While Julio Eiroa is best known for growing a specific type of powerful corojo-seed tobacco in Honduras, he produces a lot more than just that at his sprawling operations in Honduras.

In 2020, Eiroa’s JRE Tobacco Co. released the Aladino Cameroon, a blend that comes wrapped in a Cameroon-seed wrapper grown on the same farm as the corojo tobacco. That release wasn’t the first time he’s worked with that tobacco, as in 2006, when the Eiroa family still owned Camacho, the company released the Camacho Liberty 2006, which had the Cameroon hybrid wrapper grown in Honduras.

This past March, JRE Tobacco Co. released the Aladino Candela, which is similar to the Aladino Cameroon as it too is a throwback of sorts. There was once the Camacho Candela Monacara, a 5 x 50 robusto that used a green candela wrapper over corojo tobacco, all grown by the Eiroas in Honduras.

And now there’s the Aladino Candela Robusto, a 5 x 50 robusto that uses a very different-looking corojo-seed wrapper over corojo tobacco, all grown by the Eiroas in Honduras.

“We would like to push the candela wrapper’s popularity as a homage to my grandfather Julio since he was the largest candela grower in the 80s and 90s when candela was the dominant wrapper in the industry,” said Vivi Eiroa in an email to halfwheel when the cigar was announced earlier this year.

As of now, JRE Tobacco Co. is testing the cigar with a soft launch at 32 stores. Those stores split a total of 400 boxes of 20 cigars, though JRE Tobacco Co. says it will make more if the response is positive.

Here’s my brief explanation about candela and its uniqueness:

Candela refers to a process that produces the green-colored cigars that always get more visible this time of year due to St. Patrick’s Day. Sometimes the cigars end up very green-looking, other times they can be a tan color with a green hint. Whatever the shade, candela is the result of a process and not a varietal of tobacco such as criollo or habano. In order to create candela tobacco, the tobacco is heated in a specialized barn at much higher temperatures than other tobacco. The idea is to heat the tobacco by incrementally increasing the temperature which removes the moisture from the leaves. Eventually, the moisture is removed, and the leaves become dry but are green because the chlorophyll hasn’t been removed, something that happens with the slower process that the vast majority of tobacco used for premium cigars goes through, which results in the light tan to dark brown colors of those leaves.

Many decades ago, candela was the most common wrapper found on cigars in the U.S., though at this point it’s closer to a novelty than a fad. For tobacco growers and cigar makers, candela has one major advantage: time. The whole process of heating the tobacco takes less than a week and the tobacco requires far less processing once it heads to factories.

  • Cigar Reviewed: Aladino Candela Robusto
  • Country of Origin: Honduras
  • Factory: Fábrica de Puros Aladino at Las Lomas Jamastran
  • Wrapper: Honduras (Corojo Candela)
  • Binder: Honduras (Corojo)
  • Filler: Honduras (Corojo)
  • Length: 5 Inches
  • Ring Gauge: 50
  • Vitola: Robusto
  • MSRP: $8.50 (Box of 20, $170)
  • Release Date: March 2023
  • Number of Cigars Released: 400 Boxes of 20 Cigars (8,000 Total Cigars)
  • Number of Cigars Smoked For Review: 3

I divide the different shades of candela wrappers into three categories in terms of how saturated the green color is, with this in the middle group in terms of its color. While there aren’t very many veins, the green color does not hide the veins anywhere near as well as a dark brown color would and, as such, the veins are extremely prominent. It probably doesn’t help that the veins have a bit of purple color to them, making them all the more obvious. The wrapper is extremely soft to the touch, like supple and well-moisturized leather. The aroma from the wrapper smells very different than a typical candela cigar, which tends to have this sweeter and herbal aroma. Instead, I find a smell that reminds me of the smell of a bag of beef jerky, as well as hickory, lemon-lime flavoring and some soapy smells. Each cigar’s wrapper aroma is around medium intensity. The foot is oftentimes a reverse of the wrapper’s aroma: lemon lime and hickory lead the beef jerky and soapy notes. Similar to the aroma, the cold draw doesn’t have the standard flavors I associate with candela, which I guess makes sense given the cigar is not lit. It’s very sweet thanks to some honey flavors along with sugar, a bitter nuttiness and something that reminds me of the seasoning of the Near East brand rice pilaf, instantly taking me back to my childhood and making me wonder how many years it’s been since I’ve had rice pilaf.

