Recently I found myself in the City by the Bay. This was my first trip to San Francisco and I can see why the city’s other nickname is fog city. Before I kickoff this review of the Gran Habano V.L. I need to thank a few folks who made me feel right at home in San Francisco. I want to thank Dave at Grants Tobacconist on Market Street for treating me like I’ve been coming there for years and for introducing me to all the regulars. I want to thank Tony (one of those regulars) for inviting me to Shanghai 1930 (a local club/cigar lounge). Thanks fellas for the hospitality and showing me a good time.
Grants Tobacconist is where I found the cigar I bring you today, the Gran Habano V.L. If you’re wondering, the V.L. stands for very limited as the production run was only 250,000 and was released in 2005. I’m reviewing the Gran Torpedo which is 6 1/8 x 52 and features a dark maduro wrapper from Nicaragua, Dominican binder and a blend of Nicaraguan and Costa Rican filler. The Gran Habano V.L. is available in three different sizes in all cedar boxes of 15.
The Gran Habano V.L. is a very attractive stogie. The dark oily wrapper draws you in from the start. A few long and visible veins can be seen but the wrapper is smooth to the touch. With a Nicaraguan wrapper and part of the blend for the filler being Nicaraguan I was expecting something full bodied with a bite and some spice to it but the flavor profile was mild bodied with mostly sweet and creamy notes being the dominant flavors. About the halfway point the flavor changed to a papery taste but soon returned to the sweet creamy flavors that I experienced earlier. The aroma contributed to the flavor profile to make a very enjoyable smoke with a medium finish.
With the three I smoked I experienced a tight draw and while construction was solid with an enjoyable slow burn rate the Gran Habano V.L. burned very erratic and no amount of rotating would correct the burn issue. I tried to be patient but found myself reaching for my torch one too many times in the vein attempt to get this to burn evenly. It was a chore to say the least.
All in all I have a mixed final impression. The Gran Habano V.L. was a solid stogie as long as you don’t let your taste buds get ahead of you and think this will be a full bodied smoke. While the Gran Habano V.L. is a solid stogie, I think the folks at Gran Habano could’ve created a better stogie worthy of carrying the very limited label. When I think of very limited or limited edition stogies I feel they should be on the level of the Avo 80th Anniversary and maybe that Avo 80th is clouding my judgment considering the Avo 80th is a $13-$15 smoke while the Gran Habano V.L. was more affordable at $6.00 in tax heavy California.
Thanks again to all the regulars at Grants Tobacconist and to the folks at Shanghai 1930 for taking care of me. I’m not a very political person but if you’re in California be sure to vote NO to Proposition 86. Grants Tobacconist has had a presence in San Francisco since the 1850’s and is considered the city’s oldest cigar shop and I know they, like other tobacconist in California are worried that Proposition 86 may be their last puff.