We’ve talked at length about how certain words have become closely associated with certain cigar companies, whether it be a red X and Arturo Fuente or the word dirty and Drew Estate. Another word the belongs in that list is the word gourmet, and the company associated with it is PG Cigars, the creation of Dr. Paul Garmirian.

While starting his career as a lecturer on politics and international marketing, as well as managing his real estate firm, Garmirian got into the cigar business officially in 1990. But his interested had grown over many years prior to that, including a span of seven years to research and two years to write what would become a notable cigar book of the time, The Gourmet Guide to Cigars.

Garmirian would also release his own cigars that same year, debuting the original PG Gourmet line in Nov. 1990. The Gourmet Series II would come out in 1999, starting with a Torpedo and Robusto vitola before adding the Connoisseur Belicoso Fino vitolas in 2001.

Since then, he has added several more lines, including the Gourmet Series Reserva Exclusiva, the Gourmet Series Soiree, ARTISAN’s Selection, ARTISAN’s Passion and anniversary releases marking the company’s 15th, 20th and 25th anniversaries.

In 2020, PG Cigars launched a new addition to the Gourmet Series, the aptly named PG Gourmet Series III 30th Anniversary, which celebrates the 30th anniversary of Garmirian’s Gourmet Series line, the company itself and introduces the next chapter of the Gourmet Series line.

Since its debut in 1990, the Gourmet Series blends have progressively gotten a bit stronger and this newest line is no exception. The blend features an Ecuadorian habano wrapper, while the binder and filler come from the Dominican Republic. Garmirian called it “the smoothest strong cigar I’ve ever made.”

It is being offered in three sizes.

  • PG Gourmet Series III 30th Anniversary Bombones Extra (3 1/2 x 46) — $13 (Box of 25, $325)
  • PG Gourmet Series III 30th Anniversary Short Robusto (4 1/2 x 52) — $15.90 (Box of 25, $397.50)
  • PG Gourmet Series III 30th Anniversary Connoisseur (6 x 52) — $17.90 (Box of 25, $447.50)

The cigars were rolled at Oettinger Davidoff AG’s O.K. Cigars in the Dominican Republic and rested for one year before being shipped to the U.S.

Shipping began to a limited group of retailers in early July, while all Paul Garmirian authorized retailers had their orders shipped shortly thereafter.

  • Cigar Reviewed: PG Gourmet Series III 30th Anniversary Short Robusto
  • Country of Origin: Dominican Republic
  • Factory: Occidental Cigar Factory
  • Wrapper: Ecuador (Habano)
  • Binder: Dominican Republic
  • Filler: Dominican Republic
  • Length: 4 1/2 Inches
  • Ring Gauge: 52
  • Vitola: Petit Robusto
  • MSRP: $15.90 (Box of 25, $397.50)
  • Release Date: July 2020
  • Number of Cigars Released: Regular Production
  • Number of Cigars Smoked For Review: 3

There is something quite visually appealing about the PG Gourmet Series III 30th Anniversary Short Robusto, though I’m not sure I’ll be able to express all of the individual characteristics. It’s a compact cigar but not one that feels diminutive; the bands are simple and straight forward, the wrapper is a dark brown with some oily sheen and it just seems to bring everything together quite well. It’s a well-rolled cigar, firm but not hard, and it looks good visually as well. One cap has either a vein or slight crease to it, but I generally don’t complain too much about things I’m going to cut off anyway. The foot of the cigar offers aromas of blondie bars, dry timber and a bit of pepper, which combine to form a dense yet bright and vibrant smell the tingles the nose. One sample also has softer notes of bread dough, though I didn’t find it in the other two. Air moves well on the cold draw, first greeting me with an almost liquid sweetness, coating the front part of my tongue before evolving into something that reminds me of Dr. Pepper. Beyond that, I find a bit of tame black pepper and more hints at timber, while the cigar itself begins to tingle my lips. The third sample is the loosest of the bunch, a bit looser than I would like as well.

