Don Pepin Garcia Series JJ Maduro (Atlantic Cigar Exclusive) | Cigar Reviews by the Katman

Wrapper: Nicaraguan Corojo Maduro
Binder: Nicaraguan
Filler: Nicaraguan
Size: 6 x 54 Toro
Strength: Medium/Full
Price: $9.10

I bought these 3 months ago from Atlantic…once more with feeling: “Before Atlantic became a sponsor.” I only bought two sticks, which I love being able to do and not see the single price skyrocket. I have not smoked the first one…because Pepin Garcia was my first love since the late 90’s. I did review this cigar in June 2014 and loved it. I did not re-read my own review just to see how my palate may have changed.
The conundrum: They are sold out. Atlantic has informed me they have an order waiting to be filled by Garcia. They should be in stock between March 2037-July 2043. Think of the aging.

BACKGROUND:
From Atlantic Cigar Co.:
“The Don Pepin Garcia JJ Maduro was one of a handful of initial offerings that really put Jose “Don Pepin” Garcia on the map. Along with the Blue Label and Black Label Cuban Classic, the JJ and JJ Maduro are basically classic blends at this point.

“As Pepin’s success in the cigar business rose and My Father Cigars was created, many more brands have been added to the company’s portfolio. Some lines couldn’t continue producing the numbers needed to supply the demand due to shortages in tobacco. The DPG JJ Maduro was one of those outstanding brands, so we ask if they can make it a small production exclusive for AtlanticCigar.com.

“The blend has always been a fantastic seller and we wanted to continue to hold the torch. The JJ Maduro is an attractive full-bodied cigar with excellent flavor and a very dark “Corojo Maduro” wrapper. Full of spice, earth and cocoa with hints of dried fruit sweetness, these cigars are sure to please the most discriminating cigar smoker.”

SIZES AND PRICING:
Petit Corona 4.625 x 42 $7.25
Selectos 5 x 50 $6.40
Toro 6 x 54 $9.10
Toro Gordo 6 x 60 $9.60
Belicoso 5.75 x 52 $7.00

APPEARANCE:
First impression is that the cigar is a bit light in the loafers. Despite the Toro size, this cigar will only be a 60–75-minute smoke. In fact, this may be nothing more than a fond, but incorrect memory that the cigars coming from Garcia were packed solid like Oliver Hardy. No give when depressed.

The slightly oily wrapper is straight ahead dark chocolate/espresso in color. A fine grit of tooth covers the entire stick. The roundness of the cigar is very symmetrical which includes a fine application of the triple cap. The double bands are a very pleasant 1969 Chevy lemon curd yellow. Lovely indeed, but I can’t take a decent photo of the cigar to save my life. Aggravation caused by overhead light reflection turns me into Saddam Hussein in a spider hole. Nixed the usual second photo. I need every bit of sanity I can muster.

SMELL THE GLOVE:
Nic puros usually follow the same aroma quest each and every time regardless of manufacturer. An equal mix of dark cocoa and floral notes slam my schnoz into 3rd gear. Followed by espresso, slight nuttiness, black pepper, malt, licorice, caramel, cedar, barnyard, and Bananas Foster (Bananas and vanilla ice cream, with a sauce made from butter, brown sugar, cinnamon, dark rum, and banana liqueur).

The cold draw presents flavors of black pepper, espresso, dark chocolate, malt, licorice, almonds, brown sugar, black tea, cedar, and cinnamon.
The draw is wide open. I take my finely designed PerfecDraw and use it to tune my sweet potato ocarina. Works like open heart surgery every time.

FIRST THIRD:
Nice opening stanza…The cigar begins in march time…black pepper, chocolate, espresso, glazed pig snout, cinnamon, malt, almonds or cyanide, and black tea. Flavors pour from the tubular goblet like a Tahitian waterfall. Complexity kicks in without a thought to timing. Creaminess without the bananas lays a bedrock foundation that keeps other flavors above the dirty mess.

The cigar does burn quicker than I had hoped…it could also stand to be filled with a little more oomph.
Strength is medium.

