Gran Habano Persian Queen Kiana Barber Pole LE

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The Gran Habano Persian Queen Kiana Barber Pole LE is a offshoot of the Gran Habano Persian King, an unbanded cigar with a covered and closed foot made of a lighter colored tobacco. The current version is a full-bodied Nicaraguan puro with a habano wrapper that is offered in two sizes, the 6 x 50 Rajah and 6 x 60 Tiger. Both are sold in fairly plain 50-count boxes and are designed to be a somewhat more wallet-friendly option, priced in the $6-$7 range before taxes. Judging by some mentions of the cigar in various places online, it appears that there was a previous incarnation that used an Ecuadorian-grown wrapper as well as some Panamanian tobacco in the filler, which dates back to around 2010.

While not addressed in the official documentation about this cigar, the conventional understanding of the Persian King’s roots trace back to the Gran Habano Shaggy, a value-priced, shaggy foot cigar. While there have been a good number of shaggy foot cigars—where the wrapper doesn’t go all the way to the end of the cigar and leaves the binder and filler exposed—it was the name that was met with objection by Gurkha, who had its own cigar named the Estate Select Vintage Shaggy that it released in 2007. So Gran Habano changed the name to Chaggy, which was once again objected to by Gurkha. So George Rico decided to wrap the foot of the cigar and call it something completely different: the Persian King.

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In 2016, the company added a maduro version, using a sun grown Nicaraguan wrapper; while in 2019, it released the Persian King La Contra in both the natural and maduro blends, which the company said was stronger than the original Persian King. It also came wrapped in a leaf of tobacco designed to be removed before smoking.

The Gran Habano Persian Queen is offered in two sizes:

  • Gran Habano Persian Queen Kiana Barber Pole (6 x 50) — $6.40 (Box of 50, $320)
  • Gran Habano Persian Queen Gryphon Barber Pole (6 x 60) — $7.52 (Box of 50, $376)

Both use a combination of Nicaraguan corojo and Ecuadorian Connecticut wrapper leaves to create the barber pole design, while underneath that is a Nicaraguan binder and filler combination. Production is limited to just 500 boxes of each size.

  • Cigar Reviewed: Gran Habano Persian Queen Kiana Barber Pole LE
  • Country of Origin: Honduras
  • Factory: G.R. Tabacaleras Unidas S.A.
  • Wrapper: Ecuador (Connecticut) & Nicaragua (Corojo)
  • Binder: Nicaragua
  • Filler: Nicaragua
  • Length: 6 Inches
  • Ring Gauge: 50
  • Vitola: Toro
  • MSRP: $6.40 (Box of 50, $320)
  • Release Date: November 2020
  • Number of Cigars Released: 500 Boxes of 50 Cigars (25,000 Total Cigars)
  • Number of Cigars Smoked For Review: 3

If you’ve ever been to Miami or Tampa and perused the entire cigar retail scene, you’ve inevitably popped into a cigar shop that made its own cigars and had a bunch of unbanded cigars for sale. That is the first thing that comes to mind when looking at the Gran Habano Persian Queen Kiana Barber Pole LE; it’s eye-catching but lacks any sort of banding or attribution to a maker, which I always find to be a bit of a shame. The barber pole is familiar and distinctive, with about a 2-to-1 ratio of the darker Nicaraguan corojo to the lighter Ecuadorian Connecticut from a visual perspective. A few one-off veins create some ridges, though nothing that I would call distracting. The barber pole design seems to be rolled quite well as the seams of the wrappers lay flat, they are evenly spaced and cleanly cut. The cap leaves a little to be desired visually, as while it seems like it’s from the Ecuadorian Connecticut tobacco, it has a more matte finish and a color that isn’t as vibrant as the rest of the tobacco. The wrapper around the foot of one sample is also noticeably different, as it is a shade in between those on the barber pole and has a rather pronounced vein, as well as some dried adhesive spots. There’s a bit of give to the cigar when squeezed, not enough to warrant immediate concern but something that I’m keeping in the back of my head in case combustion is an issue and some dry boxing seems in order. Not only is the foot covered but that tobacco is then twisted into a little pigtail, limiting how much of an aroma I can get from the foot. What I do get has a bit of sweet corn cereal, not quite Frosted Flakes but a bit more than regular Corn Flakes. There also seems to be a warm apple cider and nutmeg aroma as well, something that takes a second to register as it’s not something I can recall having in some time. As I expect given the capped foot, the cold draw feels ever-so-slightly restricted. The flavors aren’t quite as vibrant here as there is still some of the corn cereal note but it is rather generic and muted. There’s some sweetness but it barely registers, while pepper is largely non-existent.

