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Staff Reviews

Camacho Nicaraguan Barrel Aged Toro Staff Review

Shane K. K's picture

Shane K.

I’m reviewing Camacho Nicaraguan Barrel Aged in a standard 6 x 50 Toro. Camacho occupies the boutique arm of the renowned Davidoff portfolio. Davidoff’s parent company Oettinger Davidoff Group purchased Camacho in 2008 from the Eiroa family who established the brand during the Cigar Boom of the 1990s. Camacho cigars are known for their spicy, full-bodied taste. The brand is handmade in Danlí, Honduras, at Davidoff’s sprawling cigar-making facility dubbed Camp Camacho.

I smoked my first Camacho back in 2002 well before Davidoff got its hands on the brand. It was one of the first stronger cigars I picked up. Its flavor was meaty and sweet with quite a bit of spice. The bands and boxes were pretty plain and the prices weren’t too steep. I remember telling myself not to smoke it on an empty stomach. Cigar lovers with a high tolerance for nicotine adored early Camacho cigars like the Diploma and the Monarca.

The Camacho of today is a stark contrast. The cigars are still strong, but the brand’s image is hardly low-key. When the folks at Davidoff officially took over, they poured tons of money and resources into outfitting Camacho cigars with flashy, scorpion-festooned bands and boxes. A “Live Loud” marketing campaign was launched along with a contingent of illustrious aficionados called the “Board of the Bold.” It consisted of former NFL coach Mike Ditka, brand ambassador Matt Booth, and movie producer Rob Weiss. The cigar bands became half as big as the cigars and the fancy advertising agency they hired tossed a bunch of rugged gear like axes, switchblades, and sunglasses into the glam shots. The aggressive messaging is aimed at Harley riders and tough-guy types, I guess.

Camacho Nicaraguan Barrel Aged is part of the brand’s edgy evolution. The copper and black band reminds me of a Jimmy Johns sandwich board with ten different fonts and a mix of horizontal and vertical text encouraging me to “PUSH THE LIMITS.” I would have no time to smoke if I read the whole thing. Beneath it, a Cuban-seed wrapper grown in Ecuador conceals an intricate core of long-fillers from the Dominican Republic, San Andrés, and Nicaragua. Its mesquite-like raw aroma isn’t bad and a touch of sweetness is present when you steep the cigar in your lips.

It all unfolds when you light up. An astringent blast of black pepper and wet newspaper overruns the palate. Notes of saltines and chalk dust make it difficult to swallow. I kind of want it to stop, but I’ve never dismissed a cigar in under five minutes, and I’m determined to finish. Intrusive flavors of stale Triscuits and black tea aren’t building my confidence as I power onward. Camacho Nicaraguan Barrel Aged is well made, though. The draw is easy and a stiff white ash forms. It’s a matter of tolerating a sting in the eyes while a faint aroma of paraffin fills the room. I wince a bit but keep smoking.

Luckily, it gets better. The Nicaraguan Corojo tobaccos used in the blend were aged in rum barrels for five months, hence the barrel reference in the name. I can’t say I taste any rum notes, but as the middle of the cigar draws near, the profile calms down and becomes creamy. For the first time, I feel like I can get through it. The taste stays sharp and woody, but a touch of sweetness takes the edge off. It gets spicier at the end, but the finish is just so dry. Maybe I grabbed a bad one from the box. I’m willing to smoke another for the sake of diplomacy – after my palate gets a rest.

Camacho Nicaraguan Barrel Aged isn’t alone here. I have encountered other cigars that deliver the repellant taste of newsprint. Sometimes the cigar is just a little dried out. Or, it’s a case of bad blending. Nicaraguan Barrel Aged is rolled according to a proprietary bunching technique featured in Camacho’s Powerband cigar to improve performance. The cigar is also part of the brand’s Master Built Series. Because I can’t tell if I’m discussing an energy drink or a cigar, I feel the company’s resources would be better spent on different tobaccos instead of dressing the cigars up with goofy marketing gimmicks.

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