In an earlier article, we profiled Kyle Gellis, detailing how he grew and developed in the cigar industry and discussing the history and vision of Warped as a brand. It highlighted Kyle's respect for traditional Cuban production methods and flavor profiles and lauded Warped's achievements and reputation — its cigars consistently scoring 90+ ratings in Cigar Aficionado and other major industry publications.
This article dives deeper into Warped's specific cigar blends, focusing on its most popular lines, their inspiration, components, and acclaim. For those who have yet to experience Warped, the following cigars are perfect introductions, and for those who already recognize Warped's place among the industry's top brands, the cigars listed below are humidor must-haves.
The Serie Gran Reserva 1988 cigar, known simply as GR88, represents Kyle Gellis' journey of learning, hustling, failing, growing, and ultimately succeeding as the founder and master blender of Warped Cigars. The GR88 was created in honor of Kyle's 30th birthday and named for his birth year, and since it commemorates one specific journey, Warped devoted the blend to a single vitola: a 5.25" x 50 Robusto. With two years spent in developing, testing, and refining the blend, the GR88 showcases 100% Nicaraguan tobaccos, Corojo and Criollo leaf from the Aganorsa farms, and is hand rolled by the esteemed Tabacos Valle de Jalapa S.A. factory in Estelí, Nicaragua. It's Kyle's life's work manifested in a single cigar, full of depth and nuance much like Gellis' personal cigar journey, and offers notes of pepper, sweetness, nuttiness, oak, and cream, and Cigar Aficionado named the GR88 as their #3 cigar of the year for 2019.
Serie Gran Reserva 1988, courtesy of Warped Cigars
One of Warped's flagship cigars, La Colmena means "The Beehive" and was inspired by rollers in the industry who have become revered and esteemed for making specific sizes. Kyle procured some of these "high roller-made" Cuban cigars from a friend in Havana and wanted to recreate the profile at the El Titan de Bronze factory in Miami. In that same Cuban tradition, La Colmena cigars are handmade by highly skilled rollers and feature entubado bunching, a triple cap, and a covered foot. This closed foot makes for a slower resting process after the cigar is blended, as the aroma and air within the cigar is more contained, and as a result, La Colmena cigars rest for 120 to 180 days after being rolled, compared to most cigars resting for only 30 to 90 days. Furthermore, a maximum of only 100 La Colmena cigars are rolled each day and only by one or two category 9-rated, master torcedores from Cuba, ensuring the highest construction quality. Component-wise, La Colmena boasts filler tobaccos from the Dominican Republic and Nicaragua. These fillers are encased by two Ecuadorian binders for added depth and complexity before being enveloped by an elusive Ecuadorian Desflorada wrapper — a leaf that results from a deflowering process to direct more nutrients to the leaf itself for a more flavorful wrapper. It's considered by many to be Warped's most Cuban-esque cigar and offers a medium-bodied smoke marked by flavors of cream, honey, subtle spice, and vanilla.
La Colmena, courtesy of Warped Cigars
Literally meaning "flower of the valley," Warped's Flor del Valle is a modernized version of an old, discontinued Cuban brand. It debuted in 2014 during Warped's first attendance of the IPCPR trade show at a time when the industry's convention centered on large, magnum-sized cigars. Warped went a different direction, though, with the Flor del Valle, introducing the blend in the 6" x 42 Cristales size. While other vitolas have expanded the line in subsequent years, Warped prioritizes vitolas that best showcase a blend's desired profile, not based on popularity but on what's best suited to the specific blend to maximize flavor. A Nicaraguan puro comprised entirely of Aganorsa Corojo '99 and Criollo '98 tobaccos, the Flor del Valle exudes distinct notes of sweet spice, woodsy nuance, cream, and subtle fruit for a medium-bodied smoke. It's also the first Warped cigar not to be rolled at the El Titan de Bronze factory in Miami and is, instead, crafted at the Tabacos Valle de Jalapa S.A. factory in Nicaragua. Kyle and Warped also released a special, limited-edition version of the Flor del Valle, called the Sky Flower, which maintains the regular Flor del Valle's use of 100% Aganorsa leaf but introduces medio tiempo leaf into the blend. Medio tiempo is an extremely rare type of leaf, occurring only at the very top of fewer than 10% of all tobacco plants. These special leaves are exposed to the most sunlight and take longer to ripen, offering a deep, nuanced flavor, characteristic of historic Cubans. The addition of such leaf in the Sky Flower adds a deliciously distinct profile of sweet molasses, woodsy earth, dried fruits, cream, and spice, while also limiting production. As such, the Sky Flower is one of Warped's rarest and most sought-after cigars and is produced only when they have enough medio tiempo to do so.
