7 Jan 2010
Master blender Don Pepin Garcia is, without question, prolific. Aside from producing his own eponymous brand, this Cuban-born entrepreneur currently crafts cigars for such clients as United Tobacco, 5 Vegas, and Tatuaje, among others, from his perch at El Rey de Los Habanos in Miami. It goes without saying that much of his work is highly acclaimed.
Before he became a major commercial success, Ashton hired Garcia in 2007 to make a new line of cigars called San Cristobal (he also makes La Aroma de Cuba and Benchmade for Ashton). Constructed entirely from Nicaraguan tobacco, the blend consists of eight sizes. My colleague awarded the torpedo-shaped Fabuloso four stogies for its complexity and profile of earth, spice, and bitter chocolate.
Still going strong with Ashton, this summer Garcia introduced a San Cristobal offshoot at the IPCPR Trade Show in New Orleans. It is called “Selección del Sol” (Spanish for “Selection of the Sun”) in honor of the sungrown wrapper that surrounds this three-vitola line of Nicaraguan puros.
The leaf is worthy of distinction because it is from Garcia’s Estrella farm in Estelí. “Estrella sits on a picturesque plot of land surrounded by green hills, where sunlight abounds and the soil is as thick and as dark as coal,” says Ashton’s website. “Pepin and his son, Jaime, hand-selected these beautiful wrappers from the first crop of tobaccos harvested from Estrella explicitly for this cigar.”
“Beautiful” may not be the best word to describe Selección del Sol. Once you remove both flamboyant bands, you’re left with a dry, somewhat listless leaf, a rough cap, and prominent veins and seams. But beauty does not a good cigar make.
To determine this cigar’s real value, I smoked three Robustos, each of which cost $6.50 at my local tobacconist. These five inch by 52 ring gauge sticks start with pre-light notes of cocoa and coffee creamer. After lighting, they yield a profile of dry cedar, honey, and an undertone of spice. The overall effect is one of a mild- to medium-bodied smoke that’s more traditional-tasting than the bold cigars for which Garcia is known.
Rather than being disappointed, though, I’m pleasantly surprised. And the physical properties—including a solid white ash, a perfect burn, and an effortless draw—make the Selección del Sol even easier to like. The delightful aroma of the resting smoke is an added bonus.
So even though this Robusto bears little resemblance to other Garcia smokes (or other sungrown-wrapped cigars, for that matter), count me as a fan. I’m going to pick up more of these to stash in my humidor. For its sweet and enticing flavor and excellent construction, I’m happy to award the new Selección del Sol Robusto four stogies of out five.
[To read more StogieGuys.com cigar reviews, please click here.]
photo credit: Stogie Guys