Gran Habano S.T.K. Black Dahlia | Cigar Reviews by the Katman

Wrapper: Nicaraguan Corojo Shade Grown
Binder: Nicaraguan Habano, Nicaraguan
Filler: Nicaraguan Habano, Nicaraguan Cubita, Colombian, Costa Rican
Size: 5 x 52 Robusto
Strength: Full
Price: $8.55

Today we take a look at the Gran Habano S.T.K. Black Dahlia.
Thank you Natasha.
I apologize for the model car photos. I began my old hobby from a kid once again now that I’m living out my Golden Years. I’m learning weathering. That little engine is only 1-1/4″ long x 3/4″ tall.

Regular production
From the Gran Habano press release:
“Miami, Florida, May 10, 2017 – Gran Habano announces the release of S.T.K. Black Dahlia by George Rico, the latest from its boutique S.T.K. series, joining G.A.R. Opium, S.T.K. Barracuda, S.T.K. Zulu Zulu and S.T.K. American Puro.

“Gran Habano’s S.T.K. Black Dahlia has an elegant burn and sophisticated draw, making this a creamy, coffee, and spicy full-body delight. It’s slightly nutty and woody distinctive type of flavor makes the cigar perfectly well-balanced. Black Dahlia’s packaging features 20 cedar wrapped cigars in a chic black lacquer box, preserved with Boveda humidity control.”

Corona Gorda 5.625 x 46 $8.10
Robusto 5 x 52 $8.55
Gran Robusto 6 x 54 $9.00

From the shaft, I can smell gingerbread, milk chocolate, very creamy notes, sweet caramel, malt, cedar, nutmeg, earth, wind and leather, floral notes, and black tea.

From the clipped cap and the foot, I can smell black pepper, chocolate, creaminess, ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, caramel, malt, and cedar.

The cold draw presents flavors of graham cracker with marshmallow and chocolate, malt, caramel, creaminess, tea, cedar, and old band aid.

The draw is perfect. No need for my PerfecDraw cigar poker; which I rely on every single day. No need any longer for a promo code as Dr. Rod has lowered the price significantly by changing manufacturers. No excuses any longer to wait.
Smoky cheese, creaminess, malt, gingerbread, black pepper, nuts, buttered toast, cedar, and a taste of orange zest.
Good start.

I’m having trouble believing this will be a full strength cigar. At this moment in time, it is merely mild/medium.

Naturally, as I wrote those words, there was a sudden leap into the abyss with a much stronger kick.
Not only a nice start but it begins to appear it is an exceptional one. There are transitions that precede a touch of complexity. The finish extends itself to where I the lips are smacking to the beat of disco. I wear a disco ball hat to complete the experience.

For a musician, the disco period couldn’t have been worse. I tried learning KC & the Sunshine Band crap for cover bands but couldn’t do it and quit each band after one rehearsal. Yeah, I’ve been a whore…but never to that extent.

I’m using my Centerfire Cigar Rest to hold my Black Dahlia. I was given a single sample for review and fell in love with it. I have no affiliation nor do I get a commission. I just like it.
Miraculously, when left vertical in the bullet, the char line remains perfect for every cigar with no evidence of char line issues. For that reason alone, it’s worth it; despite how cool it looks. Promo code in my review for 20% off the $29.95 price.

The Gran Habano S.T.K. Black Dahlia is an excellent blend. The slow attack to the palate builds with each puff.
Strength is a solid medium.
The spiciness is held in abeyance….creating a very smooth smoke.

The myriad number of leaves in this blend creates a nice balance. So far, it is the perfect newbie cigar blend…but also leaves room for the experienced smoker to enjoy.

The creamy factors of the blend drive the band of gypsies. Spiciness comes and goes creating a surprise in every box of Cracker Jack experience.
Flavors are surprisingly mellow and subtle with the right touch of nuance to create a wide spectrum of pleasing savory qualities and tangy undertones.

Off the top of my head, I cannot think of another blend from George Rico that is similar to the Gran Habano S.T.K. Black Dahlia. Like the cheese, it stands alone. Very nice.

I’m enjoying a nice cup of coffee this morning while reviewing and both the dark liquid and the light cigar blend complement each other beautifully.

Smoke time is 35 minutes.

