Tabacalera Casa De Zabala 1936 Elegante Lancero | Cigar Reviews by the Katman

Wrapper: Nicaraguan Habano Oscuro
Binder: Nicaraguan
Filler: Nicaraguan
Size: 7 X 42
Body: Medium/Full
Price: $8.99

1936 Elegante by Tabacalera Casa De Zabala 1936 Elegante Lancero.
Thanks to Ricky Zabala for the samples.
I recently reviewed the Corona Gorda. A fantastic blend. And different than the Double Figurado I reviewed 2 years ago. Ricky says the lancero brings a new bang to the blend. Let us see then…

From the Zabala Cigars web site:
“Once Don Gabriel Zabala arrived at Ellis Island in the 1800s, he brought with him not only a dream to succeed in life but also his passion for fine cigars, instilled in him by the Zabala Family Tradition. Circumstances beyond his control forced him in a different direction. After many years of living in the United States, he finally settled down in a town west of San Juan, Puerto Rico named San Sebastian, where he became what is known in the island as “Alcalde del Pueblo” (Unofficial Town Mayor). The excellent climate and the richness of the soil in the island provided him with the necessary tools to continue and expand the Zabala Family Tradition.

“Today, after five generations, the head of the Zabala Family, Don Joe Zabala, Sr. with great honor to his heritage and tradition decided to release to the public the 1936 Elegante with the hope that you will enjoy this rich aromatic and flavorful cigar as much as our family and friends have enjoyed for years.

“The 1936 Elegante with its carefully balanced blend of Nicaraguan Binder and Filler is wrapped in a rich and oily Nicaraguan Habano Oscuro wrapper. It will satisfy the most demanding of aficionados, with delicious flavors of roasted coffee and spices. The rich undertones of almonds and creamy earthiness will please the most discerning smokers.”

5 x 50 Robusto $10.95
6 x 50 Toro $11.95
6.5 x 52 Torpedo $11.95
5.5 x 46 Corona Gorda $8.99
7 x 42 Lancero $8.99
5.5 x 52.5 Double Figurado $9.99
Click “Find Retailer” for B&M’s that sell Zabala cigars.
At this time, the only online store to sell Zabala cigars is Ricky is setting up an opportunity for fans to buy directly from his web site. Stay tuned.

A wrapper with hues of dark coffee, penny, and hickory.
The Elegante is also a very straight lancero. I know this seems odd but I find a lot of lanceros get out of whack and look like a cheap pool cue sometimes. Not this baby. As long and straight as my shnoz.
Lots of small veins, seamless, a gorgeously applied, flawless triple cap, and solid. No hard or soft spots can be felt by these nimble fingers. Lastly, there is a hint of tooth with little bumps running the length of the stick.

From the shaft, I can smell caramel, chocolate, black licorice, baking spices, red pepper, cedar, honeyed cream, and a touch of malt.

From the clipped cap and the foot, I can smell delicious dark cocoa, cinnamon, potent red pepper, caramel, honeyed cream, nutmeg, espresso, licorice, cedar, and a touch of citrus.

The cold draw presents flavors of strong chocolate malt, coffee with cream, tart citrus notes, floral notes, old leather, honey, raisins, baking spices, cedar, and hint of peppermint.

Ricky Zabala is part of a family enterprise. An institution of a B&M in Orlando, the family decided to produce their own blend. It sells like hot cakes at their store and is popular among the many retailers that carry the Zabala line. sells the first three sizes but not the Corona Gorda or Lancero. You can insert your zip code on the Retailer Search on the Zabala web site or you can call Ricky and order from the man.

The draw is superb. No need for my PerfecDraw cigar poker.

My palate is bombarded with flavors right off the bat: Black and red peppers, creaminess, smoky meat, cinnamon, chocolate, espresso, licorice, citrus, sugar cane, and heavy on the malts.

Nice. This is how those more expensive cigars should start their experience. Only this isn’t an expensive stick. For a boutique brand, $9 for a lancero is chump change.

I must add that Zabala is the epitome of New Breed blending. I’ve not had a cigar that wasn’t ready to smoke 2 days after receipt and only gets better.
I’ve had these samples for a month.

Strength is medium but making ready for the jump to medium/full.

Malts, cream, peppers, and freshly baked sourdough are screaming laughter. Shit, this is already a great cigar. It is so intense that after only ¾” burned, it is putting a big smile on this old puss.
I let the cigar go out and aromas of salty pretzel and clove leave an imprint on my brain…sort of like someone stepping on my head with their boot. I’m used to it…married 33 years.

The Zabala 1936 Elegante Lancero is knocking the pegs out from under me. I love all the sizes. None of them ginormous and all in my wheelhouse of favorites.
I’m reminded of a jalapeno popper. The peppers merge from the spectrum of genus species; but tamed by that lovely creamy cream cheese element…with a touch of sweetness.

