Jose “Don Pepin” Garcia joins several of the biggest names in the cigar business with the Legends Series Yellow Label. Cigars International made up the rules for the Legends Series, as well they might since they sponsor and distribute them. All the Legends Series cigars must be 5.75 inches by a jaw breaking 54 ring gauge, and they must be affordable as well. CI set an initial MSRP ceiling of 5 bucks a stick, though they gave Graycliff and now Pepin a little cushion at around six dollars per cigar. The actual price — c’mon, who pays MSRP? — is around $70 for a box of 20.
This is a nice looking cigar, solid to the touch and complete with the expected triple cap. The foot reveals a swirl of tobaccos that vary widely in color from tan to black. Upon cutting the cap with a guillotine I was a little concerned to find several stem ends. The draw was very good though, and seeing that this is a Pepin production I didn’t expect any problems.
But problems there were. First off, the foot cracked when I lit it. Never had that happen with a Pepin cigar before, at least one that has been stored at the recommended 63% RH. I ignored the split in the wrapper and kept on puffing, but an uneven burn was the next issue. I ignored that also, until the cigar was burning down one side and a correction became necessary.
The flavors and aroma from the Yellow Label are more on par with what I expect from Pepin. It starts out with the expected blast of pepper (though not as strong as the Achilles or the heavier bodied Cigar King blends) and mellows into a somewhat tannic, woody cigar with overtones of cocoa and a semi-sweet aroma. Despite the split in the wrapper, the fragrance of Pepin’s corojo has yet to disappoint. This cigar has a youngish taste to it, as do most of the cigars from Rey de Los Habanos and Tabacalera Cubana. (I’d be curious to know if boxes of the Yellow Label are being date stamped.)
You’ll probably want to have something to eat before tackling this hefty heifer. It’s not a killer in the nicotine department, but it’s no slacker either. The full bodied smoke and tannic finish calls for a good meal beforehand, and probably a beverage to accompany the cigar.
I didn’t find the same level of complexity here that I find in Pepin’s top shelf blends, but I think the Yellow Label would be an economical way for smokers new to Pepin to sample the flavor that typifies his style. If cigars like Tatuaje and Habana Leon are called “Cubaneque,” then I might venture that the Yellow Label is “Pepinesque.” You’re not going to get the same full throttle experience, but you’ll get the general idea, and at a pretty reasonable price.