Gran Habano Cabinet Selection (Blind Tasting)

A couple of weeks ago our friend Rich Meade, from the Stogie Review Fan Forums, took the time to put together a blind tasting. Below is the final result of this awesome project that Rich took upon himself.

Finally found some time to do the write up of our first ever Stogie Review Fan Forum Blind Tasting!

Inspired by Walt’s video of a blind tasting of the La Aurora, I thought with great knowledge base, and refined palates we have hanging around in the forums it would be fun to get them in on the action. An obscene amount of bombing going on in the past couple months allowed for the perfect delivery system. I went to a local shop and picked up 6 brand new sticks. Quietly sent them to some unsuspecting forum members (along with some other “packaging”) with the instructions to smoke, take notes, and report back.

The cigar everyone was having was the Gran Habano Cabinet Selection. A box pressed cigar blended by George A. Rico. This cigar is to be the brands entry into the ultra premium market. As we all know Gran Habano makes very nice economical smokes, particularly because they don’t outsource their tobacco. According to my local shop owner, GH wanted to “step things up” a bit with this cigar. Along with carrying a higher price tag than the rest of the GH lines (roughly double), it is touted as being their first true Full Body smoke, that comes along with quite a nicotine kick.

Lets see how the tasters felt about this new stick!

Cigar Stats:

Wrapper: Nic Corojo
Binder: Nic
Filler: Nic
Size: Robusto (5×52 box press)
Price: $9

Appearance:

Every taster agreed that this cigar is very attractive with small veins, was evenly packed, and had the typical box press spring to it. Topped off with a triple cap, the consensus on the wrapper and foot aromas were that of sweet tobacco, with some noting hints of cedar and cumin. Pre-light draw was free, and occasionally noted as perfect, giving flavors earth, and sweet tobacco.

1/3:

In the first part of the cigar the tasters noticed hints of pepper, nuts, with some picking up on some spices like cinnamon and raisins. Most agree that the first bit of the cigar seems promising, giving medium-full flavors, with a creamy nutty finish. The tasters also made particular notes of fruit and florals when retrohaled.
Nearing the end of the 1/3, most everyone agreed that the body has settled into the mild-medium range, only one taster mentioned the body being in the medium-full range. For the most part the burn was fine for everyone, a couple experienced some waviness, but said the cigar corrected itself.

2/3:

Tasters reported consistency into the 2/3 as far as the flavors go, some noting changes to a more earthy, woodsy flavor. Others reported a near complete fall off of flavor. Pretty much all of the tasters have come to the conclusion that this is a mild-medium cigar, possibly Honduran. A discussion developed in the forums on what people might guess the origin of the stick may be. Most guessed Dominican, with a couple Honduran stabs thrown in, no one guessed Nicaraguan. Little to no mention of the strength of this cigar was mentioned to this point, and a couple tasters reported burn problems that needed correction.

Last bit:

Not a lot of change of opinions occurred in the final third. Most agreed that the cigar may have picked up a little body, but was probably due to heat. One reviewer gave up and gave the stick a new home in his bushes. The tasters reported problems with flaking of the ash, and loss of flavor. Tho nearly all of the tasters noted that the flavors/notes received when retrohaling remained consistent.

Final thoughts:

Everyone agrees that this is a finely constructed cigar, with a creamy character. All but one found a loss of flavor once into the meat of the cigar, and classified this as a mild cigar. No report of a nicotine kick was mentioned, which no doubt had an influence on the cigar being placed in the mild range. The average price the testers were willing to pay for this stick was $4-5 (noting the construction as a big factor)
Once informed of the cigar, The tasters were surprised to hear that it was in fact a Nicaraguan Puro. Noting that it didn’t carry the “nicaraguan kick” most nic tobacco has with it. And when seeing the description of the cigar by a retailer, many scoffed at the implications of the power of this stick. On went so far as to say “The owner must have been balls deep in the sauce when he told you that”, responding to the statement that this was a “full body powerhouse”.

Overall, only one tester said they would buy this cigar again, and after hearing the MSRP, changed their mind. I think the general feeling on this cigar was not all in all bad, some found the subtleties and complexities nice, but once hearing the press on this cigar is when the negativity started flowing.

Did we like it? (1 yes, 2 ok, 2 ehh, 1 hell no)

Can we as a panel of blind testers recommend this cigar? Only to mild cigar fans with a big budget. This cigar seems to be a great example of why you should try a stick yourself before listening to the hype.

Would we buy it again? No, at least not anywhere close to the current MSRP

I want to thank every one who participated… Brad, Ace, Puff, Stogie, Clint, W-Link. And thanks to Walt for some guidance, and hooking us up with the review sheets!