Cuban born Don Jose “Pepin” Garcia is a highly acclaimed cigar roller that came to America in 2001, and a year later set up his first cigar factory, El Ray de los Habanos, Inc., also known as Don Pepin Cigars. Don Pepin comes from a large family of tobacco growers and cigar makers in Báez, a little town in Villa Clara province in Cuba. As just a young boy, Don Pepin began working in his uncle’s cigar factory in Báez. Two years later he began working at the Félix Rodriquez import cigar factory, and was there from the age of 13. Don Pepin lived in Cuba for 51 years, and during that time he perfected his skills as cigar roller and blender, and has been considered to be the best cigar artisan in Cuba.
Just how talented is the man behind the Don Pepin cigar? Well if you aren’t impressed yet by the sheer number of years Don Pepin has been making cigars, let’s take a look at his resume, if you will.
Don Pepin’s PERSONAL AWARDS and RECOGNITION in CUBA
• Achieved Highest Ranking Possible for a Cigar Roller, Class 8, or “Master Roller” which can take a person 20 years to finally achieve
• Named Tobaquero Maestro or “Master Blender” and has received numerous accolades for his blending abilities, as well as, helped blend cigars like Cohiba, Partagas, and Montecristo
• Won the Productivity Prize for rolling 320 Julietas in 4 hours
• Named the “teacher of all teachers” in rolling and blending cigars
• 1990’s: In charge of Quality Control for Cohiba and Consultant to several cigar makers
Although Don Pepin was highly recognized in his own country, he was fairly unknown when he first immigrated to the United States. He left Cuba, spent some time in Nicaragua, then in 2002 he opened up what is now considered the hottest cigar factory in Miami, manufacturing not only Don Pepin cigars, but creating blends for other companies as well.
Pete Johnson’s Tatuaje brand was the first cigar Don Pepin made on his own. The huge success of Tatuaje launched Don Pepin into the admiring eyes of boutique cigar lovers, and from there, he has created many other award winning client blends as well. To keep up with his popularity and demand for more production, Don Pepin opened Tabacalera Cubana S.A. factory (TACUBA) in Estelí, Nicaragua in 2006. TACUBA is larger than the factory in Miami and employs 62 master rollers that turn out over 3.5 million cigars per year.
Don Pepin client brands include: 5 Star, Tatuaje, Inc., Ashton, Cigars International, Cigar.com, Inc., EO Brands (United Tobacco), Holt’s Cigar Company, Troya Cigars and also various limited production cigars as well.
All Don Pepin cigars are made in the classic Cuban tradition, with the goal to re-create the taste profile of Cuban cigars without using Cuban tobacco. He uses Nicaraguan tobaccos and occasionally uses Ecuadorian and Connecticut shade tobacco for some of his wrappers. They are all medium to full bodied and have been known to pack a punch. His cigars continue to receive top ratings, as well as being included in Cigar Afficiando’s “Top 25 Cigars of the Year”.
Pepin Cigar Brands
• Don Pepin Garcia -Black Edition
• Don Pepin Garcia –Blue
• Don Pepin Garcia - Series JJ
• Don Pepin Garcia – Series JJ Maduro
• El Ray de los Habanos
• Vegas Cubanas