Ave Maria Holy Grail 2021 | Cigar Reviews by the Katman

Wrapper: Connecticut
Binder: Mexican San Andrés
Filler: Nicaraguan
Size: 7 x 48 Churchill
Strength: Mild/Medium
Price: $15.30 MSRP ($10.00 online) Current special on Cigar.com: $29.99 with promo code: HOLY

Photo credit Cigar.com:

This is one of the most confusing cigar releases in a while. In 2014, I reviewed the Salomon version. It wasn’t bad. But it was a medium/full cigar with totally different leaf stats. And it took forever for the cigar to bloom in my humidor.

I got a Cigar.com catalog in the mail. Normally, the catalogs are identical from month to month. I found this cigar with huge praise in the catalog. A 5 pack goes for $55.00. In the magazine ad, it said with a promo, it would only be $25.99. I fell for it.

If you see the cigar on Cigars International, there is no discount. $55.00 for a fiver. There is zero info on this cigar, so it was not clear to me when the original Holy Grail bit the dust or when the new version come out in 2021. The price changed again. In a little blurb on the Cigar.com Holy Grail page, a promo code gets you a fiver for $29.99. Five bucks more.

The cigar comes in its own coffin. But if you buy a fiver, the coffins are excluded. Buy a single for $12.50, or a ten-count box, the cigars are ensconced in coffins.

I did not find this blend anywhere else but the CI Conglomerate. Is it exclusive to CI? Or will it be available on other sites as well?

I’m reviewing it before I’ve given the cigar a chance to seriously hibernate. Why you say? There is something about AJ blends that baffles me. Often, the first few days of ownership, the cigar gives you a taste of what the cigar will taste like with lots of sleep. And after those few days have expired, the blend goes back to what a new cigar without aging tastes like.

There are no reviews. And very few reviews of the 2014 version. Which usually means the cigar is a dog turd.
I have reviewed the following Ave Maria blends:
Ave Maria Argentum 2014 Rating: 80
Ave Maria Divinia 2015 Rating 94
Ave Maria Original Holy Grail 2014 Rating: 80
Ave Maria Reconquista 2014 Rating: 75
So, not exactly a stunning result from those AJ blends…and he continues to crank out more blends underneath the Ave Maria brand name.

The one constant in my reviews was that I said over and over that the cigar needed at least a year of humidor as there seemed to be zero aged tobacco. And on the upside, they were all expensive. But then, it could simply be my palate does not find these blends appealing. The one man’s opinion syndrome.

Regular Production
From Cigars International:
“Blended by master blender AJ Fernandez, the Ave Maria Holy Grail sits on the mellower side of its mellow to medium-bodied profile. Inside, you’ll find a balanced blend of Nicaraguan long-fillers held together by a San Andrés binder. On the outside lies a golden-brown Connecticut wrapper that gives this stick a creamy finish. In addition to the notes of cream, subtle woody notes of oak and cedar seep through along with a hint of toast. Housed in individual coffins and sold in boxes of 10 that display the gorgeous Ave Maria logo, these cigars embody the luxury that we have all come to enjoy from Ave Maria and are truly the Holy Grail of cigars.”

This is not a well-constructed cigar. It is light as a toothpick. There is no mention of aged tobacco being used. I’m sure that the S.O.P. was used…get the cigar ready for sale, insert the cigar into its cello, it then gets a whopping 6 weeks of aging…and thrown into a box and off to the market jiggety jig.

The third cap looks like Howard Cosell’s hair piece. A lot of veinage. Seams are visible but tight. The wrapper is the color of khakis. And it is smooth as ice, no tooth. And the double cigar bands give off an air of sheer excitement.

Banana…very nice and exotic, floral notes, caramel, chocolate, deep creaminess, cinnamon, baking spices, malt, cedar, espresso, black pepper, and licorice.

