Despierta y huele las rosas! Jacob J. (Wake up & Smell the Roses!)Most people don’t start their day with a powerhouse cigar. But it’s February in Pennsylvania, and while the weather has been all over the place lately precipitation-wise, there’s one thing it’s been steadily, and that’s cold. Sure, it might not be below freezing every day, but cold is cold, right? And when I’m shivering on my way to the office, I generally lean towards the stronger stuff.There’s just something about a real heavy, full-bodied cigar that warms my soul. In the summer I want something with an airy, crisp finish, but in the winter, nothing but those palate-busting, earth-laden spice bombs will do. That’s why for breakfast this morning I reached for a new release from the factory that produces a good number of my favorite spice-bombs: The La Aroma de Cuba Edicion Especial, made by the one and only Don Pepin Garcia in Nicaragua.Now for those who have been around the block a few times, La Aroma de Cuba Edicion Especial should be a familiar name. The La Aroma de Cuba bearing the ‘EE’ on the secondary band has been with us since ‘08 but received a bit of a reblending before being rereleased in early 2020. On paper, the blend remains the same: Nicaraguan long-fillers covered by a Nicaraguan binder and Ecuador Havana wrapper, just like before. The difference is in the primings, the parts of the plant from which the leaves are pulled. The tobacco used in the updated version come from higher up on the plant and exhibit more strength & complexity than the original. I haven’t burned the original EE recently enough for it to be fresh in my mind to compare, but I can say that as far as my tastes are concerned, the updated version fits the bill perfectly. For this tasting, I went with the No. 1 size, a 5 5/8” x 46 Corona Gorda. The wrapper is chestnut-brown and oily, with a little bit of tooth and very little give when squeezed. Overall a beautiful specimen, and when run under the nose gives off aromas of barnyard, leather, coffee, and a touch of citrus. The draw was a bit tight, but by no means unenjoyable, and the cold draw carried notes of earth, coffee, and bread. It took a light from my soft-flame lighter without fuss.While this might not be everyone’s cup of tea (pun intended) for a morning cigar, to me it’s the ultimate wake-up smoke. For starters, the dominant flavors throughout are coffee, cocoa, spice, and earth. Naturally, this makes for an excellent pairing with my daily cup of strong black coffee. The coffee and earth are there from the beginning, but the spice and cocoa come into the picture in the first third and steadily rise as the burn approaches the band. I would peg the first half as medium-full in body, and while there is some strength, it won’t put you on your ass. After the halfway point, the flavor is kicked up a notch, and the spice and pepper rise to join coffee, earth, and cocoa in the dominant up-front notes. There’s a bit more sweetness in the finish of the second half, which is more apparent with a retrohale, but it’s still not enough to make me describe this stick as ‘sweet’. While Don Pepin has long been a favorite cigar producer of mine, La Aroma de Cuba is a brand I overlook too often. The reblended Edicion Especial has inspired me to take another run through their portfolio, especially before the weather warms up again and I move to less heavy selections. Overall, a very satisfying cigar that’s strong, but not inaccessibly so. And can’t forget the burn, razor straight all the way down with no touchups required. Bravo Don Pepin, this stick was the perfect way to start the day.