Since its announcement merely a month and a half ago, the Camacho American Barrel-Aged has quickly become one of, if not, the most anticipated cigar release of 2015. The cigar is among a growing list of new products to incorporate whiskey into the blend. And while barrel-aging cigars is not a new practice, it certainly hasn’t been done as dramatically, with as much emphasis being placed on the barrel and spirit. Brands are still in the experimental phase though, with some aging raw tobacco in the barrels, while others age fully rolled cigars. Some are aged for days, others – months, etc. We’re on the frontier of what seems to be the next big phase in cigar crafting; as with the craft beer industry, the widespread notion is that just about anything is better when barrel-aging is applied – it’s a theory I sure don’t mind exploring…
On June 15th, 2015, Camacho will enter the ring of this magical marriage between whiskey and cigars. I should specify, not just any whisky – bourbon whiskey! The Camacho American Barrel-Aged cigars take a unique approach here, opting to use nearly 100% American tobaccos in conjunction with the bourbon barrels – bourbon being a distinctly American product. Interestingly, the only tobacco that isn’t American, Camacho’s exclusive Corojo, is the leaf that undergoes the barrel-aging process. This 6-year-old tobacco is what makes the American Barrel-Aged (ABA) special, spending 5 months in the used, charred oak barrels. This Cuban-seed Corojo undergoes further fermentation inside the bourbon barrels, as the pilones are rotated every few weeks, 1 leaf at a time, to ensure every leaf has properly melded with the bourbon-saturated oak.
It’s clear this is no gimmick, Camacho is serious about bringing a true bourbon-inspired product to its lineup. This is a regular production cigar that will mark the first release in their new Master Built Series, which is assumed to be used as Camacho’s premium line, featuring unique projects and higher-grade tobaccos.
Camacho American Barrel-Aged Breakdown
- Wrapper: American Broadleaf
- Binder: American Broadleaf
- Filler: American Broadleaf, Pennsylvania Maduro, Barrel-aged Corojo
- Factory: Occidental Cigars (Dominican Republic)
- Production: Regular Release
- Vitola: 6″ x 50 Toro
- Price: $11
Not surprisingly, Camacho has gone all-out on this project, with packaging and marketing that shadows their baseline products – cigars that already include some of the most attractive in the industry. The launch will be accompanied by other bourbon-related products, such as Camacho-branded ice ball sets and rocks glasses, etc. The cigars launch in 3 sizes – robusto (5×50), toro (6×50), and gordo (6×60).
The cigar itself is dark “chocolate bar” brown, with a smooth appearance. There are minimal veins and a light, fuzzy (toothy) texture, accompanied by a muted, oily sheen. On the nose you’ll find leather, aged tobacco, wet oak, and a faint whiskey note on the exposed foot.
Lighting produces a distinctly heavy, chalky texture of smoke on the tongue. It’s a balanced smoke, filled with a warm profile of caramel and oak. There are not particularly aggressive spices in the retrohale to start the smoking experience. And while there is a decent amount of smoke on each puff (good not great), there is a noticeable firmness to the draw – it’s definitely tolerable, just maybe not preferable.
Soon the smoke begins to develop, showing deeper complexities to the initial oaky notes. Now there is Cherry wood, wet and earthy oak, leather, and subtle spices in the retro – reminiscent of a BBQ spice rub. What most will be curious about is the whiskey element, and yes it is there! It wasn’t very obvious initially, but soon I began finding a sweet bourbon quality in the aroma and mid-palate – it’s similar to inhaling a deep nose on a high-proof bourbon, the kind that seems to effortlessly find its way down your throat and into your lungs. This bourbon aspect is never obnoxious, it’s most prevalent throughout the second-third of the cigar, and acts more as a complimentary note to the abundant oak flavors.
ABA’s strongest point thus far is balance, it’s very well-rounded, providing pleasing intricacies on each puff while retaining its core profile throughout. The flavor is full, the strength medium+, and the body medium/full.
Progressing through the smoke, you’ll find flavors of soaked mesquite wood chips, hickory, molasses – similar to aromas produced from meats roasting in a BBQ smoker. Entering the final third, ABA picks up some herb-like notes and the palate becomes much more dry, loosing the bourbon sweetness. Here you’ll find a stronger nicotine kick, with anise, dried wood, dark cherry, and leather.
Would I smoke this cigar again?
Obviously yes. It’s different without being gimmicky. Complex, yet knows where it’s going. The flavors don’t quit until the very end. I’d recommend starting with 10 of these and take it from there, probably box worthy.
- Well balanced/rounded
- Unique bourbon sweetness
- Complex while retaining core profile
- Slightly tight draw
- Could be an everyday smoke if not for the higher price