The 4th Generation Cuban Heritage Cigar Maker Talks FDA Regs., New Releases, and More
EASTON, PA–(Marketwired – September 22, 2016) – Learning the tobacco trade from his father, Guillermo, a third generation Cuban expatriate tobacco grower and blender, George A. Rico developed his own special talent for blending cigars. Now celebrating their 20th year in business, it is that hereditary instinct which has led to the singular flavor and complexity of Gran Habano cigars, and what distinguishes this boutique cigar manufacturer from all others. George recently sat down with Cigar Advisor executive editor, Gary Korb, to talk about his approach to blending cigars, how the new FDA regulations have affected his company, a review of their flagship blends, and the new Gran Habano cigars that are now arriving in retail cigar stores across the country.
With regard to how the newly-imposed FDA tobacco regulations have impacted his company George says, “It was like the fear of the unknown, especially in the first few months after the announcement was made. We didn’t know exactly how the new rules would affect us, and I was concerned about the future of the family business. Plus, as a small company, you’re not sure what brands will be able to stay on the market.”
Fortunately, most of Gran Habano’s cigars are grandfathered under the FDA’s predicate date of February 15th, 2007, but the stress remains. As George adds, “We just don’t know what they’re going to do, and it’s very scary.”
What’s interesting about Gran Habano Cigars is that, although most of their cigars are produced in Honduras, no Honduran-grown tobaccos are used in their blends. The reason for this is discussed during the podcast and has mostly to do with having purchased the factory shortly after the war in Honduras. Even though 90% of their tobacco is grown in Nicaragua, mostly in the Jalapa Valley, the Rico’s also have a farm in Colombia, which is why a good amount of Colombian leaf is found in their cigars, as well as tobaccos from Ecuador, Brazil and Costa Rica, among others.
“When we first opened the factory in Honduras, we didn’t have access to a lot of one type of tobacco,” says George. “Plus some tobaccos were very costly, so we got creative by using tobaccos that a lot of other manufacturers weren’t using.”
“I was impressed with how long it’s taken George to create some of the Gran Habano blends,” said Korb. “For example, his George Rico Miami STK American Puro cigars took 10 years to create, and the company also believes in long-aging their tobaccos, which is evident in their Gran Habano Gran Reserva #5 2010 cigars.”
Among the Gran Habano cigars that cigar smokers will soon find at their local tobacconists and online cigar stores is the Gran Habano La Conquista cigars selection.
“Using a triple ligero blend, this is a cigar that shows a lot of depth and complexity. It starts out spicy then rounds-out to a very creamy and sweeter smoke.” says George.
Also headed to retail is something that you don’t see very much anymore — a limited edition Culebra. Spanish for “snake,” this classic “figurado” consists of three cigars braided together. “George explains the history of the Culebra during the podcast,” says Korb, “but fans of the Gran Habano brand will be happy to know that this Culebra is comprised of a Gran Habano #1 Connecticut, a #3 Habano, and a #5 Corojo.”
“Our family doctrine is to create cigars with excellent balance, flavor and complexity, says George. Every time we put out a new blend, we want to make sure it’s different from anything else.”
About Cigar Advisor
Cigar Advisor, the nation’s premiere online cigar magazine, proudly serves cigar enthusiasts with a uniquely down-to-earth perspective on the enjoyment of premium cigars. Well-known and highly regarded for providing acclaimed educational cigar content and behind-the-scenes industry articles from some of the business’s top names, the Cigar Advisor editors deliver an array of content that speaks directly to those who enjoy the cigar lifestyle.