Don Pepin Garcia 15th Anniversary Limited Edition | Cigar Reviews by the Katman

Wrapper: Nicaraguan Habano Rosado Oscuro
Binder: Nicaraguan
Filler: Nicaraguan Pelo D’Oro
Size: 5.75 x 50 Robusto Extra
Strength: Medium/Full
Price: $20.00

Photo courtesy of Cigar Aficionado:

Today we take a look at the Don Pepin Garcia 15th Anniversary Limited Edition.
Many grassy asses to buddy Charles Lim.

Released: May 2018
Cigars Released: 2,000 fourteen count boxes

From Cigar Aficionado:
“Fifteen years ago, Cuban expat José “Pepín” García opened up a small cigar factory in Miami’s Little Havana, where he began producing his namesake Don Pepin Garcia brand. Today, he is one of the biggest names in the cigar industry, with two Cigar of the Year accolades (My Father Le Bijou 1922 Torpedo Box Pressed in 2015 and Flor de las Antillas Toro in 2012) and a sizeable tobacco operation in Nicaragua. The Garcia family is celebrating this milestone with a special cigar called Don Pepín García 15th Anniversary Limited Edition, which is expected to arrive at retailers in mid-April.

“According to the Garcia family, the anniversary cigar has been in the works for three years, and the tobaccos were selected specifically to be aged until its release in 2018. The cigar is a Nicaraguan puro with a Habano-seed wrapper that the family describes as rosado oscuro. There is also said to be some Pelo D’Oro tobacco in the filler, a varietal known for its strength and sweetness but also its susceptibility to disease during cultivation.

“The cigar wears a Habano-seed wrapper grown in Nicaragua that the Garcia’s describe as rosado oscuro.
“The tobacco was sourced from the Garcia’s Nicaraguan farms, which are located in the La Estrella and El Pedrero regions of Estelí. The cigars were produced at My Father Cigars S.A., the Garcia’s main factory in Nicaragua.

“Don Pepín García 15th Anniversary Limited Edition will come in two sizes: Toro ($24), measuring 6 1/2 inches by 52 ring gauge; and Robusto ($20), measuring 5 3/4 by 50.
“The cigars, which are individually coffined, will ship in boxes of 14. According to the company, only 2,000 boxes of each size will be made.”

A beautiful chocolate/hickory/pecan hued stick with no visible seams and only a couple of veins showing. Not a lick of tooth…slick as a polished stone. I feel a plug behind the cigar band. But overall, the tobacco is nicely distributed. The triple cap had Garcia’s best rollers on the job. The band is a little over the top with enough epaulets to keep a 5 star general happy.

From the shaft, I can smell lovely things such as dark chocolate, big malts, floral notes, fresh bananas, thick with crème brûlée, rich black licorice, black pepper, smoky BBQ’d corn, a mix of berries and citrus, and cedar.

From the clipped cap and the foot, I can smell an intense fruit compote made up of summer fruits and berries along with some orange citrus. Dense chocolate. Spiciness that presents itself as both black and red peppers. Cloves (I hate cloves), malts, cedar, licorice, bananas, vanilla ice cream, and caramel.

The cold draw prevents flavors of spicy peppers, espresso, licorice, citrus, cedar, and bittersweet chocolate.

Let’s start with the price point. Ouch. OK, so only 28,000 sticks made for each size. Not a lot but enough to still allow it to be purchased at this early stage of hitting the market. Garcia has proven that he can make some mighty fine cigars for very reasonable pricing. Hitting the first double digits after its teens ran out means this blend better be out of this world.

Yet, I checked the reviews and not everyone was happy with this cigar. I saw some low scores. And a couple high scores.

I’m expecting rapture and euphoria. If not, step away from the bar.

The draw is tight and needs my PerfecDraw cigar poker tool. It does the trick in one swipe (Don’t forget to vote at for Dr. Rod’s inventions as he made it to the top 5 nominees for cigar accessories. You can read about it in my last posting).

Flavors emerge quickly and with extreme prejudice…Big flavors. That’s what I’m talking ‘bout. Hit the palate with an avalanche of constituents that overwhelm the brain early in the game. Make me say it’s worth every dime.

This cigar is a Pittsburgh chimney. Smoke pours and fills the room like a house afire.

