Read enough cigar reviews, and you’ll find someone talking about how a certain cigar gave them one heck of a buzz. Enough nicotine and ligero, often combined with an empty stomach and an otherwise unoccupied mind can result in an unsettled stomach and head full of static.
But name a cigar the Opium, and the idea of getting a buzz from a cigar changes just a bit.
This single-vitola cigar is part of Gran Habano’s new S.T.K. line, which includes the Zulu Zulu lanceros, one of which was reviewed in this column in August. The Opium features a Nicaraguan Habano Corojo hybrid wrapper with a Nicaraguan binder and filler. It measures 6” x 52 with a $9 price tag before taxes, and is only available through authorized S.T.K. retailers. Just 1,000 boxes of 20 have been produced, for a total production of 20,000 sticks.
Gran Habano supplied three samples of the Opium for this review, all of which were smoked for this review.
The Opium is triple banded – two in the normal place complemented by a foot band. The pre-light aroma is unique and complex, with a mossy, somewhat vegetal, earthy lead that shows some graham cracker and a bit of tailing spice rounding out the notes. After inspecting the first cigar, it was clear that it would take all three cigars to really pick apart and break down the different elements of this cigar’s pre-light aroma.
The cold draw was a bit firm, with the cigar feeling firm in the teeth as well. Notes of vanilla and faint spice showed most in the first and third samples, while the second one was a bit more muted in flavor.
A spicy, earthy note kicks the cigar off, with the spice really lingering on the palate. The second and third cigars were a bit more restrained yet still had some zing.
The ash clings nicely in the first inch, and while the draw is a bit firm, it gives the Opium a nice even tempo, while the burn line is darn near perfect.
Going into the second third, the cigar has some spice but also a brown sugar note in the nose. It’s not particularly sweet though, at least not in the typical connotation. There’s a bit of dough that comes through at times, making it a fairly enjoyable cigar in the first half.
By the midpoint, however, the development seemed to slow way down, and after an impressive first half, the palate was left looking for a development that didn’t seem to happen, and ultimately was left wanting more.
The third cigar proved to be the most disappointing of the bunch, turning a bit rough in the final inches – with significantly more pronounced notes of earth that just didn’t agree with the palate.
The Opium was a decent if unremarkable stick that showed a fair amount of promise in the first half before tailing off in the second. Short of the final note on the third stick, the Opium had a very smooth smoke, no bitterness and no bad bite, and performed very well technically, save for some burn line issues on the third – and photographed – cigar. If the second half didn’t feel like the cigar ran out of gas, it would have been an easy stick to recommend. As it stands now, it’s worth trying but not worth going out of your way for. 87 points, 3.5 stars out of five.
Read reviews of more cigars by clicking here, including new cigars from the 2011 IPCPR Trade Show.
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