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Stogie Reviews: Paul Garmirian Symphony 20th Connoisseur

22 Mar 2010

“Symphony” is a fitting name for the newest creation from cigar traditionalist and pioneer Paul Garmirian. Its harmonious flavor calls to mind a complex, balanced composition that leaves the audience calling for an encore performance.

Paul Garmirian Symphony 20th ConnoisseurThat’s high praise. Rest assured, however, that my admiration is well-deserved. I’ve come to expect big things from Garmirian’s boutique, and the 20th Connoisseur exceeds my expectations in every way.

This blend made its world premier in December at a highly anticipated PG event at Morton’s in Reston, Virginia. It was a rare occurrence. PG resists the temptation to come out with something new every year—a hallmark of the company’s dedication to traditionalism and disdain for slick marketing and over-extension.

Celebrating the brand’s 20th anniversary, Symphony was crafted by Henke Kelner of Davidoff fame and Eladio Diaz, his chief blender. It consists of four different filler tobaccos, a Havana-seed binder, and an exterior leaf that PG calls “greatest wrapper we have ever seen.”

PG, evidently, went to great lengths to top their 15th Anniversary blend, released in a Connoisseur size (6 x 52) five years ago and later expanded into a full ten-vitola line. Garmirian’s work makes a great first impression. The Symphony 20th Connoisseur, the only size currently available, is dark and silky with a mouth-watering pre-light aroma of hay and molasses.

From the first puff, the profile is full-bodied with a powerful yet smooth taste of wine, warm tobacco, cereals, and roasted nuts. The aftertaste has a lingering cedar spice and the sweet resting smoke reminds me of corn and pencil shavings.

This flavor, which persists throughout the two-hour smoke, commands undivided attention. I smoked two Connoisseurs for this review, both with nothing other than a beverage and my thoughts to keep my occupied. I never found myself even slightly bored. The subtleties and balance in taste are plenty entertainment for a serious cigar enthusiast.

As it should be with a cigar that costs $17 apiece. Thoroughly impressed with its performance in flavor and construction, the new Symphony 20th is a must-try while supplies last.  And that may not be for long. The Connoisseur is the only size that will ever be available and it will never again  be in production. Why? Because the filler tobacco includes a mystery leaf of unknown origin that had been aging in Kelner’s warehouse. It therefore cannot be replicated.

So, depending on demand, PG expects B&Ms to run out of the blend in one to two years (supplies at PG’s own boutique shop could last three to five years). But I wouldn’t wait that long to try this cigar, which is unquestionably worthy of our highest rating: five stogies out of five.

[To read more cigar reviews, please click here. A list of other five stogie-rated cigars can be found here.]

Patrick A

photo credit: Stogie Guys

20 Responses to “Stogie Reviews: Paul Garmirian Symphony 20th Connoisseur”

  1. Adam Monday, March 22, 2010 at 1:34 am #

    Oh man I am drooling on my keyboard just looking at this. Wish I was back in Virginia right now.

  2. cj Monday, March 22, 2010 at 2:07 am #

    This looks nice! I have only tried one PG, and honestly I preferred the Davidoff Millenium which had more flavor. I will see if my not so local guy has this one! Thanks!

  3. mighty Monday, March 22, 2010 at 10:36 am #

    I can regretfully say that I have never had the opportunity to try one of PG’s cigars. None of the shops in the greater area where I live carry them.

    Thanks for the review on what looks like a fabulous cigar.

  4. Patrick S Monday, March 22, 2010 at 12:03 pm #

    Adam, cj and Mighty-

    If you don't have a PG retailer in your area, I believe they will ship you cigars from the PG Boutique in McClean, VA. You can definitely get boxes that way, and if you ask nicely (maybe tell them you heard about them on I think they may even send you packs of five.

  5. furious Monday, March 22, 2010 at 3:25 pm #

    The cigar reviewer's road to perdition begins with the use of the Shankenism–pencil shavings. Not a good choice my friend and an awful olfactory reference to say the least.

  6. Marc E Monday, March 22, 2010 at 7:14 pm #

    Re "furious" above…what?

  7. Johnny R Tuesday, March 23, 2010 at 5:15 am #

    @ furious:

    I think it's inappropriate to badger the reviewer—one of the best out there, IMO—for using the term “pencil shavings.” Since when did Marvin Shanken own a particular way to describe a unique aroma?

    Describing tastes and smells in words is no easy task. But when Patrick A writes “pencil shavings,” I immediately grasp the sensation he’s experiencing with the cigar. And that’s the point. So it would be ludicrous to label helpful terms and phrases as “Shankenism” if they are helpful in conveying information.

    By the way, I have smoked this cigar, and it’s every bit as spectacular as it’s illustrated in the article. Thanks, Stogie Guys, for another great review.

  8. mighty Tuesday, March 23, 2010 at 6:58 am #

    I did call the number wanting to pick up ONE of these for a friend who has any cigar he likes already. I know he would enjoy this one and doesn't have one yet, but they would only sell me a box of 5, which at $17 each, is just too rich for my blood right now.

    Any other options for trying to bless a good friend?

  9. big mike Tuesday, March 23, 2010 at 11:42 am #

    thanks for the review. the quest begins.

  10. furious Tuesday, March 23, 2010 at 1:12 pm #

    Johnny R: That was some handjob you just gave Patrick Ashby…you have to admit that some of the descriptive terms used to judge cigar/wine (remember that Shanken publishes Wine Spectator too) flavors are completely rediculous. Pencil shavings?? Come on, it's a cigar not a Faber Castell No. 2.

  11. Patrick S Tuesday, March 23, 2010 at 3:45 pm #

    Furious- I got to disagree with you here. While it's certainly true that some descriptive terms are over the top I don't think "pencil shavings" is one of them. I've never eaten pencil shavings, but I know the smell and it certainly evokes a specific flavor.

    Another example would be leather. I haven't eaten leather either but people often describe certain cigars as having leather flavors and people know exactly what that means.

    Remember, most of what people perceive as taste is really smell, which is why descriptions that evoke smell are often the most precise description.

  12. Ethan Kurland Tuesday, March 23, 2010 at 9:38 pm #

    The debate on words to describe cigars' flavors has returned and with a touch of nastiness, I fear. I would love to settle the argument on this specific cigar w/ my perfect taste buds and command of language; however, I cannot afford a purchase of this magnitude. Would some wealthy & kind person please track my name and then send me one of these PG cigars for the sake of peace for all of us smokers. If done, 100% accurate review forthcoming.

  13. Chris V Wednesday, March 24, 2010 at 12:04 am #

    @ Ethan: lol

  14. furious Wednesday, March 24, 2010 at 2:54 am #

    Agree to disagree then, gents. Sorry if I came across as nasty, but I feel that the use of obscure taste references makes one come off as snobbish. We are all guilty of this at one time or another, too.

  15. gene Wednesday, March 24, 2010 at 6:35 pm #


    What would you have em do? Use a less precise description in an effort to avoid being seen as snobbish?

    I for one, want an unfiltered opinion… and if that means pencil shavings, then so be it.

  16. Charlton Cerbone Monday, April 12, 2010 at 6:54 pm #

    This is a great cigar, I have smoked three of them. They are worth the price tag.

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