Monday, May 31, 2010

La Reloba Seleccion Habano

Today's review is another new cigar by Don Pepin Garcia, the La Reloba. This cigar is available in two wrappers, a Sumatra, and the one reviewing today, the Habano. These are available in 4 basic sizes, a Robusto, Corona, Toro, and Torpedo. I am reviewing the Toro, which measures in at 6 X 52.

The La Reloba Habano has a fairly non descript brown wrapper with a silky smooth feel to it. Being made by Pepin, it is topped off with a nice triple cap. The predraw shows a slightly open (but not too open) draw with a dusty cocoa and slightly mustly flavor. This cigar starts out with typical Pepin spice with a hardwood undertone. After getting into this cigar a little more, a slight hay flavor shows up, but recedes quickly. The spice also recedes, leaving that hardwood/cedar flavor as the dominant characteristic to this cigar. This definitely tastes like a Pepin, almost like a lighter version of the Cuban Classic, but not as complex. The ash is nice and white, and just a little flaky. The burn is strait, even in the slightly breezy smoking conditions. A slightly vegetal undertone has shown up, but isnt necessarily unpleasant. There is also a slightly sweet flavor going on here.

This is a solid cigar, but doesn't quite "get there." It seems like something really good is just out of reach in the flavor profile. The flavors that are in the La Reloba aren't muted or anything, I just feel that some other component to the blend would have pushed this to the next level. It doesn't have that "wow" factor like some of the other newer Pepin cigars like the My Father Le Bijou or Jaime Garcia Reserva Selection. That being said, this is still a good medium bodied cigar. I picked this cigar up for right around $6, which seems fair for this cigar.

Side note: I smoked the La Reloba Sumatra at the Pepin event last week and liked it more than the Habano. That aspect to the blend I thought was missing seemed to be present in the Sumatra. It had a little more spice and complexity, so if you see either of these, definitely give the Sumatra a shot. I might grab another Sumatra to review in the future....

Have you had a chance to try either of the La Relobas?

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Don Pepin Garcia cigar event

Last night I had the honor of meeting up with one of the legends in the cigar industry, Don Pepin Garcia over at Burning Leaf in Plainfield. Anyone who reads this blog knows how big a fan I am of Pepin's cigars, including the My Father line, Cuban Classics, DPG Blue labels, the new Jaime Garcia Reserva Especial (ok, its his son, but it comes out of his factory)....the list goes on for a while. Not only does he make cigars under his own name, but for other companies such as Ashton, 601, and one of my favorites, Tatuaje. Speaking with Pepin (through a translator since he doesnt really speak any English) was really educational. He has been in this business for a very long time, and it shows. Because of the language barrier, he was a fairly quite and humble man, but you could tell he was enjoying himself and had a smile on his face the entire evening. He signed many boxes, shirts, humidors, even a bottle of rum, and seemed happy to do so for everyone who asked.

As for what we talked about, we started by talking about the new Jaime Garcia cigars we were smoking and how wonderful the new broadleaf wrappers are. He went on to discuss the special edition My Father cigar that will be released later this year. This cigar will be exclusively made by him and his son Jaime. Pepin will apply the wrapper to the filler/binder made up by Jaime. Only those two know about the blend of this cigar. 2,000 numbered boxes of 12 will be produced, making this a very limited release cigar. The projected price per cigar is around $20 before tax. I will definitely pick one up if given the opportunity, not only because Pepin/Jaime are making all of them themselves, but because of the unique tobacco being used; Pele De Oro, a tobacco that the Cuban government banned the use of many years ago because it is very susceptible to blue mold. Pepin acquired these seeds and planted a very small amount of this tobacco at his farms in Nicaragua. No one else is using this strain of tobacco, and from what I hear, it will be very good. This cigar will be a 6 1/2 X 52. I can't wait.
Another few tidbits of information that I picked up is that Pepin smokes around 15 cigars a day (WOW) and usually goes with the robusto. He is constantly taste testing his blends in the factory to make sure they are what they should be, hence the 15 cigars a day. I asked him if hes just smoking an inch of these 15 cigars, and he says he usually smokes half to two thirds of each to make sure they taste how they should.

I picked up a box of the Jaime Garcia Reserva Especials, which I reviewed this week. I also received a My Father shirt and 5 pack of Pepin cigars. If you ever get a chance to meet Don Pepin Garcia, I really recommend doing so. Having the opportunity to sit down and talk/smoke cigars with the man behind them is a real treat.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Jaime Garcia Reserva Especial

Today's review is of one of the new cigars out of the My Father factory in Nicaragua, but this one is not blended by Don Pepin Garcia, but by his son Jaime. The Jaime Garcia Reserva Especial is available in 5 sizes, a Petite Robusto, Robusto, Toro, Belicoso, and Toro Gordo. The one I am reviewing today is the Robusto, measuring in at 5 1/4 X 52. This is a Nicaraguan Puro with a broadleaf wrapper.

