Gran Habano G.A.R. Opium S.T.K.
Who finished their Christmas shopping? I did! At least, I hope I did. After an exhausting weekend of shopping I decided to settle down with a nice Gran Habano G.A.R. Opium S.T.K.
For those who don’t know, Gran Habano had recently formed a series called the S.T.K. series. The cigars in this special series are limited production, limited release cigars that were created for the sole consumption of George A. Rico and family. Needless to say these are extraordinary cigars and Rico felt the public deserved to try them out as well, thus creating the S.T.K. series. The S.T.K. series will initially only be available at 50 retailers across the U.S. and limited to no more than 100. Luckily our friends over at Gran Habano Cigars (@ghcigars) where kind enough to send a few of them our way.
After numerous blends and prototypes, George A. Rico has finally came up with a cigar he deemed worthy of the Opium name. This cigar is composed of a Nicaraguan Habano Corojo hybrid wrapper, Nicaraguan binder, and an unknown mix of fillers. These cigars come in just one size, 6×52, will run $9 a stick, and will only be available at S.T.K. authorized retailers.
Size: 6×52 – Wrapper: Nicaraguan Habano/Corojo – Binder: Nicaraguan – Filler: Unknown
Prelight: First and foremost, the band on this G.A.R. Opium is impossible to ignore. The cigar sports a crazy elegant, attention calling double gold, red, and white band along with a third black and gold foot band that simply states that this cigar is part of the S.T.K. series and is a “Limited Edition” “by George A. Rico”. The first band is a huge red and gold crest with the G.A.R. branding followed by a smaller secondary band with a similar design that has the blend’s name “Opium”. The wrapper on this cigar is a beautify dark and medium brown with tons of oils coating the entire body. There are only one or two short, wider veins running through the body of this cigar leading up to the perfectly round triple cap. The cigar in general is extremely firm with no soft spots. The wrapper feels really durable as it didn’t tear or break when I squeezed it. It did however leave a really neat coating of oils on my finger tips. The wrapper on this cigar gives off a very interesting sweet pine aroma while the foot produces nothing more than a bold tobacco scent. The cap cut clean and easy using my double bladed Palio cutter. The cold draw is interesting. Instead of getting the run of the mill tobacco flavor I was anticipating the G.A.R. Opium let loose this crazy spicy, sweet, cedar flavor with even a bit of pepper on just the cold draw alone.
First Smoke: Instead of this G.A.R. Opium greeting me with the pepper I was expecting due to the cold draw flavors, I was welcomed with a very sweet tobacco flavor with a bit of honey, cinnamon and some subtle cedar with a bit of pepper that only teased my lips and tongue. The draw on this cigar is dead on, filling my mouth with tons of thick smoke with every puff. The burnline is razor sharp and even for the most part with only some very small waves. The ash left behind is white and light grey and extremely tightly compacted. The ash held on for well over an inch before giving way.
Halfway There: The G.A.R. Opium is really starting to open up now. Along with the sweet tobacco, cedar, and honey I am not picking up some interesting floral and citrus notes. I had to double check my hands to make sure they didn’t have soap on them. This cigar is very smooth and has some really interesting flavors. The retrohale is a nice addition to the experience to coating my nasal passage with a very bold, sweet cedar. I’m not really feeling any nicotine at this point, and the cigar is still burning dead even with amazingly white, compact ash.
Finish: Despite the larger bands on this G.A.R. Opium, all three of them slid right off the cigar without a hitch. That always gets huge brownie points with me. The Opium really smoothed out into the final third while the body ramped up a bit. Most of the flavors have dampened with the exception of the sweet tobacco and cedar which are rocking pretty hard at this point. There was no harshness at all, even into the final inch where I felt only a slight nicotine buzz before a smooth, creamy finish.
Overview: Gran Habano is a company that sometimes gets passed by cigar smokers. Just because they are affordable doesn’t mean they aren’t supburb cigars and the Opium is a perfect example of that. Perfect construction, great flavors, complex yet smooth. It really doesn’t get better than that. This is a perfect cigar for any occasion. Light enough to smoke in the morning, flavorful enough for an after meal smoke, and affordable enough for an everyday smoke. Need I say more?
Pairing: Coming in with another Lips of Faith series brew form New Belgium brewing, I paired this G.A.R. Opium with the new “Prickly Passion Saison”. I’ve said it so many times, but Saisons are my poison. I could drink these all day long. This isn’t your standard Saison though, it’s actually a 8.5% ABV beer brewed with natural Prickly Pear Cactus and Passion fruit juices. Usually the fruit would be the focal point of the brew, but in this case it’s nothing more than a slight aftertaste that really helps make this beer one of the smoothest I can say I have ever had. Sweet and citrusy up front with a nice smooth, creamy, fruity finish. This was a PERFECT pairing. I can’t stress that enough. Now that the Opium’s will be easily obtained, I recommend trying this pairing out if you can find the beer. Usually this time of the season I’d be pairing with some nice winter seasonal porters or stouts, but after trying this beer I knew it would go perfect with this cigar. You know what else goes great with this cigar and the beer? The Bouncing Souls. I got some “True Believers” playing as I enjoy the weekend before the chaos on my back porch.
Tony Casas is a 32 year old Creative Managing/Webdesigning/Craft Beer Drinking Cigar smoker from El Paso, Texas. When he isn't loving his wife he is either sleepy, hungry, or suffering from a headache.