What’s done cannot be undone.William Shakespeare, Macbeth

Sorry Will, Scott Zucca (owner of Emilio Cigars) and James Brown (of Black Label Trading Company and BLK WKS Studio) don’t care to live by your pointed words. The Emilio Grimalkin made its return last year after being absent from the market for some time. The irony, or probably more apropos, is that the Grimalkin is the name of the cat in Macbeth and aided the three witches in their quest to view Macbeth’s future.

Okay, so maybe having a little Shakespeare around ain’t too bad. The hope, of course, is that this Grimalkin has a bright future for Emilio. The journey of Grimalkin is one of twists, turns, beginnings, and ends. It literally is Shakespeare. This brand originally released back in 2011 and was manufactured at the My Father Cigars factory. A year later, the band was changed and the cigar was re-named to fit into a new company direction as part of the La Musa project. By 2015, Grimalkin was gone.

Fast forward three years, throw in a James Brown spin and a makeover from Fabrica Oveja Negra (the boutique factory owned by Brown) and—can you smell a comeback?

Double, double toil and trouble;
Fire burn and cauldron bubble.William Shakespeare, Macbeth

Grimalkin Toro (2018) Breakdown

  • Wrapper: Nicaragua
  • Binder: Nicaragua
  • Filler: Nicaragua
  • Factory: Fabrica Oveja Negra (Nicaragua)
  • Production: Small Batch
  • Vitolas: 6″ x 50 (Toro)
  • Price: $10.00 (MSRP)

At aerial glance, the blend doesn’t appear to be anything overtly diverse, simply a Nicaraguan puro, with no further distinct information revealed. However, it was widely assumed, but never confirmed, that the original Grimalkin manufactured at My Father was a Nicaraguan puro as well. So the mystery continues to surround this cat—er, cigar…

Stars, hide your fires;
Let not light see my black and deep desires.William Shakespeare, Macbeth


This is starting to get scary, the more lines I remember, the more I feel like Brown and Zucca are really feeling this Shakespeare thing—minus the tights. The label that adorns this cigar has a yellow holographic cat’s skull that has eyes darker than the wrapper of the cigar. The wrapper is nearly dripping with oils—albeit with little tooth—but still cultivates a rustic look. The pre-light aroma is earthy, nutty, and full of black pepper. I use a guillotine to remove the cap and note that it takes just a tad more effort to cut the cap off this cigar.

By the pricking of my thumbs,
Something wicked this way comes.William Shakespeare, Macbeth

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Smoking Experience

Okay, I don’t think I’m being obtuse for saying that this cigar may not look evil, but it certainly carries an edge with it. There is expectation as you cut the cap; I felt like I was in store for something heavy, something dark. I use a match to light this cigar—its rustic appearance and pre-light aroma beckon for it. The foot catches and releases a deep aroma of oak, almond, and raisin. There is spice in the mixture too, of course, but the aroma’s complexity is already intriguing.

Within the first few puffs, I am hit with deep and aggressive flavors that immediately hit my palate and let me know this cigar has some heft behind it. The spice is subtle, but the black pepper on the retorhale is very pronounced, albeit short. The flavors that come through are dark-roast coffee and oak, immediately building a connection between outward appearance and initial performance. The rustic nature of this cigar lends to an unsurprising sensation of black pepper resting on the palate, but is balanced by a very subtle nuance of vanilla.

Emilio Cigars Grimalkin Toro (2018) review

As the cigar progresses, the burn is razor sharp, though I actually need to re-light the cigar twice for going out after the brittle ash falls off. A tart fruitiness inserts itself into the flavor profile, along with more dominant notes of earth. The coffee note remains, while the oak and vanilla characteristics begin to dissipate. This is accompanied by a subduing of the black pepper spice, which has all but lost its lingering quality within the nostrils. At this point, the drop-off in flavor intensity is very noticeable, but the roller coaster ride of the cigar’s profile is still in motion.

The finale of the cigar includes a resurgence of body and flavor. Coffee notes envelope the palate, along with a return of vanilla and black pepper spice. At this point during the smoking experience, it has not escaped my attention that I’ve had to re-light a half-dozen times. I sincerely cannot remember having this much difficulty keeping a cigar lit (this is after months of humidor acclimation, mind you). The cigar finishes with a wholesome note of coffee, being not hot or bitter. An enjoyable almond flavor that was present in the pre-light experience makes a subtle, but noticeable return. The sweet vanilla notes and black pepper in the nose are a pleasant conclusion.

Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player,
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage,
And then is heard no more. It is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Signifying nothing.William Shakespeare, Macbeth

Emilio Cigars Grimalkin Toro (2018) cigar smoking

Would I Smoke This Cigar Again?

I would really like to. The deep, roasted coffee flavors are unique and very noticeable, making a return visit likely.

  • Flavor: Medium-full
  • Strength: Medium-full
  • Body: Medium-full
Core Flavors
  • Coffee
  • Oak
  • Black pepper
  • Smoke Time: 1 hour, 20 minutes
  • Pairing Recommendation: Dark-roast coffee, Irish coffee, Bourbon, Roasted almonds, Gouda cheese, Apple fritter
  • Purchase Recommendation: Worth a try—grab 2–3.

Emilio Cigars Grimalkin Toro (2018) cigar nubbed

Grimalkin Toro (2018)
This cigar required more re-lights than any other cigar in recent memory. I usually don’t pay re-lights any mind, but a half-dozen is pretty significant and affects the experience tremendously. The flavors are solid and consistent throughout, but the roller coaster gives me pause. The finish is, by far, the most enjoyable portion of the smoking experience. Here's to hoping the samples smoked for review were outliers in the overall batch of Grimalkin cigars rolled for 2018.
  • Sensational finish
  • Terrific draw
  • Beautiful aroma
  • Repetitive need to re-light
  • Brittle ash
  • Flavor intensity comes and goes
87%Toil & Trouble
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