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George Rico S.T.K. Miami American Puro 4 3/4×52 (Pre-Release)

One of George Rico’s (Gran Habano, G.A.R.) latest creations, the American Puro is comprised of 100% American tobaccos from Pennsylvania, Kentucky, and Connecticut and is handmade at Rico’s GR Tabacaleras Unidas Co.factory in Miami. An all-American cigar, made in America- what a concept. The closest thing to this that I can think of is Pete Johnson’s La Casita Criolla, which is made entirely of Connecticut Broadleaf but is produced in Nicaragua. Anyway, George was kind enough to gift us a few sample sticks of the American Puro at IPCPR, so for today’s review I decided to spark up the 4 3/4 x52 vitola.

American Puro STK by George Rico

American Puro STK by George Rico


The Connecticut wrapper on this cigar was one of the toughest looking Connies I had ever seen, with lots of veins and a good amount of texture to it, which was accentuated by a smooth oily sheen. Construction looked and felt solid, and the tiny pigtail cap made for a nice touch. Both the aroma and pre-light draw on the cigar had a distinct “pipe tobacco” vibe going on. Very interesting.

The smoke opened up with a cool profile of white pepper and charred oak. I had opted not to cut the cigar, but instead just “pluck” the pigtail off, which worked well for a nice, neat draw. The burn line was just a little bit bumpy, but nothing too bad. A few puffs in I was picking up a subtle note of espresso and some syrupy sweetness on the finish. It was at this point that I realized that this cigar was significantly stronger than I was expecting it to be.

In the second third the peppery dark wood flavor of the profile now had a nutmeggy baking spice component in the mix. This portion of the smoke was smoother than the first 3rd, but silky-smooth, not creamy, and flavors remained crisp with a heavy and slightly spicy finish. I began to pick up a lot of tasty little nuances of Vanilla, cedar, salt, and earth. This stick was now pumping out tons of chewy smoke and burning nice and straight. When I had burned past the halfway mark I still hadn’t ashed.

The final third of the American Puro was extremely rich and earthy with notes of leather and undertones of cream. This portion was heavy in flavor but still pretty smooth. Then, just before I was ready to wrap up the session, this stick surprised me with one last tasty transition- I could suddenly taste black pepper and a vivid salted pretzel note-something I had never before tasted in a cigar. This prompted me to smoke on a little longer than usual, just to make sure I didn’t miss out on any other last-minute flavors.


American Puro from George Rico STK Gran Habano Review


Wrapper: Connecticut

Binder: Connecticut

Filler: Pennsylvania, Kentucky, Connecticut

One of my biggest disappointments at IPCPR, was not meeting George Rico.  He seems like a class act, and everyone I talk to speaks highly of him, so I made sure to hit the booth with Jerad during the show.  At the time we went, he was busy with customers, so we left him alone, but one of his reps struck up a conversation with us.  Before you know it, his mother was handing us shirts and the newest blend from George, the American Puro (AP).  I reviewed the Zulu Zulu habano lancero recently, and absolutely fell in love, so I was excited to get my hands on his latest blend.  As the show moved along, I kept hearing people talk about the blend and the buzz became significant.  His blends are normally a bit out of my wheelhouse, but for some reason I am attracted to his blending style, so the AP became a priority to review after the show.

Dry Draw: tastes like pipe tobacco smell and left a distinct molasses, with light pepper on lips.

First Third: The profile began very sharp, very powerful, and a bit overpowering for my tastes at first.  The molasses was there, and it provided the most unique flavor to me, uncommon of most cigars.  Tons of cedar all over my mouth and tongue, and the profile was very dry.  My notes suggested age or rest might be a factor, or improve this third for what I like as a mild-medium smoker.  There was a definite vanilla finish and elements of pipe.  The retro was full body, almost too much, which made it hard to pinpoint flavors.  The heaviness of the finish felt like it hit different spots in my mouth then normal fuller bodied cigars; odd beginning to say the least and a bit harsh at times.

Second Third: The profile backed down a bit, and became much more enjoyable for my tastes.  The vanilla note became very smooth, very enjoyable overall, and reminded me black Cavendish at this point.  There was not much spice, maybe a touch of green pepper, but not much.  Retro was still very heavy on the cedar, and towards the end the green pepper note began to settle in on the retrohale.

Final Third: the profile was still medium and consistently balanced between the green pepper, vanilla, and some molasses.  The green pepper pushed to the forefront of the profile, and at times I was reminded of Virginia tobaccos.  The vanilla and molasses provided the backdrop with the Cavendish for added depth.  Finish had significantly improved, with pronounced flavors on the roof and settling mid tongue.  I was really surprised at how much the finish improved over the length of the cigar and pulled out my Havana Saver to nub it.

