Cigar Review- Graycliff 30 Year Vintage

Wrapper: African Cameroon (Aged 30 Years)
Binder: Mexican San Andres, Nicaraguan (Jalapa)
Filler: Nicaraguan Seco, Dominican Piloto Cubano Seco, Honduran (Copan), Brazilian Mata Fina and Tel Aviv Ligero (the last part was a joke)
Size: 6 x 52 “Pirate”-Torpedo
Body: Medium
Price: $25.00


The pricing on this stick is schizophrenic. If you go to any online store, you will pay approximately $25 per stick. But if you go to Cbid, you can pay less than $10. I bought a 10 pack on CI’s Daily Deal for $40. $4 a stick. What’s wrong with this picture?

This is, bar none, the most limited Graycliff ever rolled with only 500 boxes produced.

The Graycliff Cigar Co. moved to larger facilities by moving into the gardens of the Graycliff Hotel in 2012. Their original facility had to be tiny if the garden of the hotel is considered bigger. The hotel is in Nassau Bahamas. And typically, most of their blends are mild so as to cater to the exclusive clientele of world renowned vacation spot and the wusses who don’t smoke cigars but need something to stick in their mouths to impress. There are a couple of blends that are in the medium/full level but their biggest sellers are the expensive mild sticks. So basically, you can call this a tourist cigar.
The founder of Graycliff was Avelino Lara who died in 2009. In the 1960’s, he was one of Fidel Castro’s personal cigar torecedores. He is also credited with the Cuban Cohiba.

The pull for this cigar is the boast that the wrapper is 30 years old. I can’t imagine that. After the cigar is rolled, it is aged for an additional 18 months. How can you sell this cigar for $25 and $4 at the same time? Are they the same cigar? If they are, clearly, this is a bucks up golfer’s cigar. No one distributes these to their friends without handing out a flyer, first, showing its pedigree and cost.

After my review, I don’t expect any reader to say to himself, “Damn! Fine review! I gotta’ get me a box of those.” Or just go to Cbid and pay $5. LOL. So what this tells me is that CI has no price control on these cigars. And are probably charging an arm and a leg to make up for upper management’s Christmas bonuses. But wait…I searched and found that other online cigar stores are selling them at the same price. So this is either a loss leader item or someone in marketing has lost their mind.

I’ve only had this cigar a week. I figure if it ain’t ready to smoke now, it will never be. Not if all the hype is true.

Construction is rustic due to the nature of the wrapper being so old. Yet, it looks in fine shape. Just a lot and lot of veins. Seams are virtually invisible. There is a nice oily sheen and the wrapper feels very smooth..c’mon…it should.

I do a V cut on the tip of the cap and search for aromas…very strong notes of cocoa and coffee, potent spice, tobacco sweetness and earth. Nice.
I light up and we begin.

I taste baker’s cocoa and spice. The draw is very good and the char line is close to perfect. The cocoa is extremely strong. Other flavors may come along, or already be there, but are masked by this lovely chocolate thing.

The spiciness is mild. And this kind of cracks me up…the cigar bands keeps slipping off. The cigars have shrunk since the band was put on the cigar. All ten of my cigars have the same problem. So that being the case, I can assume that in one or two years, the cigar will have shrunk to the size of a cigarette. And Graycliff will sell them as cigarillos.

Please pardon my own purview of a sense of humor..I just woke up 30 minutes ago and it needs a good hour before I am in rare form.
The body is mild but very tasty. I don’t care for mild cigars. They tend to be lacking in flavor. I like something to kick me in the keester…and to make me swoon.

The char line is wavering and looks like it will need a touch up. It was mild so no harm should come of it.
That damn shiny aluminum style band is the bane of my existence. It is so hard to photograph it with my Cheapo-Deluxe camera and not have the sun reflect on it making the band graphics literally disappear in a blast of sunlight. I have no idea how these photos will come out.

The tobaccos sweetness I smelled is now a flavor. The spiciness of black pepper has moved to the front a bit and the trifecta of cocoa, sweetness and spice make for nice partners.

I was hoping to find a signature for that 30 year old Cameroon wrapper; but I haven’t yet. Either there is none, it is so subtle as to be near invisible, or my palate is not trained well enough to pick up on it. Some choices, huh?

The ash is oh so delicate and falls off at the one inch mark gently into my ashtray. Creaminess enters the fold. Now we are cooking. The body is beginning to make a move to just shy of medium. That’s great.

The cigar is quite tasty. There is a musty component and I wonder if it is the wrapper? How you keep 30 year old tobacco leaves properly humidified for that length of time is beyond my scope of knowledge.

The first third ends with the cigar hitting the mark in the tasting arena. I am very pleasantly surprised. I’ve smoked most of the Graycliffs and this is totally different…in its own class. I have nothing to compare it to.

I think it is a shame, that for the most part, this cigar will cost $25 unless you can snag it on Cbid. Why? Because big bucks up schmucks will buy them to impress their golfing buddies and none of them will have any idea how to appreciate the nuance and finesse of this cigar. Give ‘em a damn Macanudo, switch the bands and be done with it. They won’t have a clue. I pick on golfers. My bad. I have a funny anecdote at the end of the review about my father, golfing, and Bob Hope.