I rated the Elegante Corona Gorda a 98. Yeah. Perfect. The Lancero is quickly becoming my first choice by a hair.
This is the best lancero I’ve smoked. Yeah I know that there are a lot of lanceros out there but the Elegante is pushing all of my buttons and knows where they are.

This medium/full baby is so chockful of complexity that I want to plotz. Transitions are like whirling dervishes. The finish is so decadently long that I will taste this cigar in my sleep tonight.

Call Ricky. He won’t bite and is actually quite the character. (407) 340-9154.

Last time I wrote a review of a Zabala blend, Cigars Direct sold out in 24 hours. At the moment, they only have the Robusto in stock. The Torpedo and Toro are out of stock.
Call Ricky! Mention my name and he will throw in 3 boxes of Opus X and one box of
Partagas 150 Signature Series Cigars. (I can hear Ricky gasping for air and grabbing his chest).

Smoke time is 25 minutes.

Instead of buying your annual Skinny Monsters, go for the 1936 Elegantes instead. I’m telling you that Ricky Zabala is a mad genius. As well as the rest of his family and the beloved patriarch, Don Joe Zabala, Sr.

Ricky is just a few years younger than me so another Boomer who got to experience the same things I did as a young man. So naturally, I show all due respect to my senior citizen brother. So why don’t they blend something new? With the Elegante showing they know what they are doing, a new blend would be wonderful. Ricky is rolling his eyes as he reads this. It’s OK. I can take him in an alley brawl.
Flavors are going fucking nuts. Complexity has nowhere else to go. It is at its zenith.
Strength is now full tilt. Stronger than the other sizes.

Dried fruit emerges. Lemon zest and the pepper variety are bat shit crazy. I could smoke this baby all day long.
Malts hit just about every variety. The espresso and chocolate diminish some.

A nice Worcestershire sauce element begins to foment…giving the profile a nice savory complement as well as the background being full of sweet delicacies: Caramel, cheesecake with a wonderful crust of graham cracker and butter…I am a master at making cheesecake…actually, sugar free cheesecake. And I can taste that decadent creaminess and sweetness coating my palate as other flavors fight for attention.
A spoonful of honey coats the entire process.

The halfway point arrives at 35 minutes.

Now my palate is not your palate. And your palate is not my palate. For me, the Zabala 1936 Elegante is 100% perfect for sating my desire for everything I look for in a cigar blend. You know where this is going.

Flavors transition…almonds and Brazil nuts, a cacophony of malts, cheesecake, a variety of spicy peppers, graham cracker, honey, steak sauce, cedar, chocolate and espresso return in force, the lovely lemon zest, and salty pretzel.

You, dear readers, are nuts if you don’t take my advice and snag some Elegantes. Nuts.

Ricky has been a real noodge. He keeps writing me asking if I’ve tried the lancero yet? He is so proud of this blend and size; he can barely keep his Depends dry.
Now I know why Ricky has such horrifying OCD. He is right. A killer blend.

I’m fucking ruined for the rest of the day now. I only have a couple Elegantes left in my humidor and I shall treasure them.
Instead of buying food next month, I’m going to order a box of these sticks.

The Elegante is one of the most satisfying smokes I’ve had in ages.
The blend is really strong now. Definitely not a blend for newbies. For them, I recommend the less bombastic robusto, toro, or torpedo.

Perfect. Frank Zappa is on the TV cable music channel. Love that guy.

The test of a true premium cigar is its transitions. Like any perfect blend, the tobacco is enriched with each puff. It never looks back. Only forward. Like opening a box of Cracker Jack and snagging the prize at the bottom…the Elegante is all surprise and no pitfalls. Plus you get the caramel coated popcorn.

Smoke time is 45 minutes. Time is flying by. I break into deep sobs as I see I only have a couple inches to go.

The finish is so exhilarating that I find myself just sitting, smacking my lips, and savoring the flavors.
This is a perfect cigar blend. No shit.
So listen to your Uncle Katman on this one. No hesitation. Just do it.

This has been of the most enjoyable reviews I’ve done in some time.
If I were you, I’d buy 5 packs of as many sizes you can afford. Each one brings something different to the table.

As strong as this cigar is, the nicotine is allowing me to not venture into the land of spiders from Mars. My vision is normal. But I can no longer speak. My wife likes that.
Typically, lanceros get harsh and bitter towards the end. Not here my lovelies. Sweet spots galore. No letup of its mastery.
I want to thank the Cosmic Muffin for putting Ricky Zabala and me together.
Final smoke time is one hour 10 minutes.


And now for something really, really different:
I first published this story in May of 2013.

