxers and guess what was peeking out when I slammed the drawer shut? Yep. My family ran from their beds into the kitchen to see what the screaming was about. I lied of course.

I mention this because having your Willie Wonka flattened creates quite the surprise. The La Galera Habano has done just that. While my dong is safe and secure at the moment, I get the same surprise that comes without searing pain.

Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde blend. It starts off like a Torano then turns into a fine, fine boutique blend.
I pry the cigar band off and marvel at its beauty.

For a little over $6, the LGH is now worth the overpriced $10 I paid.
Burn issues are totally absolved. The draw is perfect thanks to my PerfecDraw cigar poker.
For reviews, I prefer smaller cigars. This honker is a monumental task of patience since I review in real time.

LAST THIRD:
Smoke time is one hour 35 minutes.
Strength segues into medium/full.
Flavors are impeccable.

The list changes up for the seventh inning stretch: Black pepper, creaminess, chocolate, espresso, malts, dried fruit, black walnuts, cinnamon, dark honey, a nice floral element, cedar, and caramel.

I put Jeff Beck at Ronnie Scott’s on. A Dover, England gig with Curved Air, Beck showed up. During our encore, he agreed to come on stage and jam with us. And we were surprised to discover that violinists Jerry Goodman and Jean Luc Ponty were also in the audience. They climbed on stage as well and it was magic. Ever watch 3 masterful violinists jam at one time? I did. Our band leader Darryl Way’s main axe was the viola.
Darryl’s stage viola had a clear body with lights inside. Quite impressive for our drunk and stoned audience.

The La Galera Habano has completely redeemed itself. I’m having a great time.
Nicotine. The bane of my existence. Everything slows down like a dream where you are running from a monster in slow motion.

My vision blurs. It is either due to the nicotine or excessive masturbation when I was young.
Super complex. Transitions flapping like fresh laundry hanging outdoors. And a finish that is a mile long.

For $6 or $7, this is a must try even if you too experience an unimpressive start.
OK. I concede. It has reached flavor bomb status.
With the 10 cigar sampler placing sticks at $5 a pop, this is the way to go. I’m considering it myself.
Final smoke time is 2 hours 10 minutes.

RATING: 75 for the first half. 93 for the second half.

And now for something completely different:
It was my 25th birthday in February, 1975. I was in London. Curved Air’s start of their British and European tour was to begin the following night in London for 20,000 fans.

To celebrate, my band mates and the members of the band Renaissance took me to the famous Marquee Club. It is sort of the English version of the Whisky A’ Go Go. And it was right off of Piccadilly Circus.
I had no idea who was playing that night. It turned out to be no one special. Figures. But I was surrounded by 25 of my friends so all was good.

As soon as we got there, drummer Stewart Copeland handed over some writing paper. It was a letter to him from a friend at UC Berkeley where Stew spent a couple years. The letter was written on blotter paper. And the friend dosed the entire letter in his own mad scientist formula of LSD.

Stew ripped off a small piece the size of a dime and handed it to me. I took it and placed it on my tongue. Stew and Sonja insisted I down a giant 20 oz. beer right afterwards. And since I don’t drink, I got drunk immediately.

We went into the room where the band played and within 15 minutes, I was flying on a magic carpet ride. I looked over at Sonja and tried to speak but couldn’t.
She smiled the smile of the Cheshire Cat. She put her arm in mine and walked me out into the lobby where we found a bench to sit on.

Time no longer had meaning. We sat on that bench for hours. It seemed like minutes. The evening had come to an end. People were filing out and leaving. The 25 friends who included the two bands walked over to us. They heard what Stew had done to me and were laughing hard and doing tricks with their faces and hands to freak me out. They had not had their dose yet. I was hallucinating like a mother fucker.

Stew handed out the medication. Everyone took a piece. I told them they had no idea what was about to happen to them and they laughed at me. (I would have the last laugh)

We ambled outside with Sonja guiding me. Piccadilly Circus was crowded with night crawlers at 1am. Trying to get a few taxis to take us back to my flat was impossible. So I let out a guttural yell, “TAXI!!!!” and I was heard from the other side of the Circus and came to our location. We all piled into 3 taxis.

Sonja and I were the only ones in our taxi that were heavily medicated. There were 4 others still trying to fuck with me and laughing…I kept pleading with them to stop…but even in my delirium, I knew that they had no idea what was in store for them.

It took about 15 minutes and we were home. We all went through the door while I heard voices asking, “What’s going on? Where am I?”
I laughed. I was already 4 hours into my journey and theirs was just beginning.
It was past 2am.

I sat in the living room staring at a freaky poster on the wall. I watched as the poster melted and took on odd shapes. I laughed hard.

A chick who lied and said she had taken acid many times walked into the living room where I sat alone. She had tears in her eyes. She asked me if it was always like this?
I replied, “No. It’s not usually this good.”
She ran screaming down the hall.

