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Stogie Reviews: Graycliff 1666 Pirate

17 Mar 2009

With limited production, high prices, and few retailers, Graycliff is among the most elusive of the super premium cigar brands. And I suspect, for many of us, Enrico Garzaroli’s creations will become even more obscure as today’s economic turmoil continues to take its toll.

Graycliff 1666 PirateNevertheless, there are deals to be had. You can avoid this 6 inch by 52 ring gauge cigar’s regular price tag by picking it up in online samplers—a good strategy if you haven’t yet tried a 1666, since the Pirate vitola retails for $12-16 apiece by the box or 5-pack.

Various Graycliff lines, from Château Grand Cru and Espresso to Profesionale and Emerald, have earned high marks in mainstream publications like Cigar Aficionado and Smoke Magazine. To date, I’ve enjoyed every Graycliff I’ve encountered. I remain skeptical, however, that they’re worth the extremely high cost.

I set out to see if the 1666 blend would be an exception with the help of two Pirates from my humidor. Created to commemorate the year a church was built on the land that now holds the Graycliff Hotel, this line includes a Jaltepec maduro wrapper, an Ecuador Sumatra binder, and long filler tobaccos from Peru, Colombia, Brazil, and Mexico.

I found tons of hearty flavors off the dark, textured, and splotchy wrapper, including raisin, espresso, and cocoa. Dare I say it almost captures the prelight aroma of an Opus X?

While this stick is undoubtedly firmer than other Graycliffs (which isn’t saying much), it clips cleanly to reveal a light, airy draw. The foot lights effortlessly and starts with a surprisingly gentle flavor of plum, cream, and coffee. Each puff yields plentiful tufts of smoke.

As the straight burn progresses past the first inch, I am reminded of a moist chocolate cake flavor that is found in cigars with mata fina wrappers like the Alonso Menendez. Delicious. Maintaining a flavorful, medium-bodied profile throughout, the final third sees a slightly lamentable departure to more typical cigar tastes of tobacco and pepper.

The well-behaved burn stays even to the nub with only rare instances of required maintenance. The ash builds nicely off the foot for up to two inches, but it’s less sturdy than it looks; ash early and often if you’re smoking indoors or if you want to avoid a lapful.

All things considered, and even though this creation isn’t worthy of such an obnoxious price tag, the Graycliff 1666 Pirate earns four stogies out of five.

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

Patrick A

photo credit: Stogie Guys

25 Responses to “Stogie Reviews: Graycliff 1666 Pirate”

  1. CWS Tuesday, March 17, 2009 at 12:14 am #

    I had to throw out all my Graycliff 1666s due to beetles. Wasn't overly impressed with the cigar either – probably due to the price – but wanted to try them regardless.

  2. solid Tuesday, March 17, 2009 at 12:46 am #

    This cigar is shit! No way does compare to an Opus X! Even a machine roled Cuban taste better than this!!! I say buy Brazilian Maduro wrapped CAO which would be a much more worth while and rewarding smoke than this piece of shit!!! (Sorry for the strong language, but Graycliff is such a arrogant cigar company, that they can't even justify they're worth in a decently priced cigar!)

  3. solid Tuesday, March 17, 2009 at 12:56 am #

    Avelino Lara, you are a "has been"! How can you deny your Cuban roots! No complexity, no flavor! There is nothing enjoyable about this cigar, which is probably why CI and whores this shit out!!!

  4. dmjones Tuesday, March 17, 2009 at 2:11 am #

    While not feeling quite as strongly as "solid" does above, I do mostly agree. The 1666 isn't a very satisfying cigar and if you paid more than about $4 you got ripped off. I bought a sampler of them from CI a while back–some sizes are pretty good, most are pretty forgettable.

    I also heard that they are not made in the same place as the other Graycliffs and, therefore, aren't considered "real" Graycliffs by some. The shop I used to hang at in SoCal had all the GC line (obnoxious prices and all) but never carried the 1666. Probably not the worst cigar in the world, especially for $3 or $4 a stick, but it would be insulting to be charged $10 or more for this one as it's just not even close to worth it.

