This week’s Wednesday review is of the Don Pepin blend produced for Holt’s, known as Old Henry, in the robusto vitola (5×50). I bought a small humidor from them a little over a month ago while they were having issues with their web site and included this as a freebie because of the inconvenience.
Pre-light the wrapper was a little darker than most of the Pepin’s I’ve had and was more of a matte finish than the oily appearance I’ve become accustomed to. There was little to no give to the cigar when squeezed between the fingers, save for a few spots this cigar was hard as a rock. The head clipped cleanly revealing a firm draw but not as bad as I had feared based on the feel. The first few draws were a bit harsh but I try not to judge to harshly from the first half-inch or so. I haven’t had that many cigars that started out fantastic go really bad on me, but I have had quite a few that started off less than impressive only to become quite enjoyable as the burn went on.
The first third was spicy, but more of a nutmeg or cinnamon spice than the peppery spice I have come to expect from a Pepin blend. Something about the flavor profile seemed familiar but I couldn’t quite place it at this point. The body was definitely full but that shouldn’t come as much of a surprise to anyone familiar with Don Pepin Garcia’s blends. Almost from the start the burn was uneven, and while it never required a major touch up it never really straightened out either.
As I got into the second third I finally realized that the familiar flavor I was picking up was the same gingerbread flavor I got from the Tatuaje Havana VI Angeles. It wasn’t present the whole time but crept up occasionally and was unmistakable when it reared its head. The harshness from the beginning subsided and while the smoke was pleasant it never really made me say, “Wow!” like the Don Pepin Serie JJs I’ve smoked (my favorite Pepin). Minor touch ups were necessary to keep it from canoing which was a minor distraction but it touched up easily and continued pumping out full-bodied white smoke.
I found the Old Henry similar in body to the Pepin Blue label and Cuban Classic (black label) but not quite as peppery as either of them. I prefer the Cuban Classic, but would have to give the edge to the Old Henry over the Blue Label, though all three are more full bodied and spicy than my regular rotation.
Just past the half-way mark the harshness from the beginning began to show up again bringing with it a bitter, metallic taste. I tried a purge, which cooled it down a bit and help to keep the bitter tastes less frequent but didn’t make them go away. A shame since the draw actually improved at that point (guess I found the plug). Shortly after the purge the harsh, bitter flavors took over and I had to set it down.
For the price I paid I’ve got no complaints. I don’t even think I would be upset with having bought a single that smoked like this for $5. Now if I had a whole box that smoked like this I would definitely not be happy. If the good parts of this cigar lasted for the whole cigar I think it would be a really good bargain. Based on the fact that these are only available at Holt’s and there are so many Pepins I’ve still yet to try I can’t say I see myself getting back to this one any time soon.