In 2006, Camacho released a new line with a new wrapper that was described as a hybrid between Cameroon-seed and the Honduran tobaccos the brand was known for. While that cigar is no longer around today, the concept was revived last year in the form of the Aladino Cameroon.
For those that are unfamiliar with the history of Camacho, the brand was started by Simon Camacho but was sold and then rose to prominence while it was owned by the Eiroa family. In 2008, the family sold the brand to Davidoff, though they remained involved with Camacho until 2011. Julio Eiroa, the family’s patriarch, continued to grow tobacco—including selling it to Davidoff—but it wasn’t until 2016 that he began selling his own cigars again.
In 2016, Eiroa and his son, Justo, launched JRE Tobacco Co. using tobacco grown on the family’s farms—which weren’t sold to Davidoff—and making cigars at a small factory on their compound outside of Danlí, Honduras. Three years ago, I visited the operation and saw the tobacco that would lead to this blend.
Apparently a few years prior to that, Julio had decided to once again grown some Cameroon-seed tobacco in Honduras. I gather that the older Eiroa is a bit of a tinkerer and is always trying to grow experimental crops. Eventually, that led to the aptly named Aladino Cameroon.
In June 2020, Patrick Lagreid spoke with Tom Poehler—who is a sales representative for both JRE and previously had been one for the Eiroa-owned Camacho—who described the events that led to the Aladino Cameroon:
About 3 1/2 years ago, Poehler visited Julio and Justo in Honduras and the conversation about Cameroon tobacco came up. When touring the factory and fields, Poehler noted that there was about a quarter to half of an acre being grown at the time simply for seeds.
The following year, Poehler returned to Honduras and in particular, Julio’s office. He inquired about those Cameroon plants, and was told by Julio that it was simply “no bueño.” The leaves from that crop weren’t as veiny or splotchy as the African-grown version, a reason that would later be discovered because he was too hands-on with it compared to the techniques used to grow it in Africa. Essentially, he was treating it the way he treats all his other tobaccos, and as such, it was showing the results of its care.
Undeterred, Poehler asked if they could take that tobacco and try it, specifically by replacing the wrapper on some aged Rancho Luna cigars to create a quick test blend. The result was positive, and next thing you know, Julio is making a few phone calls and the company is making plans to grow more Cameroon-seed tobacco.
That put the plans for what would eventually become the Aladino Cameroon into high gear. After some initial blends were found to be too close in flavor to existing Cameroon-wrapped cigars on the market, the company arrived at a blend of corojo-seed Honduran tobacco grown by the Eiroas that would best showcase their Honduran-grown Cameroon wrapper.
The line debuted in May 2020 in three sizes, but right before the year came to close, a fourth size was added: a lancero.
The Aladino Cameroon Elegante is a 7 x 38 lancero size that was first sold through Blue Smoke, a store in Dallas. JRE sent Blue Smoke 132 boxes of 20 cigars with pricing set at $9 per cigar. The store said that it would donate $1 per cigar to Cigar Rights of America, meaning a donation of $2,640 was sent to the organization.
- Aladino Cameroon Robusto (5 x 50) — $8.80 (Box of 24, $211.20)
- Aladino Cameroon Lonsdale (6 x 43) — $7.80 (Box of 24, $187.20)
- Aladino Cameroon Super Toro (6 x 52) — $9.80 (Box of 24, $235.20)
- Aladino Cameroon Lancero (7 x 38) — $9 (Box of 20, $180)
While the Aladino Cameroon Lancero debuted at Blue Smoke, it will be a regular vitola for the line later this year. JRE Tobacco Co. plans on offering the cigars to other retailers at the TPE 2021 trade show which is scheduled for May 12-14, 2021 in Las Vegas.
It will have an MSRP of $8.