This is the uh-oh part. I snip the cap oh so gently so I can put my lavish lips on to the cap for the cold draw. I used a guillotine cutter with a back and the cigar did not explode in my face. So far, so good.

The cold draw presents flavors of hay, black pepper, cinnamon, creaminess, chocolate, espresso, malt, and cedar. Flavors were all very tiny. Like…well, you know.

Before I begin, I have a bone to pick with cigar.com and other online stores like it. I received these Holy Grail cigars in an air sealed five pack using a cardboard backing that was the entire size of the cigars…and then the whole thing is covered in hard core plastic wrapping. The cigars get no air. Even if they have these cigars in their big humidor, humidification cannot penetrate that plastic. So, they sit getting drier and drier. And they never send the cigars with a small humidification packet.

I always let a package of cigars that come by post office or the other services rest for a day before opening the shipping box. Why? Because they arrive frozen all the way from Pennsylvania to Wisconsin. After a day’s warming up to the apartment temperature, I open them and place the sticks in my humidor.

The cigars go into shock. The sudden rush of humidification causes the dry cigar to bloat. Next surprise is that when I light up one of the cigars, the wrapper just crackles or crumbles away. Each of the two cigars I smoked disassembled within minutes. I have my fingers crossed that today will be different.

I dry boxed today’s review cigar hoping it might dissuade the cigar from falling apart on me. If it falls apart, I will use a cigar from my humidor.

Time to light up…my bony knees are shaking like the first time I had sex at 29.

I’m leaving the double cigar bands in place hoping they can hold the cigar together if needed.

As I said earlier, the cigar is devoid of tobacco to make it an enjoyable smoke. So, if the cigar stinks, at least it will have burned in double quick time. No lingering death threats.

The air flow is wide ass open. I won’t need my PerfecDraw draw adjustment tool…I store it away in my special hiding place where I keep 325 kilos of marijuana.

Lots of smoke. Like being back on the 405 in SoCal before catalytic converters were required by law.

The cigar is very mild…but tastes OK. If they wanted to make this cigar a better blend, they should have used an Ecuadorian Connie instead of the American Connie. The Ecuadorian version has much more character and sweetness.

Nothing really complex happening but there are notes of citrus, lemongrass, black pepper, creaminess, and vanilla.

The burn is that which an under filled cigar produces. No touch up required yet…but I am very happy that I don’t hear the sounds of “Snap, Crackle, & Pop.”

Very plain cigar. Charging $11 a pop is insane. I paid $5.20 each. Seems fair as this cigar probably belongs in that vast arena of implausible catalog brands.

The burn needs a touch up.

I don’t know when the medium side of the strength comes into play, but right now this baby is like smoking air.

I like AJ Fernandez. When he has his heart into something, no one beats him. But as he ventures into Rocky Patel, Alec Bradley, and Gurkha territory…this whole line of Ave Maria cigars is just not very good. Still, they continue to sell; so, who the fuck am I to diss them?

There is no growth. I’ve smoked 1-1/2” in 7 minutes.
Burn issues become anointed by the Devil.

Not only is the cigar under filled, but the tobacco was just smooshed into the tube catatonic style. No. 1 rollers were being used…the women who know nothing. Keeps the price of the cigar down considerably…to $11.00. If this cigar were priced without the greed merchant mentality and sold as bundle cigar, it might have some use to the aliens who live amongst us. The coffins the cigars come in are all just smoke and mirrors. The coffin gives the illusion that this must be a great cigar. Bullshit. Smoke and mirrors.

There are tidbits of creaminess, citrus, lemongrass, malt, and that’s all folks.

The previous sticks I smoked that required using Scotch Tape to keep them going found some complexity in the second half.

Another inexpensive Connie. I’d love to make a list of great cigars in the $11 or less category. There are a lot of them. This cigar is basically a no name bundle cigar you can get on the auction sites for $30 for 20 cigars.