The draw on the Gran Habano Persian Queen Kiana Barber Pole LE improves almost immediately upon being lit, and any concerns I might have had are immediately eased. As for flavor, it’s surprisingly like the corn cereal flavor I got before lighting it. The first puffs taste just a bit damp, which might be hampering the flavor, but there is still that flavor with a bit of sweetness. It feels odd calling it a soggy cornflake flavor, but that comparison does cross my mind during the first sample. There isn’t a lot of pepper in the early going, just a bit of white pepper that brightens up the finish. Retrohales have a more robust black pepper; it’s earthier and has a bit of smokiness to it, creating a contrast to what the palate gets. One sample has a bit of a funky flavor that manifests as a waxy, grassy candela kind of flavor, though this particular sample also seemed to have a buildup of tobacco at the head. After digging it out, things seemed to improve a bit. The smoke has a decently creamy texture to it, even if the flavor doesn’t translate to the palate completely. There’s a bit of a sour cedar and raw pepper on the finish, hardly enough to notice unless you were really paying attention to it, which is what happens when working on a review. The latter tends to stand out more, possibly a sign of not quite A-grade tobacco or a thorough enough fermentation process, with one sample having more than the other two. The draw, combustion, smoke production and burn line are all very good thus far. The ash can be a bit fragile, but otherwise there is little to complain about. Flavor is medium-plus that can get a bit aggressive or irritating at times, body is medium or a tick more, while strength isn’t yet at medium.

There’s still some creaminess to the texture of the smoke, and at the start of the second third of the Persian Queen it starts to emerge as a flavor on the palate. It’s subtle at best, but it’s the first time that I can say it’s legitimately part of the profile. Other than that, there haven’t been many transitions in flavor; the corn cereal note has disappeared not long into this section, replaced by a familiar flavor of dry, unprocessed wood. It’s also not long into this section that the tobacco shows some more signs of being average in terms of quality, especially in the case of the third sample I smoked, which can’t shake whatever this funky flavor is. I get some slight irritation from the flavors as certain components aren’t quite smooth as they hit the taste buds. It’s by no means an overly harsh sensation, or anything that I don’t think could be masked with a solid beverage, but it does stand out when being analyzed and only some club soda to drink. A few combustion issues arise in this section during the first sample, though they are sporadic and minor enough to make me think it’s user error and the other samples are in need of dry boxing. Flavor is a solid medium, body is a touch over medium, and strength is medium-minus.

I’d be lying if I said I was expecting a ton of complexity from the Persian Queen, but there are some moments where the cigar does exceed my expectations, one of which comes in the transition to the final third. Samples that seem to have a bit more creaminess do this best, mixing with the woodiness and pepper to create a familiar and enjoyable harmony, particularly when they momentarily all get in tune and avoid any roughness. There are moments where I think I get a bit of nuttiness—cashews, namely—though it’s fairly fleeting and hardly more than a passing note that might just be my taste buds looking for something else to call the consistent wood flavor. There’s some more woodiness emerging in the final inches, though like most of the other flavors that the Gran Habano Persian Queen Kiana Barber Pole LE has offered, it is tame and doesn’t really leap out of the cigar and onto the palate. What does do that, however, is a bit of char that roughens up the flavor in the final inches, helping the fairly mild black pepper stand out but leaving a bit of a singe on my tongue. Construction remains very good across the board, while flavor finishes medium-full, body is medium-plus, and strength is just creeping past medium.

Final Notes

  • Here’s your semi-regular reminder that it’s a good idea to have some blank cigar bands on hand so you can write down what your unbanded cigars are, as well as any other notes about a cigar in general, such as its production date or where you acquired it.
  • I can still remember sitting in a cigar shop in Gilbert, Ariz. that unfortunately no longer exists and smoking an early version of the Gran Habano Persian King not long after I had moved to the area, which was in November 2009.
  • In the appearance section, I mentioned that I was concerned that I might need to dry box some of the samples based on the pre-light feel of the first one. Thankfully that ended up not being needed and each one burned quite well.
  • If someone handed me an unbanded barber pole cigar, the third sample with the constant funkiness is what I would expect it to taste like. That said, the other two samples performed better than expected.
  • I could definitely see someone being confused as to what to do with the closed, pigtailed foot. For me, it’s simple: burn right through it.
  • None of the three samples gave me much of a lingering nicotine buzz.
  • The cigars for this review were purchased by halfwheel.
  • Final smoking time was one hour and 40 minutes on average.
  • Site sponsor Atlantic Cigar Co. carries the Gran Habano Persian Queen Kiana Barber Pole LE.
84 Overall Score

Much like you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, you shouldn’t judge a cigar by its packaging, or lack thereof. But sometimes you should, which is pretty close to how I feel about the Gran Habano Persian Queen Kiana Barber Pole LE. This barber pole with no band and fairly plain boxes can be enjoyable at times and certainly isn’t the worst $7ish cigar I’ve smoked. Yet the flavors tend to be on the flat and monotone side, and while there are some good notes, there’s more of a lingering funkiness that detracts more than it impresses. Construction is fantastic, and if you’ve got a decent beverage with which to pair this cigar, you might very well be able to overlook its shortcomings. But on its own, it doesn’t take long to understand that this simply isn’t in the upper half of Gran Habano’s portfolio when it comes to flavor or enjoyability.

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About the author

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 MLB.com, plus I'm a voice over artist. I previously covered the Phoenix and national cigar scene for Examiner.com, and was an editor for Cigar Snob magazine.

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