|George Rico S.T.K Miami American Puro|
At the 2013 IPCPR Trade Show, Gran Habano Cigars showcased the new George Rico S.T.K. Miami American Puro. This is a cigar that is garnering significant attention for a few reasons. First, as the name indicates, it is a cigar containing only tobacco being grown in the United States. The cigar is also being manufactured in the United States at Gran Habano’s G.R. Tabacaleras factory located in on Calle Ocho in the Little Havana district of Miami, Florida. On top of that, the George Rico S.T.K. Miami American Puro is also leveraging fire-cured tobacco in the blend. Fire-cured tobacco is definitely becoming a trend in the industry. Recently, I have had the opportunity to smoke a couple of pre-release samples. The end result is an outstanding cigar and one that does a great job at putting its own unique identity stamp when it comes to the overall cigar experience.
The cigar derives its name from company owner George Rico and where the cigar is made (Miami). S.T.K. stands for “Stay True Kid”. It joins other blends in the S.T.K. line including the Barracuda, Zulu Zulu, and Opium lines. The George Rico STK Miami American Puro is the third major 2013 release of a cigar containing fire cured tobacco by a premium cigar manufacturer. Back in May, Leccia Tobacco released the Leccia Black – containing fire cured tobacco in the filler. Drew Estate also plans to release its My Uzi Weighs a Ton Kentucky Fire Cured series later this year.
Back in May, we did a feature story on fire-cured tobacco. In that story, we discussed how fire curing tobacco differs from traditional cigar tobacco curing methods:
Most cigars utilize air curing for tobacco. With air curing, the tobacco is hung in a barn for several weeks to remove moisture from the leaf. Sometimes charcoal is used as a part of the process to control the humidity. With Fire Cured tobacco, hardwoods are kept on continuous, low smoldering flames to remove the moisture. Typically this process is used for pipe and chewing tobacco. The idea of the fire cured releases is to also produce a smokey, camp-fire like flavor in the final product.
Let’s take a closer look at the George Rico S.T.K. Miami American Puro and see what this cigar brings to the table. Since we smoked pre-release samples, we will default to our “Pre-Review” format to share our thoughts and perspectives. Once this cigar arrives in retailers, we will revisit this cigar and provide an assessment rating and score.
The George Rico STK Miami American Puro contains tobaccos from three states with an emphasis on Habano components. The filler tobacco from Kentucky is the fire-cured leaf.
Wrapper: Connecticut Habano
Binder: Connecticut Habano
Filler: Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Kentucky fire-cured
The George Rico S.T.K. Miami is being launched in three sizes:
Robusto: 4 3/4 x 52
Toro Grande: 5 7/8 x 54
Corona Gorda: 5 5/8 x 46
For this cigar experience, I smoked the Robusto size of the American Puro. The Connecticut Habano wrapper has a light caramel color to it. There is some oil on the surface of the wrapper. There are a few visible veins and a few visible wrapper seams. The top of the cigar is finished with a small pig-tail cap.
On the footer some of the fire-cured tobacco can be seen in the filler. This is darker (almost black) in color. There is a slight, but not overpowering “camp-fire” aroma from the footer.
|Fire Cured tobacco of the George Rico S.T.K Miami
American Puro can be seen on the footer
There are two bands on the American Puro. The primary band has a white background. There is a red shield on the white background with the text “GEORGE RICO” in white font. Just below that is the text “S.T.K.” in smaller white font. There is a gold crown over the shield. The band also contains both gold and red adornments. On the left side is the text “S.T.K.” in a slanted red font. On the right side is the text “MIAMI” – also in a slanted red font.
A secondary band sits just below the primary band. This band also has a white background. The text “AMERICAN PURO” is in gold font with red trim. There are red, white, and blue shields to the left and right – along with a red star. There are also some additional gold adornments on the band. Finally, there are red pinstripes and thicker gold pinstripes bordering the outer portions of the band.
Preparation for the Cigar Experience
For my smoke of the George Rico S.T.K. Miami American Puro, I went with a straight cut as opposed to pulling off the pig-tail. Once the cap was clipped, I moved on to the pre-light draw. The dry draw provided a mix of some natural tobacco sweetness, a slight pepper spice, and some touches of the fire-cured “camp-fire” flavor. Overall I considered this to be a solid pre-light draw experience. At this point, I was ready to light up my American Puro and see what the cigar experience would deliver.
With the George Rico S.T.K. Miami American Puro, I did not find this was a cigar that was overpowered by the fire-cured tobacco on the tongue Instead I found it to play a complementary role and balance the flavor profile nicely. At the same time, I did find the fire-cured flavors did play more of a role on the retro-hale.
The start to the American Puro has notes of pepper, natural tobacco, citrus, and the campfire smokiness to start. Early on the natural tobacco flavors became primary. The campfire smoky flavors and pepper were a close secondary note while the citrus added a touch of sweetnes as a tertiary note. As mentioned up-front, the campfire smokiness from the fire-cured tobacco played into the retro-hale. This smokiness, combined with some pepper spice made the retro-hale multi-dimensional. This flavor profile remained throughout the first half.
The second half saw the flavor profile of the first half continue, but I also noticed a nice bread-like flavor also emerge. This wasn’t quite a primary note, but it did play an integral role in the flavor profile. As the American Puro came to a close, I found this cigar never got overly spicy or overly smoky from the fire-cured tobacco. The end of the American Puro was flavorful. The resulting nub was firm to the touch – and cool in temperature.
Burn and Draw
The George Rico S.T.K. Miami American Puro is an extremely well-constructed cigar and this is reflected in both the burn and draw of this cigar. The burn line to the American Puro remained straight from start to finish requiring minimal touch-ups. The resulting ash was firm and white in color – with virtually no flaking. The burn rate and burn temperature were ideal.
|Burn of the George Rico S.T.K Miami
The draw was excellent on the American Puro. It was not tight and it was not loose. It made this cigar an enjoyable smoke from start to finish.
Strength and Body
The light colored wrapper can easily make you think this is a mild cigar. I found the American Puro to have a little more fire-power than one might think. I assessed this cigar as having just enough strength to be a medium to full strength cigar. As for the body, there is some nice depth. The flavors definitely had a “heavy” feel in my book. I assessed this cigar as being a full-bodied cigar. When looking at strength versus body, this is a case where the body has a clear-cut edge.
If you are looking for a change of pace cigar the George Rico S.T.K. Miami American Puro is a cigar I would recommend checking out. For those who smoked the recently Leccia Black, the American Puro will deliver a very different experience. My experience prior to smoking the American Puro was that fire-cured tobacco tends to be a dominant flavor in a cigar blend and as a result sacrifices complexity. With the American Puro, I was proven wrong. Rico has found a way to let the fire-cured flavors into the flavor profile while allowing the other tobacco flavors to breath.
As I’ve mentioned in other writings, the fire cured tobacco is going to be something that one likes or one doesn’t like. I don’t think there will be middle ground here. I think it creates a whole new exciting element to cigar blends. Overall, I’d recommend the American Puro to an experienced or novice cigar enthusiast who is open to trying new things with a cigar. As for myself, this is definitely a cigar I would keep in my rotation – and one I look forward to smoking again.
Strength: Medium to Full
Source: The cigars for this assessment were provided by Gran Habano Cigars. These samples were initiated by Gran Habano in order to provide feedback. Cigar Coop is appreciative for the sample, but in no way does this influence this review.