Jaime Garcia Reserva Especial Robusto

Atlanta is a such a great place to live if you love cigars. The sheer volume of tobacconists in the greater metro area draws a lot of attention from large manufacturers and ensures that the smaller boutiques are well represented too. But even in a big market like this, it’s still possible to miss some new cigars. And initially, I thought that was what had happened with the Jaime Garcia Reserva Especial. The first time I came face to face with one locally was only a few weeks ago, long after the stick had been smoked, discussed and reviewed all over the internet.

But it turns out that the Reserva Especial wasn’t officially released back in December 2009 like I had thought. No, Atlanta had not missed the memo. The cigar being discussed earlier this year was actually a limited preview of the line set to be released this summer. The indications are that the released blend is identical to that pre-release, and very fortunately, the speculation that this cigar would retail between $20 and $25 a stick turned out to be incorrect.

The Reserva Especial is available in five vitolas, Petit Robusto (4 1/2 x 50), Robusto (5 1/4 x 52), Toro (6 x 54), Toro Gordo (6 x 60) and Belicoso (5 1/2 x 52) and features filler tobacco from Pepin’s farms as well as leaf from the Oliva Tobacco Company based in Tampa, Florida. Though I have been unable to verify it, some retail websites are also saying that the Connecticut Broadleaf wrapper has been aged for 6 years as well. And as the name implies, the cigar was blended Jaime Garcia, not his legendary father.

Cigar Stats:
Size: 5 1/4 x 52
Wrapper: Connectictut Broadleaf
Binder: Ecuador
Filler: Nicaraguan (from Pepin and OTC farms)
Smoking Time: 1 1/2 hours
Beverage: Water
Source: Purchased by reviewer
Price: MSRP $6.80

The Pre-Smoke
The Jaime Garcia Reserva Especial is a great looking cigar. It has dark, oily, sometimes toothy wrapper and comes decorated in a simple and elegant sepia-esque band. Looking each cigar over, it was difficult to find a flaw, or more than two veins in any stick. The closest thing to a construction error I found was a an oddly cut edge of leaf on one stick, but that’s really getting nitpicky.

The cigars were consistently firm to the touch, and gave off a pungent compost aroma. The cold draw had a dark chocolate flavor with a little bit of sweetness.

The Burn
The Reserva Especial looked even better burning that in did tucked away in it’s box. The even burn and the fine, solid white ash was a nice contrast to the very dark wrapper leaf. Each session with this cigar was a textbook example of the way a cigar should burn.

The Flavor
From the outset the flavor profile of the Reserva Especial was pretty dark. Dark chocolate, molasses and slightly charry wood got things going. As the first third progressed, there was an increase in spiciness, but a decline once again before the next third.

As the second third began, the cigar grew a little sweeter, and before long, the charry wood flavor grew a little sharper, pushing the chocolate more into the lingering finish. Though it varied in location from stick to stick, there was also an short period during this third where the wood receded almost completely, leaving the cigar tasting like mixture of an earthy cocoa and dark chocolate. But then once again, the wood returned.

As the cigar drew to a close, the flavor took a turn toward earthiness. The charred wood remained, and to a lesser extent, the dark chocolate did as well.

The Price
$6.80 beats the heck out of the $25. At this price, not only can just about anyone can afford this cigar, but it’s cheaper than most cigars being made by Pepin these days.

The Verdict
The Jaime Garcia Reserva Especial is a well priced, good burning, solid smoke with a lot of dark, full flavors. It wasn’t exactly what I expected when I lit it up, but then again, it isn’t a Pepin-blended cigar either. The difference between that Pepin expectation and the reality of the cigar may have been what caused my feeling that something was missing as I smoked the first stick. But like the foot of a cigar over a match, I slowly warmed up to the Reserva Especial as I burned my way through the review assortment. With all of them now attractive piles of ash, I can see my self buying more, but without a sense of urgency. It’s good, but not gotta-have-it good.

If you’re a fan of fuller bodied cigars with heavy flavor profiles, double ligeros and the like, this is one you should try.

Liked It: Yes
Buy It Again: Probably
Recommend It: Yes

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