Remember the doomsday scenario that everyone thought was coming with the whole FDA thing? How there would be no new cigars—ever? Well, Warped Cigars released three new cigars in 2018—two years after the FDA scare began. This is not to say that the FDA regulations will never come to fruition, but manufacturers have noticeably loosened up in the years following. In addition to the limited edition Flor de Valle Moon Garden and a reimagining of one Kyle’s (owner of Warped Cigars) first blends (La Relatos), we have the main attraction—Serie Gran Reserva 1988. Apart from being the heftiest of the new releases (the other two being a lancero and a petit lancero, respectively), this one also slots in at a few cents cheaper than the La Relatos (and nearly half the price of Moon Garden), making for the most inexpensive new offering. In fact, the MSRP is actually a dollar cheaper than what was originally quoted—nice touch!
Originally this cigar was previewed at the 2017 IPCPR show, although they didn’t ship for about a year afterwards. Says Kyle Gellis, Founder of Warped Cigars, “The delay was due to me wanting it to be in the perfect stage for our customers. This cigar took a long time to develop and I wanted it to be a new experience for consumers.”
Serie Gran Reserva 1988 Breakdown
- Wrapper: Corojo ’99 (Jalapa, Nicaragua)
- Binder: Nicaragua
- Filler: Nicaragua
- Factory: TABSA (Nicaragua)
- Production: Small Batch / Regular Production
- Vitolas: 5¼” x 50 (Robusto)
- Price: $9.00 (MSRP)
Named for Kyle Gellis’ birth year, the cigars are made in the style of Warped’s Lirio Rojo blend, which uses tobaccos of very specific lots, farms, and primings to achieve a unique character unlike other Nicaraguan-made Warped cigars. Also similar to Lirio Rojo, the Serie Gran Reserva 1988 incorporates a small-batch production—estimated to make it to store shelves two to three times per year.
At the time of the cigar’s debut, Kyle Gellis informed Cigar Dojo that the blend had been in the works for twenty months (roughly three years by the time of the eventual release), with extra time spent to find unique attributes from AGANORSA’s Corojo and Criollo tobaccos; resulting in an atypical, Juicy Fruit-like profile. Twelve blends were contenders for the final cigar, with the robusto being selected as the blend’s only vitola in the end.
The cigar is packed dense—very solid, with no soft spots of any kind. Using a punch cut, the pre-light draw is perfect. There is an interesting vein structure present on the wrapper. There are darker visible veins, but they are so small that you won’t feel them. With a little bit of oil present, the cigar is medium leather-brown, tinged with olive drab and nearly invisible seams. The cigar is very smooth—there are no real bumps or lumps to speak of other than one prominent vein from the binder, pushing up slightly from beneath the wrapper leaf. The wrapper doesn’t quite feel like a high-gloss smoothness, but with the complete absence of tooth, it displays a velvety smoothness.
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Interesting to me is the fact that the cigar band features no Warped branding, only the initials “KJG,” representing Kyle “Whateverhismiddlenameis” Gellis (it’s Jason). However, on the inside of the band, there is the website www.warpedcigars.com. The band itself is very simple; a cream-colored strip of paper with a red line-drawing of a crown, with the numbers “976212” stamped over them. Mysterious! The end of the band features the “1988” (Kyle’s birth year), the only indication of this being the—Serie Gran Reserva 1988. Warped has some of the most beautiful and ornate bands, as well as some of the most well-executed and simplistic bands, with this being one of the latter.
I found a lot of nuttiness and barnyard aromas from the foot, with some coffee and a sweet, buttery caramel. The foot is loaded with sweet tobacco—not a whole lot of pepper present on the aroma.
The beginning of this robusto packs a heap of pepper, some citrus candy, creamy nuts, and some sweetness. The creaminess is really spreading out, coating the tongue. The abundance of sweetness leads me to believe there must be a lot of tobacco from the Jalapa region in this cigar. A savory combination starts to happen; it reminds me of fried chicken skin… so amazing. The nuts, the chicken, the citrus, the creaminess… each taken separately are very pleasant, but combined, I think of it as a big, sloppy bowl of delicious Thai food (think Pad Thai). Strength through the first third is medium, while body is on the lighter end, with flavor being medium-plus.
Moving into the second third, the cigar begins transitioning more into an oaky/savory experience that’s not quite as sweet. Coffee and cream, along with the oakiness, are dominant throughout this portion. The spiciness has toned down. I kind of coast through the middle third—not much in the way of change—but it’s very good, all the same. The body has moved into medium territory, with flavor still medium-plus, and nicotine strength has ramped up to medium-plus as well.
As we begin to recover from the great crack disaster (see additional info below), entering the final third, there is a wonderful, savory, salty, tangy, oaky combination—it’s like the first third but with a healthy dose of MSG. The sweetness pairs with nuttiness (shown in the form of butter pecan ice cream), the sourness is Rose’s lime juice, the coffee is a perfect cappuccino, the saltiness is sour cream ‘n onion potato chips, and the spiciness is toned down (more of a feature of the flavors than its own individual element). The overall profile is rich and delicious, with every flavor having an attachment of creaminess. This is a fairly full-flavored blend, maintaining a medium body, with a strength level moving towards the high end of medium-plus.
A note about the finish of this cigar. It’s going to get tarry and bitter if you smoke it too fast. I’ve experienced this on more than half of the cigars I’ve smoked of this blend. Just take it slow and you can get down to nub territory.
Would I Smoke This Cigar Again?
I really enjoy this cigar—and have since it’s been released. When I first tried them, I found them to be heavier on the spice, but they seem to be getting better and better as time goes on. I haven’t decided yet if this is going to be my new favorite from Warped—taking the position of the Maestro del Tiempo—but it’s certainly in the running. This cigar—I won’t call it Cubanesque, as I don’t like to overuse that term—bears a resemblance to my favorite characteristics of the best Cubans, in that it is flavor-dense, without being full-bodied. Refined, yet powerful.
- Cigar Dojo named the Serie Gran Reserva 1988 the No. 4 Cigar of the Year for 2018.
- The numbers (976212) printed on the cigar’s band have meaning to the Gellis family; something that Kyle prefers not to disclose.
- Let’s talk a little bit about cigar construction. Both samples of this cigar, which had over a month of humidor rest, developed cracks in the wrapper. One I smoked outside on a 50-degree day, the other I smoked inside next to an open window when it was 20 degrees outside (both within a five-day span… Chicago weather). This particular cigar’s wrapper crack started right in the middle of the cigar, working its way around the robusto, with a second crack forming behind it. I ended up having several more cracks developing throughout the experience, although none affected the draw or enjoyment of the cigar. I think this had more to do with the weather, as I’ve had a half-dozen or so of these at my local brick and mortar with zero issues prior to these samples. Another thing to mention regarding construction: the ash of this cigar (and quite a few other Warped blends) is very prone to falling off without warning once it gets to be longer than a half-inch. I find myself gently tapping it off every quarter-inch or so to avoid it falling on me. My feeling is that there are two reasons for this: a greater percentage of seco/volado leaves being used compared to ligero (which is a thicker, sturdier leaf), as well as most leaves having the midrib removed.
- Flavor: Full
- Strength: Medium-full
- Body: Medium
- Smoke Time: 1 hour, 47 minutes
- Pairing Recommendation: Cappuccino—seriously, it’s perfect
- Purchase Recommendation: Box-worthy
- Abundant flavor
- Great value
- Powerful yet elegant
- Wrapper cracks
- Smoking too fast can produce tarry flavors