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Staff Reviews

Old Henry Pure Breed Staff Review

Grant T. Thompson's picture

Grant T.

I know the feeling. You’re sniffing around the blowout bin in your local smokeshop for a decent cigar that’s on sale and you can’t find a single one, even if you brought your bloodhound along. I’ve got a better idea. Today, I’m reviewing a doggone-good, Pepin-made gem that sells for a dependable everyday bargain – Old Henry Pure Breed – and I’m smoking a 6-by-52 Toro.


Around the time José ‘Pepin’ Garcia began to achieve a steady stream of praise for his Don Pepin Garcia brand and the Tatuaje cigars he was making in Miami for Pete Johnson, he had several projects in the works that would eventually come to fruition, most notably My Father, San Cristobal, and La Aroma de Cuba. Pepin was also putting together a small-batch house brand for his pals at Holt’s called Old Henry in honor of a beloved pooch whom we all knew well years ago.

The original Old Henry blend was an experiment of sorts and a forerunner for other now-famous Nicaraguan classics, but Pepin didn’t stop with just one Old Henry cigar. He developed a whole portfolio of premiums, including the Pure Breed I’m about to fire up. In case you haven’t dug into my review chronicles, feel free to peruse my praise of the classic Old Henry blend and budget-friendly bundles of Old Henry Fumadores.

What distinguishes Pure Breed most is its dark, thick, and attractive Ecuador Sumatra wrapper leaf. Pepin patiently puts his tobaccos through a painstaking triple fermentation to maximize their flavor and smoothness, which works wonders on the Oscuro-grade wrapper reserved for Pure Breed cigars. Beneath it is a hearty and mature marriage of premium Nicaraguan long-fillers harvested on Garcia family farms.

When I pluck an oily Toro from the top row of a fresh box, intense aromas of leather, cocoa, and spice immediately tease my nostrils. After I snip the cap, Old Henry Pure Breed proves it’s much more than an affordable Holt’s exclusive. The cold draw delivers a mouthwatering preview with well-defined notes of chocolate, coffee bean, and black cherry. Pepin’s ever-present, trademark spice rounds out the equation.

The Toro lights up seamlessly with a few blasts of my trusty Holt’s Jetline Double Torch. Dense streams of delicious smoke weave a complex sequence of dark chocolate, hickory, and leather. Heavy, earthy spices roam my nasal cavity when I retrohale the smoke, but Pure Breed stops short of overwhelming my palate. It possesses remarkable poise for a cigar that’s as intense as it is. I’ve been a Pepin devotee for the better part of twenty years now, but what I love most about Old Henry Pure Breed is its darker, spicier taste combined with a creamy, semi-sweet character.

After thirty minutes, notes of nuts and black cherry mingle nicely. This is absolutely an after-dinner cigar, but so are most smokes that come out of Pepin’s renowned Nicaraguan cigar factory. You’ll want to savor it slowly to pick up the many nuances it provides throughout its heady profile.

Beefy notes of pepper and hickory linger with lots of leather, coffee bean, and chocolate by the time I’m devouring the nub. I spend roughly an hour relishing the Old Henry Pure Breed Toro. If you’re a fan of strong Nicaraguan cigars and you’re looking for a consistent smoke to add to your regular rotation, don’t hesitate to tap Old Henry on the head, friends. He’s your new best friend.

Until next time, Long Live Old Henry!


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