In 2005, the newcomer Don “Pepín” García introduced the Series JJ, a cigar that he worked on with his son Jaime. (JJ comes from their two first names: José and Jaime.) It would quickly become the most popular brand for El Rey de los Habanos, the first of Pepín’s company. While the Nicaraguan puro was originally made in Little Havana at El Rey de los Habanos, its production would move to Tabacalera Cubanas S.A. in Nicaragua, and then to its current home at My Father Cigars S.A. As I noted in the Lanceros Collection by Don Pepin Garcia post, this is one of three cigars that was only offered in the sampler, meaning there were only 2,000 (two-thousand) of these ever released. Today, a rare review of a rare Lancero.

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  • Name: Don Pepin Garcia Series JJ Lancero
  • Vitola: Lancero
  • Size: 6 7/8 x 42
  • Wrapper: Nicaraguan
  • Binder: Nicaragua
  • Filler: Nicaragua
  • Country: Nicaragua
  • Factory: Tabacalera Cubanas S.A.
  • MSRP: $11.00 (Samplers of 10, $110)
  • Source: Secondary Market ($7)
  • Time in Humidor: 1 Year
  • Cut: Wolf V-Cutter
  • Light: Colibri Boss II
  • Beverage: Coke
  • Smoking Time: 1 Hour 45 Minutes
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The Story
Freud famously said, “sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.” That’s just not true with the Series JJ. I’m privileged each time I smoke one of the white-banded Pepín creations to have the opportunity to reflect on the preciousness of life and the many blessings I am given. Each time is a few moments to honor the life of someone I never knew, Jeremiah Cruz Jr. Many of you know Jerry Cruz, the fun and loving character at Stogie Review, and many of you know the story of JJ, his Little Robusto. Jeremiah Cruz Jr. was born on July 22, 2007, and three months later he tragically passed away of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, commonly known as SIDS. You can read Jerry’s post from when his son was born, and about how he smoked his first Series JJ. Then you can read about how fragile life can be in Jerry’s “Final Goodbye” — and then you should take some time before you keep reading this review.

After reflection, you can learn about the immense good in the cigar community. Every year on July 22nd, the cigar smoking community gathers in support of Jerry and his family by smoking a Serie JJ with him. The most recent year raised close to two thousand dollars for SIDS, and you can donate to the American SIDS Institute here. I was privileged to partake last year, and I look forward to honoring Jerry’s Little Robusto again this year. #jj4jj

While the bands are a pain in the ass to photograph, this is probably the best looking of all the sampler in my opinion. Something about the white bands with gold lettering combined with the hybrid cap, really just set this cigar off. The Nicaraguan wrapper has scattered veins, almost spider web looking given their relative lack of uniformity across the milk chocolate hue of the Series JJ. Aroma is a beautiful chocolate and leather mixture with a touch of paprika, medium-full in nature. Packing is about average and it’s relatively soft to the touch, sort of the m.o. from this era of Lanceros. The foot gives off a heavy veneer with earth and a plum-like fruit on the medium-full side.

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Another v-cut produces a heavy bombardment of spice, barnyard, pepper and veneer. The Series JJ’s full head aroma is one of the most active of any cigars, not that we are really considering that for much of anything. Cold draw has the perfect amount of tightness with that similar veneer, brown sugar, herbs and sweet grass comprising of the detailed medium-full flavor. Lighting the foot of the Tabacalera Cubanas creation produces a cocoa, toasty and burnt woods aroma for the North Carolina air, absolutely awesome. As for the first draw? It starts with sweet cedar before deepening and bittering with sweet meatiness and earth. Finish continues the fullness with earth and cedar rising to the front.

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First Third
The Series JJ starts with an awesome cedar on top of leather, herbs and touch of black pepper, around medium-full. Finish is cedar, earth, espresso and spices; full and medium-long. Draw is great allowing for a good amount of toasty peppery smoke. The light ash holds on the JJ for about an inch and a half, all around solid construction.

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Second Third
There’s a toasty and nuts aroma with some sweet coffee. Black pepper is present on the retrohale, but doesn’t make an appearance anywhere else. Finish bitters with nuts and cedar up front and sweet coffee in the back of the full profile. With the exception of an increase in smoke production, the Series JJ remains the same. That means same fullish bodied nature, same medium-plus strength and an awesome draw.

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Final Third

Things just keep getting better. Coffee, black pepper and cedar over red wine, leather and nuts. It’s still full and the finish just deepens the core, which is another plus. Construction remains where it was, which is awesome. Strength does pick-up, about medium-full towards the end. With an inch and a half, the Series JJ begins to warm up, but I keep going until we’ve crossed the inch mark, and then it’s just too much.

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For the Novice
Nope. It’s too strong. Even after three and a half-years, this cigar still picks a similar dose of nicotine as the regular line. It’s a shame too, because this is really good.


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In the End
There’s no doubt, the El Centurion takes most the attention for the Pepín Holiday Sampler, but the JJ is the secret. It’s awesome. Refined flavors, unbelievable balance, good complexity and diversity and a smoothness that ties everything together. From the start, the cigar is easy to smoke and it just continues to reward you over and over again. The depth of smoke production, as well as the ability to go minutes between puffs, are two unbelievable qualities.


93. Why these aren’t made in regular production is beyond me.


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Charlie Minato

I am an editor and co-founder of Media, LLC. I previously co-founded and published TheCigarFeed, one of the two predecessors of halfwheel. I have written about the cigar industry for more than a decade, covering everything from product launches to regulation to M&A. In addition, I handle a lot of the behind-the-scenes stuff here at halfwheel. I enjoy playing tennis, watching boxing, falling asleep to the Le Mans 24, wearing sweatshirts year-round and eating gyros. echte liebe.