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Jaime Garcia Reserva Especial Toro Staff review

Shane K. K's picture

Shane K.

I’m smoking a popular Toro from the Garcia family – Jaime Garcia Reserva Especial – a blend that’s long been considered a cigar smoker’s cigar. The dark and chunky 6 x 54 format I’ve chosen is the bestseller in the series. Folks who smoke a lot of cigars love Reserva Especial because it brings together the essential hallmarks of great cigar-making: complex taste, meticulous construction, and an affordable price tag. Let’s revisit a Nicaraguan classic that’s been around for over a decade.  

The acclaimed father-and-son cigar-makers behind the My Father portfolio, Pepin and Jaime Garcia, have racked up dozens of top ratings and rankings in Cigar Aficionado over the past twenty years, including two ‘#1 Cigar of the Year’ titles with Flor de las Antillas (2012) and My Father Le Bijou 1922 (2015). The elder Garcia’s reputation as one of Cuba’s most talented cigar-makers was well known before the family’s arrival in the U.S. in the early 2000s, but success was not handed to them. His son, Jaime, has been instrumental in establishing the pair as makers of the finest Nicaraguan cigars. The cigar that bears his name is one example of his substantial role.

Jaime Garcia Reserva Especial was rolled exclusively for an event in New York City when it debuted in 2009. Due to the cigar’s overwhelming reception, Jaime decided to release the blend nationally as a regular-production cigar. Reserva Especial is handmade in Estelí, Nicaragua, at the impressive My Father factory. A toothy Connecticut Broadleaf wrapper embraces a hardy blend of premium Nicaraguan long-fillers grown on select Garcia family estates and aged until optimal smoothness is achieved. Jaime Garcia Reserva Especial cigars are packed in simple but elegant 20-count wooden boxes. A cream-colored cigar band announces the brand with silver and navy blue lettering on the front. It’s tough to select a cigar from the top row when they all look so tantalizing as I raise the lid on a fresh box.

As soon as I separate an oily Toro from its cellophane, aromas of dark cocoa, hickory, and roasted coffee bean emanate from the foot before it’s lit. The cigar glistens like the surface of a pond under moonlight. I roll it between my index finger and thumb to inspect its density and structure – no soft spots or rough veins stand out as I give it a gentle press. Aesthetically, Reserva Especial reflects the supermodel standards of many other cigars the Garcias produce – and it’s just over $7.  

A gratifying draw unleashes a sequence of sweet and peppery notes as I immerse the end of the Toro in the undulating glow of a soft flame lighter. The cigar’s well-aged Connecticut Broadleaf wrapper influences the profile with succulent taste while flavors of fresh coffee and leather take root. Loads of tangy spices blossom in the nose, a characteristic common in other prominent cigars blended by the Garcias. If you’re a fan of zesty cuisine, Reserva Especial is an excellent cigar to smoke with a stiff bourbon, like Four Roses, after dinner. The exchange of sweet and spicy flavors mesmerizes.

There’s no reason to smoke too fast. Leaving room for the flavor of the cigar to fully ruminate on the palate paves the way for delicate nuances like smoked nuts and baker’s chocolate to develop. The cigar’s peppery taste captivates as the ash passes over the middle of the Toro. Its firm composition is a testament to the high degree of craftsmanship the rollers at the My Father factory possess. I tap the ash off two or three times during the first thirty minutes but remain unconcerned it could prematurely land in my lap at any point. The Garcias’ cigars are rolled according to the entubado method for maximum air flow and balance. This method of rolling is time consuming and requires advanced training but the results are superior.

Notes of old tobacco, mesquite, and cocoa mingle in the final quarter. Thicker cigars are easy to entertain past the band because the ring gauge prevents the head of the cigar from intensifying too much. The last moments of the Toro are woody and sweet while creamy pillows of smoke hover above my head until the bitter end.

Jaime Garcia Reserva Especial has grown into a cornerstone of the Garcias’ portfolio. Every few years, Pepin and Jaime blend a limited edition Reserva Especial, but they sell out fast. Be on the lookout for their next one, and in the meantime, savor an early gem from this esteemed duo, or sample it with other My Father hits in a Fresh Pack assortment today.  


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