  5. Patrick M Tuesday, March 17, 2009 at 3:05 am #

    "Graycliff 1666 is the only line of cigars made by Graycliff outside of the Bahamas." This is the first line in the description from I have enjoyed the few of the 1666 that I smoked however, they are definitely not worth the $13 a stick they are listed for. Anytime a cigar approaches that price point I start feeling like it better be as good as a Padron Anniversary which is in that same price rangs, and the 1666 isn't close to being that good, at least for me.

  6. Patrick A Tuesday, March 17, 2009 at 4:00 am #

    Certainly some strong opinions here. Thanks to everyone for chiming in.

    Personally, I'm glad I went into this cigar without any preconceived notions of how it stacks up. Other than reading several other reviews—some regard 1666 is a favorite, others as an unnecessary financial burden—I didn’t really know what to expect.

    But I stand by what I wrote. This cigar isn’t worth the listed price, but I’ll buy more through markdown deals and sampler packs. And I’ll likely continue to find them complex and enjoyable. I hope you guys don’t fault me for that. 🙂

    As for the Opus X comment, please note that I in no way intended to liken this cigar’s overall performance to that highly praised legend. I was merely comparing the prelight notes. Rich aromas of raisin off the wrapper and foot are hard to come by.

  7. Millard Tuesday, March 17, 2009 at 4:11 am #

    I, for the record, enjoy this cigar as a nice, fairly mild $5 smoke. This review matches with my opinion.

    Maybe my tastebuds are unique, though, because there are many cigars that get put on pedestals in the industry that I find unworthy of praise.

  8. Patrick S Tuesday, March 17, 2009 at 4:26 am #

    I can't say my experience with this cigar is as negative many others.

    Sure, at $12-16 I'd consider it to be grossly overpriced… but if you do just a little shopping around you end up paying around $4 a stick for these. At that price point I consider it a good, solid medium-bodied maduro.

    Just last week I spent a lunch break enjoying some unseasonably warm weather by smoking a 1666 corona paired up with an Starbucks espresso over ice. It went great.

  9. Santino B Tuesday, March 17, 2009 at 12:31 pm #

    Totally sub-par cigar. $ out of 5 is a joke. I love this site and think the reviews are spot on, but this cigar is a total POS unless you are really poor and can't afford a good cigar, or you live on an island. Stay away, this cigar has the sophistication and complexity of road salt. Yuck.

  10. Chris Tuesday, March 17, 2009 at 3:44 pm #

    My experience with this cigar has been so-so as well. I have quite enjoyed other Graycliffs (for which I did not pay full price, btw), but this one is a golf or bbq cigar. Definitely not a cigar I would spend much time contemplating. 4 out of 5 stogies is quite a generous score–maybe Patrick just got lucky and got a good batch.

  11. Chris V Tuesday, March 17, 2009 at 3:46 pm #

    As for the "beetle" note on this cigar. If you remember, I was the writer of the guest commentary on beetles awhile back. This (and the graycliff double espresso) are two notorious cigars when it comes to this problem. This could be HIGHLY due to the fact that CI sells these two smokes together in a package that anyone who likes the double espresso (me) can't resist (it was like $199 for 18 DEs and 20 1666s). Mine tapped black ash a couple weeks after I got them (thankfully still in my DMZ humidor) and CI gladly took back the entire shipment and replaced them. I have had no problem with those… though I do isolate them (and all my Graycliffs) in their own well-sealing drawer in my humidor. You should have talked to the retailer before trashing them… most stand behind their sales… in my case several WEEKS after purchase.

  12. Jimmy B Tuesday, March 17, 2009 at 5:54 pm #

    I bought a 5 pack of the 1666s from CI about a year ago. First two were plugged and unredeemable. I finally got one to smoke and it was just OK. Maybe the bad experience tainted my opinion, but I won't be ordering any more.

  13. Patrick A Wednesday, March 18, 2009 at 3:57 am #

    Well, given the overwhelmingly negative response, we’ll have to chalk my experience with two Pirates up as an anomaly. Maybe I just got a well-constructed, good tasting batch from an otherwise disappointing line.

