Cigar Reviews

Graycliff – John Howard Graysmith Cigar Review

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This week I am taking a look at Graycliff’s newest offering, and it’s quite different. I bring you the John Howard Graysmith

Graycliff John Howard Graysmith

The Good Stuff: Like I said, Graycliff has decided to switch it up a bit with a huge new release. The following press release pretty much says it all:

NASSAU, Bahamas (July 14, 2013) –  Graycliff Cigar Company acknowledges the past, and staying true to its roots, has created a blend that is fit for a king and harnessed by a pirate. Named after the original proprietor of the Graycliff residence, this cigar is a wonderful marriage of old and new tobacco and truly a celebration of the pirate that founded Graycliff.

Captain John Howard Graysmith, once a famous pirate of the Caribbean, commanded the notorious schooner Graywolf and plundered treasure ships along the Spanish Main before trading his seafaring days for a pardon from the British and settling down in Nassau, Bahamas to build his beloved home, Graycliff, in 1740.

“We delved into our much-treasured stockpile of the original tobacco we had when we started the company to bring to you this special blend,” said Paolo Garzaroli, President of the Graycliff Cigar Company.  “We always knew that there was going to come a time for us to use these amazing keepsakes and could not find a better-fitting tribute to our pirate founder.

This new blend, John Howard Graysmith, launched at the annual International Premium Cigar & Pipe Retailers Association Convention in Las Vegas this week, is available for shipping this August.

Packaged as a five-pack in sleek black boxes with a pirate theme.  Inside one will find the a bit of Captain Graysmith’s history printed on parchment along with a replica Spanish coin from the 1700s, these cigars are available in two vitolas, both with a slight shaggy foot:

Cannon (straight) Ring Gauge of 60 x 7″
Buccaneer (torpedo) Ring Gauge of 60 x 7″

The suggested retail price is $29 per cigar, or $145 per five-pack.


Country of Origin: The Bahamas
Manufacturing Method: Hand Rolled / Entubado
Wrapper: Ecuador
Binder: Costa Rica
Filler: Dominican Republic, Nicaragua, Honduras

Each cigar is unique in shape, being hand-rolled without the use of molds. The new larger sizes and shapes are fitting to carry the name and remind you of the ‘good old days’ when life was simple and the only tools used to make a fine cigar were the hands of the torcedore behind the craft.

Graycliff John Howard Graysmith

That pretty much sums it up right? Alright, then. Big thanks to Graycliff for sending these sticks our way to review. Now, let’s get to it.

Size: 7 x 60
Wrapper: Ecuadorian
Binder: Costa Rican
Filler: Dominican/Nicaraguan/Honduran
Body: Medium/Full
Strength: Medium
Price: $29
Pairing: Dogfish Head 90 Minute IPA (Imperial IPA 9% ABV)

Graycliff John Howard Graysmith

Prelight: The John Howard Graysmith is a nasty looking cigar, in the best way possible. I am absolutely sure that the intentions Graycliff had when creating this cigar was to create something physically daunting, rusting, musky, old style while still delivering the best experience possible. It seems as thought they have done just that. With the exclusion of the molding process the cigars each  vary slightly in ring gauge, text, size, and length. You can’t get more rustic than that. The only downfall of this is that the cigars feel really squishy and spongy all the way through. Will this have an effect on the experience? We’ll have to wait and see. The John Howard Graysmith starts out with a very long, extended, shaggy foot. In fact, not only is the filler visible but in some cases the binder as well. The wrapper on the cigar is absolutely gorgeous with a very spotty/patchy medium and light brown with splashes of orange. The wrapper is very toothy and very oily. Not only does it showcase the awesomeness of the wrapper leaf, but it just adds to the cigar’s character. The John Howard Graysmith is capped off with a huge, round double cap and a beautiful red, black, and white pirate skull for a band.

Graycliff John Howard Graysmith

I really dig the packaging and the presentation on these cigars. As mentioned above the box of five comes packaged with a Spanish style coin. While this is a great piece, it did have a negative effect on a few of the cigars by slightly damaging a the wrappers on a few of them. While the flaws were very minor, I am happy to report that they had no effect on the smoking experience at all. One thing I thought I would note is one of the reasons why I’m not too fond of cigars of this size. This is a massive stick both in length and in ring gauge and it just feels so wonky in my hand and in my mouth. It’s on the verge of being uncomfortable. I know that’s strictly my opinion but I thought I’d note it in.

