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In late 2003, Graycliff introduced the Espresso line of cigars, which is the fullest-bodied blend in the Graycliff line. Espresso is produced at Graycliff’s factory in Nassau, Bahamas and it was originally blended by Cuban expatriate Avelino Lara, who is credited with creating the Cuban Cohiba, in conjunction with Graycliff owner Enrico Garzaroli.

In terms of production, first came the Red Label, followed by Profesionale then the more full-bodied Crystal and finally the fullest-bodied, Espresso

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Graycliff has this to say about the Espresso blend:

The Espresso has a Costa Rican wrapper, a leaf that is rough to the touch and coarse on the palate, and therefore not typically found in the smoothest-tasting cigars. “This is definitely not your typical Costa Rican-tasting tobacco,” says Garzaroli. In a research center near his Costa Rican farms, Garzaroli worked with Lara to develop a sterile and stronger hybrid of the legendary Cuban corojo seed. They combined this seed with a re-engineered Cuban Cameroon leaf, an Ecuadorian-grown ligero, and a Nicaraguan tobacco aged for six years. This hefty combination has been tempered by a flavorful touch of Philippine Simaba added to the filler. The Graycliff Espresso is the ultimate power smoke in more ways than one. While stronger-tasting cigars have become increasingly popular over the past few years, many manufacturers have sacrificed finesse in favor of potency. Given the vagaries of the volatile tobaccos used in developing these powerhouse cigars, it is a difficult balance to strike. The flavor is pungent and chocolaty, with an added boost of caffeine. This is not a cigar for the uninitiated, but like its namesake, the Espresso is a sophisticated and powerful way to end the evening.

There were three vitolas released in the Espresso line when it debuted in 2003, but there have always been other vitolas in the line that are produced, but are only available through specific stores, notably the Elegante (Lancero) and the Shagfoot Piramide.

The three core vitolas are:

  • PG — (5 1/8 x 50)
  • Pirate — (6 x 52)
  • Presidente — (7 x 48)

The six others are:

  • Taco — (4 1/2 x 44)
  • Salomones —(7 1/2 x 48)
  • Big Bamboo — 14 x 50)
  • Piccolo — (4 1/2 x 46)
  • Elegante — (7 x 38)
  • Shagfoot Piramide — (7 x 52)

Graycliff Espresso Elegante 2.png

  • Cigar Reviewed: Graycliff Espresso Elegante
  • Country of Origin: Bahamas
  • Factory: Graycliff Cigar Factory
  • Wrapper: Costa Rican Corojo Seed Hybrid Maduro
  • Binder: Cameroon
  • Filler: Ecuadorian Ligero, Filipino Simaba & Nicaragua
  • Size: 7 Inches
  • Ring Gauge: 38
  • Vitola: Lancero
  • MSRP: $10 (Boxes of 25, $250)
  • Date Released: 2005
  • Number of Cigars Smoked for Review: 2

The cigar itself has a light milk chocolate brown wrapper that is quite rough to the touch with very little oil to be seen. It has several prominent veins running up and down its length and the wrapper smells distinctly of sweet chocolate, cedar and earth.

It starts with a bit of spice along with strong sweet leather and earth notes. The combination of the aforementioned flavors are very nicely proportioned and make for a great start to the cigar.

Graycliff Espresso Elegante 3.png

The second third of the Graycliff Espresso Elegante still has spice present in an ideal amount—not too much to overwhelm flavors, but not too little that it did not have an impact. It’s still an earthy profile with some coffee and leather notes, but there is also some light floral notes  that come and go.

Graycliff Espresso Elegante 4.png

There is a bit more coffee in the final third. Earthiness also recedes replaced by creaminess, nuttiness and some tart flavors.

Graycliff Espresso Elegante 5.png

 

Final Notes

  • This blend seems almost impeccably suited for the lancero format.
  • Although not the best looking cigar on the outside, the burn and draw were great for the entire cigar.
  • There was quite a bit of great, creamy white smoke that coated the inside of my mouth. It also smelled very sweet.
  • There was not as much coffee or Espresso notes present as there was in the Double Espresso.
  • Final smoking time was one hour and 45 minutes.
91 Overall Score

Honestly, while I was expecting this cigar to be good, I was a bit surprised at how much I enjoyed it. While not the strongest, the flavors that are present were distinct, complex and almost perfectly balanced. Add in the great burn and draw, and this is a winner all around. It's by far the best Graycliff I have smoked and I would not hesitate to pick up more even at the somewhat inflated prices they command.

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Brooks Whittington
About the author

I have been smoking cigars for over eight years. A documentary wedding photographer by trade, I spent seven years as a photojournalist for the Dallas Morning News and the Fort Worth Star Telegram. I started the cigar blog SmokingStogie in 2008 after realizing that there was a need for a cigar blog with better photographs and more in-depth information about each release. SmokingStogie quickly became one of the more influential cigar blogs on the internet, known for reviewing preproduction, prerelease, rare, extremely hard-to-find and expensive cigars. I am a co-founder of halfwheel and now serve as an editor for halfwheel.

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