Don Pepin Garcia Cuban Classic 1952

Don Pepin Garcia Cuban Classic

Don Pepin Garcia cigarsOrigin : United States
Format : Perla
Size : 4.25 x 40
Wrapper : Nicaraguan Corojo
Filler : Nicaragua
Binder : Nicaragua
Hand-Made
Price : ~$95 for a box of 20

After last week’s debacle with the Series JJ White Label I usually would have put Don Pepin’s products out of my lineup for at least a short while to get the sour taste out of my mouth and intended to do just that. Shortly after writing the review, however, I received gifts from two separate individuals and each contained a Don Pepin Garcia Cuban Blend. Neither had read the Series JJ review and although this blend is not uncommon, I found it an interesting coincidence that they would both send a stick from the line. Always on the lookout for shorter smokes, I put the Perla 1952 size in my desktop humidor to rest and stowed the larger in my coolidor.

Five days later, I found myself staring into my humidor in an attempt to determine which victim would meet my torch that day. While scanning over the various smokes, my eyes kept coming back to the Black Label I had just added. Although I almost never smoke a shipped stick without at least a week’s rest, I felt myself continually compelled to pull this one out to compare to the White Label from last week. Finally giving in, I removed the small stick and closed the humidor lid.

The Don Pepin Garcia Cuban Blend sports the same ornate band that the Series JJ does with the exception that the background is black instead of white. Not surprisingly, this design has not grown on me within the past week; it still seemed a bit overdone. The wrapper, however, is quite smooth with only faint veins being visible. Most of these are so slight that they do not even protrude from the barrel’s surface. I am quite impressed with the cap on this one because it is very clean with three sharp lines defining the triple layering. Inspection of the foot reveals a uniform fill with very little in the way of large veins/stems. Tentatively pinching the length of the stick reveals no soft spots whatsoever. The cigar has a slight give but always bounces back. Overall, the construction is very promising.

Cutting the cap was effortless and very clean. Prelight, the draw is much tighter than the Series JJ, which combined with the solid fill, is likely to provide a steady, controlled smoke. Taking a couple of cold draws, I find myself met with the same hay, grass, white pepper and cherry wood notes as in the Series JJ but in a slightly different array. Where the White Label was rather flat, outside of a very mild sweetness and hay profile, the Black Label has a much stronger white pepper taste. The cherry wood also leaves a more pronounced sweetness on the tongue and lips. Something nutty is in the background as well, similar to oatmeal.

On lighting, the small cigar toasts quickly and soon has a nice red ash going. The tightness of the draw compliments the sharp burn, leaving behind a tight white gray ash in its wake. Initial puffs amplify the cherry wood flavor that was found during the prelight. Through the course of the cigar I had a hard time placing why this was so familiar but finally I had it. It reminds me of the Swisher Sweets wood tipped cigars that we used to smoke as teenagers camping and fishing. Before you completely give up on this stick and my reviewing abilities however, let me explain.

Although the flavors are similar, they are by no means the same. Where Swisher Sweets uses the cherry flavored wood tip to mask the inferior quality of their tobacco, Don Pepin’s blend utilizes the flavor from the tobacco to actually compliment the rest of the blend. Earth tones and white pepper cut the initial sweetness while each of those flavors asserts itself. These three strive for dominance through about the first third of the stick.

At about the second third the flavors stop competing and blend together into a balanced, albeit complex, smoke. The sweetness fades here and the cherry wood morphs into cedar. A short while later I was confronted by an odd, almost soapy, feeling on my tongue and pallet. Finding myself quite put off by this sensation, having never experienced it before, I set the smoke down to rest for a minute to see if the fault lied with smoking too fast and letting the smaller cigar get too hot.

Picking it back up and purging brought back the sweet cherry flavors and thankfully, got rid of the soapy sensation. The cherry is short lived and replaced by a stronger black pepper that is very enjoyable. This pepper remained for the final third and was accompanied by a bit dryer smoke. There was no problem smoking this one down within the last inch or so.

Overall, this small stick was leaps and bounds ahead of the Series JJ reviewed last week. The blend is stronger and more complex. The construction was significantly improved and not having to wrestle with the cigar at every turn proved quite an enjoyable experience. Although I may have gotten lucky with this Cuban Blend (or unlucky with the Series JJ) the improved flavor and somewhat cheaper price point would persuade me to grab for one of the Cuban Blend Black Labels over the Series JJ White Labels. The sweetness will not appeal to everyone but I would recommend picking up one of these shorter Cuban Blends to experiment with.

Appearance : Rating: ★★★½☆
Construction : Rating: ★★★★☆
Flavor : Rating: ★★★★☆
Value : Rating: ★★★★½
Overall Rating : Rating: ★★★★☆