J. Grotto Silk by Ocean State Cigars

The J. Grotto Silk marks the third blend to be released by Ocean State Cigars. Ocean State Cigars is a brand of cigars released by Rhode Island retailer, Paul Joyal. Joyal is the owner Mr. J’s Havana Shop in West Warwick, RI. Ocean State Cigars are available in retail shops nationwide.  His J. Grotto cigar line caught my attention last year. In fact, his J. Grotto and J. Grotto Reserve cigars both impressed me so much that I listed Ocean State Cigars as one of our “2012 Five Boutiques to Watch”. When we got word that Joyal was preparing to release an Ecuadorian Connecticut blend – the J. Grotto Silk, I was a little skeptical because I feel this is already a flooded segment of the cigar market. However after smoking several of these cigars, I was extremely impressed. Joyal’s work on the blends continues to impress me, and the J. Grotto Silk is definitely the most impressive blend to date.

The J. Grotto Silk was launched at the 2012 IPCPR Trade Show. We received a press release earlier this year announcing the J.Grotto Silk.  In that release, I particularly liked the story how Joyal named the cigar.  When you look and smoke this cigar, this story absolutely fits the bill.

“I was test-smoking samples for our new J. Grotto Connecticut boutique cigar, the latest addition to our two previous cigars in the line. “Suddenly, the word ‘Silk’ came to mind.  I realized it was the perfect name to describe this cigar … the wrapper’s silky smooth feel and appearance, along with its flavor … fragrant and delicate, but with a surprising fullness of lush flavor nuances.”

Without further adieu, let’s break down the J. Grotto Silk and see what this cigar brings to the table:

Blend Profile

Ocean State Cigar blends use a good amount of Honduran tobacco.  I thought 2011 marked a comeback year for good Honduran blends, and the Silk continued the trend into 2012.  While the Silk uses Honduran tobacco, I think its fair to say that it is Joyal’s most multi-national blend to date.

The cigar is made at the Raices Cubanas factory in Honduras.

Wrapper: Ecuador Connecticut
Binder (Double): Criollo 98, Indonesian
Filler: Honduran Trojes, Nicaraguan Jalapa

Vitolas Available

The J. Grotto Silk comes in four frontmarks.  The cigars are packaged in boxes of 20.

Gran Robusto: 5 x 52
Gordo: 6 x 60
Gran Toro: 6 x 52
Churchill: 7 x 50


For this cigar experience, I smoked the Gran Robusto. From an appearance standpoint, this is one impressive looking cigar. The wrapper is a light brown color that is common to Ecuadorian Connecticut Shade cigars. The wrapper is definitely “silky”, but it does have a some oil to it. There are some veins, but the wrapper seams are well-hidden – thus contributing to the “silky” complexion.The band is impressive as well. The band is highlighted by a large red “J” in the center over a gold background. Over the “J”, it says “Grotto Series” in white font. Adorning each side of the center of the band are white/gray pillars. There are also gold medallions to the far left and right. The text “Handmade” is in a landscape circular fashion on each side of the medallions in thick white font. There is gold trim around rest of the band.

Preparation for the Cigar Experience

For my experience with the J. Grotto Silk Gran Robusto, I opted to go with my usual straight cut into the cap. It was then on to the pre-light draw. The dry draw notes provided a very good start to this cigar. I detected notes of wood and earth as well as some notes of cream, berry, and cedar. Overall there was some good complexity and flavor on the pre-light draw. At this point, it was time to light the cigar and see what the smoking experience would deliver.

Flavor Profile

The J. Grotto Silk started off with a very quick shot of pepper. Once the pepper subsided, notes of cream, earth, and pepper emerged. There was no dominant flavor early on, but the pepper was still very present on the retro-hale.

As the Silk moved through the first third, the cream and earth notes moved to the front. I also detected some berry sweetness in the background. There was still spice on the retro-hale, but at times there was also some cedar spice mixed in with the pepper.

In the second third, I saw the spice move into the forefront joining the earth notes. The cream notes receded to the background with the berry sweetness. As the Silk moved into the last third, the spice reverted back to a more traditional pepper variety. While the pepper remained a primary flavor in the latter stages, this was not a pepper bomb by any means. The resulting nub was on the softer side, but it was cool in temperature.

Burn and Draw

In the press release announcement, Joyal mentioned he was able to get a 2 inch ash on the Silk. For my cigar experience, I opted not to let the ash get that long as I wanted to make sure I was maximizing the flavor experience. That being said, there is every indication to believe that the ash could have went to 2 inches or beyond. This was a very firm ash. It also was white in color. Many cigars I get from Raices Cubanas tend to have a darker colored ash, but not this one. There was virtually no flaking from this cigar. The burn line was razor-sharp. The burn rate and burn temperature were ideal.

J.Grotto Silk – Burn

The draw was stellar. This was an extremely low maintenance draw that made this cigar a real pleasure to smoke.

Strength and Body

While many Ecuadorian Connecticut blends are trying to push the envelope in terms of creating medium/medium to full strength/body smokes, the J. Grotto Silk keeps things traditional. The cigar starts out with mild strength. After about the first 1/4, the Silk progresses to mild to medium strength where it remains for the remainder of the smoke. The body follows a similar pattern. It starts off mild-bodied to start. It is also around the 1/4 point that it progresses to mild to medium-bodied. Toward the very end, the body does creep into medium-bodied. Overall, the strength and body balance each other well throughout the smoking experience.

Final Thoughts

2011 and 2012 had some very good Ecuadorian Connecticut blends. In my opinion, the J. Grotto Silk stands up with some of the best of them. As I said up front, Joyal and Ocean State Cigars are doing some very nice work, and this is a cigar that should be checked out if you are able to find it. This is a cigar that is perfect for the novice smoker looking for good flavor – and something not overpowering. Experienced cigar enthusiasts who can appreciate what a smoke on the milder side can deliver will enjoy this cigar. As for myself, this is definitely a cigar I will be smoking again.


Burn: Excellent
Draw: Excellent
Complexity: Medium
Strength: Mild to Medium (Mild for first 1/4)
Body: Mild to Medium (Mild for first 1/4, Medium at very end)
Finish: Good
Assessment: Nice to Have
Score: 91

Source: The cigars for this assessment were provided by Ocean State Cigars at the 2012 IPCPR Trade Show. Cigar Coop is appreciative for the samples, but this has no impact on this write-up and score.