Here they are: spiciness, malts, citrus, chocolate, espresso, bananas, vanilla bean ice cream, big notes of hickory almonds, licorice, smoky charred meat, chocolate covered peanuts, cedar, and black walnuts.

It is at the ½” ashes given up for sacrifice and it is completely and utterly so complex that I cannot remember the last time I smoked a cigar in which a multiplex of elaborate flavors played such an important role this early in the experience.

I get a wonderful lime experience that makes me jones for a Corona.

The balance is bat shit good. Transitions are going nuts running into each other before they have a chance to settle. The finish does not stop…it leaps tall buildings…

ZZ Top is playing “La Grange.” I have a story that happened in 1971. My band found out that this new group was playing at some dive in Anaheim for an afternoon gig. We went to see them because we heard that Jimi was mentor to Billy Gibbons. We went to see them and were the only people sitting at tables listening. The rest of the alcoholic patrons were sitting at the bar getting their afternoon buzz on. Next time…

Strength is on the surprising shy side of medium. If you love Garcia, like me, one counts on that kick ass attack from the start. This limited edition anniversary blend is taking a completely different approach. Normally one can count on a bombardment of black pepper at the start of Garcia’s blends. Nope, not here. I’m trying to figure out what Garcia was trying to do with this blend. Is he attempting to copy some of his favorite blends?

The burn line….wait…Big sweet spot hits at 1” burned. The burn line is very inconsistent; needing lots of touch ups…which totally takes me by surprise. What happened to his #9 rollers? If it doesn’t shape up, it will hit the final rating hard.

The Eagles are playing. I side with The Dude. What a pussy band.

Very smooth and relaxing. The complexity paints with a big brush and an even bigger canvas…the life experience of Don Pepin Garcia.

I taste Granny Smith apples. Just a couple days ago, I made an apple pie from scratch using those tart green apples. Must have Granny Smith on the brain.

Each puff exhilarates. I still believe that with all his juice, Garcia could have made this blend a little more accessible financially. But then smokers expect a high price tag for an anniversary cigar so the manufacturer is able to take advantage of that mind set. Yeah, this is a great cigar; so far.

But there is no reason that Garcia couldn’t have dropped the price tag a few notches. This is why most cigar manufacturers hate me. They don’t like being called out. I see more and more reviewers standing up to their sponsors. That’s a good thing.

Smoke time is a leisurely 35 minutes.

Big salted carnival pretzel. So nutty that it makes my testicles tingle. Oh wait, that’s Sammy the cat licking my balls. My bad.

Strength accelerates to high medium. Much better. I now predict this blend will send me into orbit during the last third.
The lime citrus along with the heavy creaminess is decadent. Cinnamon and apples hover above the cigar keeping the right distance so as not to overly influence the balance.

I really like the Don Pepin Garcia 15th Anniversary Limited Edition. But I’m not finding it to be overly exceptional. I’ve smoked my share of great blends at half the price. I expect a little more from the master Garcia. It should be blowing my socks off but, instead, it is behaving like an excellent blend without all the anniversary fanfare.

I find that some reviewers are unnecessarily harsh on certain blends. Their palates are so refined from the onslaught of constantly smoking great cigars at their disposal that sometimes it feels like they’ve lost touch. We regular smokers generally don’t have that kind of exposure to one phenomenal expensive cigar after another.

The blend finds itself running back and forth between medium strength and medium/full. Sort of bi-polar.

Every now and then, I get a big burst of a few flavors at once. At this point, the complexity has turned the blend into something you experience as a whole rather than its disparate parts.

The cigar band has so much glue on it, I’m afraid I’m going to destroy it.

As well as the Don Pepin Garcia 15th Anniversary Limited Edition performs, I can’t lose the hovering vultures whispering that good blend does not necessarily qualify for $20 or $24 status. It is more in the realm of a great $12 stick. But then the affectation of the wood coffins always allows the manufacturer to really jack up the price figuring the PR campaign and presentation justify the ridiculous price. I will take a Bespoke over any other like priced cigar because you can taste the passion.

I don’t taste passion in this blend. I taste a journeyman’s effort to make a fine cigar and then rape the customer base because of the ill placed fanfare.

Now I am enjoying the hell out of the Don Pepin Garcia 15th Anniversary Limited Edition. But I can’t shake the price and what I should be getting for a couple of sawbucks.
The burn issue seems to have self-healed itself.

