I took a trip to the Phoenix area last summer to visit my folks, and while I was there I thought I’d drop into the Cigar King in Scottsdale because I’d heard they carry a lot of cigars made by Don Pepin Garcia. No sooner had I started browsing through their very extensive humidor when Mitchel Hirsh walked in and introduced himself. He asked if I was looking for anything in particular, so I told him I was interested in Don Pepins. He said, yes, we have a few, and then turned around and revealed a wall full of them.
The first thing I noticed was I was pronouncing Pepin incorrectly — it’s pronounced Pep – EEN. Mr. Hirsh explained the different blends, as I noted in the post about another Pepin creation, Nacionales W, and tore open a fresh bundle of El Rey de los Habanos to give me a good whiff. If you’ve ever opened a new box of Cuban cigars, you’ll recognize that pungent odor immediately. I then went to business, picking out several cigars to take home with me.
The Hirsh y Garcia cigar is the result of a collaboration between Mitchel Hirsh and Don Pepin, to “commemorate both their business relationship and their personal friendship,” as it says on the Cigar King website. In the spectrum of Cuban comparisons, this one can be roughly compared to the Cohiba line in terms of strength and body. That’s what they tell me anyway.
Like most of Don Pepin’s work, the main ingredient here is rich tobacco from Nicaragua. The wrapper is corojo, and to me this is what gives Pepin cigars their characteristic “cubanesque” aroma. The fillers here lend this cigar body and spice and everything nice, but the wrapper deserves a whole lot of the credit.
This is a very solid looking and solid feeling 5 x 50 robusto. The wrapper has a reddish element, making it a dark colorado maduro. The head is nearly as flat as the foot and is finished with the traditional cuban triple cap. A handsome stogie indeed. The prelight draw is excellent, and the wrapper has a mild scent of hay.
I ignited this cigar with my not-so-trusty Colibri (which will not work with Colibri triple refined butane; it insists on only the cheapest Zippo fluid) and was on my way to a smooth burning smoke. The construction is uniformly excellent — a great draw and an even burn all the way to the end.
The Hirsh y Garcia line is milder than some of Pepin’s other blends — definitely less powerful than his Havana Soul or Habana Leon cigars. But that characteristic sweetness is still there, wrapped around a solid core of pepper. The aroma has some caramel to it, and the flavor tends to leather, but mostly it’s straightforward tobacco. The overall body is medium, but it gets a little heavier at the end. While this is a civilized cigar, there’s a youthful element that I think will even out with time. All of the Pepins I’ve smoked have this in common, and it’s a trait they share with Habanos. I have no doubt that these will only improve with proper aging.
The Hirsh y Garcia is not quite as complex as some of Pepin’s other blends, but if you like the buttery aroma of corojo and the peppery bite of Nicaraguan tobacco without a big punch, the Hirsh y Garcia is definitely worth your time. These are available from Cigar King for around 6 USD per stick.
Cuban Made… In Miami.