La Reloba Seleccion Habano

Lately I’ve been on a Don Pepin Garcia cigar kick. With all the cigars Pepin makes these days, that’s like saying “lately I’ve been smoking cigars.” But let’s not waste time with discussing Pepin’s seemingly inexhaustible production capabilities, that’s common knowledge. Instead, let’s have a look at one of his latest sticks, the La Reloba Seleccion Habano.

Perhaps because Pepin is so prolific, the La Reloba made its way to the market last month (May 2010) with little fanfare. It would probably be difficult for My Father Cigars to market all the new sticks they produce each year. It would likely mean more expensive cigars, and with a stick like the borderline budget-priced La Reloba, that would be counter productive.

I scoured the internet looking for details, and all I found was that it’s made in Esteli, comes in two wrappers, Habano and Sumatra, and four sizes: robusto, corona, torpedo and toro. I just about gave up on it, when I started to notice the words “peso” and “Reloba” appearing together frequently in search results. It turns out that there is (or was) a cigar called “La Reloba” being sold in Cuba that cost a single Cuban Peso. And given the value price of this smoke, could it be a reference to that incredibly cheap smoke, a familiar name to grab the attention of Cuban immigrants who smoked those back home? It seems likely. However, this doesn’t explain what the name means. I came up dry there. But what matters, is whether or not it’s a good smoke. Let’s light up Pepin’s Peso puro and find out.

Cigar Stats:
Size: 5 x 50
Wrapper: Nicaraguan Habano*
Binder: Nicaragua
Filler: Nicaragua
Smoking Time: 1 1/2 hours
Beverage: Water
Source: Purchased by reviewer
Price: MSRP $5.60
* As of the time of this writing, I was unable to verify the wrapper origin with 100% certainty, but I believe this is correct.

The Pre-Smoke
Beneath the flashy black, red and gold band of the La Reloba is a slightly rustic natural brown wrapper with mostly fine veins. One of the cigars was covered in tooth, but he was the odd man out. Surveying the brushed-looking leaf for imperfections, I found none. Unless you count an oddly placed triple cap. To the touch, the cigars were firm, but slightly lumpy and inconsistent feeling. I didn’t find holes as such, but there were definitely softer areas.

The wrapper leaf had a hay scent to it just out of the cellophane that became honey sweet as the cigars posed for a few review pictures. The cold draw offered up a little bit of raisin-like sweetness and a tingle of spice on the lips.

The Burn
Generally, draw problems and refusal to burn are the only two things that have a negative impact on my verdict in this department. And unfortunately, I had minor problems with both while smoking the La Reloba Seleccion Habano. Two of the cigars I smoked for this review went out in the first third. On one occasion, there was a leaf or two in the bend that was fire retardant to say the least. The kind of leaf that turns black, but doesn’t actually combust. The other time, it was due to tunneling in the ash. In both situations, with a little help from the torch, I was quickly able to burn past the problems.

Aside from those issues, a relight or two, and a little cosmetically displeasing ash flakiness, the La Relobas burned pretty well, drew fine and produced long solid ashes. Some of those ashes were lent structural support by stems in the filler that became obvious when they dropped.

The Flavor
The La Reloba began with meaty, earthy flavors, a touch of sweetness, and a bit of a coppery tang. As the initial third progressed, the sweetness took on a caramel character, and the copper faded. It wasn’t long before wood began to appear in the finish and grow in prominence.

There wasn’t too much development in the flavor development in the second third. It settled into a pretty consistent profile of the previously noted meaty, earthy flavor with some caramel sweetness followed up with a healthy dose of wood. There was a little back-of-the-mouth spice to this third as well.

The final third saw the introduction of pepper to the flavor and a decrease in sweetness, otherwise the base composition was much the same as before.

The Price
For a Pepin-made cigar, this is probably reasonably priced. The only sticks he makes cheaper than this are mixed filler. (As far as I know, anyway.) As the saying goes, you get what you pay for, and since you won’t pay much for this cigar, you shouldn’t be that surprised when you run into burn issues. That being said, the bar has been set pretty high by other great cigars in this price range, like the La Traviata.

The Verdict
The La Reloba Seleccion Habano is decent, if unexciting cigar at a budget friendly price. It’s definitely not my favorite Pepin-made cigar, but I did enjoy it. There isn’t a great deal happening in the flavor department, but profile was enjoyable, and the burn problems weren’t much more than an annoyance. Would I buy more? Perhaps. If they were available, and I was looking for some inexpensive variety. But if I were craving the Pepin flavor experience, I’d most likely select another stick, and likely spend a few more bucks for it.

Liked It: Yes
Buy It Again: Maybe
Recommend It: Sure, give it a shot, it might make for a good everyday smoke.

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