Origin : Bahamas
Format : Robusto
Size : 5.25 x 50
Wrapper : Costa Rica
Binder : Ecuador
Filler : Costa Rica/Nicaragua/Honduras
Price : $14-16 each
More info about purchasing Graycliff Chateau Gran Cru cigars...
Below is the third dual review in our series of 6.
Jason: Graycliff is a cigar company that produces ultra-premium cigars out of Nassau, Bahamas. I am not a frequent smoker of Graycliff cigars by any means, due to their price. I have had the red label and blue label previously, but it has been a couple of years, so I wasn't sure what to expect in smoking this Chateau Gran Cru.
Joe K: After an Irish Lamb Stew that my wife and I made when visiting my parents, I decided to break out a Graycliff Chateau Gran Cru PG that I received from Three Cigar Dogs Company. To this point my only experience with Graycliff was with their Double Espresso, which I had enjoyed at the time. Outside of that, I had not read or heard much about them either. Some brief research into the brand showed that the Graycliff runs a resort, restaurant, cigar company combination out of Nassau in the Bahamas. As my first attempt with this smoke did not prove positive and general reviews seemed to contradict this, I set out to give it another chance to determine if the issues were across both cigars or just isolated to the first.
This robusto had an uneven cut at the foot, but was still a pretty attractive cigar. The wrapper was dry looking and was a Colorado Claro shade; it didn't have many veins. This cigar had a nutty prelight smell.
Of the two samples I received for this review, one has similar “Tiger Markings” to the Fuente Short Story I reviewed previously. As indicated in that review, it appeared as though water damage or some other issue had occurred prior to receiving them. The first one smoked was in great condition, having a beautiful appearance. A very evenly hazelnut colored wrapper showed only one prominent vein. With the addition of a gold and purple band, its overall look is enhanced. Inspection of the head and foot revealed a securely placed cap and consistently channeled filler.
This cigar was well made overall. The burn started out uneven, but it corrected itself by the halfway point. The draw was good.
Cutting both caps produced a clean line but in both cases the prelight draw caused the caps to begin detaching. This was despite using two different cutters (a Xicar and Palio). In the second, the cap completely removed from the head despite removing only about twenty-five percent of it. This created several occasions of worrying that the stick would eventually unravel but fortunately, it did not. Upon lighting the first cigar, it maintained a relatively even burn and solid ash that was able to hold on for over an inch at a time. The second cigar was not as fortunate and the ash failed to last for more than an inch at any given time. Removal of the first cigar’s bands left behind a significant amount of glue residue on the wrapper. In fact, the large band had left a hole through to the binder while the small one left a distinct band of glue around the entire stick. This occurred despite waiting until well into the smoke to allow the adhesive ample time to soften. The second did not have any issues with the glue.
This cigar was smooth and mellow to start and it pretty much stayed that way. It had a breadlike taste to it and was slightly sweet on the finish. Some grassy undertones developed in the second half, which intensified becoming harsh at the end of the cigar. This Graycliff had just enough complexity to stay interesting and was a pleasant experience overall. I would describe it as medium bodied.
During the course of the initial smoke, the flavor hinted at greatness but never quite made it. Earthy notes prelight, sweet tones initially, and some pepper during the first inch and a half that if continued, could have yielded a rewarding experience. Unfortunately, during the majority of the cigar these pleasantries were offset and overshadowed by bitterness, sourness, and something akin to a decomposing leaf pile. The original flavors still managed to peek through once in a while but only served to remind that this once had potential. Add to that an overly dry mouthfeel and you can understand why I put the first one down with 1/3 of the cigar left. A second attempt did provide an adjusted flavor profile. The sweetness, only hinted at before, was able to be developed and picked up as vanilla. Cedar also made itself known and coupled with a toasty tone it reminded me of toasted marshmallow. The bitterness noted in the first stick did make its way through periodically. While not with as great of force or resulting abandonment of the stick, it did still crop up at various points and detract from the experience.
Retail price on these cigars is around $14-16 a stick, which is kind of heinous. Though they can be found at a nice discount if you know where to look.
This is not a cigar that I will try again in the future. The underwhelming flavor and twice failing cap makes this cigar undeserving of its $14 price tag.
I was a little skeptical of this cigar going in because of the price, but it turned out to be a pleasant surprise. I still wouldn't pay retail for it, but if found at a discount I would definitely pick up a few to keep around. I think mild cigar smokers would really enjoy this cigar because of its mellow smoothness, even though I would say it is more medium than mild.
Appearances can be deceiving and the Gran Cru is a shining example of that. While it seemed well made and promising the outcome was unimpressive. An imbalanced flavor profile that brought to light all of its shortcomings, coupled with a lack of attention to quality control forced an early end to one session and an unimpressive experience in the other. Personally I plan on saving my time and dime by passing on the Graycliff Gran Cru in the future.