Flor del Valle, courtesy of Warped Cigars
The Don Reynaldo cigar was a unique project for Kyle Gellis in that he wasn't crafting a cigar for the masses or, even, for himself. Instead, the Warped founder wanted to blend a cigar as a tribute to his father, Reynaldo, the man who influenced Kyle's passions for cigars, teaching him the basic principles of cigar construction, flavors, and lighting and smoking techniques. To create such a tribute, Kyle focused primarily on creating a cigar that his father would want to smoke, something with a profile of cinnamon and cream, similar to a mixture of a Partagas and a Hoyo Habano. The Don Reynaldo features a Corojo wrapper from the Dominican Republic inside which lies a Nicaraguan binder and fillers from both the Dominican Republic and Nicaragua; it's a stunning cigar from construction and appearance to draw and flavor.
Don Reynaldo, courtesy of Warped Cigars
Aptly named "Short" in Spanish, Warped's Corto is a box-pressed 4.5" x 46 cigar and is the brand's most full-bodied blend, standing out among Kyle's portfolio of more medium-bodied cigars. Such a profile was intentional, because the Corto was designed as a morning smoke, meant to pair perfectly with coffee and jump start the day. Gellis typically begins his days with espresso, and the Warped founder wanted a cigar that could be smoked quicker than larger vitolas and would complement coffee. The Corto delivers with rich, bold notes of chocolate, nuts, and caramel holding up to even the strongest coffee and deliciously balancing the drink's more bitter notes. Several sizes were considered for the Corto, but one distinctly aligned with Kyle's focus on choosing vitolas that maximize a blend's profile, and it's especially unique in that it's box-pressed, a technique not often employed by Warped.
Corto, courtesy of Warped Cigars
La Hacienda was an old Cuban brand from 1870, meaning "The Estate" in Spanish. Upon seeing the brand's original artwork, Kyle Gellis was determined to bring it back to life. Unlike Warped's other Cuban-inspired blends, though, La Hacienda presents unique flavors of citrus, nuts, spice, and cream. The profile's inspiration revealed itself to Kyle after the Warped founder ate a pasta dish in New York City; the meal's flavor was so intriguing that Gellis just sat at the dining table afterward, thinking about how to incorporate those delicious flavors into a cigar. Eventually that vision was realized utilizing Aganorsa Corojo '99 and Criollo '98 tobaccos from Nicaragua. Such an innovative idea embodies Warped's "be exclusively different" mantra, and La Hacienda holds a special place in the brand's portfolio as a truly unique and distinct cigar.
La Hacienda, courtesy of Warped Cigars
Warped's Maestro del Tiempo, meaning "Master of Time," honors the time-consuming process of creating cigars. "In order to make great cigars," says Gellis, "you have to master time," both in physically crafting the cigars as well as creating the blend itself. The painstaking technique of hand rolling cigars necessitates years of experience to excel, and blending a cigar is equally demanding from a time perspective. Determining the vision of the blend, testing it, tasting it, reblending, testing and tasting again all takes time and patience. For Maestro del Tiempo, the blend needed 18 months to perfect, making it an apt homage to time itself, especially the time spent smoking it, and it benefits from Nicaraguan Corojo '99 and Criollo '98 tobaccos, presenting flavors of raisins, cashews, and creamy vanilla.
Maestro del Tiempo, courtesy of Warped Cigars
These cigars comprise Warped's core lineup and are regarded not only as some of the best cigars in the brand's portfolio, but some of the best on the market, period. They cater to a variety of palate preferences, and all bespeak Kyle Gellis' dedication to quality components and construction, realizing his "exclusively different" mantra.
What are some of your favorite Warped cigars? Which blends from this list are consistently found in your humidor or are on your list to try next?