A few weeks ago I took a drive to Corona Cigar Company on W. Sand Lake Road in Orlando. There I met up with a few people from the Cigar Aficionados of Central Florida to see the spectre of the World’s Largest Cigar! The 18.9 foot monster labeled “Gran Habano Corojo #5 El Gigante,” is the masterpiece of Gran Habano Cigars which was founded and run by the Rico family.
Don Guillermo Rico, a third generation tobacco maker grew up in Columbia, watching his grandfather and father grow and harvest tobacco and roll cigars in their homes. But it wasn’t until 1995 when he came to the United States, that he saw the potential for his own brand of cigars in the cigar boom of the 1990’s. In 1998, he started his own company, purchasing a factory in Honduras and eventually four farms scattered across Costa Rica, Panama, Nicaragua and Columbia. In 2003 he introduced the Gran Habano line of cigars which has grown to include 5 types of cigars, the Connecticut #1, Habano #3, Corojo #5, 3 Siglos and Cabinet Selection. Recently Don Guillermo with his son, George have worked together in the creation of the Azteca line of cigars, a complex, rich smoke that comes in a variety of sizes. George also has developed his own line of cigars, the G.A.R. which I would characterize as a medium to full bodied smoke, not for the beginner.
It was at this event at Corona Cigar that I had the pleasure of meeting George Rico. Having only started smoking cigars four months previously, I had picked up a copy of the cigar magazine, Cigar Press to learn more about the different brands available and their characteristics and as it turned out, that particular issue had featured an in depth article on George Rico. George talked about his philosophy of cigars and the different tobacco flavors, his line of cigars the G.A.R and also about Gran Habano. I had been fascinated and knew I wanted to try this guy’s smokes. So here I was, meeting George Rico and listening as he explained the various tastes in the different cigars to a couple of other people. They made their selection and disappeared, leaving me with a very polite George Rico. I told him the types of cigars I had tried thus far and liked and he directed me immediately to the 3 Siglos. Afterward he also recommended the Azteca. At this point I confided in him that I had read the story in Cigar Press and particularly enjoyed his sentiments that the strength of a cigar doesn’t determine the quality. I told him that I felt cigars were very much like wine and he agreed saying that if he started his morning with a cabernet sauvignon his palate would be overwhelmed and would not be able to appreciate something lighter like a pinot noir with lunch. We talked for a bit longer and I thanked him for his help. He then told me that he only had a few, but he pulled from his shirt pocket a lancero which is his personal blend, one they do not sell. He offered it to me and I thanked him for his generosity and shook his hand. I then went to the cafe area, ordered an iced tea and re-joined the group of Aficionados, lighting up the 3 Siglos. It was a great smoke in the company of some nice people and I couldn’t help but think that this experience would have a lasting impact. Thank you to Corona Cigar Company and to George Rico and Gran Habano for a great day and some terrific cigars!
For more cigar events contact:www.coronacigar.com
For a complete list of Gran Habano cigars and their history, contact: www.ghcigars.com