One nice attribute is the distribution of tobacco. Nice job. It smokes slowly and deliberately.
I’m able to remove the cigar band without my earlier fear of destroying it. It reminds me of the old Gurkhas and their billboard sized bands…with loads of artwork. There is a ton of shit going on there.

I hit the halfway point 50 minutes in.
Strength is now full tilt. Nicotine shouldn’t be far behind.

This was sneaky. The cigar starts off mild to distract the muddled mind. And then lights up my amygdala so it can be seen from the ISS.

I notice the current reviews online all took place in May. Even if reviewers got early stabs of this cigar for pre-release, it seems that this Garcia blend needs more than a few weeks or a month before it’s ready to shine. I’ve had mine lying naked in my humidor for a couple months. I believe that extra time allows for a better assessment of this blend. I used to behave like Elvis on the shitter early in my reviewing days too. I so badly wanted to review the cigar before anyone else that I threw away good sense. Now I don’t care how long I need to wait. It doesn’t matter. Although in this case, it does as so few cigars were released. If I had waited another month, I’d be reviewing a cigar you can no longer purchase. My review would then be an exercise in futility. Like Elvis on the shitter. Can you imagine being so constipated that you give yourself a heart attack. I, for one, do not want to go out being found on the bathroom floor with a turd hanging out of my ass.

In fact, it’s a shame this is such a limited cigar. A few months of humi time would improve all the scores given to the stick dramatically.

Ebb and flow. Flo and Eddie. George and Gracie. Abbott and Costello. Zeppo and Gummo.

Earlier I would have said a good stick for newbies. No longer. Nicotine is in full attack mode as the laptop screen becomes disoriented and sloppy. Yet I’ve maintained no turd hanging from my ass.

The experienced smoker is going to dig this cigar. Lots of stuff to entertain. Just not worth $20 unless your discretionary spending is off the grid. If you can spend $45 for a Padron, this stick’s price point means nothing.

A huge blast of black pepper. Normally seen at the start of most Garcia’s blends.

Changes don’t occur in big sequences. They move to and fro keeping the major changes to a minimum.
The cigar hits a sudden deer in the road. Sweet Spot 2.0. Wow.

I’m beginning to understand the thinking behind the blending of this tobacco sausage. Garcia designed this cigar to perplex. Just when I think I understand what’s going on, I’m taken on a sharp fork in the road and we are heading to Oz.

The second half of the cigar is the star of the show. I’m immersed in pleasant thoughts and extreme knee pain. But trying to survive the nicotine explosion. This is not a cigar to be smoked on an empty stomach like this dumb shit reviewer constantly does…and pays for.
More burn issues.

Smoke time is a long one hour 20 minutes.

I’ve already described the flavors that steer the direction of the blend. Now it’s a matter of tasting them in a surprising order of influence.
So many great blends at half the price. It will affect my rating.
And exactly what the fuck are you supposed to do with the wood coffins? Bury the ashes of your foreskin in? Do you need to say Kaddish at time of burial?

The Don Pepin Garcia 15th Anniversary Limited Edition is a lovely enjoyable stick. No doubt. I can forgive Garcia for over charging because he has always maintained the highest standards for most of his blends. And kept them reasonably priced.

The spiciness begins to overwhelm.

The Don Pepin Garcia 15th Anniversary Limited Edition is still available from a lot of online stores. So, if you plan to bite the bullet and purchase a few, do it now. A month from now, they’ll be posterity.

Do I recommend this cigar? A conundrum. Yeah, I really like it. But is the privilege of smoking one worth the dough? I believe so…but oh so reticently. This was a treat. No doubt.
I’m glad I had the opportunity to smoke this limited edition from a manufacturer I respect highly.
Final smoke time is one hour 50 minutes.


And now for something completely different:
Continuation of story about my early 70’s band, Homegrown…from my review of Diesel Whiskey Row

I’ve played in countless bands. But my favorite band I played in was “Homegrown,” circa 1971-1973. I’ve told stories about them before. A 5 piece hard rock band that was booked all the time. We could mimic the best hard rock from Zep to Black Sabbath to the Stones to the Beatles. And everything in between.

We played the Marine Corps Air Station El Toro in Tustin, CA all the time for the EM club. Our idiot booker put us in the officer’s club for one night. It was more dough and she thought it would be a welcome reprieve from the Lawrence Welk type of music usually played there. Oy vey.