Since this cigar is coming out of the My Father factory, its not surprising that this cigar looks and feels very well made. The wrapper is perfectly applied with a triple seam cap. This dark wrapper shows a little bit of oil and just the slightest amount of tooth and no major veins. I like the new band design. The Pepin family has been coming out with some great new bands for their cigars lately.

The predraw shows some dank earth and cocoa, and a little barnyard that I actually enjoy in a cigar. The aroma off the foot also shows that very nice barnyard characteristic. The draw is pretty close to perfect, with the right amount of resistance to it. After lighting, this cigar starts off with some clean woody flavors, and a very nice spiced meat flavor as well. There is plenty of spice through the nose as well. The spice isn't as up front as a lot of other cigars coming out of Pepin's factories, but its still there. Even after an inch into this cigar I can tell this is going to be a complex smoke. The burn has been very even and the nice white ash holds on for at least an inch. Again, another very well made cigar. At the halfway point the flavors have stayed very consistent, and very tasty. There is still a ton of that meaty flavor and a little less of the hard wood. There is a little bit of sweetness underneath the meatyness. I am really liking the balance of umami and sweetness. This is a solid medium/full bodied cigar.

Blending great cigars sure runs in the blood within the Pepin family. This offering from Jaime is excellent. It isn't any secret that I am a huge fan of most of the cigars coming out of Pepin's factory, and this is no exception. This is a little lighter than the My Father Le Bijou, but also showcases that meaty flavor I like. It has some of the hallmark flavors I expect from a Pepin cigar, but certainly stands on its own with a complex blend of premium tobaccos. I was pretty surprised to see the price point of this robusto, $6.50. This is definitely worth the price of admission. There have been some very good cigars coming out this year at a very approachable price point, and this is one of them that really stands out. These should start showing up in your local stores anytime now, as well as the other new Pepin release, La Reloba. (which I will be reviewing soon!)

Have you had a chance to try any of the new cigars coming out of the My Father factory?

Monday, May 17, 2010

Liga Privada "Dirty Rat"

Today's review is of a cigar I have really been looking forward to getting my hands on, the Dirty Rat by Drew Estate. This is an extension of the Liga Privada line, and will be released sometime this year from what I have heard. This is a pre-release, and not particularly easy to come by. They have been handed out at some Drew Estate events, or directly from some of the guys working for DE. I was very fortunate to get a few to review from one of the great guys working for Drew Estate. This Corona measures in at 5X44.

This is a very nice looking cigar. Like the other Liga Privadas, this is impeccably made with a very dark, oily and toothy wrapper. I am not exactly sure what the difference in the blend is compared to the Liga 9 or T52 is, but I am under the impression that the Dirty Rat is a unique blend among the Liga Privada line. The only thing I can pretty much assume is that these are Nicaraguan Puros. (I could be totally wrong about this, sorry!) The little flag-like pigtail cap is a nice touch to an already great looking cigar. Since this cigar hasn't even been released yet, they come with a plain white band with the words Dirty Rat in simple type. Its pretty safe to say this won't be the final packaging on this cigar when it gets released.

After a clean clip with my Palio, this cigar has a slightly open draw with plenty of spice even before lighting. After lighting...WHAM! Loads of black pepper spice pretty much assault your palate. This is one potent cigar! Just after the first 5 minutes of smoking the Rat I can tell that this is not a cigar for beginners. I think the amount of spice would be a major turnoff to someone who isn't used to spicy full flavored Nicaraguan tobacco. Even I was taken aback a little bit, and I would say that the majority of what I smoke IS Nicaraguan tobacco. After the first inch, the spice backs off just a little, letting flavors of leather and dark chocolate shine through. At the tail end of this cigar, the spice returns in full force! I am really enjoying the amazing amount of fresh cracked black pepper spice this cigar showcases.