- Cigar Reviewed: Aladino Cameroon Elegante
- Country of Origin: Honduras
- Factory: Fabrica de Puros Aladino at Las Lomas Jamastran
- Wrapper: Honduras (Cameroon)
- Binder: Honduras (Corojo)
- Filler: Honduras (Corojo)
- Length: 7 Inches
- Ring Gauge: 38
- Vitola: Lancero
- MSRP: $9 (Box of 20, $180)
- Release Date: Dec. 11, 2020
- Number of Cigars Released: Regular Production
- Number of Cigars Smoked For Review: 3
I’ve mentioned this before, but I try not to read anything about the cigars I’m reviewing until after I’m done smoking the cigars. Given that Patrick wrote the news story about this cigar and Brooks went to Blue Smoke to buy them, I hadn’t seen one until I pulled it out of my review box. The first thing I noticed was that this is close, but not the proper 7 7/16 (192mm) x 38 lancero; instead, it’s the more common 7-inch version we see from non-Cuban manufacturers. The second thing I noticed was that the bands were placed very high up on the cigar. Like I had witnessed when I saw this wrapper three years ago, it’s a lot cleaner than the typical Cameroon wrapper. It lacks the spotting and much of the visual features that can lead to some people calling African Cameroon wrapper “ugly.” That being said, the aroma from the wrapper is a mixture of leather, caramel, green apples, peanut shells and some barnyard. The foot has a bit stronger of an aroma—medium-full—with chocolate, blueberries and some earthiness. The cold draw tastes like a dessert: floral flavors, gingerbread, chocolate milkshake and a touch of cinnamon. Yes, those flavors sound a bit more like a Starbucks beverage than they do a cigar.
Each cigar starts with the draw tightening up a bit compared to the cold draw. While I’m not concerned, people that don’t regularly smoke lanceros might immediately think, “see, this is why I don’t like this vitola.” Fortunately, there’s still enough smoke that comes out. Flavor-wise, it reminds me a bit of a fresh Cuban with earthiness, vanilla bean, peanut shells, a raw earth flavor and some funkiness. That dissipates after the third or fourth puff and the earthiness begins to take over. It leads the profile, sitting on top of Ruffles potato chips, leather, creaminess and white pepper. It finishes with a bit more of that Ruffles flavor over earthiness and a ginger-like burning sensation. Retrohales have earthiness, nuttiness, dried cranberry and a touch of that ginger sensation. The finish of the retrohales have a bit more of the ginger sensation along with the raw earth flavor and some minerals. Flavor is medium-full, body is medium and strength is medium-plus. The draw is predictably a bit tighter than a typical cigar, though perfectly fine for a 38-ring gauge lancero. One cigar has a bit of a weird draw—something that I will explain in the Final Notes section—but all three cigars have an excellent burn.
Somewhat out of nowhere, the peanut flavor decides that it’s no longer content being a secondary note and is now on a level playing field with the intensity of the earthiness. That being said, there’s a big gap in dominance between those two flavors and the secondary flavors of honey, nuttiness and white pepper. The finish is oddly toasty—something that I otherwise haven’t picked up to this point—with white pepper, earthiness, a tonic water-like minerality and some generic roughness. Retrohales produce sourdough bread, earthiness, macadamia nuts, leather and a very weird soybean flavor. The finish has a tingling-like pepper that is neither like the ginger nor the wasabi-like burn I find in many African Cameroon-wrapped cigars. Beyond that, there’s some nuttiness and some earthiness. Flavor is medium-full, body is medium and strength is medium-full. Construction remains excellent.
The final third has me questioning whether the bread flavor is sourdough or it’s just a mixture of bread and saltiness that seems a bit more like sourdough than a traditional French loaf. Whatever the case, the flavor has now moved to the forefront for the last inch or so of the Aladino Cameroon. The flavor profile seems to have opened up a bit more on two of the cigars—matching the performance that one stellar sample has had from the start—and it allows a more even balance with earthiness. Beyond that, there’s some fruitiness, peanut shells and a touch of harshness that I can’t exactly place. Retrohaling leads to an uptick in the earthiness joined by blueberry ginger and leather. Like the finish on the main flavor, the retrohales finish in a manner that’s tough to separate from the retrohales themselves. If anything, it’s basically the same flavor just without the blueberry. Flavor is full, body is medium, strength is medium-plus. Construction remains excellent and smoke production pleasantly picks up in volume at around the one-and-a-half inch mark.
- Many manufacturers have claimed to have cigars with other Cameroon-seed wrappers grown in other countries, namely Ecuador. For whatever reason, this particular release seemed to lead to a much larger debate about tobacco from Cameroon versus the Cameroon-seed grown in other countries. A lot of that was due to the Meerapfels—the main grower of Cameroon tobacco—who went as far as creating a tax stamp for cigars that use their wrapper. I’ve yet to see the tax stamp on any boxes, but I’ve certainly seen the social media posts with statements like, “If it’s not Meerapfel, it’s not Cameroon.”
