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Review: Jaime Garcia Reserva Especial Connecticut Belicoso
A few weeks ago, Jeremy Soares, the My Father Cigars representative for the New England area, made it known that he had a special version of the Jaime Garcia Reserva Especial available for select stores only in his region.
As you recall, the Jaime Garcia Reserva Especial 2011 Limited Edition was released at the 2011 IPCPR trade show in boxes of 16 with one of the cigars having a natural Ecuadorian Connecticut wrapper as opposed to the Broadleaf Connecticut found on the other 15. That sixteenth cigar became a highly sought-after commodity in numerous cigar stores, often being the first one plucked from a new box.
Apparently, My Father Cigars was considering the Ecuadorian Connecticut version for the 2012 version of the Jaime Garcia Reserva Especial. Wanting to get feedback, they placed one in each box in order to receive thoughts from retail customers and end consumers. As our former colleague Steve Valle noted, “I personally think it’s a wonderful idea because there is no better way to get a feel for a blend than to smoke it with different wrappers, that and the fact that My Father rarely uses traditional wrappers so it’s exciting as well.”
As Charlie reported on March 30, the Jaime Garcia Reserva Especial Connecticut landed at 13 stores in the New England region, with two more retailers set to get them in the coming days. The cigars feature the same filler and binder that is used in the Jaime Garcia Reserva Especial, while the Ecuadorian Connecticut wrapper is the same that was used on the Connecticut included in the Jaime Garcia 2011 Limited Edition and the My Father Le Bijou 1922 Federal Cigar 91st Cervantes. It was made at the request of Soares, who saw the demand that the natural Connecticut version of the 2011 Limited Edition was generating and thought it would be a real hit if it came with a more reasonable price, a la the regular Jaime Garcia Reserva Especial.
The Jaime Garcia Reserva Especial Connecticut is available in four sizes, each with 5,000 sticks being produced for a total production of 20,000. The sizes and pricing are identical to four sizes of the Jaime Garcia Reserva Especial.
The sizes in order of appearance:
- Petit Robusto – 4 1/2 x 50
- Belicoso – 5 1/2 x 52
- Toro – 6 x 54
- Toro Gordo – 6 x 60
The only sizes in the regular Reserva Especial line that aren’t available with the natural Connecticut wrapper are the Robusto (5 1/4 x 52) and the Super Gordo (5 3/4 x 66).
The boxes of the Jaime Garcia Reserva Especial Connecticut look like this:
Now that we’ve got that out of the way, let’s light this stick up.
- Cigar Reviewed: Jaime Garcia Reserva Especial Connecticut Belicoso
- Country of Origin: Nicaragua
- Factory: My Father Cigars S.A.
- Wrapper: Ecuadorian Connecticut
- Binder: Nicaragua
- Filler: Nicaragua
- Size: 5 1/2 Inches
- Ring Gauge: 52
- Vitola: Belicoso
- MSRP: $7.60 (Boxes of 20, $150.00)
- Date Released: March 30, 2012
- Number of Cigars Released: 250 Boxes of 20 Cigars (5,000 Total Cigars)*
- Number of Cigars Smoked For Review: 3
*Each of the four vitolas had 5,000 cigars released, for a total production of 20,000 cigars.
The wrapper of the Jaime Garcia Reserva Especial is a gorgeous golden butterscotch color with just a few veins but very noticeable edges. Both the cold draw and pre-light aroma had primary notes of cereal, grain and wheat with a bit of pepper tagging along while varying amounts of sweetness and butter found in each of the three cigars smoked for the review. Like many natural Connecticuts, the wrapper leaf is incredibly delicate – the first cigar was smoked in the sunlight on a warm morning and just a few moments resting on the metal stirrup of my Stinky ashtray produced a small crack.
The first third starts with notes of cereal and grain — fairly typical flavors for Connecticut wrapped cigars. There’s a bit of spice in the nose, though it’s subtle and rounded, not a stinging spice but more of a tickle. The ash hangs on tight for well over an inch of the Connecticut version of the Jaime Garcia Reserva Especial bending under its own weight before finally breaking off. Plenty of smooth, creamy smoke billows out in the first third, though its production slows significantly when it’s at rest.
