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Cigar Review – Gran Habano STK Zulu Zulu Habano Lancero by George A. Rico

Gran Habano STK Zulu Zulu Habano Lancero (7 1/2x 40) by George A. Rico

George A. Rico, son of Gran Habano founder Guillermo Rico, has been steadily making a name for himself in the cigar industry over the past few years, having released his personal blends under the popular G.A.R. line. Stogies like the G.A.R. White Label, and the newer “Opium” blend have been praised for their full-flavored complexity, and over-all great performance. This week another one of George’s private blends, the Gran Habano STK Zulu Zulu Habano Lancero (7 ½ x40), hit our shelves, and I just had to see what all the fuss was about. These stogies, a blend of Nicaraguan filler and binders and a Nicaraguan Habano wrapper, were limited to only 1000 boxes produced (500 Connecticut, and 500 Habano), and feature some of the most interesting packaging I have seen. The boxes, which are hand-painted by Miami Artist “KID”, depict child rebel soldiers wielding firearms. The inspiration for the artwork comes from the non-profit organization “Invisible Children Inc.”, a group that uses film and social media to end the use of child soldiers, and restore war affected communities in Central Africa, and a percentage of each box sold will be donated to Invisible Children to help fund their efforts.

A few weeks back I reviewed the La Sirena King Poseidon, and reported that it had the largest band I had ever seen on a cigar. Well, the Zulu Zulu officially has taken that title, with a decorative band covering 5 ¾ inches of the 7 ½ inch cigar. After removing this massive covering, the oily Habano wrapper underneath had a waxy look to it, and many pronounced veins, all topped off by a tiny little pigtail on the cap.  Pre-light tastes were not at all what I expected, giving off a slightly sour, slightly sweet fruitiness. The draw was firm, but seemed appropriate for this vitola. Out came the trusty torch.

Upon lighting, the first tastes to emerge were dry cedar, and a heavy, potent baking spice. Ensuing draws revealed a building cream note, along with a creeping mellow sweetness. The burn had started off a bit crooked, and the stogie produced a neat, black and grey-striped ash. Eventually the flavor profile drifted to a nice balance of woody, spicy, and creamy notes intertwined.

In the second third, the flavors became a lot smoother, the burn straightened itself out, and the spice note calmed down quite a bit before morphing into a whole new profile. I suddenly tasted a liquory anise note, sort of like Jagermeister, that took precedence over the notes of cedar and cream. This became the dominant tone for a while, punctuated by an occasional puff that had a light and creamy taste. I began to suspect that some very careful, intricate blending went into this cigar.

During the last stretch, an interesting mix of coffee and cedar notes were joined by the returning baking spice, making for a long, woody, and spicy finish. As I neared the end of my session with the Zulu, the stogie remained cool as a cucumber, with a razor-straight burn. With about an inch remaining, the flavors finally started to get a little muddled, and I decided it was time to set down the nub.

The Zulu Zulu Habano had without a doubt one of the most complex flavor profiles I had ever tasted in any cigar. This stick continuously surprised me with unexpected nuances and changes of flavor. The often-difficult lancero shape performed quite well on this stogie, despite an initially crooked burn that fixed itself quickly. The Zulu was a unique smoke, to say the least, featuring woody and robust flavor with many interesting subtleties. I would recommend the Gran Habano STK  Zulu Zulu Habano to anyone looking for something solid, and way off the beaten path in terms of taste. All in all, I award the Zulu a grade of B, and I will certainly keep an eye out for new blends from George Rico, it seems like this guy is really onto something.

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