Bite Size Review: La Galera Habano Bonchero No. 4
I just realized that our last four reviews have alternated, quite unintentionally, between Dominican and Nicaraguan cigars. Why bring this up? First, because on deck is another Dominican beauty we’ll get to in a minute and second, it’s often seemed to me that there are subtle differences between the two. To be clear, I’m referring to puros or cigars predominantly crafted with either Dominican or Nicaraguan leaf.
Of course, there are good arguments against this notion like the fact there are so many variables – leaf quality, age, terroir, blend components – it’s akin to comparing apples to oranges. Fair enough. So, without a shred of empirical evidence, I’ll simply say this: overall, Dominican cigars seem to produce profiles with smoother edges or textures compared to their Nicaraguan brethren. What do you think? Let the heckling begin.
One of the icons of Dominican tobacco is Jose “Jochy” Blanco – grower, master blender and now, owner of his own cigar brand, La Galera. Nestled in the Cibao Valley, his factory, Tabacalera Palma, produces his La Galera brand alongside contract blends like Boutique Blend’s Aging Room, La Instructora and Sans Pareil.
After purchasing Indianhead Distributors, Blanco launched La Galera in 2015 with two lines, Habano and Connecticut, the vitolas of which were divided into US and European releases. The Bonchero No. 4, a corona, was originally slated for only European release based on a predilection for thinner ring gauge cigars in the European market.
Our slender Bonchero No. 4 imparts a tawny hue with a greenish tint from the Ecuadorian wrapper. Spongy in places, our corona is seamless, veiny and sports a nice triple seam cap – a fine roll by a Tabacalera Palma torcedor. The wrapper also offers a very fragrant honey bouquet along with sweet caramel. The foot is awash with fudge aromas and the open, cold draw conveys warm gingerbread on the palate.
The opening profile offers a rich, woody core with a smooth, delectable mix of cream, toasted nuts and caramel notes. There’s a noticeable spice on the tongue accompanied by a tinge of red pepper piquancy. The long finish imparts a warm braked bread character adding woody notes as it settles in and the long, lush leather notes on the retro are intoxicating.
Transitions continue with a flavorful palette of coffee, honey, chocolate and a lingering nuttiness against woody and earthy foundations. Strength, spice and body increase throughout, but the texture becomes dry towards the end.
Combustion is aces and smoke production is wonderful, but our corona struggled to hold a 1” ash and it kept ashing with the slightest of bumps. Blanco nails a tasty flavor palette and balances it nicely as the Habano is a sultry smoke that offers more spice and body than I’ve experienced in a largely Dominican blend.
The last cigars we reviewed had me hankering for some bourbon, but the nuances of this Habano suggest a good Macallan or Glenmorangie scotch might be the best companion. Amazingly, this is a $5 cigar that delivers what many can’t at $10 and beyond. As for whether or not this Dominican jewel possesses softer edges than her Nicaraguan siblings, I think I’ll have to smoke a few more and get back to you. – In Fumo Pax!
Did you Know: The galera, considered the heart of cigar production, is the room where cigars are rolled and finished.
- Profile: Med – Full
- Vitola: Bonchero No. 4 [Corona]
- Length / Ring Gauge: 5.5″ x 42
- Purchased: B&M
- Origin: Dominican Republic
- Wrapper: Ecuadorian Habano
- Binder: Dominican Corojo
- Filler: Dominican Piloto Cubano, Criollo ’98, Pelo de Oro
- Blade: Xikar xi1
- Fire: Colibri Firebird
- Price: $5.00
- Humidor Age: 10 mo.
- Box: 20
- Other Vitolas: Cabeza Caracol [7″x47], Pilones [6.2″x60], Perillas [7.2″x38], Chaveta [5″x50], El Lector [6″x54], Cortador [6.2″x52], El Lector #2 Tubo [5.8″x52]
N O T E S
Smoke Time: 1:15
Construction: Triple seam cap; seamless; veiny; spongy in places; slick feel; muted brown tint with greenish hue; struggles to hold 1″ near-white ash; voluminous smoke production.
- Wrapper – Fragrant honey, caramel
- Foot – Chocolate fudge
- Cold Draw – Gingerbread
- Initial: Rich melange of cream, toasted nuts and caramel around a woody core; light spice on tongue with light notes of red pepper; long leather notes on retro; baked bread finish adding wood later.
- Transition: Profile of wood and earth; finish is more baked w/coffee overlay; retains a nutty character and is fuller bodied; offers more spice in nose; chocolate and honey notes on retro; charred wood on draw.
- Transition: Earthy profile; dry finish of strong espresso; uptick of spice on tongue; more baked quality. to draw; sweet cedar and caramel retro notes.
Touch ups: N/A
Weaknesses: Complexity wanes late – becomes dry.
- Boxworthy / Go-to
- Yard ‘gar
- NR [No Recommendation]