In the second third, the Jaime Garcia Reserva Especial adds a bit of depth to the flavor bringing in some light wood notes, but staying mild to mild-plus. There’s the faintest metallic note that’s been coming out sporadically since the start of the cigar; at first I thought it might have been the soda can leaving a bit of residual taste on my palate, but by this point I’m convinced it’s coming from the cigar. The smoke stays fairly light and fluffy.
The final third begins with a touch of sourness, not an overwhelming taste, but enough to cause some concern about what might lie ahead. By the end of the second cigar smoked, the flavor had morphed into bitter and harsh preventing me from making it a finger burner. Other than that depth that comes about in the second third, there’s not much change happening in the final third.
- After the first cigar smoked, I’d didn’t have a lot to say about the Jaime Garcia Reserva Especial Connecticut. It’s so mild that it doesn’t elicit a lot of noteworthy moments – and while it’s a good cigar, it’s easy for it to fade into the background.
- Like almost every My Father cigar I’ve had, the construction is near flawless. The burn line was sharp and straight, it never needed a relight, and short of the heat-induced crack, the wrapper stayed together perfectly. If you can light a cigar evenly, you shouldn’t have a single problem with the Jaime Garcia Reserva Especial Connecticut.
- The idea of regional editions isn’t a completely new idea – Tatuaje did it in 2007 with the Verocu No. 1 Lado Occidental and Verocu No. 2 Zona del Este, although that was more of a West Coast / East Coast thing. Incidentally, that was made by My Father Cigars, though as mentioned earlier the inspiration for this project doesn’t seem to come from that project. Then there’s of course the Cuban Edición Regional program.
- The original Jaime Garcia Reserva Especial became so highly sought after, some stores began selling them for as much as $16.00, twice as much as their normal price.
- In addition to cracking, the first cigar also had a bit of a patch on it. Other than that, there weren’t any wrapper issues, though I wouldn’t want to smoke this outdoors in a few weeks when the temperatures creep up into the three digits.
- I fired up the infamous sixteenth cigar from the Jaime Garcia Reserva Especial 2011 Limited Edition box for a quick comparison, and while the LE is a bit stronger, it’s not by much. I’d bet if you took the bands off and smoked the same vitola, you probably couldn’t tell much difference between the two. Fans of the natural Connecticut 2011 Limited Edition should be that much more excited about this stick.
- There was discussion about putting an additional band on the cigar to distinguish it from the existing Reserva Especial line, or adding something to distinguish it to the existing band, but both would have delayed the release, so apart from the box and the obvious shade differences, there’s nothing to distinguish this as having a different wrapper or being a regional release.
- There is talk about another 1,000 boxes being produced once this batch sells out, again for the New England region. However, there is a distinct possibility that this could end up in stores across the country based on its sales performance.
- Soares tells me his favorite vitola in the line is the Petit Robusto, which I have on the way to me and am looking forward to smoking.
- The Jaime Garcia Reserva Especial Connecticut is available from site sponsor Federal Cigar (877.424.4270). Be sure to tell them you read about it on halfwheel.
The Bottom Line: After one cigar, it was hard for me to get excited about the Jaime Garcia Reserva Especial Connecticut. After two, I could make a case for it as a good morning cigar or for those who want a milder stick that has just a bit of kick to it. After three, it became clear that this was a cigar geared towards people who want a milder cigar than My Father Cigars offers, and that this review would have to take that into account. As such, the Jaime Garcia Reserva Especial Connecticut is a darn good cigar, though its mildness might catch fans of Pepín and Jaime’s work a bit off guard. It’s by no means a pepper bomb, but the body is still full and it has enough subtle flavor to satisfy most palates. In short, this is a solid cigar aimed squarely at a segment of the cigar smoking community that hits its mark. Now with this cigar on the market, the focus is rightfully going to shift to the Jaime Garcia Reserva Especial 2012 Limited Edition, which looks like it will be 15 of the natural Connecticut wrapper with a new sixteenth cigar that hopes to be received with similar success as its predecessor.
Final Score: 88