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Cigar Review – Jaime Garcia Reserva Especial

Don Jose “Pepin” Garcia has his fair share of projects, to put it lightly, and I’ve tried more than a handful of them. From the mellow and smooth El Triunfador to the powerhouse 601 La Bomba, each one has been solid at the very least, exhibiting great construction and standout flavors from start to finish. What I hadn’t tried, though (before today, anyway), was his son’s signature blend, the Jaime Garcia Reserva Especial. Given his dad’s track record and given the fact that they’ve collaborated on a few blends, I had a feeling Jaime’s blend would be just as good, so today I decided to take a torch to the Jaime Garcia Reserva Especial Robusto that I snagged from my coworker’s IPCPR 2011 stash.

Right out of the cellophane, it was hard to miss how visually-striking this cigar was. The wrapper was uniformly dark and toothy and the roll was literally perfect. The larger-than-usual triple-cap made cutting this cigar a little easier, and once the cap was clipped, the pre-light draw boasted flavors of cocoa, cinnamon, graham cracker, and dark tobacco. The draw was a bit firmer than I usually prefer, but given the boldness of the pre-light flavors, I suspected that a tighter draw might keep the smoke from becoming overpowering.

Lighting up this stout cigar was easy, even with a soft-flame, and even though one of the edges refused to light right away, it eventually caught up with the rest of the cigar. Initial flavors were cocoa, cream, and some pepper that I wouldn’t call a “spice blast” as much as a “spice wave.” Once that calmed down a little bit, I started tasting a little bit of coffee and some rich tobacco.

Further in, that spice died down almost completely. The tobacco flavor went from dark, rich, and heavy to sweet, floral, and delicate. The cocoa from the first third got a little sweeter as well, combining with the creaminess and the remaining mild spice to form a spicy hot chocolate flavor. Around the halfway point, the sweetness died down, giving way to some bold notes of wood and earth.

When I got down towards the final third, the cocoa was still present, though it didn’t have any of the creamy sweetness that it had earlier on. From here on out, the flavors were dry, but incredibly rich. The tobacco took on a headier, darker flavor, the cocoa morphed into an espresso note, and the retrohale revealed a very tasty roasted walnut note. While these flavors were tasty, they weren’t totally surprising, coming from a darker-wrapped cigar. What was surprising was the fact that even with under an inch left, this cigar stayed smooth and palatable without any cigar-butt harshness. Fearing for my fingers, though, I put it down with a little over a half inch remaining.

When I lit up, the Jaime Garcia Reserva Especial had the subtlety of a kick in the teeth. Further in, though, it really calmed down and sorted itself out. The flavors got a lot milder and easier to pick out and the nicotine buzz maintained a manageable low hum throughout the smoke. The construction was some of the best I’ve ever seen, and the burn was legitimately self-correcting right from the beginning, making the smoke very relaxing despite its overall strength. I recommend taking a little extra time between puffs when smoking this one, not only because of how powerful it is, but also because doing so kept the cigar mellow for much longer than usual. Anyway, I hope this isn’t the last we hear from Jaime Garcia, because judging from the Jaime Garcia Reserva Especial, blending chops must run in the family.