Gran Habano Gran Reserva #5 2011 | Cigar Review

Wrapper: Nicaraguan Corojo
Binder: Nicaraguan Habano
Filler: Nicaraguan (Jalapa)
Size: 5 x 52 “Robusto”
Body: Full
Price: N/A

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Today we take a look at the new Gran Habano Gran Reserva #5 2011.
Many thanks to Natasha and George Rico for the samples.

BACKGROUND:
From the Gran Habano press release:
“The Gran Habano Gran Reserva line offers a bold new experience in full-bodied premium cigars made with vintage tobaccos. Expect a remarkably smooth, earthy and spicy smoke accompanied by notes of sweet wood and espresso of this aged smoke. The Gran Habano Gran Reserva #5 2011 comes in boxes of 10 cigars with a brand new look to its packaging. It is the fourth installment to follow the #3 2008, #3 2009 and #5 2010 vintage blends.”

Factory: G.R. Tabacaleras Unidas, S.A.
Release Date: Available Now
Country of Origin: Honduras

DESCRIPTION:
A very fancy shmancy cigar. A bright Christmas red cigar band. A cedar sleeve that goes from the bottom of the cigar band to the foot of the cigar. The year “2011” written on the foot ribbon. And the words: “Gran Reserva 2011” written in gold lettering.

The wrapper is an oily medium/dark brown. Seams are invisible. Not very many veins but a couple of big honkers. The wrapper feels like fine grit sandpaper.
Nicely applied triple cap to an almost completely flat head.

I sent an email to Natasha Rico asking about the robusto I received from her and why it isn’t on the list of sizes provided by Gran Habano. Plus, my samples have a light gold lettering on the cedar sleeve instead of the press release photos with black lettering.

From Natasha Rico via email:
“The blend is the same, only George made some last minute updates to the packaging like the ones you saw with the black lettering. You received a Robusto cigar that George had made for samples to give to his reps and to give away at events.

“As far as the size, I sent you a 5 x 52 Robusto. When I wrote the press release, I went off our price list and didn’t include that size because we will not be releasing the Gran Habano Gran Reserva #5 2011 in a Robusto with the exception of samples.”

SIZES AND PRICING:
Corona Gorda 5.625 x 46, Gran Robusto 6 x 54, Imperial 6 x 60, CZAR 6 x 66, and Grandioso 7 x 70
MSRP: $7.50 – $10.00

AROMAS AND COLD DRAW NOTES:
Along the shaft, I smell spice, hay, sweetness, and earthiness.
From the freshly clipped cap and foot, I detect aromas of hay, strong spice, barnyard, baking cocoa, herbal notes and floral notes.
The cold draw presents flavors of fruity sweetness, spice, earthiness, leather, and hay.

FIRST THIRD:
The draw is spot on.
First flavors: Wood, cedar, sweetness, graham cracker, and earthy tobacco.
The cigar is packed solid. No soft spots.

Creaminess is up next. And then some nougat, grapefruit citrus, and a nice dose of leather.
The first photo of the cigar burning shows what appears to be a cotton umbilical cord coming from the cap. No sir. This is a smoky little bugger and I just caught some smoke emanating from the cap. But it does look silly.
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Strength starts at a strong medium body. And I’m only 3/8” into the cigar.
The burn line is a tad wavy but no reason for alarm.
At the 1” burned point, the sweet spot is on the table.

A flood of flavors. If you’ve kept track of my reviews of the new George Rico cigars: New Look Gran Habano No. 5 Corojo Maduro 2011 and the George Rico S.T.K. Miami ZULU ZULU Mas Paz Edition; they have a common thread: Flavor bombs. The whole kitchen sink.

But the Gran Habano Gran Reserva #5 2011 is the first to see that flavor explosion this early on. I would guess if the Ricos decided to make a robusto; it would be in the $8.00 region. Blind taste test a little more than one inch in? $10-$11 cigar.

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I also received the GAR Red. It is a budget friendly stick that comes in four sizes. I was sent the Robusto (5 x 52) and the brand new 7 x 70. (The photo below shows the size difference between the 5 x 52 and the 7 x 70.
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It is a full bodied cigar with these leaf stats: Wrapper: Ecuadorian Corojo, Binder: Ecuadorian Corojo, Filler: Nicaragua
Since I’m on a roll, I think I shall get to this cigar tomorrow. The Robusto, not the redwood tree. I may get lock jaw trying to hold that behemoth cigar in my mouth while typing.

SECOND THIRD:
The burn line is razor sharp.
Strength hits full bodied.
A small delicious cigar that puts out a surprising amount of smoke.

