To join in the Halloween festivities this year, Emilio Cigars released a limited edition version of one of its original core line cigars, the Grimalkin. Aptly named the Grimalkin Halloween Edition, the cigar swapped out the regular version’s Nicaraguan wrapper with a Nicaraguan-grown maduro leaf, covering a Nicaraguan habano binder and Nicaraguan fillers.

The Grimalkin Halloween Edition began arriving at retailers in early October, released in a single 5 x 50 vitola priced at $9.75 per cigar. A total of 300 boxes of 25 cigars are being produced by Fabrica Oveja Negra in Estelí, Nicaragua, a total of 7,500 cigars.

The cigar also served to further reintroduce the Grimalkin line back to retail. The line first appeared in 2011, when Emilio Cigars released a Nicaraguan puro produced at the My Fathers Cigars S.A. factory named after an archaic term for an old, gray, female cat. That name lasted just about a year before it was replaced by Mousa and the cigar moved to a new series dubbed La Musa by Emilio Cigars.

In April 2018, Scott Zucca, owner of Boutiques Unified and Emilio, unveiled plans to bring back the Grimalkin brand by way of a Nicaraguan puro made at Black Label Trading Co’s Fabrica Oveja Negra. That line includes a 5 x 50 robusto and 6 x 50 toro.

  • Cigar Reviewed: Emilio Grimalkin Halloween Edition
  • Country of Origin: Nicaragua
  • Factory: Fabrica Ovea Negra
  • Wrapper: Nicaragua (Maduro)
  • Binder: NIcaragua
  • Filler: Nicaragua
  • Length: 5 Inches
  • Ring Gauge: 50
  • Vitola: Robusto
  • MSRP: $9.75 (Boxes of 25, $243.75)
  • Release Date: October 2018
  • Number of Cigars Released: 300 Boxes of 25 Cigars (7,500 Total Cigars)
  • Number of Cigars Smoked For Review: 3

For a robusto, the Emilio Grimalkin Halloween Edition feels a bit more slender than I would have expected, though that’s likely just my perception being a bit skewed from smoking a number of toro gordos recently. The leaf has a good bit of crystallization on it, with the mottling not doing it any visual favors other than to make the seams of the cigar much more visible. It appears to be rolled and capped well, generally firm but with a bit of give and no noticeable variations or visible distractions, other than that it looks like the head might have an extra wrap of tobacco showing. The foot of the cigar has a bit of brown sugar or molasses sweetness to it, though it’s mild and far from overwhelming. There’s also some touches of wood, but I would be hesitant to say more than that as it is so faint. The cold draw on the first sample is fairly open and presents little obstruction to air movement, while flavors are more wood-dominant, reminding me of old wooden fence posts, while a bit of generic black coffee lingers on the finish. The other two samples are near perfect as far as airflow, showing the same general profile with the occasional drizzle of chocolate syrup sweetness showing up.

Out of the chute, the Emilio Grimalkin Halloween Edition starts with a bit of a flour-dusted smoke, trying to get creamy but unable to deliver the sweetness or texture of something liquid. The old wood found on the cold draw gets a bit younger and imparts a lumberyard dryness within the first few minutes, and a more distinct pepper note begins manifesting itself as well in the now plentiful smoke. At its fuller expressions—found in the second and third samples—the blend shows a bit of Hershey’s milk chocolate bar as well, though it’s now outright sweet, and it plods together with some heavier earth notes and a bit of pepper. At times, I get a bit of mocha from the profile, seemingly when the coffee and chocolate intermingle more closely than when they are separate flavors. The fairly generic lumberyard flavor pivots to cedar and the pepper deepens without intensifying, and I suddenly find myself with a fairly complex cigar when I knock the first clump of ash off at the one-inch mark. Molasses reenters the profile not long after, giving the cigar a different style of sweetness than what the cedar was offering and helping to thicken up the core flavors of the smoke just a touch. Through the first third the cigars burn well, with the draw just a tick open if anything and the burn line ever so slightly on the wavy side. For a Nicaraguan puro with a maduro wrapper, I’m surprised that it isn’t a bit more full-bodied or flavored, checking in around medium in both departments.

