Graycliff cigars are produced in the Bahamas, and were originally blended by Avelino Lara, creator of the original Cuban Cohiba, as an exclusive cigar for the upscale Graycliff Hotel and Restaurant in Nassau. The Gran Cru is a medium-to-full bodied offering from this highly-regarded boutique brand, consisting of aged tobaccos from Costa Rica, Honduras, and Nicaragua. These stogies fall into the “top-shelf” category of our gigantic humidor, and I had never tried one, so it seemed like a natural choice for today’s review.
The bands on the Chateau Gran Cru gave a majestic look to the stogie, as it doesn’t get more regal than purple and gold, and I’m guessing the five white stars under the Graycliff logo are there to signify the fact that Graycliff is a five-star hotel. The wrapper leaf on this cigar was very grainy and mottled, with a pretty basic EMS color to it. I immediately recognized that the stogie had a solid feel and good weight in my hand. Pre-light tastes were very faint, aside from a slightly-sweet floral scent from the wrapper itself, though I could tell the draw would be sufficient, with just the right amount of resistance.
The stick lit right up after a thorough toasting, and the initial flavor was peaty, and a little bit earthy, with some mellow white pepper on the finish. Ensuing draws revealed a floral note and some slight fruity sweetness, along with an increasingly strong white, and then black pepper. Overall, I would describe the profile of the first third as spicy and smooth, with a few interesting flavor nuances.
As I reached the 2nd third, the Gran Cru evolved in the same way many cigars do in the second act, as it became majorly creamy and smooth. The taste of creamy, earthy, and spicy tobacco remained prevalent for most of this portion, and by this point I had accumulated a nice, firm, dark grey ash. The burn-line was slightly wobbly, but no cause for alarm. The cigar was burning nice and cool, and the flavors were clean and easily-read. As I neared the final 3rd, a really deep and tasty coffee note like espresso kicked in, adding a savory new dimension to the profile.
Right as I got into the last portion of the smoke, I did a quick purge of the cigar, and it had a huge effect on the flavor. The smooth cream note re-emerged, along with a zesty black pepper note. Eventually I began to taste cedar, along with some dried fruit sweetness, and the stogie burned tight and right until the end.
At first I was rather unimpressed with the flavors this cigar presented, especially at its high-end price point. It’s possible that my expectations were set a bit high because of all the hype surrounding the stick. Nevertheless, once I got an inch or so into the smoke, it began to open up and I began to really appreciate the subtle complexity of this stogie. As far as burn and draw are concerned, the Graycliff Chateau Gran Cru performed excellently, and gave me no problems at all. By the time I reached the 2nd third of the cigar I was totally enjoying it, and the quality of the tobaccos in the blend were evident in its taste. I would definitely be interested in trying out some other blends from Graycliff, and possibly stocking up on a few Gran Cru’s for “special occasion” purposes. All in all, I give the Graycliff Chateau Gran Cru PG a firm grade of B, and would recommend it for smokers with high-end taste who appreciate a silky-smooth stogie with a relaxed flavor progression.