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Stogie Reviews: CI Legends “Purple Label”

2 Jul 2008

For the past few years, online retailing behemoth Cigars International has been selling a premium house brand known as the “Legends” series. These cigars, each one made by a different boldfaced name in the business, represent what CI declares “the very best for the money” (a roughly $5-per-stick price tag). For a mere $5, you can enjoy the equivalent of a much pricier Don Pepin Garcia, or Graycliff, or Perdomo, etc.—or so the marketing goes.

Curious to see if these off-label premiums lived up to their brand-name equivalents, I lit up the Purple Label, a 5.7 inch by 54 ring gauge stick blended by Graycliff mastermind Avelino Lara. The Purple Label is a good-looking cigar whose smooth appearance, slightly spongy texture, and sweet aroma certainly bring the Graycliff Crystal PGX to mind.

Unfortunately, that’s about all this offering has in common with its Graycliff cousin. I can only surmise that the Purple Label is made with inferior tobacco to that found in the name-brand Crystal PGX, because the flavor is only superficially similar. Both are mild-bodied cigars, but the Crystal PGX offers a lot of complexity to belie its gentleness.

The Purple Lable, however, is a study in bland repetition. From start to finish, I tasted a single flavor note—basically what I’d describe as the essence of wet and slightly moldy hay. This is not a very enticing flavor to encounter in one puff of a cigar, much less a hundred or so. But that’s what I got from the Purple Label: Puff after boring puff, this cigar played a symphony in the key of blah. I was all too happy to toss the nub of my first stick, and when sampling my second, I was just as pleased to put it to rest.

I suppose it’s worth mentioning that the Purple Label is a mechanically decent cigar. The draw is a bit too tight, but forgivable. The burn is sharp and even. The ash holds true for inches at a time. But do these qualities really matter when you’ve got no interest in what you’re smoking? I’d almost get the same experience just pretending to puff on the Purple Label for an hour and change, never lighting the foot.

Bottom line: If you want to smoke a Graycliff, you’re unfortunately going to have to pay for the real thing. This cigar is no substitute. Still, for solid aesthetics, competent handling and ennui-inducing flavor, I give the CI Legends Purple Label a very generous two out of five stogies.

[To read more cigar reviews, please click here.]

Jon N

photo credit: Stogie Guys

10 Responses to “Stogie Reviews: CI Legends “Purple Label””

  1. DoubleR Robusto Wednesday, July 2, 2008 at 1:33 pm #

    Good to have you back, Jon. And thanks for trying these out so the rest of us don't have to.

  2. Jon N. Wednesday, July 2, 2008 at 1:46 pm #

    Ha! Thanks. 🙂 "Trying stuff out so you don't have to" is a role nobody sets out to fill, but someone's gotta do it!

  3. Jon N. Wednesday, July 2, 2008 at 2:49 pm #

    I should also mention that I'm planning to smoke some of the others in the Legends series over the next several weeks. I'm curious to see if my disappointment with the Purple Label was a fluke, or whether the series in general is subpar. We shall see!

  4. Patrick S Wednesday, July 2, 2008 at 4:31 pm #

    Glad to hear your take on this Jon. The only CI legends I've tried is the "yellow" Pepin. I've found it to be pretty nice, but not as good as the Vegas Miami which is also Pepin made for CI and is the same price.

  5. Chris V Wednesday, July 2, 2008 at 4:33 pm #

    From what I've heard they're pretty darn hit or miss. Someone on one of the forums did a group line review. Everyone did one of each color and reviewed it. I think there were like 4 guys doing it too.

  6. Patrick S Wednesday, July 2, 2008 at 5:49 pm #


    Shouldn't you be studying for finals, not commenting on cigars?

  7. Jon N. Wednesday, July 2, 2008 at 6:11 pm #


  8. Duke Thursday, July 3, 2008 at 2:52 am #

    I think you review is pin-point accurate. A while back I obtained a well-priced box of the "Perdomo" Legend series. After smoking only one, I hurriedly tucked the others away in the humi hoping they would eventually disappear.

    That was nine months ago. Last week I was running quite low on my usually supply and was forced to smoke another Legend Series. I do have to say, nine months in the humi did a wonder for these cigars! I would by no means claim they're great, but they are significantly better– even seemingly more complex– than the first Legend Series I smoked.

    For any of you out there with these cigars lying around, hard time in humi seems to reform these sticks quite a bit!

  9. Jon N. Thursday, July 3, 2008 at 5:23 am #

    Maybe it's just me, but a strangely high percentage of the cigars I've been buying lately have seemed very young to me. In my opinion, a good 4-6 months in the humi is almost mandatory these days; longer if you happen to know or suspect that the sticks are young before smoking them.

    In general, I think it's good policy not to smoke a recently purchased stick until it's been given at least a month to settle in.

Trackbacks and Pingbacks

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