The Dirty Rat is a spicy flavorbomb of a cigar! I am really looking forward to these being released. This will make a great addition to the Liga Privada line. When I say this cigar is spicy, I am not kidding. This has to be one of the spiciest cigars I have ever smoked. The nice thing is, even with the intense spice, this cigar never gets harsh. I have no idea what the price on this cigar will be when released, but I dont care. I will be picking up a few of these for sure! I can't wait to light one of these up again.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Pinar Del Rio Cubano Especial Maduro Robusto

Today's review is of the new cigar from Pinar Del Rio, the Cubano Especial Maduro. I picked up a few of these at the event at Burning Leaf, smoked one at the shop, and brought another home to review. There isn't a lot of info out on this cigar yet, and I think they will be hitting shops after the trade show in August. A few boxes will be trickling out before the show though. If memory serves me correctly, Abe Flores (the man behind the cigar) said these have a Brazilian Broadleaf wrapper and a mix of Nicaraguan/Dominican tobaccos making up the rest of the cigar. He mentioned something about a special leaf in the blend, but I couldn't drag the info on this special leaf out of Abe. This robusto measures in at 5 X 52.

The wrapper is very dark and shows very nice oils. This is a very nice looking cigar! The pigtail cap is a nice touch, and Abe mentioned that his rollers aren't too thrilled with him about doing the pigtail because of the extra time it takes. The cap is very flat under the pigtail, and you can tell that great care goes into the rolling of this cigar. The prelight draw is very flavorful, with loads of earth and leather.

After lighting, this cigar takes no time at all to get going by flooding the palate with rich earth, leather, coffee...lots of dark coffee flavor. You can definitely taste the Nicaraguan tobacco in this blend. The burn is very slow and absolutely dead even. Oddly, even with the slow burn, it produces a TON of resting smoke. The ash holds on very tightly for well over an inch. This is by far one of the better maduro's ive smoked in a while.
Having a cigar with Abe Flores. Sorry about the terrible picture, it was taken from my cell phone and the lighting was terrible!

Talking with Abe about this cigar and all of his other blends was a real treat. his love for cigars is very apparent and he really cares about getting a quality product into the hands of his customers. Having the opportunity to smoke cigars with the guy behind them is something you never forget.

at the half way point, there is still loads of earth and coffee with a faint floral undertone that completely took me by surprise, as well as a dried fruit.raisin flavor. When passing the smoke through the sinuses, I pick up a nice spice note, probably from the Nicaraguan tobacco in the filler.

This is a full flavored, medium/full bodied cigar that is perfectly balanced. The biggest surprise about this cigar is the price. Get ready for it....around $4.50! I can't believe how inexpensive this cigar is considering how perfectly it performs! Abe said that the price will probably go up just a little bit when they are finally released, and I have no problem with that at all. I wouldn't think twice about spending a few more bucks on this stick, and will be buying plenty more of these as they become more readily available. Of all the Pinar Del Rio's ive smoked, this is probably my favorite. Keep an eye out for these later on this year.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Tatuaje "The Frank"

Today's review is of the first cigar in the Tatuaje Monster series, The Frank. This was a very limited release in October of 2008 around Halloween, with a production of 666 Coffin shaped boxes of 13 cigars, and $13 a stick. This is a large, box-pressed cigar, measuring in at 7 5/8 X 49 (Double Corona). The Nicaraguan filler/binder is covered by a sun grown broadleaf wrapper, and has a very cool looking green Tatuaje band on it.

The wrapper is ugly, rough and veiny, exactly what a cigar named after Frankenstein's monster should look like! Like all Tatuaje's, The Frank is a solidly constructed cigar with a perfectly applied triple cap. This is a box pressed cigar, but only slightly. The predraw shows a perfect draw with a light earth and cedar flavor.

The Frank starts off with classic Tatuaje spice, earth and some cedar. This cigar is over a year old, and isn't showing any signs of youth. The flavors are very clean and crisp and very complex! The further into this cigar I get, more and more flavors are developing and building a very full flavored cigar. Black pepper, roasted nuts, a slight citrus zest flavor...there is no question about the complexity of this cigar. The wrapper leaves a slight sweet flavor on your lips which is quite pleasant. The burn is dead even and the ash seems to hold on for right around an inch. At the halfway point, a floral undertone shows up that I really didn't expect, but it works well with the flavors going on here. (wasn't there a scene in Frankenstein where he throws a girl picking flowers down a well?) By the end, this is a solid medium/full bodied cigar.

Overall, I really enjoyed The Frank! A very generous buddy of mine gifted me this one, and I can't thank him enough for the chance to smoke this very limited cigar. This was one of those cigars that I was excited about trying, but figured I wouldn't get my hands on. This cigar is going to age very well. The flavors are already quite complex, and I imagine that over even more time, they will continue to marry and develop. If you got yourself a coffin of these, count yourself lucky!

I will doing a review of the 2nd cigar in the Monster series from 2009 (The Drac) in the near future, so keep an eye out for that one!