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Staff Reviews

Gran Habano Vintage 2002 Robusto Staff Review

Grant T. Thompson's picture

Grant T.

I’m smoking a cigar relatively well known on the bundle circuit: Grand Habano Vintage 2002, in a classic 5 by 50 Robusto. Gran Habano cigar bands read like the labels on fine bottles of wine. There’s an entire franchise of “vintages” to choose from. To be clear, there are a total of three distinct years in the collection: Gran Habano Vintage 2002, Gran Habano Vintage 2004, and Gran Habano Vintage 2006. It just so happens that Vintage 2002 rides our warehouse conveyor belt at the highest frequency, and that’s why, today, it’s getting undivided access to the laser-like, budget-conscious taste-receptors that coat the surface of my tongue.

If what the band says is true, these Gran Habanos have been traveling an awful long time to get to my coolerdor. Back in 2002, I was a wee sapling planting my roots as close to the Holt’s warehouse as I could get, where I knew my thirst for premium handmades at the lowest prices on the planet would be eternally quenched if I could manage to secure company tenure. Fast forward a couple decades, and here I am, a grizzled value hound with a beard thicker than a thicket of Siberian thistles and a parking space out front where you’re guaranteed to get towed if you back into it, even on my days off.

Gran Habano cigars are blended by brand owner George Rico, and they’re handcrafted in Honduras for folks who demand the kind of attention to detail that would pass a sommelier’s litmus test, but for a price a hobo would pay. Vintage 2002 is among the most popular because the cigars start below a paltry three bucks apiece, and each smoke is cloaked in an elegant cedar sleeve for improved aging – a benefit few other bundles boast.

Removing a particularly oily Robusto from the outer edge of a fresh batch reveals a plethora of woody, nutty, and earthy aromas the second the cigar is out of the cellophane. Its dark-chocolate-hued Nicaraguan wrapper radiates from under the shiny red, gold, white, and green colors of the band. On the inside is a complex blend of Nicaraguan and Costa Rican long-fillers. Gran Habano cigars have scored points with the critics, too, which should peak your curiosity further.

In one fell swoop, the cap is snipped and I’m toasting the foot with the Holt’s Jetline Prestige Double Torch I got for free with the last box of cigars I bought. The cold draw tastes of hickory and leather with a touch of cayenne pepper, but once ignition is achieved a decidedly spicier profile fully awakens my palate and my beak. I toss back a black espresso and take a few more puffs before the flavor settles down.

Although Gran Habano Vintage 2002 is stiff at first, notes of cedar and roasted walnut come into play to absorb the punch. If I didn’t know I was smoking a Corojo-seed wrapper, I’d bet money that I was. Savory blasts of red and black pepper weave in and out with charry texture. You’ve got to move around a bit while you’re smoking or the room note could make your eyes water. Because I’m too impatient to wait for the cigar to self-correct, I perform a touchup with my torch to get an even burn as the second half unfolds.

Vintage 2002 is definitely a step above your average yard ‘gar, but it isn’t high-end enough to get on your future father-in-law’s good side. As a dutiful reviewer, I remove the band to fully characterize the nub of this leathery and woody Robusto. Traces of vanilla bean and cocoa add a bit of dimension before the cigar expires, but smoky and earthy spices prevail in this bestselling Gran Habano bundle. It’s a decent smoke and gets 86 points from yours truly, but, as with every cigar I review, price is factored into the equation, friends. The discount saves this cigar from tasting bitter.   

Look, I’ve got more coolerdors in my basement than the camping aisle at Cabela’s. Brands like Gran Habano mandate a closer look due to my budgetary constraints and herculean cigar consumption. If you’re unsure Vintage 2002 is for you, consider upgrading to a Gran Habano Corojo #5, or the brand’s mellower Connecticut #1 blend. Or, continue wandering over our endless inventory of inexpensive bundles while you’ve got your thumbs on your smartphone.

Until next time, long ashes to you!

86rated

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