Peterson has a long established reputation as an Irish pipe maker. I smoke a pipe on occasion, and two of the three pipes I own are Peterson system pipes. The “system” was invented by Charles Peterson in the late nineteenth century, a few years after he joined the tobaconnist brothers Friedrich and Heinrich Kapp on Grafton Street in Dublin. The Peterson system employs an extra chamber in the pipe that funnels some of the moisture produced by the tobacco and results in a dry carefree smoke. They’re quite popular pipes even today, a hundred and some odd years later.
An exact replica of Charles Peterson’s favorite pipe has been released to celebrate the 140th anniversary of the company. Engraved on the silver band is the phrase “When stolen, please return to 55, Grafton Street. Charles Peterson.” And that is the beauty of pipes — they can be returned after curious thieves have given them a joy ride. Not so with cigars, I’m afraid.
The Peterson Gran Reserva line was introduced at the RTDA trade show in 2004, but it wasn’t Peterson’s first foray into cigar production. In 1995 they came out with the Peterson Hallmark series, but it was washed away by the storm of the boom years.
Peterson pipes are distributed by Ashton here in the U.S., so perhaps it was natural for Peterson to ask Ashton to give the Peterson name another shot at a cigar line. Ashton makes several well known and highly sought after cigars under their own name, so who better to partner with?
Peterson’s Gran Reserva is produced at the Flor de Copan factory in Santa Rosa de Copan, Honduras, and is imported and distributed by Ashton. The filler is a Honduran-Nicaraguan blend, the binder is Nicaraguan, and the wrapper is a smooth but dry Cameroon leaf. Not quite the toothiest Cameroon around, but tasty.
Some of the wrappers have water spots carefully arranged at the back of the cigar. (Clever.) The roll is firm and the prelight draw is very good. The caps are well formed and tight on the head of the stick.
The Gran Reserva fires up with a burst of spice typical of Cameroon wrapper. It’s a little rough at first, but smooths out after a half inch or so. It maintains a medium body throughout the smoke, gathering a little strength toward the end, but not enough to become truly heavy. The base flavor is leather. Combined with the spicy floral aroma from the wrapper this is a tasty smoke.
The samples I tried were fairly dry. I found minor splits in the wrapper after the half-way point, but they didn’t affect the cigar and weren’t large enough to be annoying. They also seemed to burn quickly, which may be another indication that they enjoy more tropical storage conditions. (My humidor has been reading in the 65 – 67% range.)
The Peterson Gran Reserva reminded me a little of the Ashton Heritage Puro Sol, but it didn’t have the same depth. They share the same fine aroma, but the Puro Sol just seems to have a more refined and complex flavor.
Despite this perhaps unfair comparison, the Peterson is a fine cigar, and I will be trying these again in the future after storing them at a higher RH. I’m going to consider these first two just a trial run.