Cambon (Robusto), 5.25” x 52 ring gauge / ~$3.50
First up is Trocadéro, which is described as the milder of the two cigars. The appearance did not indicate “bundle” or even “inexpensive” really. The band used a more simplistic design than on some more expensive brands, but I’ve also seen cheaper-looking bands on more expensive cigars...just an indication that good design doesn’t always have to cost more to print. The construction standards appear, on the outside anyway, to be solid and of high quality: tight seams, minimal puckering of the wrapper leaf, nothing outstanding in the way of large veins or anything. Giving the cigar a good sniff, I got an aroma of leather and earth, with just a little sweetness; the foot had a stronger, more pungent earthiness. I cut with a straight cut, as is my habit, and immediately wondered if I should have used a punch or v-cutter since this is a mixed filler cigar. Right off the bat, it didn’t seem like it would be a problem. The draw was excellent and very rich in flavors of natural tobacco, earth and raisin.
I lit and got a punch in the nose from the pepper spice on the retrohale. What you might call a “typical Pepin” opening, at least on the nose. On the palate there was hay, natural tobacco, some earth, and a nice mellow sweetness. A very nice opening for a very inexpensive cigar. By halfway through the first third, the flavor profile had taken on mostly Nicaraguan characteristics: an earthy base, some coffee and cocoa powder along with it; the Broadleaf and Nicaraguan both provided a good spiciness, I’m sure; and since Broadleaf and Habano both tend to impart some nice sweetness, I’m guessing that’s where that balancing note came from.
By the time I got to the second third, it was almost time to tap ash for the third time...but this is a mixed filler cigar, so that is to be expected. It’s actually a good thing to keep in mind: if you are smoking a mixed filler cigar, don’t try to win a long-ash contest and don’t hold the cigar over your computer keyboard. Other than that, the construction was very good; I had a great draw and a fairly even burn line that had only needed a minor touch up. As far as this being a “mild to medium” smoke, I would reject that; to me this was solidly medium-bodied pretty much from the start. The flavor did get smoother and a little creamier in the second third, but there was still plenty of earthiness. I started to get a semi-sweet chocolate note and the spice reduced a bit, as well.
There was not much change in the last third of the Trocadéro, except the reintroduction of more pepper spice. Other than that, it was more earth, more chocolate...and more overall goodness. I really enjoyed this cigar and for the price, I can definitely see many more of them making their way into my humidor. It’s a great, full-flavored, medium-bodied cigar that you wouldn’t mind sharing with the mooches that show up empty-handed to a herf...or maybe you would, because if they show up empty-handed, why should they get something that tastes this good?
Terreno, 5.25” x 56 ring gauge / ~$3.75
Looking more closely at the descriptions on one retailer’s website, I noticed that the vitolas of the two vitolas were somewhat different, with El Suelo trending more toward the larger ring gauge. The presentation, again, was “better than bundle” to my eyes, although I have to say I prefer the look of this band to the other one. The wrapper was very attractive, even in color, with relatively small veins and a nice oily touch. Holding it to my nose, I got a faint hay aroma and a bit of leather, too. The foot gave off tons of barnyard earthiness. Remembering the cut from yesterday’s smoke and review of Trocadéro, I opted for a v-cut this time around; the Xikar VX continues to be one a fantastic cutter that is underused by me simply because I tend to prefer a straight cut. The draw was great and had a very nice mix of cedar and earth, along with a little pepper spice.
After lighting, El Suelo had flavors of cedar and anise, black coffee and pepper spice...quite complex for a bundle-priced stick. The retrohale was spicy, but not as much as the Trocadéro. Already it seemed like the smoke had a little more body to it than the other cigar. The cigar smoked fairly quickly, as you might expect a mixed filler stick to do, but the ash held on for nearly the entire third, which is not something you would expect from mixed filler. After the initial lighting, the flavor settled down into a more typical Nicaraguan earthiness...bit of low-level pepper spice burn, some interesting highlight notes of coffee and anise.
As I puffed my way through the second third of El Suelo, I noticed coffee flavor taking the lead, along with a mild chocolate sweetness and still the twang of anise. Construction was still excellent and exceeded expectations, with a solid ash, very even burn line and fantastic draw.
In the final third El Suelo developed more earthy bitterness and lost some of the sweetness that was balancing it, so I was not enjoying it as much, but overall, it was a very good smoke, medium to full in body and strength. To me, it did not have the as much good flavor as Tracadéro, but it was still a good smoke that I could see smoking again on occasion. As for what you will prefer...you’ll have to make your mind up on that by yourself. Both of these had a tremendous amount of flavor for the price tag and would be worthy of giving a try. I believe both succeeded at their “mission” better than the Ambos Mundos brand, which was Pete Johnson’s first attempt at a “budget-oriented” cigar (under the Tatuaje line)...and those were not bad by any stretch.