I’ve never told this story to anyone but a few close friends. That is because telling this story makes people think I’m friggin’ nuts. I had a close encounter of the third kind.

It was 1999. I worked at a place that expected us to start at 6am. I lived about 20 minutes away and it was all freeway travel.
Naturally, it was dark outside when I left for work. It was winter in Mesa, AZ. I hadn’t traversed but a few miles when I saw something strange ahead of me, on the left side of the freeway; maybe half a mile up.

As it got closer, I could make out a form. It looked like those old fashioned helicopter clear bubbled cockpits from the Korean War. But in this case, all I could see was the bubble. It was like clear glass as it approached, and then I saw a figure inside. But this bubble had no wings or helicopter blades or jet engine or propellers. No outward sense of what propelled this thing. It was just a bit smaller than the size of the helicopter bubble. The figure inside looked like a normal sized man. And it moved slowly as if it were observing the cars on the freeway.

All of a sudden, it did a dive, and a swoop, into traffic. Cars swerved to miss it and luckily no fender benders occurred because it was so early. The bubble swooped up gracefully and went back to the left side of the freeway hovering above the dirt road adjacent to the freeway. It seemed to be toying with the drivers. Why else would it do this?

It hovered on the road next to the freeway just above us. As I slowed down, I could see the figure inside. But now the glass had an opaque-ness to it and I couldn’t make out specific features of the individual driving this thing. I opened the window to listen and there was no sound coming from it. Nothing. It was deadly quiet. I saw no heat signature emitting from the thing which would identify some sort of propulsion system.

It just hovered about 6 feet off the ground and the figure stared out on to the freeway. I could see enough that it was a man-like with a head and I could see it turn. There was enough traffic that I could no longer chug along at 10mph and had to move on. I strained to look in the rear view mirror and watched again as it swooped down on to the freeway, amidst the cars, causing them to swerve. It then doubled back to about 100 yards in front of me. This time, it came at me in the middle lane of a three lane freeway. I slammed on the brakes and it just gracefully, and slowly, swooped up to avoid hitting me about 20 feet from my car.

I grabbed my cell phone and dialed 911. I was all adrenaline. I told the operator what I saw. “An alien. In an alien space ship.” I asked if any of the air force bases were doing testing and I got a curt, “No” on the other end.

I hit the accelerator to avoid becoming a crash statistic and lost it behind me. All of the vehicles, who barely avoided being rammed into, hit their accelerators to get the hell out of there. I tried to catch up to see if I could get someone to pull over to discuss what happened; but to no avail.

To this day, I have no idea what I saw. Nothing within my scope of knowledge made what I saw identifiable. A bubble with no wings, no jets, no helicopter blades….just a bubble with a man inside. And it did not make a solitary sound as it maneuvered.

I hoped that the other cars would have reported it. And I listened to the news all day and checked the newspaper the next day. Nothing.
Now you can say, “He’s friggin nuts.”

This photo is the closest thing I could find that is somewhat like what I saw.


Tags: , , ,

7 replies

  1. Hey Katman, There was a band named Bent Wind from the 60s and 70s. Were these dudes taking the piss outta Curved Air or is it just some kind of crazy coincidence? Thanks!

  2. Never heard of them. Sorry.

  3. Wow, what a time for that Owsley Blue Cap L.S.D. to revist, eh? How come these friggin’ space ships only show themselves in some rural backwater populated by the offspring of brothers and sisters? Anyway, any left!?
    By the way, I called Ricky who’s either going to call back or change his number while cussing you out!

  4. I was 46 when this happened. It was not in the desert. Although the city of Phoenix can get pretty hot. It occurred on a major freeway that was in the middle of residential and commercial zoning…but it was probably 5:30am so not a lot of people up to see what I saw except for the other cars.
    Ricky called me and I instructed him not to sell to you…

  5. Bent Wind. Yep. Canadian I believe and had an LP called Sussex. Late 60’s, early 70’s hard rock/psych twaddle. I had a reissue of it once. Funny that you picked up on that as I also have the first Curved Air LP and never once recognized that goof. It’s kinda like Fats Domino (R.I.P.) vs. Chubby Checker. Get it??

  6. Yeah, Mesa is like that. It can have you seeing all kinds of things. I don’t just play a doctor on TV. I live here.

  7. Love your review. Not sure how well I like calling a 42RG a lancero, as it seems more like a classic corona larga—but I guess it’s the cigar, not the name. I’ve been looking for great cigars out there ever since I first came across what you succinctly call “New Breed” blending, & I’ll have to check this one out. Too much mediocre stuff out there from the big guys, & lots of small guys still getting bought out might lead to a new smoker’s disillusionment. I’m glad you exist & are doing your best for the true aficionadoes. L’Chaim.

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s