Bite Size Review: El Galan Reserva Especial Airosos
For a number of reasons, we’re running a bit behind as of late and this COVID-19 mess sure isn’t helping. We sincerely hope everyone is staying safe, healthy and stocked up on Charmin. Just prior to our hiatus, we had the pleasure of reviewing a cigar from Felix Mesa’s El Galan line, an eye-catching box-pressed robusto, the Reserva Especial. No, they’re not new, but like other diamonds in the rough, they sure are easy to overlook. Fortunately, the Especial did get noticed by the folks at Cigar Snob and Cigar Journal as both bestowed a very respectable rating of 92 to the line.
Like the Padróns, Fuentes and Fernandezes, Mesa rounds out a multi-generational legacy of Cuban tobacco production owing special inspiration to his grandfather, Felipe Mesa. In fact, the line, “El Galan”, is the nickname given to his grandfather by his friends and associates which means ‘gentleman’ (can contextually also mean “ladies man”) due to his dapper attire. Mesa launched his El Galan line in 2013 and produces his cigars at his El Galan Cigars S.A. factory in sunny Estelí, Nicaragua. The company is headquartered in Miami which also doubles as a tobacconist and cigar lounge.
The Reserva Especial, part of a 4-line extension, is a Nicaraguan puro cloaked in a sumptuous, almost seamless, coffee bean-hued Habano wrapper. The bright red banding featuring vintage-look artwork of a distinguished gentleman is hard to miss. Our oily robusto is firm throughout, modestly veiny and is topped with a nice cap. Even after 9 months simmering, the barnyard aromas from the wrapper are still pungent making the scents of cocoa powder and milk chocolate emanating from the foot a welcome spoiler. The cold draw could be a bit more open, but still manages to deposit tart chocolate notes on the plate.
Our dapper Especial offers a delectable opening profile highlighted by a sweet draw of nuts and oats. This is followed by an equally alluring mélange of carmel corn, cream and roasted nuts on the retro. She then finishes with a hardy mix of charred mesquite and caramel notes. A light spice appears hand-in-hand with hints of red pepper. Transitions offer more robust foundations anchored first by a dominance of cedar followed by a savory profile of full-bodied charred oak. But, a rich draw and a balanced palette of dark chocolate, nougat and coffee keeps the Especial well mannered.
Combustion of this cigar is near flawless and I had no problem extending out the salt and pepper ash past one inch. The Especial is also a voluminous smoke producer, but burns cool and leisurely. The price point of this cigar belies it’s performance and charm and yes, maybe a little age helped, but at under $7 you can keep one box of these babies at the office and one at the casa. Hand these out to your friends and family and they’ll gush about how you spent too much all while secretly knowing, with smug self-satisfaction, you’ve hit the jackpot. – In Fumo Pax!
Recommendation: Go to
Did you Know: Fuente Connection: In 2018, Mesa was named head of operations for the Fuente family’s new Estelí-based factory, Gran Fabrica de Tabacos La Bella y La Bestia.
- Profile: Med – Full
- Vitola: Airosos [Robusto – Box Press]
- Length / Ring: 5.0″ X 52
- Purchased: B&M
- Origin: Nicaragua
- Wrapper: Nicaraguan Habano
- Binder: Nicaraguan
- Filler: Nicaraguan
- Production: El Galan Cigars S.A.
- Blade: Xikar Xi1
- Fire: Colibri Firebird
- Price: $6.55 [Box $157.20]
- Humidor Age: 9 mo.
- Box: 24
- Other Vitolas: Gallardos [Torpedo 6″x52], Apuestos [Toro 5 3/4″x54], Obesos [Gordo 6″x60]
N O T E S
Smoke Time: 1:17
Draw: Mostly open
Construction: Eye catching bands; uniformly firm; nice cap; some veins; almost seamless; light oil; mottled coffee bean hue; holds strong 1″ ash; voluminous smoke producer.
- Wrapper – Heavy barnyard
- Foot – Cocoa powder, vanilla
- Cold Draw – Milk chocolate
- Initial: Sweet, nutty oats on draw; retro features rich mix of carmel corn, cream and roasted nuts notes; semi-sweet finish of charred mesquite and caramel; anise intonations at tail end of retro; hints of red pepper and a light spice appear after about 10 minutes.
- Transition: Cedar profile with more robust body; dominant notes of chocolate and oak; red pepper and spice still prevalent; long finish of toast and black coffee; maintains rich draw; hit a dead band with no smoke production – cleared.
- Transition: Full bodied blast dominated by foundation of charred oak; very savory; maintains a rich finish; notes of dark chocolate, cedar and nougat on retro.
Touch ups: N/A
Recommendation: 1. Go To
- 5 packer
- Yard ‘gar
- NR [No Recommendation]