It’s been a long, winding road to get from where Christian Luis Eiroa started to where he is today. He began in the cigar business working for his father’s company...a company best known for Baccarat...and started the Camacho brand with its leaning toward full-bodied smokes. And as much as I’ve written about not being a big fan of Honduran tobacco, Eiroa and the Camacho folks did a superb job at creating some very flavorful smokes primarily or totally from Honduran leaf. Several years ago, he sold the Camacho brand to Davidoff and soon thereafter, left the company he had built. He maintained good relations with the new owners of Camacho, though, and everyone knew it was just a matter of time before he would return to the industry in some way. And the return has been in a way that is bold: he started his own new brand with two lines (CLE...standing for “Christian Luis Eiroa,” which we will look at today), while also partnering with several other people to produce and distribute their brands (Asylum and Wynwood...which we will look at in the near future). They are purchasing tobacco from Davidoff, Christian’s father and several other sources, and they are producing the cigars in the Honduran Tobacos Ranchos Jamastran factory where Camacho cigars are made (and which is now owned by Davidoff).
I had my first Camacho Corojo a couple years ago and have to admit to being pretty surprised by how flavorful it was. So I approached this one with some excitement...would this be Camacho Corojo Version 2.0? There could be worse things to shoot for. I could not find any specific information on the blend, except that the wrapper is Corojo and probably Honduran. One internationally known online retailer states the cigars are all Honduran. Another online retailer noted that all CLE Corojos are going to be “vintage dated” with the year on the band and only a certain number of these cigars will be produced each year. This review is on my first CLE Corojo, which I got at the Chattanooga Tweet-Up (Christian and his associated brands were very enthusiastic sponsors of the Tweet-Up and we thank them again).
The banding strategy of this brand is simple, but effective: a clean design, flat black in color, with the CLE and “Corojo” in silver foil and “2012” in red. The wrapper of the CLE Corojo was a dark caramel color, with very little oiliness to it. Holding it to my nose, I got a ripe aroma of barnyard earth and a note of anise; the foot was even more pungent in earthiness. I cut the cap with a new Xikar Xi cutter and got a beautifully clean cut and fantastic draw; the cold draw had earthy flavors along with a very strong anise/licorice note and a considerable amount of pepper spice.
I lit up and got a wave of creamy, caramel-like sweetness and rich earthiness on the palate, along with notes of cedar and anise on the finish; the retrohale had plenty of red pepper. As the first third burned through, the wood and anise notes became a little more muted and I picked up some pepper spice on the tongue as well as the nose. I still got that mix of earthiness and sweetness the entire time.
The second third was very much a continuation of how the first third ended, with a mix of earth, molasses-sweetness, cedar and anise. A new addition was a note of citrus, while the pepper spice seemed to subside a bit. It is Corojo, though...I was not expecting it to be gone forever. Construction was excellent so far, featuring a very good draw, even burn line and strong ash.
As the final third wound down, I was still getting a core mix of earth and sweetness from the CLE Corojo and the pepper spice on the palate had begun to creep back, although not as much as I thought it might. Overall, I enjoyed the latest creation from Christian Eiroa; while it didn’t have quite the amount of body as the Camacho Corojo, it did have a tremendous amount of flavor and that’s where Christian says he is these days in his own personal preference: medium (or medium-to-full) in body, with full flavor. Personally, I think that’s a good place to be...I don’t often want to be hit over the head with a 2x4 in terms of body and strength, but I always want something with great flavor. This cigar had medium-plus body and about the same in terms of nicotine strength. The flavor was very good, especially for as much Honduran leaf as they used...but in saying that, you have to remember, that I’m not a huge fan of Honduran tobacco; if you are, this may be your new favorite and you owe it to yourself to give it a try.
Cuarenta means “40” and this was the blend that CLE released on the founder’s 40th birthday in 2012 (July 5, if you need to be specific). The sources I found referring to the Cuarenta have all agreed that the wrapper is “Habano seed” and they have all agreed that pretty much nothing else is known about the blend. The wrapper here was a lovely shade of light-to-medium brown with a pronounced reddish hue...almost a light cinnamon color, really. The wrapper had an aroma of cedar with a little earthiness beneath; the foot was all earthy...almost a wet, rich earthiness...although part of that could have come because the day I smoked this one it had been raining for pretty close to 10 hours straight. After cutting, I noted a very good draw that had flavors of cedar and earth, along with a touch of pepper spice and a touch of cinnamon.
Upon lighting, I tasted a dry, graham cracker sweetness, notes of hay and cedar, and just the slightest amount of red pepper on the finish. There was a lot more pepper on the nose. Shortly after that I got some odd sour notes that I really didn’t enjoy. Thankfully that did not last long and the Cuarenta took a major turn for the better before the first third was done. By the end of it, I was getting mildly sour citrus notes (much better than the intense sourness) and a subtle mix of earth, pepper, and graham sweetness. The body was in the mild-to-medium range at the beginning of the stick.
The body increased a bit to the medium range during the second third and the flavor really hit a groove, displaying more vivid notes of cedar and pepper spice along with the more subtle natural tobacco and earth notes. The construction of the Cuarenta was superb, with a very even burn line needing no touching up, a great draw and a solid ash.
As the final third burned through I noticed a building of red pepper spice on the palate and an increase in the cedar flavor. The citrus notes from earlier were still there but much more subdued. In the end, this was a very good cigar, although the first third was disappointing to me. I don’t know what happened there and it could be just an anomaly...definitely something to pay attention and see if it happens in subsequent samples. Also, it might be a flavor note that is more size-specific, so take that into consideration. I would recommend this one, like the Corojo, to those who want big flavor without feeling the need to “prove yourself” by taking on something with a huge amount of body and strength. This was straight down the middle medium on both counts, although he spiciness could take some newer smokers off guard. Both cigars scored the same 9/10, but which one would I prefer on a regular basis? Hard to say at this point...I'll have to try both again, in various sizes as I can find them.