The Grand Empire Reserve was the second line following the successful Reinado line. The cigar was released in a single vitola called Elegidos, and it was a box pressed robusto extra. Like the previous Reinado, the cigar was a Nicaraguan puro and the tobacco still underwent a unique fermentation process. The cigars themselves are also made in Nicaragua with the factory located in Condega. This year at the 2013 IPCPR the company will be announcing the launch of three new vitolas in the Grand Empire Reserve line. One, a petit lancero, will be limited in production, and the other three will be solid additions to the line. The sizes will speak well to a variety of smokers, brilliant move on Reinado's part, and they will be a true corona gorda, true toro and true gordo. I say true in front of those because the sizes reflect the traditional sizes for those smokes. I say it is a brilliant move because he is producing a cigar that will speak to all level of smokers. For this review I was gifted the Toro vitola.
The Grand Empire Reserve Toro measures 6" with a 52 ring gauge and is a Nicaraguan puro. It has a Nicaraguan Habano Maduro wrapper and Nicaraguan binder and fillers. The cigar comes pressed and has a lovely cap to finish. It is firm in hand and shows some lovely oils throughout. There are some minor veins as well throughout the cigar, but nothing that has the wrapper feeling bumpy. It is very smooth throughout and the press is perfect on the cigar. The coloring shows this lovely chocolate like coloring, and I would classify it as being Colorado Maduro. There is an aroma of aged tobacco, chocolate, red pepper and cinnamon at the foot, and I am getting a spicy and woody aroma on the wrapper. The cold draw on the cigar is terrific, and it is showing some lovely flavors.
Lighting up the cigar it begins by showing some amazing flavors. It starts off with this maple syrup like quality and is accompanied by these lovely paprika notes. There are some chocolate and coffee bean notes with the cigar also, and it has a barnyard and tobacco like finish. It is very smooth and rich but balanced as well so it does not overpower the palate. I would say the body of the cigar is between medium and medium full, and the strength level of the cigar is a at a medium to medium full level as well. It is a nice beginning to a cigar, and whether it grows in strength or not, this is a beginning I love to see in cigars. The construction is immaculate and it produces a burn line that is razor sharp. There is a lovely charcoal ash to the cigar, and it is firm and not flaky. So far the beginning is amazing, and it is a cigar that explains why I love cigars.
I am in the second third of the cigar now and I am finding the flavor profile to be getting dark and fuller, and the strength is on the rise too. I would say that the strength in this third is at a solid medium full level, and the body is at a medium full level as well. I am getting some solid dark chocolate notes to the cigar, and it is accompanied by those lovely paprika and spice notes. There are still some coffee beans showing up with the cigar also, and it is finishing by showing a flavor profile that is reminiscent to fall leaves burning. It is very enjoyable as a cigar, and brings back memories of fall in the north. The construction on the cigar is terrific and it is producing that solid burn line with a lovely charcoal ash. The ash is holding on firmly to the cigar and I am getting a nice cool draw to the smoke.
In the final third of the cigar I see another rise in terms of strength and body, and we are a full level for both. The flavor profile is fairly similar to the second third, but I am getting a little bit more coffee notes now. It is followed by some chocolate and spices notes, and then it shows the leaves and tobacco notes on the finish. The cigar loses some of that maple syrup sweetness as the cigar progresses, and it becomes dark and almost molasses like. It is a complex cigar, and the flavor profiles really pop from the wrapper with the smaller ring gauge and the fact that it is still box pressed. Construction wise this cigar has remained wonderful, and it has that even burn line which is great to see. The ash is this lovely charcoal gray color and it is firm on the end of the cigar. I smoke this toro down to the nub where it remains fairly cool and the last draw shows wonderful tobacco and coffee bean notes.
The Grand Empire Reserve line is a line that has grown on me with every smoke I have had, and it is consistently wonderful. I am always getting great construction with each smoke and the flavors are terrific as well. There is something very unique to the smoke and I have not picked up the flavor profile in anything else out there. It shows that great Nicaraguan strength and body while showing an elegance that not all Nicaraguan puros possess. The cigar has some distinct flavors, but there is a lot of subtle flavors in the background as well. The Toro offering of the Grand Empire Reserve offered a perfect smoking experience with construction and a nice complex flavor profile. It showed some transitioning from beginning to end, and was a cigar that grew in body and strength as it came to a close. I think the Toro shows more transitioning overall than the Elegidos, but the flavor profile in the Elegidos is out of this world. I loved how the first third of this cigar began, and it really caught my attention from the get go. I would give this cigar a solid 92 and pick them up frequently. I can't say whether I would pick this or the Elegidos up more often as they are both great, but I felt this was more of an evening smoke than the Elegidos if that helps out at all.