J. Grotto Anniversary P555 by Ocean State Cigars

The J. Grotto Anniversary is the fourth line of cigars launched by Paul Joyal’s Ocean State Cigars.  This line is significant for several reasons: First, it introduced a Connecticut Broadleaf wrapper blend into the company’s portfolio; second, it added a fuller and stronger cigar to Ocean State’s lineup; third, it marked the first cigar that Ocean State Cigars has made with Debonaire Cigars; and finally it commemorates several family events for Joyal and his family. Today I look at the perfecto vitola in this line, the J. Grotto Anniversary P555. Overall, the work by Joyal and Ocean State Cigars has been outstanding.  Without a doubt, the J. Grotto Anniversary is the best line the company has produced to date – and the perfecto format of the P555 does justice to this line.

Ocean State Cigars gets its name because the company is based in Rhode Island. The company was founded by Joyal who owns Mr J’s Havana Shop in Warwick, Rhode Island. Joyal named his lines of J. Grotto because of an area in his yard known as the “grotto”. The company has previously released three lines: J. Grotto, J. Grotto Reserve, and J. Grotto Silk. In 2012, the company landed on the Cigar Coop “Five Boutiques to Watch”.

As mentioned above Anniversary line is significant from a personal standpoint for Joyal. This year marks Joyal’s parents’ 65th wedding anniversary. It also marks the 30th wedding anniversary for Joyal and his wife.

Without further ado, let’s break down the J. Grotto Anniversary and see how this smokes in the P555 format.

Blend Profile

As mentioned, the J. Grotto Anniversary has been done in conjunction with Debonaire Cigars. In addition it features tobaccos from the Dominican Republic and what Joyal has said “other Central American” countries.

Wrapper: Connecticut Broadleaf
Binder: Dominican Habano
Filler: Dominican and Other Central American Tobaccos
Country of Origin:: Dominican Republic

Vitolas Available

The J. Grotto Anniversary line is available in four sizes. The cigars are packaged in 18 count boxes.

L458: 4 x 58
T650: 6 x 50
P555: 5 x 55 (Perfecto)
E660: 6 x 60


As mentioned, the vitola smoked for this assessment was the P555 perfecto.  The J. Grotto Anniversary has a classic Connecticut Broadleaf wrapper with some ruggedness to it. It has a rich coffee bean color with a touch of colorado red in it. Upon closer examination some darker marbling can be seen on the surface. The wrapper itself has some oil on its surface. but less than the pre-release Toro I smoked. There are some visible veins and visible wrapper seams. The footer is open.  The perfecto tapers toward the head of the cigar producing a small diameter cap.

The band features an evening picture of the Tower Bridge in London with a large gold “J” on it. Below the J is the text “GROTTO” in small white font. There is a red ribbon image below the picture with the text “Anniversary” in white font. There are six gold medallions (3 per side) surrounding the picture. The left-most medallion has a “65” signifying the anniversary of Joyal’s parents. The right-most medallion has a “30” signifying the anniversary of Joyal and his wife. The remaining medallions have the initials of the Joyal family. Going around the band are three stripes – a maroon one (top), a black one (middle), and a red (bottom). On the black band is the text “HAND MADE” in gold. There is gold foil-like trim on the top and bottom of the band.

Preparation for the Cigar Experience

I placed a cut about one third of the way to widen the diameter of the head, yet still get the effect of the tapering of this cigar.  Once I clipped the tip, I moved on to the pre-light draw.  The dry draw provided notes of coffee and earth with a slight amount of citrus spice. Overall I was quite pleased with the pre-light draw of the P555.  At this point I was ready to light up the J. Grotto Anniversary P555 and see what the smoking phase would have in store.

Flavor Profile

The start to the J. Grotto Anniversary P555 delivered some notes of coffee and black pepper right out of the gate.  There were also some secondary earth notes I detected.  The black pepper notes receded and the coffee notes began to get richer.  The black pepper notes were prominent on the retro-hale and remained that way throughout the cigar experience.

During the first third, the coffee notes developed into a espresso syrup-like note.  This syrup note provided a mix of sweetness that also weighed nicely on the pallet.  The earth notes floated between a primary and secondary note.  While the pepper was prominent on the retro-hale, it was a secondary note on the tongue. I also detected a more distant nut flavor.

On the second third,  the espresso note had transitioned to more of a cocoa power note. This cocoa still had an interesting sweetness to it. The earth notes were still also a primary flavor while the pepper and nut flavors were secondary.

On the final third, the spice did ramp back up on the tongue joining the cocoa notes in the forefront. I still detected the nut flavors as a secondary note. This is the way the flavor profile remained until the end. The resulting nub was soft to the touch and cool in temperature.

Burn and Draw

The J. Grotto Anniversary P555 performed extremely well for a perfecto when it came to burn and draw.  The burn line remained sharp from start to finish.  I was also impressed how the burn remained straight as it progressed to the wider portion of the P555.  The cigar produced a light gray ash that remained quite firm with only some minor flaking.  The burn rate and burn temperature were ideal.

Burn of the J. Grotto Anniversary P555

The draw was excellent as well.  There was a slight resistance to the draw – which is something I consider to be a positive.  Despite the tapering toward where I clipped the cigar, the tip never got soft.

Strength and Body

Overall I found this to be a full strength and full-bodied cigar.  One thing I did notice since I smoked the pre-release J. Grotto Anniversary cigars is that both the strength and body dialed back a bit, however both still had enough depth to still be classified as full.  I am curious to see if further aging dials back this some more.   I found both the strength and body balanced each other nicely.

Final Thoughts

When we had Joyal on the Stogie Geeks show, he commented how he felt that Debonaire co-founder Phil Zanghi had delivered him a cigar with the same quality as produced on the cigars that Zanghi makes for himself.  I could not agree with him more.  This is an outstanding cigar.  While Zanghi has produced his own Connecticut Broadleaf cigar for his Debonaire line, the J. Grotto Anniversary is a completely different cigar – and a good one at that.  This is a cigar I’d probably recommend to a more seasoned cigar enthusiast.  However the fact this cigar has dialed back a bit makes this a perfect candidate for someone newer to give something on the full side a try.  As for myself, this is easily a cigar I’d smoke again – and it’s a perfecto I would reach for.  This is definitely a box worthy cigar in my book.


Burn: Excellent
Draw: Excellent
Complexity: High
Strength: Full
Body Full
Finish: Good
Assessment: 4.0 – Box Worthy
Score: 93


News:  Ocean State Cigars Formally Announces J. Grotto AnniversaryJ. Grotto Anniversary Launched at 2014 IPCPR Trade Show
Price: $7.99 – $9.99 (for line)
Source: Cigars Provided by Manufacturer
Stogie Geeks Podcast: Episode 95 Episode 108
Stogie Feed: J. Grotto Anniversary T650 by Ocean State Cigars (Pre-Release)

The J. Grotto Anniversary line is carried by Mr J’s Havana Smoke Shop.  Mr J’s Havana Smoke Shop and Ocean State Cigars are a sponsor of Cigar Coop / Stogie Geeks.