Don Pepin Garcia Blue Label Fundadores

Drew Estate

I’m a firm believer that it pays to make a point to visit all the cigar shops in your area from time to time. Sure, you will invariably have your favorite shops, where you spend the majority of your leisure smoking time and cigar budget. I do. But you might be pleasantly at what you find on a chance visit to a little shop you rarely visit. Take this cigar for example, the Don Pepin Garcia Blue Label Fundadores. The wife and I were hanging out in a neighborhood we don’t visit often, and I took advantage of the opportunity to walk into a cigar shop I hadn’t visited in ages. While looking through the humidor, I spotted a Don Pepin smoke I didn’t recognize, and hadn’t seen in any of the other shops I frequent. Score!

As it turns out the Fundadores is a new addition to Don Pepin Garcia’s Blue Label line. How new, I’m not sure. Specifics on this cigar are a little scarce right now. But it’s not surprising that I didn’t recognize the band. While it is blue, it is distinctly different than the other Don Pepin Blues. I suspect this means that it’s a “special” or “limited” edition. (Are there any cigars coming out now that aren’t special, limited releases?) And that about covers what I know, and how much I’m willing to speculate on. Let’s check out the cigar.

Cigar Stats:
Size: 7 1/2 x 38 (long panatela)
Wrapper: Nicaraguan Corojo
Binder: Nicaraguan Criollo
Filler: Nicaraguan Corojo and Criollo
Smoking Time: 2 1/4 hours
Beverage: Water
Price: ~$8.50

The Pre-Smoke
I gotta start out by saying I like the look of this cigar. Of course, I’ve been a fan of lanceros and panatelas for a little while now, but my appreciation extends beyond just the shape of the cigar. I also think the band looks a little nicer than the standard blue label band. I’m not sure why I like it more exactly, maybe it’s the gold script looks better on the narrow right gauge.

I noticed something when I laid these cigars out for a few pictures. The wrappers of one of the cigars was significantly lighter than the other. The difference was almost enough to make me wonder if I had accidentally picked up one natural and one maduro. Almost. But since both cigars came from the only box that I saw in the humidor, this seems unlikely. What’s more likely is that person who packed this box didn’t noticed the color variation. The only other obvious difference in the two smokes was that the darker cigar had a small rip in the wrapper near the foot. Aside from this imperfection, the cigars appeared to be without flaw.

Giving both cigars a feel, I noticed that the darker, more rustic looking of the two was a little inconsistent, and a little softer than the lighter cigar. The scent on the wrapper on both cigars was sweet honey with a bit of compost. At the foot, the cigars smelled like hay. In the cold taste I got a sweet berry flavor.

The Burn
The differences between these cigars extended beyond the color differences. The darker cigar had a more uneven burn than the lighter one. Additionally, the ash was less solid and darker in color in that cigar as well. All around, the lighter cigar had a more attractive burn, and seemingly better construction.

One characteristic both cigars shared in the burn was an unwillingness to remain lit starting at the second third. While the lighter cigar snapped out of it after a couple relights, the darker one continued to be highly fire retardant right up until the end.

In fairness, I should mention that guy at the shop mentioned that these cigars were a little on the wet side. I put both into a humidor with a humidity in the low 60’s for a couple of days, which may have helped somewhat. After my experience with the poorly performing dark cigar, I laid the other one out on my desk for 4 or 5 hours before smoking. While that additional dehumidification time may have help considerably, I do think the soft spots I noted earlier in the dark cigar contributed to its poorer burn.

The Flavor
It probably won’t surprise you to hear that these cigars were noticeably different in the flavor department too. The flavor differences were most notable in the first third. The darker cigar had a pepperiness that dominated (and nearly over-powered) the flavors of the first third of that cigar. In the lighter cigar, instead of pepper, I got a lot of a rick black coffee flavor in the first third. In addition to these flavors, the cigars shared a rich palate of creaminess, caramel sweetness, toastiness, wood and some nuts.

Both cigars continued to have an complex combination of creamy, nutty, woody, toasty and coffee flavors through the second third. As with the first third, the flavors were ever changing, each puff seemed to be an interesting new combination. I did notice a pocket of vanilla sweetness somewhere in the middle of this third, and some butteriness toward the end of it. There was also some spiciness in the finish of the cigar, but not like the prominent pepper I noted in the previous third.

Woody flavors dominated the final third. I also noticed little bit of leather, creaminess and some more of that rich black coffee here in brief moments also.

The Price
I actually paid around a dollar more a stick than what I listed above, but overall I have no complaints about the price. Given the range of the other blue label vitolas I’d say it’s about right. It’s a tough cigar to roll, and it’s just gonna cost you more.

The Verdict
While I was a little disappointed by the darker cigars performance, both struck me as being good smokes with good flavor. Good smokes with a bit of a humidity issue. I was warned, but I couldn’t wait to try them out. So yeah, I’m giving these cigars a bit of a pass in the burn department.

I’m thinking that anyone who is already a fan of Don Pepin’s Blue line should give this new vitola a try. The smaller ring gauge really seems to amplify the already great flavors.

Liked It: Yes
Buy It Again: Probably
Recommend It: Yes, Pepin fans should try it out.

Tower of Burn
Here for your viewing pleasure is my trademark Tower of Burn.