Graycliff cigars are made in Nassau, Bahamas. Since many cruise ships make stops in Nassau, don't miss the opportunity to tour the Graycliff Cigar Factory, Hotel and Restaurant while your ship is in port. The cigar factory is not open on Sundays, but you can always visit the hotel and gift shop if you just want to pick up a few Graycliff cigars. Visiting the cigar factory is absolutely free, and does not require an appointment. However, the company also offers cigar rolling lessons and rum pairings by appointment only, as part of a tour that lasts about one hour and thirty minutes. For the more adventurous, there is also a taste and hospitality package that includes three nights at the Graycliff hotel, fine dining, drinks and cigars. For more information on those options, visit Graycliff's Website.
The first time that I visited Nassau via cruise ship was on a Sunday, so I only walked around Graycliff's hotel and gift shop, as well as touring the grounds outside. Graycliff is located on West Hill Street, just to the west of the Government House. It takes about 10 minutes to walk there from the dock. The most direct route is along Bay Street. Just turn right (west) upon exiting the port, and continue to Baillou Street, then head south on Baillou to West Hill. You can't miss Graycliff on the right (southwest corner of the intersection of Baillou and West Hill), across the street from the Government House.
My most recent visit to Nassau on my last cruise ship vacation was on a Saturday, so I was able to visit the Graycliff cigar factory unannounced as a typical tourist, and at no cost. Graycliff is a small boutique but prestigious brand of cigars, and the company employs about 16 professional cigar rollers who are experts in their field. On the Saturday afternoon of my visit, there were four rollers at work in the factory, and an additional roller was working in the lobby of the hotel restaurant. I was able to talk to the rollers and take as many pictures as I wanted. The staff was extremely courteous and very happy to answer questions and pose for pictures.
Part of the reason for Graycliff's prestigious reputation in the cigar industry can be attributed to its first cigar roller. In 1996, Avelino Lara, who previously made Cohiba cigars for Castro himself, began rolling cigars at the Graycliff Restaurant. The cigars were such a success that the company opened its own cigar factory the following year. Avelino passed away in 2009, but his son and the other cigar rollers are continuing his passion for fine cigars at the Graycliff Cigar Company in Nassau, Bahamas.
In our previous review of a Graycliff Cigar, it was noted that Graycliff cigars were very well made, but somewhat expensive when compared to other cigars made with similar tobaccos in the Dominican Republic, Honduras and Nicaragua. Just as it costs more to make cigars in Miami or other American cities, the cost of making cigars in the Bahamas is also higher. Not only are labor costs higher, it also costs more to import cigar tobaccos from other countries, since Graycliff cigars are not made with Bahamian tobacco. Despite their higher prices, smoking an occasional Graycliff cigar on a special day (like during a Bahamian vacation) can be a real treat. A few of the smaller sizes and/or a 5-pack of coronas should not break the bank. Light one up and puff away with some fine Caribbean rum.