    This is the reason, by the way, why we almost always smoke at least two of the same blend and vitola before a review. The first Pirate I had was from a sampler pack that I bought relatively recently. The other had been sitting in my humidor from God knows where for God knows how long.

  14. George E. Wednesday, March 18, 2009 at 5:43 am #

    For more on the subject of beetles and Graycliff, see this over at Stogie Review:

  15. Chris V Thursday, March 19, 2009 at 2:24 pm #

    Had another today just to make sure… not bad… not bad. But then again, I paid $5…

  16. tim Saturday, March 21, 2009 at 1:13 am #

    Bought a 4 pack based on your initial review. I too must have got a good batch. Very enjoyable with no problems. $3.50 a stick.

  17. Jon Sunday, July 26, 2009 at 4:26 pm #

    I just smoked my first of 10 Graycliff's that I got at a discount. The draw was a little tight and had to clip it a bit lower. Burn was solid and definitely hit the chocolaty notes. As others have said – if you get them at $3-4 a stick like I did, it was fine. But if I paid retail for it at a B&M, I would have been bummed especially after having a RP Old World Maduro yesterday. No comparison.

  18. FcoP Thursday, September 24, 2009 at 12:43 pm #

    Nothing special… This is my review from the 1666.

    There are lots of better cigars to choose for an even 3.00 to 4.00 special deal you can find for them. Not a bad cigar but nothing great to remember…

  19. Brown Bear Sunday, November 1, 2009 at 10:56 am #

    If you paid more than $4 for this crappy stick, you got reamed! I paid around $2 from a sampler and thought the 1666 was average at best. The first third was hell! Bitter metal taste that lingred all the way into the 2nd third and refused to stay lit. The ash was weak and flaky. The last 2 thirds improved dramatically, but still an average (hot) smoke at best. $14 a stick??? O- Hell-No!

  20. islandak Tuesday, February 2, 2010 at 10:36 pm #

    I'm smoking one right now. For $3 – $4 a stick this is a nice cigar. I've had about five of these and I've liked all of them. They are absolutely NOT worth $13, $19 or whatever crazy MSRP they are listed at. But I am happy to have them in my humidor.

  21. LowKey Thursday, March 4, 2010 at 3:58 am #

    I must have purchased a good batch! My 1666 had a wonderful story line! Started with a kick of spice, 1/3 was a demo of premium medium bodied smooth tobacco, 2/3 had great complexity (floral, cream and few other great flavours I couldn’t define), Home stretch kicked off with a change from medium to med/full. With notes of spice, coffee and a touch of sweetness. The final inch was nothing special.

    This cigar is a smooth dry smoke, be sure to have a drink near by. The finish is long and forgiving (great for armatures like me who need a bit of time to define various under tones). I enjoyed every aspect of this smoke. A touch more ligero would have raised the bar even higher for me (my Cuban exposure begs for more power).

    Construction: Not a single flaw. Perfect burn.

    Value: It's worth $7.00 no more no less .

    Cheers Guys

  22. Franck Monday, August 16, 2010 at 9:07 pm #

    I use to really like this cigar ismoked like 3 or 4.I’m now smoking one and I’m very disapointed.the taste is like oil paint!

  23. Thomas Tuesday, December 28, 2010 at 9:12 pm #

    At 140.00 a box of 20, I found my batch to be very appealing… At about 2" into my 1666 Pirate I took a long draw and was rewarded with what can only be described as half a spoonful of brown sugar. This has yet to happen again (but I keep hoping). As far as the price…they are pricey…but I have smoked more expensive cigars that wereworse tasting and unsatisfying. Maybe my taste buds are not in sync with the detractors out there, but when I start getting low…I WILL order some more !

  24. BB Wednesday, February 16, 2011 at 10:24 am #

    thanks to a 50 degree day in mid Feb here in Indy, I'm trying my first 1666. Not bad, but it's needed 2 burn corrections. I received 2 of them in a sampler pack last fall. Not impressed enough for 4 stars; maybe 3/5.

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