Monday, July 13, 2009

My Weekend Cigar: G.A.R. Vanguard Gran Consul

As you may already know, last month Famous Smoke Shop had their annual Cigar Expo, and many of the manufacturers brought samples of their new cigars. Among them was George Rico of G.A.R. Cigars, who handed me a 4" x 60 "Gran Consul" from his new G.A.R. Vanguard series. Let me say upfront, that I haven't smoked a Gran Habano or G.A.R. cigar that I didn't like, so my expectations were high.

It was Saturday night, just after dusk. The night threatened rain, which made me hesitant to pull out the Vanguard, but I had to smoke something new for this week's column, so I said, "What the heck," pairing it with a cup of coffee.

The G.A.R. Vanguard is an all-Nicaraguan-leaf puro with lots of ligero, and even though it was somewhat wider that I usually prefer, I liked the chunkiness of this particular shape. The wrapper was a dark Colorado, virtually free of blemishes and veins. The cap is a beautiful triple style and when clipped the cigar drew easily. It toasted-up nicely, and when I blew on the foot, I could see thick black shadows of ligero suspended in the red glow. The smoke was creamy and predominantly earthy as is the signature of Gran Habano/G.A.R. blends. The strength was medium to full and well-rounded with loads of earthy-woody flavor laced accented by note of nutmeg and coffee bean. I also picked-up a note of lemon-pepper on the finish during the early stages.

Just past the one-inch mark, I saw the lighting flash in the distance. Damn! No rain drops just yet, so I sweated it out until the storm clouds got too close for comfort. The cigar was burning perfectly with a really firm ash to its credit. I wanted to keep it burning just to see how long it would hang on, but common sense dictated I move inside and let it go out in the house. It was hard to resist not picking it up a couple of more times for a few indoor puffs and the ash continued to hang-on (see photo above).

Then I decided to give it the ultimate test: would the cigar be as good the next day? I had to know. Once the cigar cooled, I took it into the kitchen and carefully scraped out all of the ash from the foot with a toothpick (I didn't have a cutter wide enough to cut it back.)

Sunday I took the cigar back outside and re-lit it, now pairing it with a glass of Bitter Lemon. To my surprise, it held up! It even resumed its perfect burn. The smoke became much more robust in the final act, but when you start with 3 inches there isn't far to go, yet the base flavors of the smoke remained consistent. I eventually left a three-quarter-inch stub in the ashtray.

I look forward to smoking another G.A.R. Vanguard uninterrupted at IPCPR New Orleans in a few weeks. Another nice job by Mr. Rico and highly recommended for you full-flavored fans.

Here are my scores:
Appearance: 9
Construction: 9
Burn: 10
Draw: 9
Aroma: 9
Flavor: 9
Final Score: 9.1

If you've also smoked any of the new G.A.R. Vanguard selections, please leave a comment.

~ Gary Korb

1 comment:

Clinton Darrel Bone said...

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