After a two-year hiatus, one of Camacho’s most beloved brands—Camacho Diploma—has returned in a new format for 2017. The brand originally debuted in 2001, long before Oettinger Davidoff acquired Camacho in 2008. At this time, Camacho was run by the Eiroa family, with the blend making use of high-priming selections from the family’s own Corojo tobaccos.
In 2013, Davidoff introduced a drastic overhaul of Camacho Cigars, showcasing a modernized look and updated blends throughout most of the Camacho lineup. Among the new blends—which were designed to highlight Camacho’s new focus of bold cigars—was the Camacho Diploma. This cigar switched gears from the Corojo blend of the original Diploma, instead offering a more diverse, multi-national blend. Diploma was not included in Camacho’s core lineup, instead joining the Triple Maduro as the more premium selections from Camacho’s updated collection.
The 2013 version of Camacho Diploma was later pulled from the lineup in 2015, seemingly replaced by Camacho’s Master Built Series, which was designed to showcase innovative concepts, positioned as a more premium collection in the Camacho portfolio.
Camacho has now returned the Diploma to its roots, introducing a new look and a blend that is “essentially the same as the original Diploma.”
Diploma Special Selection Robusto Breakdown
- Wrapper: Original Corojo (Honduras)
- Binder: Original Corojo (Honduras)
- Filler: Original Corojo (Honduras)
- Factory: Diadema Cigars de Honduras, S.A. (Honduras)
- Production: Limited/Seasonal (1,800 boxes of 18 cigars)
- Vitola: 5″ × 54 “Special Robusto”
- Price: $20.00 (MSRP)
As with the Camacho Corojo—Camacho’s bread and butter—the Diploma uses not only a Honduran puro blend, but an Original Corojo puro blend. The difference is that more time is spent sorting and selecting only the best leaves. In addition, ninety percent of the blend uses high-priming tobaccos, which are known for producing higher nicotine and more intense flavors than low-priming tobaccos. Camacho has taken other steps to ensure a more consistent and premium experience, using only the five best rolling pairs from their factory. Finally, the finished product is allowed to age for one full year prior to the cigars’ release.
The 2017 Camacho Diploma Special Selection Robusto is marketed as a much more premium offering than its predecessors, falling more in line with the company’s annual Liberty Series—which has long stood as the most limited/premium cigar from Camacho. Perhaps not coincidentally, the Camacho Liberty 2017 is said to be the last new blend in the series—with the company planning to recycle previous years’ releases going forward (as mentioned around the 39:00 mark in our interview with Camacho’s Vice President of Marketing, Dylan Austin).
Click images below for full resolution
Diploma Special Selection Robusto draws inspiration from the original Diploma cigar in more ways than the blend. The packaging calls back to the first Diploma cigar, using an unorthodox triangular shape. The original boxes had a pyramid shape, which indirectly led to the cigar’s title (more on that later).
Diploma 2017’s packaging is undoubtedly the first thing enthusiasts will latch on to, being one of the most unusual/eye-catching/elaborate presentations released in recent memory. The deep purple and highly-lacquered boxes use a triangular shape with squared-off corners. When sliding off the glass-top lid, you are presented with a geometric, honey-comb-like pattern. From the photos, this may take a second to absorb, as Camacho has placed eighteen triangular-shaped coffins vertically into the box. These individually-coffined cigars teeter frontwards and backwards, eventually wrapping fully around the box’s center—which is a triangular pillar that describes the cigar’s rigorous production process.
The bands retain the purple color scheme from prior Diploma releases, but seem to have a bit more freedom in the shape/design—more akin to the Liberty Series releases. I’m a fan of creative designs, and the Diploma is quite impressive—a must have for aspiring cigar collections.
The cigar itself has a fun size—it’s chunky, with a man’s man-type feel to it. The wrapper is dark and mottled (about as dark as can be without breeching maduro territory), showing a chocolate hue and undertones of maroon. There are plenty of glistening oils across the wrapper’s surface, accompanied by medium-thick veins and well-placed wrapper seams. Construction shows a triple cap, a sturdy construction (with no soft spots), and a bunch that is just under medium.
The wrapper aroma is light and airy, with notes of musk and brown sugar. The foot offers enhanced nuances of various cabinet spices, manure, and a bizarrely spot-on cola note. The pre-light draw is easy to medium, with flavors of prunes, molasses, and brown sugar.
Diploma Special Selection Robusto lights up with a dry texture and heavy-hitting black pepper notes that seem to cling to the back of the throat. Joining the dark profile are additional notes of corn chips (think Fritos) and earth. This combination is quite common for high-end Camacho blends, in my opinion. After about a half-inch the pepper intensity settles down and begins a transition towards a brighter profile of sourdough, white pepper, and stone fruit—all backed by a long-lasting creaminess on the finish.
Through the first third, the cigar can be described as medium/full flavor (which eventually becomes FULL in the second-third), medium strength, and medium in body. Despite the pre-light draw being a little loose, the smoking draw is medium and nearly perfect—producing a medium smoke output on each puff. Some samples required touchups in this portion, correcting a canoeing burn line. The cigar’s ash is toothy, flakey, light gray in color, and lasts around one inch before falling.
Flavor progression comes in the form of buttered crackers, fresh pine/clove, spiced dark fruit (like Christmas pudding), and freshly ground coffee beans. The spiced/fruit note is prominent and very unique; similar notes were found in the pre-light aroma and the smoke carries deeper cola nuances (anyone remember Pepsi Holiday Spice, à la 2004?).
As expected from a primarily ligero-based blend, the experience eventually ramps up to medium/full in every category of the profile. Flavors transition away from sweet and bright notes, replaced with darker tones of mineral, aged tobacco, peppered toast, dark chocolate, anise, and a touch of cinnamon. Occasionally there were touchups in this final portion as well, with the smoke output dying and flavors darkening; this brings back brief flashes of sweetness before the smoke goes out entirely.
Would I Smoke This Cigar Again?
Yes I would. Of course, it’s always tricky recommending big purchases for cigars in this price range; but if you have the means, this is a no-brainer purchase. And with the ultra-elaborate presentation, Diploma will be a great addition for the collector. The cigar shows big, distinct, and unique flavors that set it apart from your everyday smoking experiences—great for celebratory smoking occasions or for those times when you’d like to jolt your palate with a refreshing, unique flavor profile.
- Smoking Time: 1 hour, 15 minutes.
- Pairing Recommendation: Belgian strong dark ale, A Midwinter Night’s Dram by High West Distillery, Zinfandel red wine
- Purchase Recommendation: however many your wallet will allow | full box recommended for collector’s
- Big, unique flavors
- Deep and complex
- Great draw
- Quick burner
- May require touchups