It was like a hooker’s bar. Lots of black leather and red velvet. The officers wore their dress uniforms and their women wore their best dresses.
Immediately, we knew we were in the wrong place. Halfway through the first song, an officer approached the band stand and told us to turn down. So we naturally turned up.

We were really pissing everyone off. They wanted to hear Country music. WTF?
Our booker must have had brain damage.

So our lead singer, Mark Baird, handed us all one hit of acid each and we popped them. Might as well make the best of things.

45 minutes later, God knows what we were playing but we were having a great time. Long extended solos on every instrument that drove the crowd apoplectic.
They tried to make us stop but we ignored them. Mark got on the mic and began spewing poetry from various beat generation poets.

A call was made to our booker. They tried to get us to stop but we wouldn’t. The booker showed up around 30 minutes later. She had a confab with the boss at the club and she came over and told us to shut ‘er down.

We were frying and just laughed. We played one last song….I remember. It was “Wild Thing.”

Now here is where the real problem set in. We were flying and couldn’t figure out how to pack up our gear. We laughed continuously. Took us almost 90 minutes to figure it out.

We had two roadies with us. One guy, Rich, was about 6’-6 and muscle bound. One of the officers tried to stuff our gear away without asking permission. Rich, who was also frying, picked him up and threw him across the room.

The MP’s were called. They stood there bouncing their night sticks into the palms of their hands while they made sure we packed up and got out. One of the MP’s was a regular when we played the EM club. It was Eddie!
Eddie knew right away we were high. And he asked for some. So Mark gave him a hit of LSD which he immediately swallowed.

He sneaked over to the side of the stage and drank an entire pint of beer in one swallow. This facilitated the acid working faster.

We were fumbling around when we heard Eddie laughing at nothing. The other MP asked if he was OK?
The drum kit was partially set up and Eddie went over to it and grabbed a pair of sticks and started to bang the snare drum and cymbal.

All hell broke loose as more MP’s were called. One of the new MP’s got in our big roadie’s face and a fight broke out. The booker stood there with her hands in her face.

We were banned from the Officer’s club forever. Like we gave a shit. The next weekend, we were booked for the EM club where they loved us. They had actually tried to ban us from the EM club but the Marines made such a huge deal over this action that they reinstated us and just shook their heads and threw up their hands.

It took us 2 hours to drive the 15 minute way home. We kept getting lost. We saw a Taco Bell that was open and stopped and fed our faces. Mike, the guitarist, pulled out a joint and we smoked it and woops…we were really frying now.

We managed to all get home around daylight.
It was a really fun night.
Now El Toro has been shut down.
Good memories.
This is the only photographic evidence of the band Homegrown playing at El Toro Marine Base EM Club:

And now for something completely different:
Another rock n roll story….

I passed the audition and was now a member of the band. I had never heard of Curved Air. They were/are huge all over Europe, South America, and Japan. But they bombed in the U.S. No idea why. Over the band’s lifetime, 18 albums were produced and all did well in those markets. I still get royalties every 6 months from London.

Yet hardcore fans of British progressive rock still look up to Curved Air as a mover and shaker in this genre of music. Among those folks, I’m still a rock star…lol.

The band had to complete a record deal with Decca. So the path of least resistance was a live album. Again, I had no idea who Curved Air was. No idea how huge they were.

All of the original members joined up for one last hurrah…and me. They had problems with bassists like Spinal Tap had problems with drummers. I was always afraid I’d spontaneously combust.

The band hadn’t played together in two years but remembered the songs like they played them yesterday. So only two weeks were reserved in a rehearsal hall in Covent Garden. And those rehearsals were lax, very lax. Lots of tea and biscuit breaks.

I wasn’t learning the songs. This was a progressive band in which all the members had classical degrees. They were brilliant musicians and their music proved that out. Lots of chordal changes, complex time signatures, and very complicated themes.

The keys player, Francis Monkman, was very patient with me and helped me tremendously in learning the tunes. We rehearsed two dozen songs so we could change the 90 minute line up if we chose. Amazingly, the band averaged 5 encores per concert.

At the end of the two weeks, they were ready, but I wasn’t. I made copious notes on my own handwritten charts. In their songs, the bass was out front a lot. And the riffs had to be exact.

Our first gig was at the Royal Albert Hall. Sort of the Carnegie Hall of England.
Only I didn’t know that. I thought we were going to play some decent sized club. Again, I had no idea who they were.

