It may seem hard to believe, but it’s been just over 20 years that Christian Eiroa has been in the cigar business, coming to prominence by way of the Camacho brand and his father’s company, Caribe Imported Cigars, and then branching out with his own CLE Cigar Co. which was launched in 2012 following the sale of Camacho to Davidoff in 2008.
Not hard to believe, however, is that Eiroa kept with the tradition of how those in the cigar industry celebrate and commemorate milestones and released a new cigar line, appropriately called Eiroa The First 20 Years.
Behind the cigar is a crop of tobaccos blended by his father, Julio, grown by him in Honduras’s Jamastran Valley. The blend is highlighted by the binder, which is said to be an heirloom crop of tobacco that hasn’t been used in more than 50 years.
The line is being offered in three sizes: Robusto (5 x 50, $12), Prensado (6 x 46, $12), Toro (6 x 54, $13) and a 6 x 60 ($14). All four sizes come in 20-count boxes and are produced at Eiroa’s El Aladino factory in Danlí, Honduras.
- Cigar Reviewed: Eiroa The First 20 Years 50 x 5
- Country of Origin: Honduras
- Factory: El Aladino
- Wrapper: Honduras
- Binder: Honduras
- Filler: Honduras
- Length: 5 Inches
- Ring Gauge: 50
- Vitola: Robusto
- MSRP: $12 (Boxes of 20, $240)
- Release Date: Nov. 16, 2015
- Number of Cigars Released: Regular Production
- Number of Cigars Smoked For Review: 3
There is a bit of ceremony in getting the Eiroa The First 20 Years ready to be smoked, as the tissue paper covering the lower half of the cigar must be removed by untwisting the bunch at the foot and then either sliding the paper off or peeling it away from the cigar. Underneath that decorative covering sits candy bar of a cigar, with its pressed shape draped in a dark brown and toothy Honduran wrapper, dry to the touch with a bit of fine grit texture to it. Like many box-pressed cigars, there is a distinct firmness in this robusto, a bit softer top to bottom and firmer side to side, though the give is more uniform in this cigar than in others of similar shape. The tobacco at the foot of the cigar is fragrant and bold, almost in the same way that perfume can be, offering a floral profile that is on the heavier side with a bit of trailing pepper and some dry chocolate brownie. On the first cigar, the cap wasn’t laid perfectly flat, though the press on the cigar created a shape that made if hard for my scissors to get a clean cut, and as such required three smaller snips to create enough of an opening, with the final one doing a bit of damage to the head of the cigar. The cold draw is sound, with just a touch of resistance on the airflow and notes of peanut butter, chocolate and subtle coffee hitting the tongue.
The first puffs of the Eiroa The First 20 Years are simply fantastic, offering a cascading richness that manifests via earth, a touch of the pre-light peanut butter, leather, some chalk, and both white and black pepper in calculated moderation, all harmonizing for the senses to absorb. Smoke production is more than sufficient, and I’m impressed by how the first retrohale is smooth and subtle with its pepper before beginning to build in strength by the time the burn line is just about half an inch along. In some ways it feels that the blend knows this is a fairly short vitola and is trying to offer as much as it can, but without becoming overly messy by unleashing an onslaught of flavors or strength. The first clump of light gray ash comes crashing down at about an inch in length, which loosens up the draw just a touch and results in an increase in smoke production.
Between the first clump of ash having fallen off and a fairly sizable band on a compact cigar, it feels like the burn line is racing up the Eiroa, but I’m sure my perception will change once that band comes off. As I mentioned earlier, the draw has opened up ever so slightly, increasing air flow and resulting in more smoke with each puff. Texture wise, the smoke is a bit softer and fluffier than it was earlier, with pepper slightly decreased on the palate but still plenty punchy in the nose, though there are puffs where that statement feels like it should be retracted. There’s also a slight mellowing out of the flavors, or what may be the result of having a bit more space between them. While the pepper is still present, it’s a bit more subdued, and there’s a slight marshmallow sweetness beginning to fill in the space and lighten things up slightly. It’s an interesting progression and while still very enjoyable, makes me miss some of the thick complexity the cigar offered at its start. A more prominent note of soil and terroir comes along in the transitional puffs to give the cigar a touch more robustness and grit.
While the pepper component of the flavor has slightly diminished, it seems to be only growing more and more present in the nose, as each successive retrohale offers more white pepper for the nostrils to process. In the mouth, the smoke still leaves a tingle of pepper amidst a creamy smoke that lingers on the sides of the tongue for a fairly significant amount of time. The flavors in one sample seemed to get progressively thinner as the cigar burned down, leaving a bit of a skeletal remnant of its past high points on the tongue along with a slightly metallic and bitter taste, coffee-esque in one sense when thinking about acidity, but with more bite on the front of the tongue. The First 20 Years begins its final inch and a half on a more robust note, with black pepper becoming more prevalent on the palate and in the nose, as well as in the eyes on occasion.
- While there was a good stretch of time where I wasn’t fond of Honduran tobacco, I find myself gravitating to it more as of late. This cigar is a good reason why, as is the Asylum 33, which is also made at Eiroa’s El Aladino factory and distributed by CLE Cigar Co.
- In late January, Julio Eiroa launched JRE Tobacco Co. along with Christian’s older brother Justo. The company will handle the sales and distribution of the Aladino, Rancho Luna and Tarascan brands that had previously been under the CLE Cigar Co. umbrella.
- Christian Eiroa’s first day in the cigar business was June 28, 1995, which he mentions in this video from the 2015 IPCPR Convention & Trade Show:
- Eiroa had originally hoped to have this cigar to the market by March 2016, meaning these arrive five months ahead of schedule.
- Before being assigned this review, I smoke the Prensado size and remember it being a touch sharper but equally as flavorful, though there is something about the cigar having a bit softer profile that makes me lean towards the robusto vitola at the moment.
- Christian Eiroa was featured in the halfwheel Portraits series in June 2013.
- This is another one of those cigars where the name doesn’t really flow well when referring to it.
- Final smoking time was one hour and 20 minutes on average.
- The cigars for this review were purchased by halfwheel.
- Site sponsors Cigar.com, Cigar Hustler and Corona Cigar Co. carry the Eiroa The First 20 Years line.
As I mentioned above, there was a time when the idea of Honduran tobacco in a cigar would have been a near complete turn off. Thankfully, cigars like Eiroa The First 20 Years have done a reclamation project on my attitude and leave me almost wholeheartedly recommending the current generation of leaves being produced. In terms of balance and strength, the blend of this cigar is near ideal for my palate, and while the depth of the complexity felt just a bit lacking at times, the high points of the first third are some of the best I have tasted in a while and show that this is truly a special blend. This is a cigar where you pay the price of admission not just for the whole show, but to experience those moments where a blend truly shines.