Not a single construction issue. No wrappers going snap, crackle and pop in the night. And zero touch ups required. I’m now convinced that it isn’t merely the cold of Wisconsin that has created cracked wrappers. It’s the construction and rolling. Why else would some sticks be absolutely worry free and others fall apart as soon as they make contact with room air? Rolling and the type of wrapper are significant. The Black Dahlia is behaving like a champ.

Strength is medium/full.
Black pepper surges til the back of my throat feels like I’ve eaten a big plate of fettuccini Alfredo.
The Centerfire Cigar Rest causes cockiness. How long can I test the efficacy of the vertical stick’s never ending ash being intact? If you hear a loud girlish scream, we’ll know.

Elements of the flavor profile hit pay dirt. Complexity is running deep. Transitions are mellow and never ending. The finish is as pleasant as they come.
I’m digging this cigar. I really am.

I checked around and a lot of online stores carry this blend. But be careful. Some are thieves asking a couple bucks more per stick than the previous online store. I couldn’t find this size for less than $8.

Perfect morning cigar. But still…if this stick is going to hit full strength, it must do so by the last third.

Lots of great blends hit you in the face with a lemon meringue pie to get your attention. I like those. But then there is the Gran Habano S.T.K. Black Dahlia. This cigar, while not predictable, sails on smooth seas with no sudden surprises; just an even keeled excellent blend. The balance, once again, is the key to this cigar. It is dead nuts perfect.
I hit the halfway point at 50 minutes. A slow burn.
I still have the entire ash on the stick.

We have lift off. The blend attacks me like a wild beast in heat. And I look like her little brother.
Flavors go from subtle and balanced to ferociously bold entities…Very creamy like cream cheese, malts, spiciness, milk chocolate, raw cashews, dates, heavy malts, tangerine zest, caramel custard, cedar, a touch of cappuccino, and sweet corn.

I don’t know how long I can keep the ash intact. It has now become a distraction to keep it in one piece. Must knock it off.

I’d like to try the Gran Habano S.T.K. Black Dahlia with several months of humi time. My gut tells me there will be a big improvement. If I’m only getting potential after a mere month’s humidor time, then this puppy will take off like a jet fighter with more aging.

Rush is playing. Never been a fan. The music is sophisticated and well played. Lee’s bass work is on the mark. But his voice…oy…he sounds like he just huffed some helium. That turns me off. (And there goes half of my followers).

The Black Dahlia is screaming laughter now. I’m impressed.

Smoke time is one hour 10 minutes.

Great blend. Snag some. I’ve got several other new blends from GH just lying there waiting…waiting…
I believe there has been a shift in the space time continuum. Some GH blends are terrific. Others are OK. It feels like there has been a change of some type. The newer blends are bolder in that they are more aggressive and sophisticated. Maybe it’s me.

Strength never gets very close to full strength. I must have gotten the full strength info from the wrong place.
Not a lick of nicotine…creating an even smoother balance without the hallucinations.

The experience created by the Gran Habano S.T.K. Black Dahlia is first rate. The only caveat is that this cigar really needs a bunch of humidor time. Buy them and forget about them for a few months.
The keywords for this blend are smooth and balance. The more I think about it, the more I come to realize that the Black Dahlia has some of the qualities of a good Cuban.

Mr. Rico…two thumbs up.

The Black Dahlia ends without a lick of harshness or bitterness. And no nicotine.
Final smoke time is one hour 35 minutes.


And now for something completely different:

My best friend, Skip, and I met up in Florence, Italy with our squeezes. Skip was supposed to stop in Amsterdam and pick up our musical gear. But upon meeting him in Florence, he told me the gear was missing!

When we both landed in Amsterdam, separately, we left our gear in the left luggage area til we met up in Italy. Skip was to grab our gear and bring it with him to Florence.

Holy shit! I had my speaker cab custom made for the trip. 18″ speaker encased in 24 ply Swedish wood on wheels. And an amp of whose manufacture I can’t remember.

We grabbed our Eurail Passes, left the women, and jumped the train to Amsterdam. Skip wanted to bring some hashish along in his ruck sack but I told him no. We’d be going through several countries and there are lots of police jumping on and off the train looking for drugs….especially from Hippie-looking guys like us.

We found a compartment full of people and they made room for us. That evening, as we passed through Germany, the Gestapo crashed into our compartment with automatic weapons and sneers…and a desire to send me to Buchenwald. The leader immediately pointed at Skip and yelled, “HASHISH! HASHISH!!”