Construction: I only ashed it twice, it was perfect.  The pigtail is always a nice touch, and it looked killer.

Final Thoughts: I think George has a hit on his hands. I personally think the cigar needs about 3-6 months down to settle.  I say this as last year I had new releases or prereleases that seemed to improve in that period, so much so that some I hated initially then fell in love with and ate my words. My guess is that weirdness in the first third that was part harsh, part full body, will settle and balance out.  This is a very different cigar, so I suggest anyone and everyone to try it.  I would really like to hear what seasoned pipe smokers say about it, as my palate for pipe is immature, but the profile reminded me of 1776 and Captain Black at times.  Not that this is a pipe cigar by any means, just that I picked up some elements and would love to hear if I was on, which may be the Kentucky filler talking.  I think the blend will appeal to a broad range of palates really, and for a mild-medium guy like me, the strength up front was not too much to handle, given the reward at the end. It might just be me being a wuss, so full-bodied smokers may not even notice and just enjoy the strength.   I will definitely be buying more, and after this, need to make exploring the rest of his STK line a priority.  In the end, if you see a Havana Saver in my last pic, it is probably because I did not want the cigar to end…  The American Puro is an excellent blend.


Gran Habano STK Miami Barracuda Review

Last year, we announced a new project, S.T.K. Miami, a new series of special lines made at Gran Habanos new Miami factory. The projects are intended to be small batch in nature using limited tobaccos. The first two S.T.K. releases were announced and released last year: Opium and Zulu Zulu.

Miami Barracuda STK

Miami Barracuda STK


Earlier this year, Abe Dababneh of Smoke Inn showed off the newest S.T.K. project, Barracuda. A few weeks later, artwork and details were confirmed.

Barracuda was released for the first time at Tamura’s Fine Wine and Liquor on April 7 and is expected in other stores soon. But you can get first look and read all about the Miami Barracuda STK at Halfwheel’s review by clicking here.


Gran Habano Adding “AMERICAN PURO” STK Cigar

George Rico of Gran Habano has announced one of his new projects that will be formally unveiled at the 2013 IPCPR Convention and Trade Show: the George Rico STK Miami American Puro.

American Puro

American Puro

The new cigar uses a Connecticut wrapper and binder on top of a trio of filler leaves from Pennsylvania, Connecticut and Kentucky. It will be available in three sizes, 4 3/4 x 52, 6 1/4 x 54 and 5 5/8 x 46. Prices have not been announced as of yet.

Rico is also continuing the rollout of what he is calling “Big Boy Trays” for three of his lines, the Connecticut #1, the Habano #3 and Corojo #5. Each tray will feature three sizes from its respective line, a 6 x 60, a 6 x 66 and a 7 x 70. The red Corojo #5 trays have already been spotted at retail.

The cigar will sell for approximately $8-$9 per stick are being made at his GR Tabacaleras Unidas Co. factory in Miami. While it will be a regular, full production cigar, he is projecting about 300 boxes a month to be produced between all three sizes.



Gran Habano #5 El Gigante, 19-Foot Cigar, Sold For $185,000

An unidentified buyer who is totally not compensating for anything has purchased a gigantic cigar for $185,000.

The Gran Habano #5 El Gigante measures an astounding 19 feet long by 3 feet wide, according to FCN. The super-stogie is wrapped in 16,000 wrapper leaves and weighs approximately 1,600 pounds. That’s the equivalent of 25,000 regular smokes.

GH Giant Cigar
Juan Panesso, who operates in Westchase, Fla., says he thought the inquiry into purchasing the cigar was a fake.

The cigar sold for $15,000 below the recommended price to a private collector who lives outside the United States, the Tampa Tribune reports.

The cigar comes with its own 900-pound wooden carrying case.

Source: The Huffington Post.

Judge: Graphic Cigarette Labels Violate First Amendment

While this case was targeting cigarettes we felt it was important to post it as this weeks update. Had the FDA won it would be only a matter of split seconds before they were on to target the cigar industry. Fortunately U.S. District Judge Richard Leon said the Obama administration / FDA proposed grotesque graphic labeling of cigarette packaging was indeed unconstitutional.

You can read the original article with all the commentary that was posted by the WSJ. The official (and full) ruling can be found by clicking this link.

By Joe Palazzolo

A federal rule that requires tobacco companies to display pictures of diseased lungs or other graphic images on cigarette packs is unconstitutional, a judge in Washington ruled Wednesday.

Regulations by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration would have required tobacco companies to display the images on the top half of cigarette packs, front and back. It was scheduled to take effect in September.

U.S. District Judge Richard Leon said the Obama administration failed “to convey any factual information supported by evidence about the actual health consequences of smoking through its use of these graphic images.” The rule, he said, violates companies’ First Amendment protections against government-compelled speech.