None of the three cigars deliver a ton of smoke for the first puff, though I find some soapy vegetal flavors, followed by woodiness, hay, honey and sugar. As the finish kicks in, the sweeter flavors take over, including the aforementioned sugar and honey, along with some Nila Wafer flavors. After a few seconds, a classic woody flavor emerges, substantially stronger than the other flavors. While the first puff or two doesn’t deliver as much smoke as I’d like, the Aladino Candela quickly begins to deliver the smoke volume I’d like. With that, the main flavor becomes quite clear: honey sweetness. At times, it’s more like a sugar sweetness, other times more like lemon sweetness, but generally, it’s a honey sweetness. It’s strong enough that I have to double-check to make sure the cigar doesn’t have a sweetened cap, which it does not. That sweetness leads to a vibrant earthiness, some creaminess and tertiary flavors that include white pepper and vegetal flavors. The finish adds creaminess and tea—the latter of which makes more really think of green tea—along with earthiness. Retrohales aren’t as sweet as the main flavor, as I pick up peanuts, dry leather and burnt bread leading to sharp citrus and creaminess. The finish has lots of white pepper—sometimes I find some red pepper—over earthiness. The top of my mouth is really affected by the sharper flavors and it almost feels like I’ve burnt the top of my mouth. Flavor is medium-full, body is medium-full and strength is medium. Construction is fantastic on two cigars, while one of the cigars I smoke has a tight draw that is impacting the flavor and challenging the combustion, which forces me to make a correction.

The first third’s profile continues until at least the halfway point of the cigar, though eventually, the sweetness begins to give way to earthiness. Some sharper wood flavors emerge, but I find the flavors are getting less crisp as the cigar progresses. There’s still some of the honey sweetness along with acidity and nuttiness. Noticeably absent are any of the more classic soapy and grassy, or hay-like, flavors I typically find in candela-wrapped cigars. The finish is more like the first third: nutty and honey sweetness over some fragrant citrus and mild black pepper. Retrohales are less intense than what I’m picking up in my mouth, though the flavors are quite similar. A less defined sweetness leads to white pepper and some sunflower seeds. The finish has meatiness before the sweetness takes over as my tastebuds transition before settling on a traditional cigar mixture of earthiness and pepper. Flavor is medium-full, body is medium-plus and strength is medium. One cigar continues to have fantastic construction, the cigar with the tight draw has a better draw though it still suffers from burn issues and the other cigar also needs a touch-up in the final third.

Similar to how the second third’s transition didn’t happen until much further into the second third’s length, the transition for the final third doesn’t really happen until there’s about an inch and a half of the cigar left. For the first time in each cigar, I consistently find some of the dry hay or grass flavors that I typically associate with candela, though I still can’t find the soapiness that those flavors are usually paired with when it comes to candela. Overall, the cigar is spicier than before, with nuttiness slightly edging out meatiness, itself slightly edging out dry earthiness. There’s some hickory, gingerbread and wheat bread on the backend and I can still find the honey sweetness, though it’s no longer the dominant flavor. The finish isn’t as sweet as when the smoke is in my mouth. Nuttiness leads some hickory and graham crackers flavors. Towards the end, white pepper and citrus really come alive, almost cleaning the palate in a weird way. Retrohales have a more traditional cigar profile: earthiness, popcorn and nuttiness over some mild metallic and sweet flavors. The finish has earthiness and pepper—more or less equal in intensity—over saltiness and a raisin-like sweetness. Flavor is medium-plus or medium-full, body is medium-plus and strength is a bit stronger, though still medium-plus. Two of the three cigars need a touch-up in the final third, though oddly, it’s not the same two cigars that needed help from the lighter in the second third.

