Cigar Review: G.A.R. Opium (Pre-Release Candidate)

I recently had the opportunity to speak with George Rico about the Opium cigar and he shared with me how important a project it has been to him. The cigar is a labor of love that has been years in the making and with the release right around the corner I was offered a few samples to try.

The cigar is expected to reach retailers near the end of the first quarter and the name is sure to create conversation. It will also cause the smoker to choose his choice of words more carefully. If someone asks, “What are you smoking” shouting across to a friend, “I’m smoking Opium” might get you a lot of strange looks.

Cigar: G.A.R. Opium
Size: 6 x 50
Wrapper: Nicaragua Habano Corojo Hybrid
Binder: Nicaragua Habano
Filler: Not Released
Strength: Medium
Twitter: @GHCigars

Opium by George A. Rico

Opium by George A. Rico

Appearance and Construction: The cigar features a gorgeous reddish-brown wrapper that has some tooth to it and a few thin veins as well. Being this a pre-release sample I was really impressed with a near flawless roll and a flat cap that was very Cuban-esque. The band of the cigar is red and gold with white lettering that as a whole reminds me of southern Asia.

Flavor & Notes: Prior to cutting the cigar the foot offered some nice warm notes of cedar, spice and a hint of sweetness. Once I clipped the cap and performed the cold draw I was caught off guard by the myriad of notes. There was spice, caramel and a touch of earth. If this was any indication of what was to come I would be thoroughly impressed. Once the cigar was lit there was a slight hint of spice through the nose. As we progressed down the first third of the cigar I was amazed at how much I tasted apples. For me whenever I get this note it takes me back to when my father was alive. I’ve noticed it before on other cigars but here it is so much more prevalent. The apple is quickly joined by notes of cinnamon and a touch of earth. As the G.A.R. Opium enters the second third the notes of apples have fade significantly. The notes here are cinnamon and spice with a touch of mint as the second third comes to a close. As we went the final third of the cigar the strength kicks up a notch, and a espresso note develops with some sweetness in the background making this a well balanced cigar.

Smoking Characteristics: The burn of the cigar was jagged and at one time one side was about 1/4″ ahead of the other but it self corrected which is always a bonus. The ash was strong and I ashed a total of 3 times for the duration of the cigar and probably could of let it hold on longer then I chose. The draw was perfect with only a slight resistance which is perfect in my book. There was an ample volume of smoke which allowed me to have some fun with smoke rings.

Conclusion: I am the type of person who subscribes to taste and complexity over strength. If you are a person who subscribes to the mantra, it has to be strong to be good this stick most likely isn’t for you. While labeled as medium bodied the final third is closer to full bodied then the rest of the cigar. For me this was a great cigar and was right in my wheelhouse and I can see reaching for it again and again.

Price: $7.00 – $9.00
Score: 92