At over 1” burned, the complexity does lay flat on its side in the middle of the room doing circles ala Curly. Circular, but no forward momentum. The start may have been a tease for what is to come later…or it peters out and lopes into the sunset with its head hung in shame.

Is it me? Does every Dire Straits song sound exactly the same? Or could it be that Mark Knopfler’s finger picking style drives the bus on each and every song creating this illusion?

The JJ Maduro is pleasant but doesn’t cause knee knocking. I’ve had better. Maybe 3 months is not enough humi time? Much doubt placed on that last statement. Criswell predicts that a sweet spot will be exhumed from the tomb in the second half and bring life to an ordinary cigar.

Or could it be that my palate has changed and become more sophisticated since my review in 2014? Dunno.

Pepin Garcia was the king of Nicaragua before AJ took over. I do not remember cigars being as strong as they are in 2022 in 2010. This decade made huge strides in power and strength as the cigar smoking public cried in their sleep for stronger cigars that would make them hallucinate the devil having sex with their wives…while they slept.

Just prior to the second third, the cigar sees its character improve with additions of subtle nuances absent prior to this point. The Asian folding fan widens a bit alerting me to the possibility that improvement is on the horizon.

SECOND THIRD:
Fast first third…20 minutes. The cigar is under filled.
On the upside, the flavor points intensify providing much needed boldness to the blend.
Strength is medium/full.

I just realized that my short manifesto of the first third was only around 57 words. The cigar is galloping towards its demise.

I smoked a Southern Draw Jacob’s Ladder in Toro last night and it took nearly two hours to smoke. It was packed fuller than Wisconsinites at a free food buffet. Maybe it is the Mid-West in general, or maybe it is just Milwaukee…women here are all shaped like beach balls. Maybe the winter months causes the mass consumption of spirits, brats, and fried cheese curds. I almost lost my entire arm grabbing for a potato chip at one of the kids’ parties not long ago.

The JJ Maduro improves but not with any pomp or circumstance. A slow roll. I do not believe the blend has testicles.

For $9, it should be better…still, the magical halfway point awaits.

There is an underlying current of cigar wanting to be able to strut about with its head held high…maybe even a bit of a Jagger prance. But so far, snake eyes.

The halfway point arrives in a little over 30 minutes.
No real transitions to speak of. But the finish is decorated with a multitude of interesting subtle flavor points. The complexity lay in the giant open maw.

“Layla.” Clapton. Saw the man in concert 40 years ago. He stood there like a mannequin and just pumped out the hits. Low energy from the band. Man, I was disappointed. All my non musician friends, who came along, swooned after the show with an avalanche of compliments.

The cigar improves from enjoying a nice finish to a better-defined experience. Transitions meekly kick in. Complexity is easy to find. As a flavor bomb, it fails miserably. As an everyday nice blend, it succeeds with panache.

LAST THIRD:
The speed of the burn is like a runaway freight train.
If it had been filled correctly, the cigar would have had time to develop. Everything seems rushed.

Not a single flavor stands out except for black pepper. It’s a ha cha cha peppery cigar.

Strength reaches full tilt. And heeeere’s nicotine.

I enjoyed the 2014 version a lot more. It was a flavor bomb chock full of distinctive flavor points. Today’s cigar is not the same. And I really do not believe it is just the passage of time on my palate.

In cases like this, I usually chuck the cigar if I’m not totally enthused.
But as I am a member of the American Society of Cigar Reviewers union, I cannot stop til the cigar does.

Sips of water are of no help.
The JJ Maduro, sadly, is missing the ambition to succeed.
A sweet spot never materializes. Pity.
While not linear, boldness is clearly AWOL.

The art of cigar manufacturers producing limited editions has gotten out of hand. Most of the cigars I have waiting in the wings will probably be gone by the time I review them. Nowadays, it is the usual suspects of catalog blends that are regular production. But I don’t want to review the latest Macanudo.

With an inch to go, the cigar runs like a lemming to its demise.
A shame. I wasn’t expecting this.
But then, I could be wrong.

RATING: 85



Categories: CIGAR REVIEWS

2 replies

  1. Thanks for another helpful review Phil!

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