Recently an Atlanta cigar shop was graced with a visit of the legendary Don Pepin Garcia, and of course, I made a point to be there. I had seen the man from a distance at previous IPCPR trade shows, but a local visit promised a greater level of access. The turn out for the event was large, but the crowd of people was much less dense than the show. In fact it was pretty easy to walk right up Pepin and talk to him. Well, with the linguistic assistance of the bilingual folks in the room. In the course of talking with him I asked him how many cigars he’s making now, expecting him to respond with a ballpark figure. Instead he motioned for me to follow him into the humidor where he gave me a quick guided tour of the aisles pointing out his many products that were scattered around the very large humidor. San Cristobal there, 601 here, Tatuaje there and so on.
As we walked back out to the lounge, I was wondered how many cigars he makes that weren’t represented in that impressive humidor. I knew there were quite a few, but I didn’t expect is to learn of yet another before leaving the event. Only a few minutes later, I was talking with guy named Jesse Wills who had helped translate my conversations with Pepin. It turns out Jesse isn’t just a fan with a good Spanish vocabulary, he’s also the owner of a brand new line of cigars produced by Don Pepin Garcia named Los Imperialistas. (In fact Los Imperialistas are scheduled to be officially released the same day as this review.) Yep, that’s right, this is a review of another new Pepin cigar!
Los Imperialistas are made in Pepin’s factory in Esteli, Nicaragua, and will be available in the standard sizes of robusto, toro, torpedo and churchill. But the most interesting thing about the cigar, at least to me, is the inspiration for the name. Jesse told me that the name Los Imperialistas (The Imperialists) was inspired by an comically infamous billboard in Havana, Cuba, which depicts a Cuban soldier taunting a sweating, growling and cowering Uncle Sam across the water, saying “Mr. Imperialists. We have absolutely no fear of you!” Now let’s see if they have reason to fear this cigar!
Size: 6 1/8 x 52
Wrapper: Cuban-seed Nicaraguan
Smoking Time: 2 1/4 hours
Price: MSRP ~$6 – $8.00
The cigar comes wrapped in an ornate band that looks almost like a presidential eagle seal, flanked by Pepin’s trademark Cuban and US flags either side. Beneath the band, the wrapper is rustic, mostly smooth with only a few thin veins stretching the length of the cigar. I found that the torpedo felt very firm and consistent and seemed to be well packed with tobacco.
The cigars I received were without cellophane, and when I sampled the aroma of the wrapper, I found it was dominated with the pleasant, sweet aroma of the cedar of my humidor. (The humidor I kept these cigars in has a distinctive aroma, unlike my other humidors.) I found the draw of the torpedo to be a little tight, but I was able to taste some sweetness in the cold taste.
Unfortunately, the cigar I smoked for this review had a tighter draw than I prefer, but after a couple of corrective re-clips, I was able to loosen it up a bit. It quickly became obvious to me why that was, re-clipping the very well packed head was a little difficult.
I also had some trouble with the burn line. It was pretty wavy and erratic throughout the smoke, and did require some corrective touch ups and a relight at the beginning of the final third. However, the the cigar did produce an attractive, solid white ash.
Though I was only able to smoke one torpedo for this review, I did have the opportunity to sample a robusto and the toro. I found both of these other smokes to have better draw, but similar problems with erratic burn.
The cigar began with a sweet woodiness and quickly became a pretty complex combination of pepper wood, nuts and coffee and was struck me as full bodied right off the bat. As the first third progressed it there also seemed to be some illusive bits of sweetness and chocolate, but dominated by a woody flavor that was at times a bit charry.
The second third continued to be full and complex. It started off with a sweet earthy nuttiness and generally remained sweeter than the first third, sometimes tasting like honey. During this third I noticed that the cigar initially started off with some dark chocolate and nutty flavors that transitioned into the same woody flavor I noticed in the first third. I also noticed a little more pepper in this third here and there.
The final third wasn’t quite as complex as the second, but remained very interesting. The woody flavor again became prominent and was joined intermittently by nuts, coffee and dark chocolate.
I think the price is reasonable, most folks will find that this cigar fits nicely into their cigar budget, though perhaps not as an everyday smoke.
In a follow up email with Jesse, he mentioned that though the vitolas don’t have creative names, the blend makes up for that. And I have to agree, the flavors were always a moving target. What I tasted initially quickly evolved into another flavor in the finish, often very woody. There was no time for boredom and barely enough room on my review sheet for all my notes on the flavors. Though I did have a bunch of burn trouble, I really enjoyed smoking the cigars anyway. I think fans of Pepin smokes will enjoy this new creation.
Just for fun, I tried a few drinks with one of the other viotals I smoked. I found the cigar to go pretty nicely with a cup of coffee, but even better with some port. I think the drink pairing options with this cigar are possibly endless. I look forward to some more experimenting in the future when these stogies hit the shelves.
Liked It: Yes
Buy It Again: Yes
Recommend It: Yes
Tower of Burn
Here for your viewing pleasure is my trademark Tower of Burn.