Today’s IPCPR show sample previews feature a couple new things from the Graycliff lines...
GRAYCLIFF 300 (SILVER)
How often do you get to sample a cigar from a 300 year old company? Well, they haven’t been making cigars that long, but the Graycliff Hotel has been seemingly been around forever and they are celebrating with this cigar. I couldn’t find a reference to the Graycliff 300 online, but I found a press release that refers to the “Graycliff Silver” which sounds like the same thing since it is a limited release product. The press release declares that fillers are from Costa Rica, Honduras, the Phillippines and Nicaragua, while the binder and wrapper are Ecuadorian. No price was listed, but this is Graycliff...their regular releases start around the $20 mark and go north of $35 a stick. I’d guess the two vitolas of this release will be $30 and up.
The band was very classy and fitting for the 300th anniversary of the Graycliff Hotel and the aroma from the wrapper was pure Ecuadorian Habano goodness (no, the press release didn’t say Ecuadorian Habano, but my eyes and nose say it is): rich tobacco with a nice sweet molasses note. Like most Graycliffs, it felt a bit soft and underfilled (the only one I have found that’s an exception to that description is the Double Espresso...which is also the best Graycliff I’ve ever had).
After lighting up I was hit with a wall of flavor. Pepper spice, earth, dried fruit and molasses sweetness, refined tobacco, cinnamon. After being fairly unimpressed with the flavor profiles of most Graycliff cigars I have had, I have to say I was very surprised by this one in the first couple minutes. As the first third burned on, I got more cedar and some citrus sour/sweet notes. I could put the cigar down at this point and it would be the most complex Graycliff I have ever had.
Construction was a bit of a different story. The wrapper burned unevenly from the start, partially because it had been beaten up in transit thanks to a lack of cellophane. Even after getting past the first inch or so, though, it continued wildly uneven, the ash flaked and there appeared to be a hollow in one side for a short duration.
In the end, yes, this was the best Graycliff I have ever had flavorwise...beating out the Double Espresso. It was, however, plagued by construction issues throughout, with lots of corrections needed and several times when it almost went out. As a show sample, though, that kind of thing is not altogether surprising. The big question will be cost. If I’m right and these run around $30 or more, then I still can’t see buying many. That probably won’t be a huge problem, however, as they simply won’t be available in very many places in the States. If I go to the Graycliff Hotel, though...this would be a definite “must buy.”
Graycliff has made their name making very expensive, exotic cigars for their hotel...and the rest of the smoking public when you can find them. This year, they apparently decided to make a more mainstream move with the B-Cuz, a cigar using Nicaraguan and Honduran fillers, an Indonesian binder and an Ecuadorian wrapper. They are available in two sizes for $7.50 and $8.00. Presentation is nice, although not the typical Graycliff “over the top.” The band with the bright orange-yellow type is saved from looking completely “bundle-ready” with the addition of some gold foil. It’s obvious it’s a lower-end presentation, but it’s not too lower-end. The wrapper is good looking, but more oily to the touch than to the eye. After cutting, the fill looks tighter than typical for the company, but the draw is still very good and has a nice orange citrus note.
After lighting, I got a nice hay flavor with some of that orange mixed in and just a little pepper spice on the finish and on the retrohale. The Indonesian must be a frequent component in Graycliff blends, because it immediately had a bit of a “family taste” that I recognize from some other of their blends.
As the cigar burned on, I found myself enjoying it, but couldn’t say I was over the top about it. Through the first third, the flavor profile just kind of stayed where it was with no changes. It was good, but not showing up as being very complex at this point.
I really don’t know what else to say about this one. It wasn’t “bad” but it never did anything to light my fire. I smoked it most of the way through without noticing much in the way of complexity. While definitely a good price for Graycliff, I didn’t really feel like it stood up well to a lot of other cigars around the same price point, so I probably wouldn’t go looking for it.