This huge group of people was dazed and confused and all having a good time…except for this chick who bragged she had done plenty of acid, but in truth, had never done it….so she began to bum out a small group of young men who became her caretakers.

And then I got stomach cramps. I didn’t know if they were real. And then a moment of clarity hit me and I ran for the bathroom. My flat was a basement flat in a several hundred year old building. No heat. And it was winter.

The bathroom was tiny and I could see my breath as I sat on the toilet.
This is something you never want to do….take a dump while high on acid. All my senses were concentrated on my asshole. I became my asshole.

But I made it through and ended up feeling much better and returned to the group.

Turns out, the misguided chick had left the flat to get some air in the frigid winter night. She was out there for a bit and began to freak out even more so she decided she better get back inside. Turns out, she had locked herself out and no one could hear her knock.

She stood out there for an hour and when someone finally went looking for her, they discovered her in a heap on the front door mat. She was brought in where she proceeded to vomit and cry.
She was bumming everyone out. I walked away.

The inside of that flat was like a circus with everyone doing something different to entertain themselves. Sonja found a lemon in the kitchen and spent several hours “walking her lemon.” My good buddy, Skip, accompanied her to keep her safe.

We were up all night. People began to file out around day break, heading to their homes. And hopefully, some sleep.
I managed to crawl into bed and slept….but with some amazing dreams.

Both Curved Air and Renaissance were to open in London that night. CA was made up of hardened Hippies. What’s a little acid? No biggie. In fact, Stew and Sonja smoked hash all day long extending the acid trip.
Meanwhile, the Renaissance boys couldn’t take it and had to cancel their gig.
Holy Shit!
And I got blamed for their cancellation. Not Stew. Me.
Management was furious. But then management was named Copeland so naturally I took the fall.

Annie Haslam, their lead singer did not do drugs and was not at my birthday party.
She held me personally responsible and from that day forward, never spoke to me again. As we had the same manager, there were times I saw her in the hallways. I would say hi and she would turn her head and ignore me.
That was the last time I did acid. It was a great time and seemed like a good idea to go out on a good note.
We played beautifully that night with 3 encores.
The boys of Renaissance spent that night in bed…whimpering.

And now for something completely different (Part 2):
Remember the Dutch band, Focus? They had only one hit from 1970: “Hocus Pocus.” A total instrumental; but a good one…still gets lots of airplay on classic rock stations.

The band fell apart of course. And a new band was formed ala “Yes.” And it was called Trace. A 3 piece band and only played instrumentals. They had their Rick Wakeman-type with a wall of keys and synthesizers; all on wheels so this madman could run across the stage pushing his two tons of musical equipment. The drummer was from Focus, and a guitarist that sometimes played bass.
Anyway, Curved Air did a week of touring with Trace.

They were an arrogant bunch of dudes. We would do our sound check and Stew Copeland and I would woodshed on jazz fusion riffs I had developed. It was very progressive and this form of music had not hit England at that point…or at least no one was paying attention to the future of progressive music.
I remember jamming and saw their guitarist wave his hand implying that it was shit.
Well, fuck him.

One night, after a gig, a drunken roadie left the guitarist’s basses and guitars on the ground next to the truck. And then walked away.
Someone snatched them all.
But the roadies didn’t discover this until the gig the next day.

We normally had dinner while our support band was on.
When we returned, we heard what happened.

My roadie, Beric Wickens, loaned him my 1968 Fender P bass without getting a hold of me first. Know what this asshole Trace member did? He re-worked my bass to fit his needs. He did all sorts of things and then when they finished their set, he just handed my bass to our roadies. He didn’t even show the courtesy of taking my bass back to square one. He changed the height of the strings on the bridge. He shoved hard sponge underneath the strings at the bridge. He put the ashtray back on. He detuned it. He removed the finger rest. And he scratched the finish below the pick guard.

In the dressing room, I spent an angry hour putting my bass back together. When I was done, I went to their dressing room and screamed at him. My roadies had to pull me off of him. This guy was a lot bigger than me but I didn’t care.

The fucker didn’t even bother to thank me for the use of my bass. Must have thought it was divine intervention.
I bitched to our road manager and he called their manager. And let him have it. Our manager, Miles Copeland III told them he would never book them again.

The asshole apologized to me a couple days later. Probably told to do this by his manager.

As a player for over 50 years, I never let my bass out of sight for even 5 minutes. Except when I was playing with Curved Air. I had no choice. I hope this guy is now selling hot dogs at a Pommes Frites street cart in Amsterdam. Or working as a fluffer in porn.

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Categories: CIGAR REVIEWS

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1 reply

  1. Cool review, Uncle Katman!
    P.S. The stories had me cracking up!

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