Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Gran Habano - Azteca

Gran Habano Azteca - Not too long ago I read an interview of George Rico in Cigar Press.  Mr. Rico is the son of Guillermo Rico, founder of Gran Habano and probably something with the word Tabacalares in it.  Regardless, the conversation went deep into George's beliefs about cigars, the industry and what he is trying to do with his company.  His words filled with the lofty and widely shared notions of quality over quanity, full flavored as compared to over the top power.  His interview described a vision with new-age quality at its core. 
Gran Habano's latest installment, the Azteca was also a topic of discussion, and so it shall be the topic of my hateful rant this evening. 

The box, carved in the shape of an Aztec temple wasn't flashy enough by itself.  It needed to be painted in electrified neon orange/pink, lets call it salmon - more of an orange.  Not like that shirt your friend wore when people thought bright pink was cool.  "Dude its not pink its coral."  Salmon, coral, (insert almost pink color here).  My sensible side took one look at the box and ornate band and said - gimmick to sell a crap cigar.  Lets not forgot George Rico is responsible for G.A.R. cigars.  In my opinion, they aren't good.  More gimmick than good.

Some time back I didn't write a review on a G.A.R. because I thought it sucked
I kept my thoughts to myself - I wrote only about positive things
That has ended - This site will now be highly critical
But I had read someone saying these were good sticks, and I remembered the interview I had read.  I should have remembered, the reviewer was given a free stick at a show.  So either, the reviewer was sub-conciously or conciously swayed to give a good review - or Hypothesis #2: Today's product is not as good as the samples. 

Being the ever-travelling cigar-smoking reviewer of the people, I decided I had to give it a try.  I grabbed the smallest of the bunch - The Aguilia - a nice looking Torpedo.  Roughly 5 1/2" x 52 ring, the Azteca is wrapped with a San Andres Maduro, bound with a San Andres leaf and filled with a blend of tobacco from Nicaragua and Panama.  Just so you know, San Andres is a fancy way to say Mexican.  The astute salespeople that they are, (they did come up with the coral temple box) Gran Habano uses San Andrean tobacco, not Mexican tobacco; but seriously, its Mexican tobacco.

A picture is worth a thousand words - this picture describes the flavor of the Azteca
Anyways, I'm gonna have to HATE on Gran HabaNO's Azteca.  I also, got some hate in my heart for Rico.  The cigar tasted like dry.  Yes, I used the word dry there.  Flavor was random, fleeting and rare.  I tasted smoked, at one point I thought I was getting a fruity taste, but all of this was wishful thinking.  To be fair, the cigar burned nicely and the packaging is catchy.  I had no burn issues and the cigar smoked well. 
I dislike very few cigars, and when I do its usually related to the quality of the roll/make.  If I don't care for the taste of a cigar, I usually respect that others may enjoy those particular flavors - and I highlight the quality make of the stick.
Unfortunately, this cigar's taste was so unenjoyable that I spent my time smoking it, waiting....waiting...waiting for the flavor to start.  I tasted dry, unfulfilling smoke.  The Aguila may have been burning a little hot, as there was a good bit of resting smoke pluming upward.  This could have contributed to the poor flavor, but I don't think it was the culprit.
The culprit is George Rico and his PitBull (the rapper) wannabe persona.
Which one is Pitbull, which one is George Rico?  I don't think he even knows.

A trusted friend told me the samples were awesome.  After I told him my feelings on the cigar.  He expressed that he felt the same way.  He whole-heartedly feels he was tasted one cigar, agreed to buy it, and was provided a different cigar altogether.
So, take my HATE with a grain of salt and a shot of tequila.  The cigar smoked well.  But tasted like crap.  Of a random poll of 8 or 9 avid smokers, all said they didn't care for the cigar.  Even at $6-$7, the value wasn't appealling.  My anger comes from Rico's words of creating a cigar people like to smoke, a cigar that tastes amazing, quality, blah blah blah - but in reality - selling me a turd dressed in a coral (no its not pink) suit.  I could be over-optimistic and wait for a smaller ring-gauge; that might concentrate the lack of flavor into something I could taste.  Maybe I'll give it another chance and dip the cigar in chocolate milk before smoking it. 

To quote Mr. Rico, "“Our goal is to bring to light the fact that full flavor, in contrast to full body, means a harmonious smoke, with complexity, depth, smoothness, and individual nuances. That’s what our new Azteca line exemplifies. To my palate, the Azteca is a unique, balanced cigar with an abundant rich flavor you won’t find in any other cigar.”  - He had one thing right.....you won't find it in any other cigar, because you can't find nothing. 

Overall - D (value and nice roll taken into consideration) C- if I'm in a better mood.
Thanks to Cigar.com for the G.A.R. and Rico picture.

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What do you think? Am I on to something? Am I wrong? Or am I full of shit?