Gran Habano Gran Reserva #3
Filling in this week’s later spot, or “Slacker Spot” as I like to call it, I am bringing you a review a Gran Habano’s recently released Gran Reserva #3.
These were sent to us courtesy of our Friends over at Gran Habano. Kicking off as one of this year’s first new releases, Gran Habano is leading the way with one interesting looking, elegant stick. The following is the press release which pretty much sums up the cigar.
Miami, Fl., October 18, 2010 – Time has finally come for the limited production Gran Reserva #3 cigar by Gran Habano to be released into the public. Medium to full bodied in strength the Gran Reserva #3 was blended by George A. Rico using aged Nicaraguan and Columbian tobaccos from the Gran Habano farms.
Composition of the Gran Reserva #3 consists of an 8 year old wrapper and a 7 year old binder from our Nicaraguan farm “La Santa Cruz”. The filler is a mixture of 7 year old Nicaraguan from “La Santa Cruz” and 8 year old Columbian from our “La Joya del Valle” farm. The cigars were rolled in early 2008 and have been aging for the previous two years making the overall components about a decade old.
George A. Rico explains that “Being able to age the leaf and rolled cigars for such a long period of time has created a very rich, smooth, yet complex smoke.”
Gran Habano will release the new Gran Reserva #3 with a Churchill(7×50), Pyramid (6 1/8×52) and a Gran Robusto (6×54). Due to the long aging process and special tobaccos used only 1,200 boxes of each size will be released across the country. New packaging will also accompany the Gran Reserva #3 to help distinguish it from our original #3 release.
Pricing will remain affordable at $6.80 (Churchill), $6.90 (Gran Robusto), and $7.10 (Pyramid) – not including local taxes. Shipments are scheduled to reach retailers during the first week in November.
It’s been a while since I reviewed a “Pyramid” or belicoso stick, so that’s the size I chose for this one.
Prelight: Gran Habano did an excellent job making this cigar look extremely elegant without being too over-the-top. The band is an off yellow with a nice diamond texture accompanied by gold and brass metallic accents and the Title “Gran Reserva #3 – Gran Habano – 2008” on the front as well as a much smaller stamp “by George A. Rico” on the back. The band leads into a full body cedar encasing with the black “Gran Reserva” print on it, polished off with a very small gold fabric foot band. After you take the cedar off the cigar you are presented with a very beautiful looking, oily as hell wrapper. The wrapper is absolutely gorgeous. It’s a very milky, lighter brown with a few darker spots closer to the foot. This is one oily cigar. The oils actually come off on the tips of your fingers as you handle the cigar. The cigar is very well constructed and consistant leading up to the tapered belicoso style cap. There are only very few, almost flat veins throughout the body of the cigar. The cigar is a bit soft to the touch, but carries no flaws or soft spots that I could find.
The wrapper lets loose a very potent cedar aroma with a natural tobacco scent barely shining through. The foot gives off much less cedar but more of a pungent tobacco and leather aroma. The Gran Reserva #3 clipped clean using my double bladed Palio cutter. The cold draw puts out this massively musky/fruity taste with bits of pepper on the aftertaste. Tons of flavor that one can only hope will transpire into the actual experience.
First Smoke: The first few puffs give way to just a crazy amount of earthy flavors. The backing flavors are that of fruit, like a plum or something, and a dash of cedar with a very slight pepper on the after taste. The draw is easy, plentiful, and kicks out a ton of thick smoke. The stationary smoke is pretty much non-existant which surprises me as usually the more oils the cigar has the more stationary smoke I get. Not true in the case of the Gran Reserva #3. The burnline is solid, and dead even leaving behind a near perfect, light grey, thick and well compacted ash. The ash held tight for almost 2 inches before falling.
Halfway There: The retrohale on the Reserva #3 is ridiculous. I don’t find myself retrohaling a cigar very often, but the fruity cedar that coats my nasal passage on the retrohale keeps me doing it over and over. The second third introduced me to just a plethora of flavors. Everything from a very strong and smooth cedar, light cocoa, leather, earth tones, fruit, and even a bit of clove and ginger. I know, that may be really reaching, but there are a ton of flavors in this stick that really keeps the smoker on their toes. I’m not feeling any nicotine at all at this point. So far this has been reather smooth and enjoyable experience all the way around.
Finish: After a flavor bomb of a second third, the final third gave way to a much milder, smoother experience. The main flavor is now just tons, and tons of sweet cedar backed by hints of fruit, and hints of clove. Very smooth, with no harshness built up at all. I smoked this guy all the way down to the nub without feeling even the slightest bit of nicotine. Surprising for a cigar of it’s size. The cigar burned rather slow, coming in at about an hour and fourty five minutes smoke time. No touch-ups, no relight. The burnline and ash were perfect all the way through.
Overview: The first time I smoked this cigar I remember being disimpressed by the first half, then totally wowed by the third. This time, I see the first part of the experience as more of a smooth introduction to the powerful, and complex flavors of the second half before finishing off crisp and smooth. Robert from Gran Habano was in town not too long ago and I had a chance to enjoy a cigar with him. We didn’t talk shop a whole lot, but one thing he did mention was that this year the Ricos would by pushing out new, more daring, unsafe blends. Sometimes it takes risks to earn rewards and if the Gran Reserva #3 has anything to say about this next year and the new Gran Habano, they are in for great year. This is definitely a luxury cigar at less than a luxury price, and I can totally see this being in my regular rotation. Very box worthy and something you should give a go if you find them sitting on shelves.
Pairing: I paired this Gran Reserva #3 with a long time favorite, Pawvel Kwak. Kwak is a 8.10% Belgium beer brewed at the Brouwerij Bosteels brewery. Kwak is a very spicy, zesty, fruity amber colored beer. The upbeat flavors made a wonderful pairing and even helped pull some of the more complex flavors out of this cigar. This beer isn’t too easy to find, but if you see it be sure to do yourself the favor of picking it up. It pairs perfect with just about any cigar or meal. The cigar would also go great with tea, or sweet apple juice. Something sweet with just a bit of natural fruit.
So now the question is. How many of you readers would actually hunt for a cigar like this? I know Gran Habano isn’t like some other manufacturers that kick out limited releases left and right. Given a stable past, and the recent push to release more risky cigars, would Gran Habano be a manufacturer that you’d keep your eyes on this year?