I had moved into the suburbs of London to Edgeware. A very nice, modern apartment. One day, my young neighbor came to visit and we sat in my living room where I had a couple CA posters from gigs.
He was in the British Air Force. He asked what I did. I pointed at the posters and said I was with them.
“What do you mean? You’re a roadie?”
“No, I’m with them. I play bass in the band.”
His face dropped and he nervously promised me that he would tell no one where I lived. I laughed hard and told him not to worry. No groupies were piled up on my doorstep. But I couldn’t get him to act naturally around me from that point forward. That was my first realization of the enormity and popularity of Curved Air.

The night of my first gig, the band’s road manager picked us all up and we drove to the gig. As we got closer to the hall, I kept asking, “Where are we going? What’s going on? Where are we going?” No one replied. I was ignored like an errant mosquito.

We were inside the hall and the roadies had finished setting up all the equipment. The stage was humongous. I looked out to the seats and saw thousands of them, including a huge balcony.

I had a panic attack. Thinking it would be a club, I had brought my charts and a music stand that I could set up next to me. I couldn’t set a music stand on this stage. Holy shit!!

We were the headliners and a couple other bands played before us. Then we were up.
“For the first time in two years….CURVED AIR!!!!”

We drove immediately into the first song. The lights and the giant PA system and all those people. The gig was sold out. I was dying inside. I barely knew the songs and now I had to do it without cheat sheets.
But…it went off without a hitch. I hit a few clams but they weren’t noticed. Thankfully, they were in the same key as the song.

At the end of the gig, I was soaked in sweat. I left the dressing room and went back out to the stage, sat down on its edge, with my feet dangling…and just watched as people exited. They were all staring at me wondering what the hell I was doing.
I was drinking it in.

Five gigs later, we began recording for the live album. It was recorded from two gigs. Not only did I not make any mistakes, but I soared with the eagles. My playing was so good that the managing director told everyone that I was the star of the album. Heads twisted convulsively as the band members looked at him like he was crazy. Egos
That single comment started the slow, torturous end to my rock star career.
More to come…..


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8 replies

  1. I like your stories even more than your reviews😃Thanks. You mentioned an air purifier a while back and lauded its results….which one? Thanks Kat.

  2. Hmmm… I love Garcia cigars, and have been wanting to try one of these. But there’s that $20 thing. And the wooden coffins just piss me off. Let’s turn a $15 cigar into a $20 one, just because it’s in a little box. What a joke. (Foreskin ashes, LOL)

    The last cigar I paid $20+ for was the Padron 1926 F75. I bought one from a friend who had a box. It has become my favorite of the Padrons I’ve had, so now I occasionally get them on auction for $12-$14 each. OCCASIONALLY.

    Maybe I’ll get one just to try the dang thing. But I dunno… do they even come in singles?

  3. It’s a Thera Pure air purifier. Here is the link:
    You should see all the smoke it collects. It has a permanent hepa filter and a UV light for bacteria.
    We bought two of them and it made a massive difference in the air quality of our apartment…that’s right…Charlotte has always allowed me to smoke indoors…in the basement when we lived in a house. And now that we have downsized to what old people do; move to an apartment and the second bedroom, with two big windows, became my mini man cave where I can enjoy cigars no matter the weather. I do have to keep the windows open at all time so Wisconsin winters can make that a real test of my manhood to deal with sub zero temps.

  4. Every online store I found them in all sell singles.

  5. Ha ha and ho ho and hee hee hee such a great read! Thank you sir.

  6. Cigar Page only sells them in 5ers and boxes of 14. The 5ers are $79.11 and the boxes are $209.99. Those prices are for the Robusto size. More for the Toros of course. 🙂

  7. Amen on the coffins. They don’t even make sense for one cigar. Maybe I can understand it when they have 3 in them like the Partagas Culebras, so I guess that bothers me less, but still.

    I strongly suspect with some of these limited edition, super expensive cigars, they start out by deciding they want to sell a $25 cigar, and then working backwards to justify and sell it. Maybe some manufacturers have to do that hustle, but Don Pepin Garcia and crew sure don’t. Seems like all they have to do is announce a cigar, and as long as it’s within a somewhat reasonable price range, the hordes will be lining up to try it, myself certainly included.

  8. Atlantic Cigar has some singles as of today, June 30th.

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