- As someone that likes Cameroon wrapper, I’ve really enjoyed my conversations with the Meerapfels over the years. When I first started writing about cigars the Meerapfels seemed content with not being a widespread name in the cigar world, particularly amongst consumers. That certainly has changed and even before this cigar, they had made it clear they were interested in trying to increase the general education about Cameroon tobacco.
- That being said, this seems like an uphill battle. I feel pretty confident in saying most consumers could care less about where the wrapper of any cigar comes from unless it’s from Cuba. And Cuban-seed wrapper grown elsewhere seems to only show how difficult it’s going to be for the Meerapfels to brand cigars like this as “not Cameroon.” Whether it’s “Cuban-seed,” Habano, Havana or any number of other terms, there are many non-Cuban manufacturers who all use terms to identify tobacco seeds from Cuba that are now being grown in other places. On the consumer level, this is being done for marketing purposes and some companies really blur the line between trying to associate one tobacco with another and outright trying to confuse consumers.
- As for whether I could confuse this with African Cameroon, definitely. I would think that I would be able to identify this more times than not as “not African Cameroon,” but if 10 cigars are in front of me and half are Honduran Cameroon and the other half are African Cameroon, I don’t think I’m going 10/10.
- One of the real issues that I and most people that aren’t involved in the manufacturing of cigars have is that I don’t regularly smoke cigars that are made entirely of one type of tobacco or another. I’m guessing I’ve only smoked pure Cameroon cigars a handful of times, and even then it’s been limited to just a few factories. As such, it’s just challenging to know how much of what I’m tasting is due to a specific type of tobacco and beyond that, how much of that taste is associated with how that manufacturer finishes the tobacco.
- For example, the Aladino Cameroon tastes a lot more Cameroon to me than something like Black Works Studio’s Killer Bee The Swarm or RoMa Craft Tobac’s Baka, both cigars that use African Cameroon.
- Another way to look at this is to imagine trying to identify what is Coca-Cola and what’s Pepsi if you’ve never had either beverage on its own. If your only experience is drinking variations of the originals like Coca-Cola mixed with rum, Wild Cherry Pepsi, Diet Pepsi and Jack Daniels, and Coca-Cola mixed with coffee—how well would you do being able to identify what is Coca-Cola versus Pepsi on its own.
- About halfway through the final sample, a crack developed along the side of the cigar. It looks like someone—it wasn’t me, Shaggy—cut the cigar with a knife. I didn’t notice it until about an hour into the cigar. Given that the cigar was in cellophane—which didn’t seem to have a cut in it—I’m guessing this happened at the factory.
- I’ve smoked thousands of cigars and never seen this happen. The crack extended into the band and was forcing the band apart. This also makes me wonder if it wasn’t from a knife. It would mean the cigar would have had to have been cut in the time between when the bands are placed on and inside the cellophane, which is probably a matter of minutes at this particular factory.
- If someone didn’t cut the cigar, my guess is that the crack is the result of something inside the cigar and not the wrapper itself. If was just the wrapper cracking, I don’t think there would be enough pressure to tear the band.
- That cigar had a remarkably weird draw. For the first half of the cigar—most of which took place before the crack developed—it felt like the cigar was barely lit. That being said, the smoke production was okay and the cigar never seemed close to going out.
- Even with that one sample, I would put JRE’s construction against any other cigar company in the world. Yes, that includes Padrón. This is only the second time I can remember ever having a construction issue with a JRE cigar. Even then, the cigar burned flawlessly developing even chunks of ash and never once getting to a point where touch-up was close.
- Speaking of the band, I would prefer it to be about a quarter-inch lower on the cigar. It seems just a bit too high up on the cigar and leads to it touching my lips every once in a while.
- Cigars for this review were purchased by halfwheel.
- Final smoking time was two hours and 25 minutes on average.
Back when I was choosing cigars to review based on what I wanted to smoke as opposed to what made sense from an editorial perspective, Cameroon-wrapped lanceros were my favorite to light up for a review. If I was going to blend a cigar for myself to smoke, it would probably be a Cameroon-wrapped lancero. Cigars like the Casa Fuente Lancero, Don Carlos Lancero and La Aurora Preferidos Lancero only furthered my love for this combination. One of the Aladino Cameroon Elegantes I smoked for this review was good enough to at least consider for that pantheon. The other two were good, but far away from the excellence that I’ve experienced in those trio. I’m curious to see whether JRE decides to release more blends with this wrapper, hopefully we don’t have to wait another 14 years in between.