In 1740, Captain John Howard Graysmith built a mansion he named Graycliff in Nassau, the Bahamas. Graysmith had gained both fame and riches as a pirate of the Caribbean in his schooner Graywolf accompanied by a bold crew. Most of the company’s wealth came from attacking ships along the Spanish Main – the coastal regions of the Spanish Empire including Florida, the Gulf of Mexico and many Caribbean islands. The mansion has had an illustrious history. In 1776, the American Navy captured Nassau and made Graycliff its headquarters and garrison. The navy installed bars on many windows – bars that remain to this day. In 1844, Graycliff was turned into Nassau’s first inn and began offering hospitality to Caribbean travelers. The first proprietor was a Mr. Nathaniel French. The inn later served as an officers’ mess during the West Indian Regiment during the U.S. Civil War as the Navy sought to prevent southern ships from running their blockade with cotton bound for markets in England. Reopened and Better Than Ever Closed for years as an inn, it reopened to the public during Prohibition in the U.S. and noted guest included American gangster Al Capone. Graycliff passed through several sets of private hands until 1973 when it was purchased by Enrico and Anna Maria Garzaroli who turned the lovely structure into a world-class hotel complete with a fantastic restaurant. Avelino Lara, Cigars and Expansion Avelino Lara is a legend among cigar makers – those men who have dedicated their lives to the craft. Born in Cuba in 1921, Lara rose to the rank of torcedor while also creating well-known blends at the El Laguito Factory near Havana. He was, at one time, the personal cigar roller for Fidel Castro. Upon his retirement in 1996, Lara moved to Nassau as something of a celebrity cigar roller for the Graycliff Restaurant. He began creating special house blends that were received with acclaim by all who smoked them. Enrico Garzaroli encouraged the business, looking for the perfect after-dinner smoke. Seeing a great business opportunity too, Garzaroli brought in the help Lara needed to create a line of premium cigars that would have wider commercial availability and appeal. Lara continued to give oversight to the operation, though he eventually retired from daily administration of it. Lara died in Cuba in 2009 Cigar production on a larger scale began in 1997 in Nassau. The rise to the top was fast. In 2001, France’s Club Cigare named a Graycliff stick it’s Cigar of the Year. The Robb Report included the Graycliff Crystal in 2003, the Espresso in 2004 and the Chateau Gran Cru in 2006 to its Best of the Best Report. Prestigious Top 10 awards have also been garnered. Cigars Direct has a fantastic selection of Graycliff Cigars for you to enjoy. You’ll find those mentioned as well as the 1666, Emerald, Original, Professionale and Professionale Vintage 1999.