Several tobacco companies, including R.J. Reynolds, Lorillard and Liggett Group, filed a lawsuit against the FDA in August, challenging the rule, which stems from the 2009 Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act.

The government can compel companies to disclose factual, uncontroversial information, to protect consumers from deception or confusion. But the compelled speech can’t be overly burdensome.

Other images were of a man exhaling cigarette smoke through a tracheotomy hole in his throat; a plume of cigarette smoke enveloping an infant receiving a kiss from his or her mother; a diseased mouth afflicted with what appears to be cancerous lesions; and a man breathing into an oxygen mask.

In his ruling, Leon said that “the graphic images here were neither designed to protect the consumer from confusion or deception, nor to increase consumer awareness of smoking risks; rather, they were crafted to evoke a strong emotional response calculated to provoke the viewer to quit or never start smoking.”

Leon said the government could have used far less heavy-handed means in its anti-smoking campaign, such as boosting its own anti-smoking advertisements, requiring companies to place smaller warning labels on their products and changing the images so they convey factual information.

“Unfortunately, because Congress did not consider the First Amendment implications of this legislation, it did not concern itself with how the regulations could be narrowly tailored to avoid unintentionally compelling commercial speech,” Leon said.

An FDA spokeswoman declined to comment.

Casas Fumando Opium Review

Today’s featured review comes from the Texas cigar blogger Tony Casas. He was kind of enough to take the time to review our latest release from the STK cigar line – the G..A.R. Opium. We especially love his reviews because he uses the opportunity to pair his cigar with a unique beverage and in this instance he went with “Prickly Passion Saison” beer. As usual we will post some segments from his review and we urge you to visit his website (link at the bottom) for the full reading.

Opium Cover

The wrapper on this cigar gives off a very interesting sweet pine aroma while the foot produces nothing more than a bold tobacco scent… Instead of getting the run of the mill tobacco flavor I was anticipating the G.A.R. Opium let loose this crazy spicy, sweet, cedar flavor with even a bit of pepper on just the cold draw alone.

I was welcomed with a very sweet tobacco flavor with a bit of honey, cinnamon and some subtle cedar with a bit of pepper that only teased my lips and tongue. The draw on this cigar is dead on, filling my mouth with tons of thick smoke with every puff.

…Along with the sweet tobacco, cedar, and honey I am not picking up some interesting floral and citrus notes…The retrohale is a nice addition to the experience to coating my nasal passage with a very bold, sweet cedar.

Gran Habano is a company that sometimes gets passed by cigar smokers. Just because they are affordable doesn’t mean they aren’t supburb cigars and the Opium is a perfect example of that. Perfect construction, great flavors, complex yet smooth. It really doesn’t get better than that. This is a perfect cigar for any occasion.”

Head on over to to read the full review on our STK Opium.

Azteca Fuerte Review


Cigar: Azteca Fuerte

Maker: Gran Habano

Size: Torpedo 6/52

Prelight Inspection: Here we have a nice oily maduro wrapped cigar. After taking off the cedar sleeve I can see that the wrapper is placed very well with small/hardly visible veins and and nice tight roll. The Azteca band is identical to the boxed as is the wrapper and binder. Overall this looks like a very well made cigar. After giving it a slice with the trusty Palio the draw is perfect. A very nice buttery aroma is present on the cold draw.

1st Third: Right away I’m getting tons of smoke on the draw laced with sweet earthy notes. There is a touch of spice in the sinuses but overall it is starting off very smooth. About a quarter inch in it is already picking up a toffee note near the finish. The smoke is really coating my palate and giving it a smooth buttery texture. Burn is progressing very well and nearing the 2nd third the ash is still holding on.

2nd Third: Still a ton of sweetness up front which is complimented nicely by the toffee which has now become the dominant flavor. There is also a cinnamon spice which has now crept up and lingers on the finish. The cigar is still quite smooth and buttery. This stick started in the Medium range and has now crept up into the Med/Full range. Burn is great. Ash held on for almost two inches.

Last Third: The cigar is definitely warming up a bit. Draw is still good though. The cigar has taken on a darker tone with the toffee changing over to espresso. The spice is also a little stronger now and leaves a very pronounced cinnamon flavor on the finish. I would definitely say that it is now in the full bodied range. Surprisingly it has not gotten bitter only stronger, so I will try to nub this one.

Conclusion: I have had the pleasure of smoking the boxed version of this cigar and as far as I can tell it is almost identical in construction and flavor. The wrapper is a shade or two lighter and it seems to burn a bit quicker. If I were to speculate I would say that at some point when the tobacco is sorted before rolling, some of the not so perfect leaves are set aside for this cigar. So basically, if you want the same smoking experience at well under half the cost then snatch some of these up pronto.