The burn line continues to have a slight wave but nothing requiring attention.

The creaminess and sweetness bring caramel to the table of elements. And a nutty taste arrives. Maybe hazelnut…a subtle and sweet nut. Like me.

The earthiness begins to beg for attention. Now that is the wrapper speaking. This is a different kind of earthiness than most cigars. It is very rich and dignified. The spice becomes red pepper and ratchets up. I’m beginning to really dig this cigar you Daddy-O’s.

The halfway point is met and the cigar is a wonderful flavor bomb. But a mellow yellow flavor bomb. Nothing screams at me. All very nuanced and balanced. Very nice.

This cigar flavor profile is done. It doesn’t need a single thing more. It’s perfect just the way it is. This is the epitome of the perfect breakfast cigar.
Everyone needs to try one. Go to Cbid and be patient. I know my readers, at least most of you, cannot afford to spend $25 for a stick. And if you can, it will be on something else that has that mystique that rips you off when it is really a $7 cigar.

The char line is dead nuts now. Patience will out.

The hazelnut component is very strong and competing with the other flavors. The cigar is very complex. Flavors intermingle with each other in order to find that perfect balance.

I begin the last third and it is blowing me away. It is cool, boss, bitch’n, groadie, and groovy. Yes, we said those words back in the 1960’s without embarrassment. I still like bitch’n. A California thing, I guess.

The same flavors exist in the same plane. Obliquely, of course. And with a touch of parabolic. Do you remember telling your parents that you will never need geometry, trig, or algebra? I was terrible in math as a kid. I just didn’t get it. And then I went to college and got a degree in structural engineering. Oy vay. I had tutors up the kazoo.

But later, when I first started in the steel fab business working for my father, I was a detailer; that’s what they call draftsmen in the construction biz. And I had to use all those disciplines in what I was drawing. If things were to fit within a sixteenth of an inch, I had to use loads of geometry and trig. And then I learned to love it. It was like a fun puzzle. Because I got good at math, it served me well as a senior project manager later. I would go to a job site and the ironworkers had a problem with something not fitting. I grabbed my calculator and solved the issue. I gained the respect of iron workers which is no easy thing to do. They are trained to hate management…because they are stupid. In fact, one tried to kill me, on a 38 story building, when I was in my late 30’s. That’s another story.

This cigar is fun. I take it back. Don’t bid on Cbid. I want to do it and want no competition. A cigar with all this aging needs about a week to acclimate itself and it’s good to go. That’s a first for a Graycliff.

The cigar band slides off easily. Now the cigar is naked. And I’ve got wood. Brazilian rosewood. Here…I’ll take a photo.

The cigar hits classic medium body and stays there. I feel a bit of nicotine rising up but the body stays at medium.

This is a really creamy cigar. It is well balanced. And tastes wonderful. Because it hit medium body, I can highly recommend this cigar. Now go to Cbid and get yourself some.

And now for something completely different:

My father spent the last 25 years of his life in Palm Springs. He was always an athlete going back to college and high school. He played everything except football. He was tall and lanky so he played basketball and field and track.

In his later years, he took up tennis. You have to in Palm Springs. But he was a golfer in my earliest memories of him. The bastard never tried to teach me so I don’t play golf. He was selfish that way.

One day, during a holiday, my wife and daughter and I visited his home for a few days. He suggested we go hit some balls at the range.
We got there and it was empty. Just the two of us. I made an ass of myself hitting ground balls while my dad had that perfect swing and could make that ball fly hundreds of feet.

I finished my basket and sat down disgusted at myself. My dad was still hitting when Bob Hope arrived with his entourage.

He picked the place right next to my father. Hope had to have been in his late 80’s then. An assistant would place the ball on the ground for Hope and he would take a swing. He really wasn’t bad for a codger.

Hope was a comedian through and through and kept making cracks while he played. He made my father laugh a lot. Then a crowd began to form. Because my dad was next to him, they assumed he was someone special. This freaked my father out. Pretty soon, there were a hundred people watching.

My father started to hit clams and was hitting like me. He couldn’t take the pressure and grabbed his basket and yelled for me to follow. Hell, no. I was having a good time and the only person standing next to Hope…so I got the same, “He must be someone” treatment. I was digging it. So my dad sat in the car waiting. Fuming.

Soon Hope began to talk to just me. We were conversing. I couldn’t believe that this legend of legends was having anything to do with me. He handed me his club and said take a crack. And wonders of wonders, I hit a 300 foot perfect ball. The crowd roared in approval. He told me to hit another one and I knew I could not do it again, so I made my good byes and left.

A hell of a memory. Thanks Bob.


4 replies

  1. Great review & stories!
    I found this cigar just as surprisingly enjoyable!!

  2. Was late coming to this review. Had a 5 pack of these about a year ago and I agree with your assessment. I look for them on occasion.
    Was lucky today and snagged a 10 pack of the robustos (higher wrapper to filler ratio to check 30 yr leaf impact) for $28 to see if there is a flavor difference with the torpedoes. I had my last one a week ago.