Took approximately 12 minutes to get here. Oh lawdy.
This is going to be a 40-minute Churchill. If that doesn’t encapsulate the experience, I don’t know what does.

Some flavors show up that are pleasing: lots of creaminess, lemon citrus, café au lait, white chocolate, almonds, and raisins. (I’m grasping at straws).

No one had reviewed the cigar on the cigar.com page for selling these super premium cigars, so I left one. I guarantee they won’t publish it…but at least it felt like I spanked them good.

In a blink of the eye, sweetness appears. But generic in exposition. No flavor wheel at work here, my dears.

The char line is screaming out “Save the children. Save my doggy!”

Not even with a year of humidor time will this cigar be smokeable. Maybe if I attached my car’s battery cables to the cigar’s groin, it will get jolted into becoming a $6 cigar.

When I was single…a long time ago, I dated this gorgeous chick. We made out but it never got any farther. Then one time she let me stick my hands down her shirt. The problem was that she had this little rat dog she always carried…even when we made out. So, I’m trying to cop a feel and the damn dog is on her chest and growling at me. I asked her to put the dog down and she refused. Guess how long that relationship lasted? Although, I did talk her into having sex once. And this is the only time in my life that the following happened…She had a nice big ass. Maybe too big. But everything else was perfect. Nice pair of knockers. And the dog wasn’t there because we were at my place. Maybe this chick was abused when she was younger because she was not into the whole thing. I flipped her over and tried doggie style. I couldn’t find her quedgie. I kept guiding my dick around like a blind man with a walking stick with a red tip. I couldn’t find it and she gave no help. I literally just gave up. That was the last time I saw her. On to the next woman, please.

The cigar actually shows some improvement. A hint of complexity and character begin to show themselves. Mild, mind you, but still available to a nuclear palate.

Dry boxing the cigar was the key. It is not falling apart.

The halfway point arrives at 20 minutes. We are killing it now.
And then the cigar slows down. Most of the tobacco must have be located in the second half.

Strength is still right at a mild+.

The double cigar bands must have been tig welded to the stick. I’m like a monkey fucking a football trying to extricate them without causing damage to the cigar.

First sip of water and Gloriosky Bullwinkle…notes of creaminess, lemongrass, chocolate, homemade biscuits with butter, malt, and generic sweetness.

There is no balance to speak of.
The cigar either tastes like this from the start with 12 years of humi time…or it is just the way the cigar was designed.

The spiciness is wiping out the flavor profile. The inside of my giant open maw burns like sucking on an old bra.

Medium strength lands. And so does the nicotine. Fucking great.

The char line looks like my penis when I try to have sex with the old lady…discombobulated.

Totally linear. No surprises await.

A couple days ago, Charlotte went into a nearby convenience store. There was a fight happening over the clerk not selling beer to a 17-year-old. Charlotte ran out of the place just as squad cars moved in.

Thank God that this cigar burns quickly. A normal Churchill should be at least a 90-minute smoke. At this progression, it will be half that.
I knew this would be a rough review. And that it will contain lots of criticism. The point is that I don’t want any of my readers to fall for the ridiculous promotion and buy some.

It took 30 minutes to get here.
The flavor profile that had been amended in the second half is now missing in action.
Even if this cigar was priced at $5, I wouldn’t touch it with Charlotte’s gigantic penis.

And what exactly is the purpose of presenting a cigar in a coffin? P.R. bullshit for sure. And it just adds to the hallucinatory price point.
I cannot believe that AJ approved this cigar for production. Did he have stomach cramps that day?

A one trick pony…a pony that has a mental deficiency.

It won’t take long before this blend heads to the auction sites. Or maybe discontinued after the critical feedback.

Thankfully, the wrapper did not come apart this time.

I ran into a music producer I knew from my time in London. Long time ago, he was engineer on a David Bowie album.
Bowie was in the midst of laying down his vocal when he began to cry. The producer told the production assistant to get him some tissues. The dip shit could not find any but did find a new roll of toilet paper. He opened the door to the studio and flung the roll at Bowie and it smacked him in the head. That P.A. went on to have a successful career in the British Parliament.

