Don Pepin Garcia Cuban Classic 1952 Perla

As we head into the cold months of winter, a lot of us will be reaching for our favorite short smokes — petite coronas, short robustos, perhaps even the occasional cigarillo. But there is an art to smoking a small cigar; it involves more than huddling with your buddies around the flaming trash barrel and passing the flask (as rewarding as that can be).

The small cigar presents challenges, one of which is caused by the perception that since the smoke volume created is smaller, you can smoke it more quickly and obtain the same results as smoking a larger gauge cigar. Not so. More often than not this results in a hot smoke, a bitter taste, and disappointment in general.

The small cigar demands respect of a different nature. There’s less of a chance that it will burn askew, but a greater chance that the draw will be tight. There’s a greater chance that you will have less time to enjoy the small cigar — otherwise you might have opted for a larger vitola — thus the greater chance you will rush and fail to observe the nuance the mighty mite has to offer. And finally, you might be a little embarassed by the diminutive stature of your lil’ smokie. Don’t worry. It’s not a reflection on the breadth of your knowledge or experience. Not when you’re smoking a DPG Black.

The frontmarks for José “Don Pepín” García’s Cuban Classic series are all named for milestones in the life of the master — 1952 is the year José was born, so it’s fitting that the smallest cigar is graced with that appellation. The perla is a classic Cuban vitola, a bit smaller than a petite corona. DPG’s perla is a bite-sized 4.25 x 40 and smokes very much like the other sizes in the line.

I’m not sure if it’s any more difficult to roll a smaller cigar than a larger one, but if so it’s hard to tell from the appearance and construction of the 1952. I burned through a box of these over the summer (which is the desert-dweller’s winter in terms of atmospheric suitability for smoking outside) and each one was like the next: attractively presented and very consistently rolled.

The draw is a little bit firm on these, but I have to wonder if that isn’t intelligent design: it discourages hotboxing.  They all smoke fairly cool, even close to the band, which is remarkable for such a small cigar. The burn is even but the ash is a little weak, falling off after an inch or so. Can’t have everything I guess.

The flavor is typical of the DPG Black series: lots of pepper up front that mellows into woody notes with a touch of caramel from Pepin’s signature corojo wrapper. It maintains a healthy bite throughout, just to remind you that even though it’s small, you’re still smoking a Pepín. But like Lucky7 said in his review of the 1979 robusto, it “definitely has a kick but it’s not a barn burner.”

Actually, Lucky7’s description of the robusto’s flavor is right on the mark for the perla as well, so I’m just going to swipe it:

Starts with the typical JDPG bang for about a half inch then softens to a creamy base flavor of toasted cedar and rich coffee with notes of bittersweet cocoa, nuts and black pepper. The aftertaste and aroma are sweet and pleasant. During the last third I always detect a little caramel on the nose.

The Blacks are widely available and have always been attractively priced, but the perlas can be a little difficult to find. Online it looks like these can be had in various places for anywhere from 60 to 80 dollars, which is a fine price for a quality short smoke like the 1952. Highly recommended for those of you planning on herfing with Jack Frost in the coming months.

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8 thoughts on “Don Pepin Garcia Cuban Classic 1952 Perla

  1. Nice review on the PG, but I could have done without the reminder that I’m gonna have to beg my wife to smoke inside in a month or so…

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