I tend to think of Paul Garmirian’s cigars as generally being on the milder, more refined end of the spectrum, but the first puffs of the PG Gourmet Series III 30th Anniversary Short Robusto quickly indicate this cigar is going to end up on a different part of that spectrum. The flavors aren’t overpowering but they are big and vibrant, with more of the timber woodiness, a bit of the Dr. Pepper sweetness and flavor combination, and just enough pepper to prime the senses for what might lay ahead. Retrohales do an even better job at that, as the nose gets a prolonged tingle from the pepper, which seems like a fairly typical combination of black and white pepper at first before evolving into something much more dynamic and unfamiliar, yet very enjoyable. One sample has a softer smoke, though it almost feels a bit incongruent with the flavors. For some palates, I can see the profile being a bit much given how long it lingers and there are times I even find myself reaching for water to clean it off, but other than that the first third is very enjoyable. Flavor is medium-full, body is medium-plus and strength is medium if maybe a tick more. Other than a surprisingly delicate ash, the technical performance has been very good.

The second third gets underway with a more pronounced wood and pepper combination, with the Ecuadorian habano wrapper seemingly firing on all cylinders. It’s also when the profile becomes a bit heavier on the palate and occasionally beyond the palate. Earth and black pepper become a factor, and with what is left of the woodiness, it can be a bit too rambunctious at times. By this point, I definitely appreciate the fullness of the PG Gourmet Series III 30th Anniversary’s blend, though I’m wondering if its relative youth might be driving things a bit too much and as such, some rest will reveal what this cigar is truly offering. That feeling continues to grow as the flavor picks up a bit more black pepper, dry earth and wood; which while making for a hardcore habano lover’s dream, is a bit much for my palate. The final puffs of the second third add in a bit of dry dense earth and black pepper to firm up the body and keep the progression moving towards a full-flavored cigar. The combustion, burn line and smoke production are all very good. 

As the final third of the PG Gourmet Series III 30th Anniversary Short Robusto gets underway, I’m now beginning to think the cigar might be trying to do too much, getting a bit rougher throughout each puff. It’s not consistent across the three samples, but it’s consistent enough to be the natural next thought from what came to mind in the second third. It is now a very full-flavored cigar, with strength building as well, Combustion seems to slow just a bit in the final third, though I’m thinking I might have something to do with that as well, as each puff tends to leave more of a lingering finish in its wake. The woodiness of the profile has gotten a bit heavier on the palate and isn’t quite as bright as it had been earlier, while the earth is still dense and middle of the road in terms of its weight. Pepper is more of an accent note on each puff but is the last thing to leave the palate as it lingers for quite a while on the tongue.


Final Notes

  • I lost track of the number of times that I thought “this really doesn’t taste like a Paul Garmirian cigar” over the three samples I smoked for this review.
  • The caps on these cigars left a bit to be desired. One was downright sloppy.
  • Given Paul Garmirian’s program of aging cigars and then releasing them years—if not decades–later, I’m really intrigued to see what might come out in 2030 and 2040.
  • I’d also be intrigued to see how a box or two of these would age in my own humidor. These don’t taste young, they just taste fairly vibrant and undertaking an extended review where a full box was smoked one-by-one at six-month intervals could be fascinating.
  • There is something refreshing about seeing Paul Garmirian’s handwriting on a box of cigars indicating the year they were rolled. It’s not manufactured, it’s not focus group approved, it’s just him doing what he does.
  • For those interested, Paul Garmirian’s PhD is in International Politics from the Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C.
  • There isn’t overpowering nicotine strength in the PG Gourmet Series III 30th Anniversary Short Robusto, but there is enough to catch your attention, any maybe reach for a bit of white sugar to help counter the effect.
  • The cigars for this review were purchased by halfwheel. Samples were also sent by the company, but they were not used for the review other than to take the picutre of all the vitolas together.
  • Final smoking time was one hour and 20 minutes on average.
89 Overall Score

While a lot of the Cuban cigars reviewed on this site often include the line “this will almost certainly improve with age,” it’s not one used as much for non-Cuban sticks. Yet, it’s one of the main takeaways I’m left with from the PG Gourmet Series III 30th Anniversary Short Robusto. This cigar is certainly among the most flavorful that I can recall from the PG Cigars portfolio and will certainly challenge the notion of the company only offering milder, more subdued blends. All said, I’m really intrigued by what a bit more time could do for this cigar; my hope is that it stays flavorful but shaves off the rougher aspects, which if it does, should result in an exquisite profile befitting of the Gourmet name.

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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 previously the Arizona Rattlers of the Indoor Football League. I also work in a number of roles for Major League Baseball, plus I'm a voice over artist. Prior to joining halfwheel, I covered the Phoenix and national cigar scene for Examiner.com, and was an editor for Cigar Snob magazine.