Final Notes

  • While writing this review, I kept coming back to the idea that candela is neither a varietal nor a place; it’s a process. While there are flavors I associate with candela cigars, it’s interesting to think that the tobaccos used for the wrapper are likely very different when they are still on the plant. The unique processing seems to close the gaps that are created via the difference in seed varietal, origin and all the other variables.
  • As it has done numerous times in the past, JRE Tobacco Co. sent these cigars first to stores that have visited the company’s operations in Honduras. I really like how the company rewards the stores that have taken the time to visit its operations in Honduras with the first releases of new cigars.
  • I think that JRE Tobacco Co. might be using slightly different or updated bands for this release, as I find the red in the background of the band to really pop. I imagine the graphic is supposed to mimic the veins of a tobacco leaf, though the combination reminds me of the logo used for Cherry Coke in the 1990s.
  • There is none of the sweet sugar residue that is a tell-tale sign of a sweetened cigar, but this is as sweet as just about any un-sweetened cigar I can recall smoking.
  • If JRE can consistently deliver the sweetness without the cigar being sweetened, I think it’s a winning formula. I think a lot of people—halfwheel’s staff included—want to smoke sweeter cigars, but not sweet cigars. As Patrick Lagreid told me more than a decade ago: due to evolution, humans are naturally predisposed to liking sweetened things.
  • Editor’s note: There have been a number of papers and articles on the above, the general consensus being that sweet foods mean they have sugar, and sugar means energy, as touched on in this paper from The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. On a more colloquial level, they say a spoonful of sugar helps the medicine goes down, both in terms of actual medicine and as an analogy to how sweetening things up—or sugarcoating them—makes hard news easier to hear. —Patrick Lagreid.
  • Given the cigars I’ve smoked, few manufacturers excel when it comes to construction as much as JRE Tobacco Co. Each time I have any construction issues with a JRE product, it’s noticeable. Solely from a construction standpoint, the second cigar I smoked—the one with the tight draw—is probably the worst JRE cigar I have ever smoked. Even then, the draw improved around the halfway mark, though it continued to have burn issues.

  • More frequently than most cigars, it seemed like parts of the wrapper would only be partially lit. These would turn a darker gray color, though eventually, that part of the wrapper would start to catch fire and would burn rather quickly. It would look almost like how I imagine a black hole looks when it opens. A small part of the unlit wrapper would fully ignite and that piece would expand like a growing circle. Typically, there would be a piece of the wrapper that would remain unlit, though it would be passed where the rest of the burn line was. You can see an example of that above.
  • Few cigars seem to be as amenable to a wide range of puff times as these cigars were. As always, I’m going to smoke at the rate that I think delivers the best experience, which tends to be to let the cigar burn cool.
  • Final smoking time was around two hours and 10 minutes, though I think the cigar could be smoked in 90 minutes without a major difference. It will create for a spicier and less detailed experience, but I don’t think you’ll find it to be too sharp.
87 Overall Score

For those of you that don’t like the candela cigars you’ve had to date, this could very well be the one that becomes your favorite candela, but I hope you like sweetness. In particular, the first half of the cigar had lots of sweet notes that strongly reminded me of a honey-sweetened green tea beverage. Some of that might be the color association, but the honey sweetness is as strong as I’ve found in any cigar that isn’t flavored. The upside for those of you who haven’t enjoyed candela is that outside of the sweetness, there are not many of the typical candela flavors, especially that dry hay flavor that I often find. A tight draw on the second cigar hurt the score a lot, but this very well might be my favorite candela cigar I’ve smoked.

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Charlie Minato

I am an editor and co-founder of halfwheel.com/Rueda Media, LLC. I previously co-founded and published TheCigarFeed, one of the two predecessors of halfwheel. I have written about the cigar industry for more than a decade, covering everything from product launches to regulation to M&A. In addition, I handle a lot of the behind-the-scenes stuff here at halfwheel. I enjoy playing tennis, watching boxing, falling asleep to the Le Mans 24, wearing sweatshirts year-round and eating gyros. echte liebe.