Today’s review is of a cigar that slipped quietly onto the market at the end of last year, created by a man who needs no fanfare to sell cigars, Dion Giolito. It’s named La Grande Classe (or “the great class”) and is a 470-box limited run blended by Dion exlcusively for his retail shop FUMARE in Reno, Nevada. Unlike the other cigars for which he is famous, La Grande Classe is not part of his popular Illusione line.
For a more thorough explanation of the concept, here’s what Dion wrote on the FUMARE website:
Like many rarities in gem market, so is La Grande Classe Cigars – an exclusive of F U M A R E . Each batch of exquisite cigars will be a limited run of sizes and blends created by lauded blender Dion Giolito. All tobaccos will be personally chosen from the finest fields in Nicaragua, graded and aged for superior performance.
La Grande Classe gives the client unprecedented access to a true small-batch run of cigars made with superior grade tobaccos in both unique sizes, and different flavor profiles. Le Grande Classe is an extremely rare product at the highest caliber of performance, flavor and construction. To get on the list, please e-mail your Full Name, and shipping address to: firstname.lastname@example.org , or call 775-825-1121, 10am – 7pm. Pacific Standard Time.
The indication is that there will be other cigars bearing the name but in different sizes and featuring different blends. At the time of this writing, only this 5 1/2 x 52 version is available, and it comes in boxes of 25 for $149.75.
Size: 5 1/2 x 52
Wrapper: Mexican San Andreas Sun Grown Maduro
Smoking Time: 1 3/4 hours
Source: Purchased by reviewer
Price: MSRP $5.99
Much like its release, the La Grande Classe appears understated. It comes in a simple cardboard box and each unbanded, cellophaned stick is sealed with a simple red sticker bearing the cigar’s name. (Which will come in handy identifying them later.) It seems to say, don’t worry about the aesthetics, focus on the cigar. And so I will, except to note the general appearance of the cigars I smoked.
Up close, the sticks looked a little rustic, with the occasional bump and darker shades giving the cigar a brushed look. They also had medium to fine veins, with the larger ones flattened. With the exception of one small wrapper hole, the cigars were without external imperfections.
The La Grande Classe was consistently firm, and had a light funky cheese and compost wrapper aroma. The cold draw was perfect, and I noted that it had a spicy raisin-like sweet flavor.
Across the board the burn line was mostly even, the cigar drew perfectly and almost never required a torch intervention. But there was some excitement in the burn department. The ash varied from firm, solid and salt-and-pepper in appearance, to something more akin to a flaky gray flower in a couple cases. I’m prepared to give it a pass though, as I noticed a clear correlation in ash formation to my area’s recent roller coaster humidity. On the higher humidity days, it was almost perfect and on the dry days- the hygrometer above my desk read 12% on one of them- it flaked and cracked. Not a big deal, just be advised the smoking environment matters, don’t go for the long ash on a dry day.
There weren’t major flavor transitions from one third to the next, so we’ll dispense with that formality. What I noted throughout was a combination of rich sweetness, pepper, wood, cinnamon and what Dogwatch Dale termed “Nicaraguan zing”. The sweetness was thicker than a simple syrup and varied, starting cherry-like, and gradually transitioning into honey or caramel. Early on, I often noted some vanilla, and toward the end, a savory smokey spice.
For a potent, small batch smoke, you can’t ask for a better price.
The La Grande Classe is a potent cigar that doesn’t sacrifice flavor on the road to power. However, it is a pretty straightforward smoke, with the profile at the beginning being similar to what you taste at the end and throughout. Which isn’t a bad thing if you’re enjoying the ride, and I was. I found it to be a rich, enjoyable smoke with some pleasing subtleties and a good overall value. But the question of whether or not it’s a box-worth smoke is really a moot point. If you’d like to try it and you can’t drop by Dion’s shop in Reno, the only way can is by ordering a box over the phone. I did, and I’d say I made a good call.
Liked It: Box-worthy
Buy It Again: Yes
Recommend It: Yes
Tower of Burn
Here for your viewing pleasure is my trademark Tower of Burn.