|El Rey de los Habanos – 2014 release for The Pipe and Pint|
Late last month, we reported the details behind the return that Don Pepin Garcia’s El Rey de los Habanos was making to the marketplace. With its return, the brand will be exclusively sold and distributed by The Pipe and Pint in Greensboro, North Carolina. El Rey de los Habanos was originally released in 2005 and was the first national release by Don Pepin Garcia. About three years ago, the line had been discontinued. The new El Rey de los Habanos features a new blend and is being launched in five sizes. Recently I’ve had an opportunity to sample the new El Rey de los Habanos. Overall, I found this to not only be an outstanding cigar, but one that really keeps to the character and essence of the original El Rey de los Habanos.
El Rey de los Habanos gets its name from the factory located on Calle Ocho in Little Havana, Miami Florida where Pepin first started manufacturing cigars for both the Garcia and Tatuaje portfolio. The new El Rey de los Habanos features the same famed “red label” as the previous version. Pepin himself will be heading to The Pipe and Pint on September 20th to officially re-launch the new iteration of this cigar.
Without further ado, let’s take a look a the new El Rey de los Habanos cigar and see what this cigar brings to the table.
As we mentioned, the new blend of El Rey de los Habanos features an Ecuadorian Habano wrapper as opposed to the Nicaraguan Corojo wrapper. As for the binder and filler, it now comes from the Garcia family farms mostly located in Esteli, Nicaragua. The leaf rom this cigar goes through a special process of fermentation, sort, and quality control.
Wrapper: Ecuadorian Habano
The new El Rey de los Habanos is being launched in five frontmarks. The cigars are packaged in boxes of 23.
Corona: 5 1/2 x 44
Robusto: 5 x 50
Toro: 6 x 50
Churchill: 7 x 50
Torpedo: 6 1/8 x 52
For this experience, I smoked the Toro vitola. The El Rey de los Habanos Toro’s Habano wrapper has a medium brown color with some colorado red coloring mixed in it. The wrapper itself has somewhat an oily complexion. There are some visible veins and visible wrapper seams.
The band is the standard El Rey de los Habanos Band – red background, gold trim and adornments. There is a gold crown at the top. The text “El Rey de los Habanos” is in thin black cursive font. Below that it he text “by” (on one row) an “Don Pepin Garcia” ( arranged in a curved fashion on another row). To left is text “HAND” and to right is the text “MADE” – both in black.
Preparation for the Cigar Experience
Prior to lighting up my El Rey de los Habanos, I went with my usual choice of a straight cut. After clipping the cap, it was on to the pre-light draw ritual. The cold draw provided notes of classic natural tobacco sweetness, wood, and slight tingly spice. Overall I was very pleased with the pre-light draw of the El Rey de los Habanos. At this point I was ready to light up this cigar and see what the overall cigar experience would bring to the table.
The start to El Rey de los Habanos provided a healthy does of Garcia family black pepper with some wood notes. There also was a slight natural tobacco sweetness in the background. The pepper was more of a white pepper that was also prominent on the retro-hale.
As the flavor profile evolved, the natural tobacco sweetness and pepper moved into the forefront. I detected some notes of citrus and wood in the background. The early part of this cigar had some spice to it, but was not overwhelming. The natural tobacco along with the background citrus and wood notes complemented this spice perfectly.
In the second third, there was a nice fusion with the natural tobacco, spice, and sweetness. The spice exhibited qualities of pepper and to a lesser extent baker’s spice. There was also a fruit note in the background along with the wood notes. From time to time the fruit note could also be detected in the forefront. At times there was also a slight floral note in the background.
The last third still showcased the natural tobacco sweetness, but the wood notes seemed more prevalent. The sweet spice component was still very much present, but was now exhibiting more peppery qualities. The fruit note was secondary. There was an increase in pepper at the end of this cigar. The resulting nub was firm to the touch and cool in temperature.
Burn and Draw
The return of El Rey de los Habanos continues to showcase the excellent construction of Garcia family-made cigars. The cigar required minimal touch-ups throughout the smoking experience – making for what I term a “low maintenance” burn. The ash was a nice salt and pepper color. The ash was also firm with no flaking or flowering. The burn rate and burn temperature was ideal.
|Burn of El Rey de Los Habanos 2014 Edition – Burn|
The draw was flawless. This made for an enjoyable smoking experience from start to finish.
Strength and Body
While smoking the newly re-blended El Rey de los Habanos in Miami with Pepin earlier this year, he told Larry Christopher, owner of The Pipe and Pint, “This cigar is my answer to the all of the people who say I can’t blend a milder cigar with full flavor.” For the most part, I would agree with Pepin’s assessment of this cigar.
From a strength perspective, I found this cigar to fall into the upper end of medium of the spectrum. While I’ve had stronger cigars from the Garcias, this cigar still has enough strength to satisfy those cigar enthusiasts that reach for something on the strong side.
In terms of the flavors, I found they had some nice depth and robustness. I assessed this cigar as being medium to full-bodied with the cigar becoming full-bodied at the end. In terms of strength versus body, I found the body to have the edge.
The original El Rey de los Habanos was an outstanding cigar in my book. One thing that always stood out for me with that cigar is the sweetness that cigar generated layered with the Pepin spice, natural tobacco, and woody notes. The new incarnation of El Rey de los Habanos really hits a lot of the marks of that original. The one big difference is that the 2014 edition was a little more dialed back in terms of the depth of the sweetness. This isn’t a negative and I think it actually showcased some of the other flavors delivered by this cigar.
Overall El Rey de los Habanos makes a triumphant return. This is a cigar I would recommend to a more experienced cigar enthusiast. This is also a great cigar for a novice to “graduate” to something fuller. As for myself, I really enjoyed this new iteration. This is a cigar that is box worthy and it is one I would be seeking out again.
Body: Medium to Full, Full (Toward End)
Assessment: 4.0 – Box Worthy