Caramel is up next. And here is the current sweet spot flavor list: Creaminess, sweetness, caramel, herbal notes, graham cracker, wood, cedar, leather, espresso, nougat, and grapefruit citrus.
This is a fun cigar. Loads of complexity. Nice balance and a long, long finish.
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The Ricos are batting 1000 with the three samples they sent me. All fabulous blends and all at a very friendly price that will keep your wife from forcing you to sleep on the couch. I’d love to try the Gran Robusto (6 x 54).

I’m saving the 7 x 70 for a special occasion.

Oil just oozes from the wrapper.

Each of the three blends stand apart from each other in their individuality. There is no way I could choose a favorite. I think Natasha should send me a box of each size. What do you think? That way I don’t have to choose which is best.
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While the strength is at full bore, the Gran Habano Gran Reserva #5 2011 is smooth as my bottom. Charlotte applies the shave cream and the cat uses the razor. Surprisingly, no nicks. Good cat.

HALFWAY POINT:
What a treat. If you don’t snag some of these…well…then…we are no longer friends.
The construction is amazing. Not a single criticism. In fact, in all three blends, the construction has been amazing and consistent.

Dried fruit appears. And I’m not saying that my cousin Lowell is at the door.
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The dried fruit is raisin and pineapple. I tried this online store called Nature Box. Hundreds of healthy and delicious treats. If you go there, they will send you 5 different treats for free. The monthly fee is $20. I did the math when I got my first paid box. All five treats added up to 16oz. That means the treats are $20 per pound. No thanks. But still, a free box of samplers is worth it.
The point to this rambling account is that one of the treats were these delectable dried pineapple rings. That is why I taste pineapple in the dried fruit. Muscle memory.

Sweet spot 2.0 arrives.
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Flavors are rearranged: Fruit, sweetness, creaminess, graham cracker, nougat, cinnamon, floral notes, wood, leather, espresso, grapefruit citrus, caramel, and spice.
Yes. The spiciness is on the wane. Too bad. I betcha there will be a resurgence in the last third.

LAST THIRD:
Smoke time has been 55 minutes. That’s impressive for a robusto. I’m also impressed that even when I put the cigar down to write or take photos, it stays lit the entire time.
The char line continues to be razor sharp.

Smooth, smooth, smooth. This is one of the smoothest full body cigars I’ve smoked.

When you get your Gran Habano Gran Reserva #5 2011, make sure you come back to this review and read it while you are smoking so that you may experience what I experience. A kitchen sink load of flavors.

I’m putting two minutes between each few puffs. This blend is to be savored. I don’t usually say this, but I would have loved to smoke a 6 x 54. While I love Robustos and Corona Gordas, they sometimes end too soon. One can get lost in the cigar experience. I use that term a lot. Mainly due to some cigars are a joyful experience while others are merely a chore.
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Nicotine shows up with cousin Lowell with a couple inches to go. It’s mild and unobtrusive.
As predicted, the spiciness soars in the last third. Yet maintaining a full flavored profile.
I love this cigar. And I have no hesitation in recommending it. The Gran Habano Gran Reserva #5 2011 is now available. Plenty of online stores are selling the 2010 version so be careful.

PRICE POINT:
The price point is wallet friendly. First, the cigars are so packed that you get your money’s worth in time spent smoking them.
And second, George Rico is putting out some fantastic blends that could have gone along with the current trend of being double digit pricing. I applaud Gran Habano for keeping things in check.

SUMMATION:
All three of the new blends: Gran Habano Gran Reserva #5 2011, New Look Gran Habano No. 5 Corojo Maduro 2011, and the George Rico S.T.K. Miami ZULU ZULU Mas Paz Edition were absolute joyful.
I have zero criticisms for the Gran Habano Gran Reserva #5 2011. Flavorful, complex, balanced perfectly, and a long finish.

I have two more samples waiting for review. The photo L-R: Persian King (6 x 60 – $4.82 MSRP) and the Gran Reserva #5 2010 (7 x 70 – $9.00 MSRP)
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The Persian King:
“The unbanded Persian King available in both Tiger and Rajah is a complex cigar with a creamy smooth finish.
“A unique blend of Honduras and Nicaraguan filler, finished with Nicaraguan Habano wrapper that features a Connecticut Wrapper foot.”

The GRAN RESERVA #5 2010:
“These cigars offer a bold new experience in full bodied premium cigars made with prime vintage tobaccos.
“Expect a remarkably smooth, earthy and spicy smoke accompanied by notes of sweet wood and espresso.”

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