Graycliff John Howard Graysmith

The wrapper on Graycliff’s John Howard Graysmith screams of cedar and spice. This is some of the strongest scents I have ever pulled form an unlit cigar. The foot of the cigar gives off smoke slight spice, tobacco, and even a soft pepper aroma. The cap cut clean and easy using my Palio double bladed cutter. The cold draw was actually much tighter than I thought it would be producing some really subtle oat flavors over lots of natural tobacco and earthiness.

Graycliff John Howard Graysmith

First Smoke: Because of the large, shaggy foot Graycliff’s John Howard Graysmith lit up with extreme ease. During the shaggy portion of the foot the flavors were a bit of a muted earthy, cedar, spice mixture. The draw was very loose as well.  But as I started to hit the wrapper the flavors really started to come out with a very nice, sweet cedar, some soft black pepper, lots of spice, lots of muskiness, and a great earthiness to it. Not to mention the draw from that point forward was on point kicking out so much thick smoke with every little puff. The burn line is rather thick and probably due to the shaggy foot and lack of mold production it started out with a good share of waves. I haven’t had to figure up my lighter to correct it yet though so I am fine with that. The ash left behind is crazy compact which surprised me considering again, the lack of molds. The light grey ash held on for well over an inch before it fell into my ashtray with a thud.

Graycliff John Howard Graysmith

Halfway There: The burnline has completely corrected itself into the second third of Graycliff’s John Howard Graysmith. Very impressive.  And the flavor profile is great again with the strong spice and cedar, sweetness, earthiness, and even some honey flavors tossed in now. It’s very creamy and very enjoyable. The draw is still great in this cigar and the retrohale is even better coating my nasal passage with lots of sharp cedar and spice. I found this was one of the easiest cigar I have had in a long while to retrohale. I am feeling no nicotine at all at this point.

Graycliff John Howard Graysmith

Finish: Into this final third of Graycliff’s John Howard Graysmith and it’s still burning great. There were a few more waves that have started to develop but I have never had to reach for my lighter and considering the production of these cigars I would have to say that’s quite impressive. The flavor profile is still similar to the second third with lots of spice, cedar and sweetness while the earthiness has taken a step back and has been replaced with more of the pepper and musk flavors I picked up in the first third. I really enjoyed the change ups in this cigar. They were subtle yet all resulted in an overall creamy experience. I felt no nicotine from this cigar at all, but there was some slight harshness that I started to encounter once I got into the final inch. All in all it took about 2 hours to take this beast of a cigar down.

Graycliff John Howard Graysmith

Overview: This was an excellent cigar. From the packaging to the crazy construction to the flavors I thoroughly enjoyed it. I really enjoyed the flavor profile and the creaminess of the cigar, not to mention how great the overall smoking experience is despite the lack of molds. That really showcases the knowledge and skill that Graycliff possesses. That being said, is it worth the coin? I think that’s the big question here. And even for me, it’s tough to answer. When I think of $30 price ranged cigars I immediately link Opus X and Padron. Does this stand up to those? No. But it doesn’t need to. The John Howard Graysmith is a totally different cigar with a totally different experience. You aren’t just picking up one of these for the flavor, you are picking one up for the experience of an cigar produced without a mold. A cigar with totally different tobaccos than you are used to. A cigar packed with lots of age. Plus, the packaging on these cigars make for a neat experience.

To Sum it Up: Now would I pick up more of these? Probably not. $30 is way too steep to have in any type of rotation. But I do think that if you have that much money to spare, you are an avid cigar smoker that understands the cigar production process that you would really enjoy one or two of these sticks. If you’re a Graycliff fan then I’d recommend picking up more than a couple while you can. Again, it’s a totally different experience and sometimes, we as cigars smokers crave that.

Graycliff John Howard Graysmith

Pairing: As summer is beginning to come to a close I decided to pair this cigar with a great summer classic. Dogfish Head’s 90 minute IPA. The 90 Minute IPA has become a staple in my beer pantry and I find just about an excuse to pull them out. Priced at about $11 a four pack, and coming in a 9% ABV you really can’t go wrong. This IPA is incredibly smooth, and very very sweet. Something many IPA’s lack so I find that it pairs really well with cigars that carry a bit of sweetness like the John Howard Graysmith. Along with that, the honey flavor match up perfectly with a honey flavor I pull from the beer and the citrus, pine, and hoppiness added a bit more dimension to the cigar. If you haven’t paired cigars with IPA’s before this is a perfect one to start with. I find that many IPA’s completely blow away and overpower the cigar experience, but the 90 minute can do nothing but add to it.

Graycliff John Howard Graysmith with Dogfish Heads 90 Minute IPA


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.


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