Rafael Nodal has had a hand in blending some of the most renowned cigars in the world, gathering huge ratings and prestigious awards along the way…not bad for a kid who was picking oranges in Cuba at 15. Today, we sit with Rafael to discover the 5 cigars that influenced his style, earned him success, and give some little-known facts about your favorite Altadis and Boutique Blends.
Who is Don Pepin?
The man, the legend, the cigar maker, the cigar. Don’t be confused, as Pepin is no relation to the Garcia y Vega brand (Garcia is a popular cigar name); Don Pepin is a brand name of quality premium sticks, and he is the front man for the company El Rey de los Habanos, Inc. Like most cigar makers in the industry, he was born into a family business of cigar rollers and tobacco growers. He was born in Cuba which is a thriving nation and culture that produces the finest tobacco for smoking. He relocated to Miami which is another hub for rolling and producing some of the most well known cigars in the business.
Don Jose “Pepin” Garcia has been involved with the smoking culture and brotherhood for more than forty years. His knowledge and involvement made him more than qualified for the position of CEO of El Rey de los Habanos, Inc. He is not only a legend and considered one of the best cigar artists in Cuba, but he has also received the same notoriety in Miami. He runs a family business, and just as he learned of the culture from his father he also passes on the knowledge to his own son and daughter.
Don Pepin started making and rolling sticks when he was eleven years old and worked in a cigar factory in Cuba. After he perfected the art of cigar rolling, he moved to Nicaragua – then made his way to Miami in an area called Little Havana, where he now owns a factory. The company was established a year after he left Cuba.
His cigars range from medium to full bodied. There are currently five cigar brands that have the Pepin name which are: Vegas Cubanas, Don Pepin Garcia Blue Label, El Rey de los Habanos, and the Don Pepin Serie JJ. His son played an active part in creating the blend for some of these high demand cigars. His creativity for blending the perfect smoke and his knowledge and skill of rolling is in such high demand that he makes sticks for other clients and sells them in his store.
He had to open another factory in Nicaragua to handle the demand. The factory in Nicaragua is called Tabacalera Cubana. There are also five brands with the Pepin name. The Pepin Garcia brands that are produced in Nicaragua are called: El Centurion, Don Pepin Garcia Black Edition, Don Pepin Garcia Serie JJ Maduro, and the Don Pepin Garcia Black Edition Maduro.
He tries to make cigars like most makers do in Cuba. He found a blend of Nicaraguan tobacco that tastes just as good as the coveted Cuban tobacco. He also finishes each stick with a triple cap which is a common practice for Cuban makers. He is true to his Cuban background and brought the culture and knowledge with him to Miami.