Rating: Flavor and Taste: 17/20

Construction: 10/10

Wrapper: 5/5

Price Point: 9/10

Would I buy a box: 5/5

Total: 46/50

The following review was brought to you by Straight Up Cigars: Read the original review here.

Cabinet Selection and Vision Cellars 2007

Gran Habano Cigar

The Wine Vision Cellars 2007 Pinot Noir Coster Vineyard Russian River Valley Vision Cellars Rutherford, California, USA 14.2% abv $42.00 a bottle Visit and read about the owners interesting story.

Appearance: ruby pinot color with a light amber edge

Aroma: big summertime plum, touch of berries, and a hint of spice. Delicate bouquet.

Flavors: dark cherry adds a nice sweetness, plum helps to lighten up the body, black raspberry, a Dr. Pepper quality, nice light touch of spice.

Mouthfeel:velvety smooth, perfect for a relaxing evening. Lingering berry/cherry notes. Tannins are light.

My Strength Rating: 3.5 velvety, silky, satiny whatever you want to call it’s just damn smooth. I’ll just say it is just plain sexy. You want to impress your date or mate, buy this bottle. Just don’t forget to open it. And, that is easy it is a twist off. 93 pts. Wine Spectator 91 pts. Wine Enthusiast

The Cigar Gran Habano Cabinet Selection Gran Consul

Wrapper: Corojo


Size: 4.7 x 60 box-pressed

Off the Light: tasty forest floor earthy notes right off the bat. Around the first inch mark I start to notice a toasty cashew nut quality. An easy, smooth, medium bodied smoke at this point.

Mid-Point: nice firm salt and pepper ash. The forest floor earthy tones have evolved into a light mineral rich soil note. There are toasty grains (oats?), pecan, fennel, and a dusting of cinnamon. I have never had this cigar before but, from this impression I may have a new favorite. I am glad I bought two sticks. The mouthfeel is very pleasing, rich, smooth leather, inviting, and I am thinking about a 4.5 or a 4 for my strength rating at this point.

Down the Stretch: the rich soil becomes a little firmer; there is still a good mineral quality to the smoking experience. The sweet spice is just a hint, the toasted grains become a bit stronger. The mouthfeel is clearly in the medium body range. A firm 5 on my strength rating.

The Pairing This is one tasty combination. The complex flavors of the cigar mingle eloquently with the smooth and sexy style of this Pinot Noir. The rich earthy tones, tasty toasty grains, and sweet spices of the cigar are lavished with the wines wonderful dark cherry, ripe plum, black raspberry and Dr. Pepper likeness. This is bliss. I don’t want it to end.

Read the original review here.

STK Zulu Zulu

The first cigar from the new Gran Habano STK line will be the personal blend of George Rico called Zulu Zulu. Measuring 7 1/2 x 40 with a pig tail finish this lancero will have an Ecuadorian Connecticut wrapper, Nicaraguan binder, and Nicaraguan filler. Created many years ago for his private collection, by George himself, this will be the first time it is officially released to the public.

Zulu Zulu Cigar Box

This one time production will be limited to a maximum of 2,000 boxes from our highest skilled rollers in the Honduran factory. Each box will feature one of two unique images commissioned by George Rico from the Miami artist, and friend, known as “Kid”. Gran Habano will release the Zulu Zulu to select retailers across the country.

While limited in production, pricing will still remain affordable with an MSRP of $9.00.

As the personal cigar in his private collection George A. Rico wanted to take the opportunity to bring awareness to an organization he holds close to his heart – Invisible Children. Invisible Children is an organization; “…that uses film, creativity and social action to end the use of child soldiers in Joseph Kony’s rebel war and restore LRA-affected communities in central Africa to peace and prosperity.”

A portion of the proceeds from all boxes sold will be donated directly to Invisible Children. For more information on Invisible Children please take the time to explore their website and videos at


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October 8, 2013
George Rico S.T.K. Miami American Puro 4 3/4×52 (Pre-Release)

One of George Rico’s (Gran Habano, G.A.R.) latest creations, the American Puro is comprised of 100% American tobaccos from Pennsylvania, Kentucky, and Connecticut and is handmade at Rico’s GR Tabacaleras Unidas Co.factory in Miami. An all-American cigar, made in America- what a concept. The closest thing to this that I can think of is Pete Johnson’s La Casita Continue Reading »


July 31, 2013
American Puro from George Rico STK Gran Habano Review

Wrapper: Connecticut Binder: Connecticut Filler: Pennsylvania, Kentucky, Connecticut One of my biggest disappointments at IPCPR, was not meeting George Rico.  He seems like a class act, and everyone I talk to speaks highly of him, so I made sure to hit the booth with Jerad during the show.  At the time we went, he was Continue Reading »

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