We all stood up and Skip shook his head no. The leader used his FMC to point at the rack above our heads used for storage, and specifically at Skip’s ruck sack. Skip grabbed it and brought it down. The leader screamed in German for him to open it. (I took 2 years of high school German and my parents spoke Yiddish when I was young).

Skip carried a high school 3 ring binder with one of those zippered pouches for carrying pencils and erasers. It was milky opaque but you could see everything in it….and in it, was a nice big, hash pipe… with hash in it….not even wrapped in foil or anything to conceal it. I fumed.

We are all standing in the compartment like the Marx Bros “A Night at the Opera.” Couldn’t move. But then I began flapping my arms thinking we were going to German prison.

The SS leader points at Skip’s binder gesturing to open things. My arms are flapping hard enough that if there was an air current, I could attain lift off. Right in front of my eyes, with the Gestapo leader watching intently, Skip grabs the hash out of the floppy container and puts it in his back pocket. With the cop staring right at what he was doing!

I’m ready to pass out. All I could think of was the movie, “Midnight Express.” And how I would be some Turk’s bitch.

And then with a “whoosh”, the German Polizei left the compartment. No one was rushed to jail.
We all stood there staring at Skip in horror. What just happened? He removed hidden hashish, not 12″ from the SS leader, and he didn’t see it.

Skip reached around to his back pocket and brought out the pipe with a shit eatin’ grin on his face.
I snatched the pipe away, opened the moving train’s window, and tossed it. Skip screeched in horror. “Are you fucking insane?” I asked him.
Everyone sat down with a huge sigh.
I could only glare at Skip the rest of the trip.

We changed trains and it was packed to the gills. Not a single place to sit. We stood in the corridor for hours before Skip ventured towards the area between the trains and plops himself down on the moving platform where there is a thunderous noise. Conductors would walk past him and said nothing; even though they knew it was illegal to sit between train cars.

The train stopped again and we had to transfer. We found a car with no one in it and grabbed a seat. Just before the train left, a conductor asked us if we knew we were on a train heading for East Berlin? (The wall was still up back then in those days).

We ran to the right train and, again, had to stand in the corridor. The train brought us into Amsterdam about 18 hours after we departed. No sleep. No food. Hardly any money.

We headed to the train storage area and, there, in the middle of the room, was our fucking equipment. Just as pristine as we left it. I looked at Skip thinking it would only take an ounce of encouragement from his mouth that would make my next move to strangle him.

He then began flapping his wings and puffing out un-intelligible sounds. I was so pissed off. We snagged some food before we headed back to Florence an hour later. We figure that someone who worked in the storage facility “borrowed” our shit and had some fun. But managed to get it back in time for us to show up and claim it.

Skip said he wanted to go to the Paradiso Club to buy more hash. I all but karate chopped him in the neck.

The trip back to Florence was uneventful other than the fact that Skip developed a bad cold and sat the entire journey between cars with snot hanging from his sagging head to the floor. I, on the other hand, stood for about 16 hours.
Thank goodness we were young.
It’s funny now….sort of.


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4 replies

  1. It’s a beauty-full wrapper, to be sure, as my Yiddish-accented grandma would say, but that car is a one-of-a-kind, & has “you” all over it (I didn’t mean that literally!), which is special (great weathering). Thanks again for the great cigar & rock n roll discourse.

  2. It’s been a LONG time since I had a Gran Habano. The Corojo #5 was a favorite when I first started smoking cigars in ’06. Back then Gran Habano seemed a lot more prominent, certainly one of the more prominent “boutique” brands. I think the last one I had was the STK Zulu Zulu lancero with the tissue paper wrapping and the child soldiers on the boxes. It was quite a good smoke, and an awesome prsentation, but then they disappeared from my local shop, and haven’t seen any GHs around since. Kind of weird how cigar brands come in and out of fashion. Time to re-visit them, starting with this one. Sounds right up my alley. It really is a beautiful wrapper on this stick.

  3. Katman — I had initially come to your website a few months ago for your marvelously-described and highly evocative cigar reviews, but, being a music fan with a voracious appetite for all genres (blues, bluegrass/folk, Irish, Hindustani, classical, jazz, rock, bossa nova, ska/reggae, etc.), I’ll confess that it’s an unexpected and extra treat to read your entertaining reminiscences and anecdotes from your musician days. You have a wonderful talent for writing and story-telling.

  4. Thank you Guy. Very kind words indeed. Please forward photos of your pets in compromising conditions. And maybe a credit card or two.
    All the best,

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