While the first third of the Emilio Grimalkin Halloween Edition seemed to be setting the stage for numerous flavor progressions, the start of the second third sees things mellow out rather quickly. The sweetness from both the molasses and cedar have been dialed way back, the wood notes are now more ideas thrown at the wall, and what pepper the cigar had shown seems to be on break. What is left is a bit of the black coffee, still on the mild side but beginning to morph into a bit of earthiness, while some robust black pepper tries to find its place. I’m also taking increasing notice of how quickly the cigar seems to be burning, making it to the midway point after just over 30 minutes and without any particularly faster puffing for me or putting out a cloud of smoke indicating it’s still burning while resting. The earthiness carries the cigar into the back end of the second half, not quite as heavy on the tongue as earlier before, dropping the coffee note in favor of the fencepost note from earlier. The profile seems to be calling out for sweetness and creaminess, getting me thinking about making a latte in terms of a complementary beverage. The draw, burn and smoke production remain quite good through this section as well, while the strength of the flavor and body haven’t moved much.

While the creaminess has yet to return to the profile as the Emilio Grimalkin Halloween Edition enters its final third, there is some of the cedar starting to reemerge, which while adding a bit of complexity still leaves the profile feeling a bit dry on the tongue. I’m getting more of a physical reaction from the cigar now, as the pepper and wood linger on the tongue for some time, and the flavor turns just a bit though I can’t call it sour or bitter, while the addition of a coffee bean flavor adds to the mix in the second sample. If anything, the earth note seems to be leading the redirection, though I’m not quite sure where it is going, let alone why. It’s faint, but at the start of the final inch I begin to get a bit of dark chocolate that is hesitant to show any sweetness but does flex occasionally, while the black coffee returns along with some more potent black pepper. It’s still on the rough side but seems to be trying to return to the depth and complexity exhibited earlier. Fortunately, it is holding onto most of its balance, though I fear that might be the final thing to go as heat becomes more of a factor. There is even more of a tingling on the lips and front third of the tongue in the final puffs, with the cigar burning quite well in its final inch and wrapping up at just under an hour. There seems to be a bit of nicotine strength felt once

Final Notes

  • There was an interesting variance between the first two samples in terms of body and flavor intensity, and I’m not quite sure which one I liked better, regardless of what the score sheet may have indicated. It’s subtle and maybe just a tick up the intensity scale, but enough to be noticed and appreciated.
  • The original bands of the Grimalkin never did it for me but they were certainly distinctive; I can’t say I’m floored by the new design either, though it is an interesting take on it. I’d love to see a contest where people could submit designs just to see what some other creative minds could bring to the concept.
  • I didn’t find much appreciable nicotine strength from any of the three samples, though there is some lingering pepper that hangs out on the front half of the tongue and just inside the lips.
  • Final smoking time was just about an hour on average, though there was about a 10 minute spread between the shortest and longest smoking times.
  • The cigars for this review were purchased by halfwheel.

Editor’s Note — After this review was published, halfwheel was informed that due to a trademark conflict with Tatuaje over the word “halloween,” this cigar’s name is being changed and will now be referred to as “a seasonal/limited release Grimalkin,” according to Scott Zucca of Emilio Cigars. We have chosen to keep the name as is given that it was how the cigar was sold. 

90 Overall Score

While I like the Emilio Grimalkin Halloween Edition plenty well for what it is—complex, balanced and seemingly always evolving—I also found myself liking it for what it isn’t: harsh, overpowering or overtly rough on the palate. For a cigar that could certainly be a full-bodied powerhouse seeking to play into the Halloween theme, it's actually fairly restrained and chooses to show all of its flavors carefully instead of just letting them run wild through the blend. The draw and construction on each sample was quite good, with just one sample being a tick loose but far from problematic. I'm still torn between the two strength profiles I liked better, though the slightly fuller bodied one scored a few points higher but I wouldn't turn either one down. A solid cigar that based on my experience with it deserves not just a few more smokes, but also a bit wider release as it would seem to earn a place on humidor shelves year-round.

Patrick Lagreid

I strive to capture the essence of a cigar and the people behind them in my work – every cigar you light up is the culmination of the work of countless people and often represents generations of struggle and stories. For me, it’s about so much more than the cigar – it’s about the story behind it, the experience of enjoying the work of artisans and the way that a good cigar can bring people together. In addition to my work with halfwheel, I’m the public address announcer for the Colorado Rockies and Arizona Diamondbacks during spring training, as well as for the Salt River Rafters of the Arizona Fall League, the WNBA's Phoenix Mercury and the Arizona Rattlers of the Indoor Football League. I also work in a number of roles for, plus I'm a voice over artist. I previously covered the Phoenix and national cigar scene for, and was an editor for Cigar Snob magazine.