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A couple of weeks ago George Rico (Gran Habano, G.A.R.) came by the office for a visit and was kind enough to drop off a few samples of his new limited release cigar under the S.T.K. imprint, the G.A.R. Opium. Only 1000 boxes of 20 were produced of the Opium, which features a Habano/Corojo hybrid wrapper atop a mix of Nicaraguan binder tobaccos and a long-leaf filler blend of undisclosed origin. The last S.T.K. release I sampled, the Zulu Zulu proved to be a great smoke, so I was looking forward to lighting up the Opium in today’s review.
The cigar’s unusual wrapper was smooth with an even light-brown hue and a slight oily sheen. Branding on the Opium consisted of two cool-looking red and gold bands bearing the name of the cigar in a font which could best be described as “Willy Wonka meets Aladdin”, along with an additional black S.T.K. band at the foot. Pre-light draws gave off a woody, buttery, and sweet taste through an easy draw.
After a thorough toasting the cigar lit up with no problem, and opened up with flavors of very bold cedar and malty sweetness with a touch of pepper on the finish. This stick was off to a seriously smooth start and tasted great with nuances of coffee and caramel popping up in all the right places. The Opium was letting off generous clouds of chewy smoke and was smoking mostly straight with just a slight lean to the burn.
As I got into the second third the cigar was sporting a dark grey 2” ash, and was still burning nice and clean. As smooth as this smoke had started off, this portion was even smoother, and tasty notes of roasted nuts, creamy caramel sweetness, and a lingering nutmeg/baking spice took turns being the most pronounced. By this point the Opium was producing huge, massive plumes of the aforementioned thick smoke and I realized it was probably one of the “smokiest” cigars I had ever witnessed. Even during 2-3 minute intervals between puffs this thing continued to leak thick streams of white smoke, it just wouldn’t let up.
In the final 3rd the profile remained pretty consistent, though the flavors seemed to “darken” a bit and the spice became increasingly more intense as I neared the nub. With about 1 ½ inches remaining I reluctantly ended the session as the rainy 40° weather I was smoking in started to get to me.
I have to say, the G.A.R. Opium was an impressive smoke. In addition to having all of the aesthetic attributes I look for in a cigar (clean look, cool packaging and banding, tons of smoke), but it also was one of the smoothest and tastiest cigars I have reviewed. This stogie piped out awesome, nuanced flavors from start to finish. Even in the final third where many cigars start to become bitter and hot, the Opium never came close to tasting harsh. Between the smooth and vivid flavors and the easily manageable strength level, this would be a perfect cigar for someone just getting started in the cigar hobby. Based on my first experience with the G.A.R. Opium S.T.K., I’m giving it an A+ grade. If repeated smokes prove to be as memorable as this one I may have a new addition to my list of all-time favorite cigars.
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