With the manifold array of brands issuing from the factories of Jose “Don Pepín” Garcia, it is interesting to note that only six of them bear the imprint of the master’s name. Vegas Cubanas (by Don Pepín Garcia) is one of them.
Introduced in 2005, before the Pepín renaissance reached full bloom, Vegas Cubanas was just another “boutique” cigar from Miami’s El Rey de Los Habanos.
By contrast with the swooning that accompanied Tatuaje, Padilla Miami, and later on San Cristobal, Vegas Cubanas never really attracted that much attention. Perhaps because it’s a lighter-bodied cigar? Or because it is in relatively good supply? (When we all know that the power hitters and the “exclusive” limited editions are by definition better. Right?) In the retail shops I frequent this one is usually shunted off to the side, in the vicinity of the Tatuajes, Series JJ, El Centurion, etc., but never in the same spotlight.
So maybe they were trying to amp up the label a bit when El Rey de Los Habanos gave Vegas Cubanas a makeover in 2007: new box art, a new band, and cellophane. (Matt’s review shows the somewhat lackluster original band.)
Like most of Pepín’s blends, this one is a Nicaraguan puro. The wrapper is touted as “Habano Rosado Claro” and under the hood there’s a “Cuban Seed Corojo 99 blend.” Vegas Cubanas are available in six sizes:
- Invictos – 5 x 50
- Generosos – 6 x 50
- Delicias – 7 x 50
- Imperiales – 6.125 x 52
- Magnates – 7.625 x 49
- Coronas – 5.5 x 44
Early in my journey through the vast cigar wilderness I became partial to the toro size. I found that most draw problems could be avoided with a larger ring size, and a six inch cigar allows a little more room for development than a stubby robusto, so I gravitated to the toro, or corona grande, or whatever name is applied to a cigar with a 48 to 52 ring gauge and a length from 6 to 6 1/2 inches. Construction qualities have generally improved over the years, but I still like this size.
So the one I reached for was the Generosos. The wrapper on this cigar is an attractive colorado claro, with an emphasis on the colorado. It has a sleek appearance without being oily. A close examination shows a small amount of tooth, but not enough to overcome the overall smooth impression. The roll is solid and the head bears the classic cuban triple-cap we expect from El Rey de Los Habanos.
Once lit, the Generosos opens with a tannic woody flavor and a smattering of pepper. Compared to a blend like the DPG Blue Label, this one is a sweetheart. After half an inch or so, the tannins and the wood merge and morph into the smooth cocoa flavor that for me defines DPG’s lighter bodied cigars. The finish at this stage is lingering, but mild — just a slightly earthy aftertaste, and a grazing of a scratch on the back of the throat.
Into the two-thirds stage the smoke evens out and takes on a wonderfully creamy and smooth texture. If by “body” you mean the texture of the smoke, this is a full bodied cigar at this point. But it’s not powerful; it’s simply full on the palate, like a full bodied Sumatran coffee with cream: it sits heavily on the palate, but doesn’t overwhelm with nicotine.
The final stage of the cigar features a gentle transition from smooth cocoa flavors to a darker, earthier taste. Up to this point, the wrapper has not really distinguished itself. For most of the way the wrapper melds nicely with the rest of the blend, but in the last couple inches the wrapper contributes an aroma that steps out and shouts Twang! It’s a sweet, spicy, caramel inflected aroma that defies description, but you know it when it shows up at your door.
My only complaint, and it is a minor one, is that the burn was uneven throughout the length of this smoke. It wasn’t serious enough to affect the balance of the flavors, but it was just a tad annoying.
In the brick and mortar retail shops this cigar sells in the $6-7 US range. Boxes can be found for around $130 online, which is quite decent for a cigar of this quality. It compares favorably to the more expensive Troya Classico and Cabaiguan lines, though I’d have to say this one is a less complex experience than those.
From first light to last ash, Vegas Cubanas is an everyman’s cigar. It does not stomp on the terra like some of Pepín’s other blends; it steps lightly and sings a tuneful little ditty. It’s bound to please everyone, at one time or another, with the exception of those who insist on double ligero for breakfast. If I had to smoke nothing but these for a long time, I might get a little bored, but I’d be happy.