Camacho Old vs. New: Havana and Criollo.

7-16-2014

Camacho Old vs. New

Havana and Criollo.

Camacho Havana Figurado (6 x 54 Torpedo) Been in humidor since 8-24-13

Wrapper: Honduran Grown Criollo

Binder: Honduran Corojo

Filler: Honduran Corojo

Camacho Criollo Robusto (5 x 50) Been in humidor since 2-22-14

Wrapper: Honduran Grown Criollo

Binder: Honduran Corojo

Filler: Honduran Criollo, Dominican Piloto Cubano

In late June of 2013 Camacho Launched its new branding. The new “Bold Standard” was not just new packaging and labels, but a total overhaul of everything Camacho. Many of the lines of cigars that Camacho had on the market were cut out of the portfolio in an effort to focus on six core lines. The cigars that were left (Corojo, Corojo Maduro, Connecticut, Triple Maduro, Diploma and Havana (now Criollo)) got new bands, and all but the Triple Maduro and the Connecticut were re-blended to fit within the “Bold Standard” paradigm.

The re-branding of the Havana line is supposed to be a subtle change focusing mainly on bringing some sweetness to balance out the Criollo wrapper. The new wrapper and binder are very similar to the old Havana blend, but the fill deviates quite a bit. There is still Honduran tobacco, but it is now Criollo, not Corojo. Dominican Piloto Cubano has also been added to the mix to help bring sweeter notes in.

This review of both cigars will be done simultaneously. That is: both cigars will be smoked at the same time to really see the differences. There will be a direct comparison and all flavors will be in terms of, and in comparison of the other cigar. This may not be a perfect comparison in blends because of age different ages of the cigars and differences in Vitola. These variables are noted, but there is an understanding that the overall flavor profile of any line of cigars is approximately the same, making a comparison of these two cigars reasonable.

The Havana is an older cigar. Though the cigar has a humidor date of 8-24-13, it is probably significantly older being that this was purchased from a retailer trying to run down their stock of “old style” Camachos. The newer Criollo was purchased from the same retailer a few months later.

The new Criollo is darker; a quality that is strange being that this is supposed to be a similar wrapper but older. Usually in this situation, the older one is darker because tobacco darkens as it ages/ferments. This darker color despite age, could be due to different fermentation, priming, crop variation or many other reasons. The vein structure on both of the cigars is very similar. The construction on the Havana seems not quite as good as on the Criollo. This can be best seen on the seems. On the Havana, they do not seem as tight, and though the caps are a very different style, the cap on the Criollo looks a bit more neat. This is by a small margin, but it seems clear when next to each other.

Of course, the branding is different. The Havana is classic shaped cigar band of metallic gold with yellow lettering and styling depicting the previous Camacho logo. The Criollo has an ultra modern band of bright yellow with a high contrast black bearing the new Camacho scorpion logo.

DSCN1114

The texture of both of the cigars is slightly oily and slightly fuzzy, but slightly less fuzzy on the Havana. The lick on the cap of the Havana has an oily feel with a light slightly sour note. It is all very light. The Criollo is less oily and with a more earthy flavor of sour. A cut with a double guillotine on the torpedo cap of the Havana produces a very easy draw. There is very little resistance where as the double guillotine cut of the Criollo (producing the same size cut in circumference), produces a draw that is significantly firmer. The flavor of both of the draws are similar, with licorice and rich earth, but the Havana is a bit lighter and woodier.

Both are lit with a soft flame.

The Havana starts with a dose of classic Camacho spice with undertones of wood. Through the nose there is a good amount of burn with more wood flavors. The Criollo has a very similar start but there are two key differences, the Criollo is spicier and the Havana and the Criollo has a retrohale that includes a meaty-sweetness and mushroom. The differences of the initial flavor are subtle. The basic flavor elements of spice and wood are in both, but the new blend has a bit more depth of flavor. This begins with the spice. On the old blend the spice is thin and black pepper with the wood notes easing in. Those flavors are balanced but subtle and quietly enter and exit the palate. The new blend has the black pepper that eases in but it picks up a hint at hot cinnamon as the wood notes transition in. This wood note lingers on the palate well into the finish and is made approachable by subtle sweetness.

As the cigars settle in, the Havana develops a sweetness that leans to the sugary side in comparison to the rounder darker Belgian candy sugar style of sweetness of the re-blend. The old blend still retains the sharp black pepper that sneaks in, peaks, and sneaks out while the new blend has black pepper from the moment of the initial draw that develops into the warm cinnamon and exits. The retrohales also develop. In the Havana, the burn through the nose that was on the light has now settles into a lighter spice with dry earth/wood undertones. The retrohale is definitively sweeter on the new blend and has lost some of the mushroom notes if favor of a more herbal quality. A little over an inch in to both cigars and the Criollo has a rounder and more complex feel to it.

The burn on both cigars at this point is not perfect, however neither is in need of a touch-up. The ash on the old blend is a bit more flaky in appearance but holds tight whereas on the new blend it appears to be a more dense ash that falls more often.

The middle third of both cigars do not change that much but the differences seem to be more noticeable. The Havana is thinner and has fewer flavors overall. Those flavors are “Classic Camacho” and edge to a more autumn feel where the Criollo has more depth and roundness. The cigar seems bolder and simultaneously more refined. The old blend is closer to harsh than the new blend, though “harsh” is probably the wrong word. It is, in reality, just a sharper one dimensional spice. The new blend coats the mouth with flavor where as the old blend is more of a passing flavor.

At the beginning of the final third an interesting note is observed: The smoke from lit foot the Havana is significantly more blue than that of the Criollo. The Havana is burning faster than the Criollo keeping the thirds of the cigar aligned though there is an inch of difference at the beginning.

The Havana is starting to produce warmer smoke on the draw where as the Criollo is consistent. This consistency also translates to the flavors as well. There is less development over the stick and less build in body. They smoke feels thicker in the old blend for the first time around this point. The retrohale does not share this quality of growth in the Havana. It is a fairly static element within the cigar. In the Criollo, the retrohale becomes less sweet, making it less interesting as in the first two thirds but more dynamic over the length of the cigar. There are no further developments to either cigar.

The old blend has the classic Camacho blending style. It is an interesting look at what Honduran puros are all about. The re-blend has many of the same elements and stays within the realm of what Camacho was and is. The new Camacho Criollo is rounder and has more depth of flavor while maintaining a better balance. The new blend is also a touch fuller in body, living up to the marketing of “The Bold Standard”

This was a positive re-brand/re-blend overall.

Old blend, Camacho Havana:

Burn: 9

Draw: 8

Taste: 8

Aftertaste: 8

Construction: 9

Balance: 8

Feel: 9

overall: 8.4

New blend, Camacho Criollo:

Burn: 9

Draw: 8

Taste: 9

Aftertaste: 9

Construction: 9

Balance: 9

Feel: 9

overall: 8.9

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~ by kuzi16 on July 16, 2014.

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