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I think it goes without saying (but I’ll say it anyway) that there are certain cigar brands that are fairly hit-or-miss. Some blenders, though, hit the mark way more than others, and Don “Pepin” Garcia is definitely one of those blenders. Today I had the pleasure of smoking his relatively new La Reloba Selección Mexico, and I’m just as impressed as I was with the last few of his that I’ve had (601 Maduro Robusto, Tatuaje Havana VI Angeles, and Don Pepin Garcia Cuban Classic 1970 [now called Black Edition] are the ones that come to mind).
As I took this slim, extra-dark corona out of its cellophane, the first thing I noticed was the wrapper. This was not only the darkest Mexican maduro wrapper I’ve ever seen, but also the most flawless—the veins were extremely fine, it had a very smooth texture, and there was not an imperfection to be found. As with all the cigars I mentioned above, the construction was excellent; the roll was very firm and the cap was almost seamlessly applied (I had to squint to figure out where to cut the thing), and there were absolutely no soft spots.
The pre-light draw was somewhat tight but I was still able to pick up flavors of cocoa, dry wood, and a slight hint of pepper. I expected the firmness of the draw to make smoking this cigar a bit of a pain in the ass, but to my surprise, the smoke flowed freely. Initial flavors were butter, cocoa, cream, and very subtle pepper. About a half inch in, I started tasting some dried fruit that reminded me of mince pie filling. The fruitiness was somewhat boozy and had a hint of baking spice, so it had a very “holiday” feel to it.
Further in, the pepper began to heat up, though very slowly. The fruit sweetness had subsided almost completely, allowing flavors of black coffee, dark chocolate, and leather into the foreground. At the halfway point, the sweetness returned, this time reminding me of raisins. This came and went, though it was still present on the retrohale, along with some milk chocolate.
From the halfway point, I consistently picked up flavors of butter, leather, and coffee. The spice continued to slowly build on the final third, though it never got past medium-bodied, and the cocoa on the retrohale was dry and pleasant, like baking cocoa. Finally, as I got to the final inch of the cigar and the pepper was just starting to creep into the stronger side of medium, I got a hint of roasted nuts (maybe walnuts). While I wish I had another few inches of this cigar to smoke, the nub was getting hot and I decided to put it down.
I wish I snagged more than one of these, because I could see this becoming a pretty regular smoke for me. The flavors were pronounced but not exaggerated, the smoke was smooth from start to finish, the burn was perfect, and the ashes held on for an honest inch at a time (they also stayed pretty solid after falling off). To top it off, every size in the line sells for around $4 a stick, so it’s also a true bargain. I would recommend this as a good first maduro, since it’s not too strong but it definitely has a lot of classically maduro flavor, and I would definitely recommend it to anybody who appreciates darker-wrapped stogies. I am now even more looking forward to trying some more blends from the Garcia family (I have a JG Especial in my humidor right now—that one’s probably next). Anyway, here’s to another knockout Nicaraguan smoke.