“Stand straight, walk proud, have a little faith”
–Garth Brooks, “We Shall Be Free,” c. 1992
It’s hard to take a glimpse at the Gran Habano Blue in Green without admiring it for all it encapsulates. Okay, elephant in the room, you and I both know what the name, script, and colors of this project remind you of. And if you’re not on the same page, you’re simply not from this planet… Yes, I’m referring to that certain famed blended scotch that you get charged $25 a shot for at the bar.
George Rico really outdid himself on this project; before you even get to the cigar itself, there is a lot about this cigar and its packaging that does not echo with Gran Habano and its conventional portfolio. In 2018, Rico made a concerted effort to overhaul that very portfolio to create a more eclectic image than what we’ve come to know in the past. This cigar’s release showcases an effort towards refinement—albeit not reflected in price—to take a direction toward luxury.
Without the obvious color scheme and name itself, the gorgeous, ornate box takes a step toward modernism and would be a perfect accompaniment to a still-life spirit advertisement in Cigar Aficionado magazine.
Blue in Green Gran Robusto Breakdown
- Wrapper: Connecticut
- Binder: Nicaragua
- Filler: Nicaragua
- Factory: G.R. Tabacaleras Unidas S.A. (Honduras)
- Production: Regular Production
- Vitola: 6″ × 54 (Toro)
- Price: $9.50 (MSRP)
The Blue in Green is a beautiful result of the effort behind it. I have in mind that Rico achieved exactly what he set out to accomplish and, even when he was done, it still wasn’t perfect, so he fixed it. The reason I say that is that the Blue in Green on your retail shelf doesn’t look anything like the cigar I was first introduced to at the 2018 IPCPR. Golden bands holding a cedar cover in place now adorn the genuine Connecticut Shade wrapper. While Gran Habano is known for its Honduran roots—boasting many great cigars featuring such storied tobacco—the Blue in Green is sans Honduran tobacco. Instead, the binder and filler hail from Nicaragua.
I already spoiled a lot of this earlier, but the simple, yet elegant band design gets some serious kudos from me. The addition of the cedar sleeve with “Blue in Green” stamped in Old English blue font is a nice touch. The gold-outlined blue label with golden Old English-faced “Blue in Green” on the primary band really elevates the simplistic nature of the design. I did a double take when I saw that this was genuine Connecticut Shade wrapper from the US, as American Connecticut Shade tends to be lighter than its frequently used counterpart from Ecuador. The wrapper has some visible veins and is almost absent of oil. The muddied hue of the wrapper isn’t terribly impressive looking, but is overshadowed by the initial presentation, in a positive way.
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Full disclosure, I’ve smoked this cigar three times prior to the two I smoked for this review. The cedar sleeve does its job, as the aroma coming off the foot is (you guessed it) cedary with hints of leather, cream, and pepper. Take note of the aroma off the foot—the pepper is very noticeable. In fact, as I cut the cap with my guillotine cutter and inhale the dry draw, it too is full of pepper. I also get some hints of sweet Thai basil. The draw brings in copious (but not dense) smoke. This is something that actually continues through the length of the cigar. As noted in previous reviews, I prefer a slight resistance on my draw; this cigar’s draw sits in between the realm of perfect and too loose. A few puffs in, the cedar has carried over from the aroma, but only slightly. The dominant flavors are a brilliant balance of floral, citrus, cream, and hints of red pepper.
If I may digress for a brief moment, I’ve been asked in the past, “How can you tell if a cigar’s flavor is red, black, white pepper, etc.?” The answer is a question, “Have you ever eaten those spices before?” While white and black pepper tend to be similar, I find black pepper to be a flavor that I taste and white pepper more falls into the nose. Red pepper, contrarily, is very distinct and should remind most of Italian cooking (think crushed red pepper pizza flakes). Back to the cigar, which, trust me, I am not saying tastes like lasagna…
The cigar remains consistent as it progresses, with no increase or intensity on any of the initial flavor notes. While there isn’t a noticeable change, I must stress that this doesn’t mean the cigar lacks complexity, it is just consistent. A worthwhile note is the impeccable construction of this cigar. The burn is razor sharp and the ash holds for well over two inches before it falls.
The retrohale produces a long-lasting aroma of cream, sourdough, and red pepper and goes very well with the consistent floral and citrus. The body of this cigar does increase slightly toward the end, finishing at a solid medium, progressing from its mild beginnings. The sweet Thai basil note continues to creep in every so often, like a welcome neighbor that pops in for nice visit. It stays long enough and compliments the existing flavors without ever getting bitter. Also notable is the tendency for this cigar to finish a bit hot—if one does not pace themselves, this can become acrid. Otherwise, the flavors and aromas—which are marvelously complimented by the aroma—hold steadfast throughout the smoking experience.
Would I Smoke This Cigar Again?
Yes, as noted, I have smoked this cigar previously and I will be smoking it again.
“There’s a lot of blood, sweat, and guts between dreams and success.”
–Bear Bryant (nothing like a good “bear” quote)
- Flavor: Medium-full
- Strength: Medium
- Body: Mild / Medium
- Red pepper
- Sweet Thai basil
- Smoke Time: 1 hour, 30 minutes
- Pairing Recommendation: Light-roast coffee | Lemonade | Radler beer | Silver Tequila | Lox with dill
- Purchase Recommendation: Box
- Near-perfect ash
- Consistent, excellent flavors
- Marvelous balance
- Slightly acrid finish
- Not overly complex