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Stogie Reviews: Paul Garmirian Gourmet Belicoso Fino ’91

26 Feb 2009

The year was 1991. Operation Desert Storm began, the Soviet Union officially came to an end, Michael Jordan led the Chicago Bulls to their first NBA title, and the two Belicoso Finos I smoked for this review were completed and boxed.

Paul Garmirian Gourmet Belicoso Fino (1991) It won’t surprise you, given the fact that I was eight years old at the time, to learn that I didn’t age this delicacy myself. As my colleague and I wrote in our review of a 1992 Gourmet No. 2, PG offers specially aged cigars in limited quantities at their headquarters in McLean, Virginia. So, unfortunately, you won’t be able to track down this stick even at the limited B&Ms that carry PG products.

That’s a shame because an 18-year-old cigar (the tobacco is certainly a few years older) that was created by an industry traditionalist and pioneer is a real treat. It also serves as a testament to the patience, quality, and care PG prides itself on to make cigars that look, taste, and feel like pre-Castro Cubans.

The first thing I noticed about this Dominican is the unique cap atop the Ecuador-grown Connecticut shade wrapper. I also couldn’t help admiring the matured Colorado-colored leaf; its dry wrinkles have the look of an antique map.

The initial taste is more aggressive than you’d anticipate, especially given the subtle prelight notes of wood, straw, and a touch of honey. The medium-bodied profile includes flavors of tobacco, steak, cereals, and onion, as well as a unique aftertaste that’s difficult to describe but similar to a Davidoff Gran Cru.

While I could tell you about all the other flavors I identified—including roasted nuts, ginger, and some floral notes—that wouldn’t do this masterpiece justice. You’ll have to make a trip to McLean to try this seriously aged cigar and experience its complexity and balance for yourself.

With laudable construction, this cigar’s only drawback is its $14.50 price tag. But that only amounts to a little over 80 cents per year since it was boxed—not a bad deal considering the value it affords in taste. That’s why, for the 1991 edition of the Paul Garmirian Gourmet Belicoso Fino, I’m fully confident in imparting a rare rating of five stogies out of five.

[To read more cigar reviews, please click here.]

Patrick A

photo credit: Stogie Guys

9 Responses to “Stogie Reviews: Paul Garmirian Gourmet Belicoso Fino ’91”

  1. furious Thursday, February 26, 2009 at 2:58 am #

    That review is seriously tempting me to drive down there and pick up a few PG aged examples. I rather enjoyed the vintage Cerdan line, which was rolled in 1982 and "forgotten" about for many years. Great aged flavors that are hard to find in any stick. Anyway, as I live in Annapolis, I just might make the drive to McLean sometime soon.

  2. Falls Church Thursday, February 26, 2009 at 7:45 am #

    It would be nice to know the subjective strength of this particular stick. In my experience, smoking PG cigars is like playing Russian roulette. You never know which are going to knock you over. However, I haven't really acquired a taste for full strength cigars, so perhaps it isn't an issue for most.

  3. Andy Thursday, February 26, 2009 at 9:47 am #

    Thanks for smoking and rating another PG Cigar. Paul rarely gets the attention or credit that he deserves.

  4. Patrick A Thursday, February 26, 2009 at 1:31 pm #

    @ Falls Church: I think the "subjective strength" could best be described as medium. This cigar certainly won't knock you over–then again, I haven't had any PGs that would.

  5. Patrick A Thursday, February 26, 2009 at 1:37 pm #

    Also, when I asked Kevork Garmirian about this cigar's unique shape and cap, here's the story he relayed to me:

    "When the PG Belicoso was introduced in the United States in 1990, it was the first Belicoso to be introduced in the American market. Belicoso and Belicoso Fino were based on the traditional Cuban Belicoso Fino by Bolivar.

    The shape of the Belicoso Fino Bolivar made in Cuba started at 52 at the foot and tapered down slightly as you got closer to the head of the cigar. The new innovation of the PG Belicoso was that the cigar started at the foot at a ring gauge of 52 and continued on to the head of the cigar by maintaining the 52 ring gauge.

    In the absence of the mold for the Belicoso shape in the Dominican Republic, at that time, the original PG Belicosos were rolled by only one roller named Socrates at Hendrik Kelner’s Tobacos Dominicanos. The skill that Socrates used to roll the Belicosos was that once the cigar, beginning and ending at 52 ring gauge, came out of the mold comprised of the fillers and the binder, the tip was constructed by rolling the wrapper around the cigar and shaping it in a pointed manner thus having the head of a Torpedo cigar and the body of a cigar that started at 52 and ended at 52 (without tapering down to what normally happens with Torpedo, which I call ‘the funnelling effect’. )"

    Unlike the head of a regular cigar which is completed by adding a small separate piece of wrapper to produce the cap of the finished cigar, in the case of the Belicoso, the head is produced with a continual twist of the wrapper toward the head of the cigar to produce the tip.

    Eventually, the construction of the PG Belicosos was entrusted to a limited number of rollers who now had acquired the skills to roll the Belicosos and Belicoso Finos after years of experience."

  6. Dan H Thursday, February 26, 2009 at 6:30 pm #

    Excellent review. I was introduced to PG cigars by my former boss… excellent stick!

  7. CWS Sunday, March 1, 2009 at 6:05 am #

    PGs are quickly becoming one of my favorites – hard to find, but worth it. Thanks for all the info on PGs – never would have known about them if it weren't for the reviews. Thanks again . . .

  8. NJI Friday, August 28, 2009 at 3:04 pm #

    I happen to have my first experience with a PG '91 Belicosos Fino Gourmet Series cigar and must say that the smoke was just wonderful. Having heard about these cigars through my tobacconist I never had the opportunity to discover the pleasure of the brand. Overall it was certainly a pleasant surprise as it lived up to its reputation and was far better than I expected. Smooth easy draw with a very nice flavor of earthy notes which left a satisfying taste on my pallet. The burn was one of the best that you can expect while maintaining a nice long ash. I’m an individual that likes to age my cigars and hold onto them for several years and can foresee that to be the case with these boxes ; so long as my cigar buddies don't beg me too much I’ll be OK 🙂 With the tobacco being close to 25 years old I will treasure the goods and must say that it is worth the effort in finding a supply as I highly recommend giving these beautiful smokes a try…

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