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Staff Reviews

Cain Habano Staff Review

Shane K. K's picture

Shane K.

Cain is a potent and popular brand in the portfolio of Oliva Cigars. It’s handcrafted in Estelí, Nicaragua, to the same exacting and award-winning standards of other top-rated smokes under the Oliva umbrella. What sets Cain apart is the enduring, exponential kick it delivers across almost every product line, in every shape and size. That’s perhaps what endears Cain most to its core of devoted, diehard fans. There’s a good reason we typically classify Cain as the “official cigar of lumberjacks.”

Today, I’m taking the full-bodied Cain Habano for a spin in the 654 Torpedo format. It’s almost a dare to indulge in a smoke this strong in a concentrated Torpedo shape, which clocks in at 6-inches by a 54 ring-gauge. Let me preface my perspective by clarifying, I do indeed have a hankering for strong cigars from time to time. In fact, I’ve gone through periods where I exclusively smoked the strong stuff for days and months on end, nary a mild or Connecticut-wrapped stogie in site. Cain Habano certainly fits the bill with its shimmering and leathery Cuban-seed wrapper leaf cultivated in volcanic Nicaraguan soils and patiently rolled over a fortified concoction of Nicaraguan Ligero tobaccos, aged to take the impending edge off a bit. In case you’re unfamiliar, Ligero refers to the leaves that grow highest on a tobacco plant. They are also the strongest and tend to carry a high nicotine content. 

Visually, the cigar is seamless, lustrous, and well-made. Cain Habano leaves nothing to be desired from the point of strict aesthetics. It’s banded at the foot, which is probably deliberate. It’s a much simpler procedure to remove a Cain band at the get-go, before you’ve been blasted by the blend’s nicotine-dense, woozying effects. Notes of cedar and pine with a bit of citrus emanate from the raw, unlit foot of the cigar, mirroring a cold draw that furnishes a creamy, earthy taste.

Firing up Cain is a heady, attention-grabbing enterprise – not because the cigar is bitter or disruptive with its initial flavor – it simply is that strong. Compared to other iterations of Cain, the Habano blend masks its intensity with a surprisingly less-pronounced spice. As a matter of fact, I pick up on its more peppery notes only when I push the smoke through my nostrils. Despite displaying an approachable first impression, Cain is not a smoke to wolf down. Even to seasoned veterans, I recommend taking Cain slow and easy. As the first quarter to one-third comes to an end, I believe I’ve got as much nicotine pulsing through my system as I might get from the finish line of a typical Churchill in a less-profound cigar. Notes of wood, earth, and leather dominate and harbor an uncluttered sweetness around the edges, which can easily provoke an unwise brisk consumption. Don’t hit the gas, friends. Be warned, Cain ain’t for the faint of heart.

By the time I inch past the halfway mark, I’ve had to touch up an uneven burn in a few spots, but that’s actually a welcome event as it gets Cain out of my mouth for a minute before the nicotine sweats sink in. Cain is designed to wake you up, kind of like an entire pot of coffee or a case of energy drinks. Cain finds a way into your pores and doesn’t compromise just because you might need a break. Zesty notes of cedar and dark roast coffee emit creamy aromas. The profile doesn’t transition much as Cain unfolds. The tasting notes that you get out of the gate stay pretty much the same from start to finish, although they are nicely interwoven and express a rich balance. The most prominent change in Cain’s flavor, however, is simply in its intensity. As I tread toward the final quarter of the cigar, I feel like I’ve given my palate an oil change.

Cain’s head-spinning finale isn’t lacking in smoothness, but it does require a few extended moments to recuperate from the buzz before it’s up and on to other activities. By the time I pulled the final puffs through the pleasantly burning tapered end, I wasn’t slurring my speech, but I was probably not prepared to operate a motor vehicle. I sat quietly for a period and contemplated Cain’s compelling aftertaste while I got both feet back on the ground.

In closing, if you’re about to smoke your first cigar, skip Cain. It’s equivalent to handing a 16-year-old with a driver’s permit the keys to a high-performance sports car. However, if you’ve been around the block a few times, particularly with other cigars that are drafted from a hefty dose of Ligero tobaccos, Cain could be right up your alley. Nothing under the hood of a macho Cain Habano profile is subtle. It is dense and intense with a bewitching kick. If you’re heading out to get work done by a dentist who’s out of novocaine, smoke a Cain beforehand. The doc might question your breath, but a palate-blasting masterpiece like Cain guarantees you’ll be as numb as a snowman. Never forget, Cain is for “Tough Guys Only,” son!


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