This will never be a good cigar.
The $11 price tag is a farce. Even at $6, it is a failure.
The blend is now dead on arrival.

Remember, this review was a public service announcement and nothing else.
And if you got suckered into buying the Holy Grail, you must give up all of your Christian theology and become a born-again pagan.
Total smoke time is 40 minutes.
You are now left on your own recognizance.



12 replies

  1. Yeah, Ave Maria. Totally russian roulette buying their stuff. Even the ones you liked once.

    But, they were the brand where I learned about the evil of fan boys of cigar sites. I got sucked into buying a bunch of Ave Maria Reconquista’s on a certain Cigar Bid site as they were talked up to be “Anejo” level cigars. Holy crap was that wrong. Luckily I got them at a cheap enough bid that we use them for yard burning brush smokes. I also pass them out of folks that I offer one of my premium bourbons to and they ask if I have mixers. They immediately go on “not the great stuff” list. LOL.

  2. Bought the brand awhile back, gave the rest away. AJ does miss the boat sometimes.

  3. Hi Frank,
    10 years ago, everything that came from AJ was pretty good.
    I think the whole Ave Maria line is a hit and a miss.
    Yet, it flourishes.
    So what the fuck do I know?

  4. Definitely box worthy.

  5. I put newly arrived cigars in a plastic bag with a humidification packet and let them acclimate in there.

    I would enjoy an article revealing the Master’s (that’s you!) humidor and humidification setup.

    Stay warm!


  6. Bob…
    I’m Ralph Kramden in a china shop when it comes to humidification.
    I use the beads. Normally, they aren’t very cheap…but once in a while (I think they have them now as I write this) Cigar Page sells them. You get 1lb for $15. That is pretty reasonable for beads.
    I use two digital hygrometers in each humidor and then…I pray.
    Good luck Bob,

  7. Beads? What happened to the CigarOasis? Anyway… the Ave Maria and Man’O’war were one of the very first I smoked and thought they were okay-ish but nowhere near the San Lotano cigars. Those are on a very different level.

    Thanks again for taking one for the team and preventing us from buying an absolute dog turd.

  8. I’m sure I’ve used a Cigar Oasis in the past but I find them too much trouble. Checking the floral foam for sufficient water is a pain in the ass. I’ve been using beads for years. Before the beads, I used Boveda but that became too expensive.
    At one time not long ago, the only cigars you’d see on AJ’s website were the San Lotanos. He claimed nothing else. I just took a gander and he has a bunch more of his catalog blends on display in his website.
    I am very tired of the typical AJ blend of Mexican wrapper and Nic guts. This has been done to death for the last 7 years. He was one of the first to make the blend popular and then the cigar industry followed. After a while, it is hard to discern one brand from another.
    Still, I like it when AJ likes a blend. At that point, it will be something special.

  9. you know the Bovedas are rechargeable? I’ve smoked a few of the Ave Marias. I agree with you. Only the Divinia is any count. And you can buy them cheap on Cbid. Still, I don’t buy them any more. There are so many better.

  10. Hi John,
    I spent from 2012-2016 using Boveda. I’m lazy. So recharging my 50 packets was a pain in the ass when it was time.
    The Ave Maria line just doesn’t connect with me. So what?
    Lots of sticks to choose from.

  11. Exactly why I quit using cigar and cigars international. The only discounts you get are from regular banded 3rds. I’ve bought oliva serie v’s from them and from holts(MANY MANY times from holts) and there is absolutely no way they are the same cigar. I’ve bought from cigar.com and cigars international and the construction always seems to be questionable and they always taste different. I stopped buying from them and haven’t looked back. Good riddance anyway, also stopped because customer service was a joke. I’ll stick with holts and cigarandpipes

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