At the 2015 IPCPR Convention & Trade Show, Camacho showed off a brand new cigar: the Shellback. Named for the designation that sailors receive after they cross the equator for the first time, the Shellback is part of a new series named the Brotherhood Series, which the Camacho website describes:
Our Brotherhood Series is unshakably rooted in the elemental right to live free. Free from limits. Free from compromise. Free to follow your own path, on your own terms. Each cigar is a celebration of the bond between men who take action and never sit idly by.
In terms of blend specifics, the new Shellback is rolled at Agroindustria LAEPE S.A. in Danlí, Honduras and incorporates a habano wrapper from Ecuador covering a Nicaraguan binder and filler tobaccos from Estelí in Nicaragua. There is only one vitola, a 6 x 50 toro that is sold in boxes of 20, with only 4,000 boxes produced. Suggested retail is set at $12 each, and the cigars shipped to retailers on Oct. 9, 2015.
- Cigar Reviewed: Camacho Shellback
- Country of Origin: Honduras
- Factory: Agroindustria LAEPE S.A.
- Wrapper: Ecuadorian Habano
- Binder: Nicaragua
- Filler: Nicaragua
- Length: 6 Inches
- Ring Gauge: 50
- Vitola: Toro
- MSRP: $12 (Boxes of 20, $240)
- Release Date: Oct. 9, 2015
- Number of Cigars Released: 4,000 Boxes of 20 (80,000 Total Cigars)
- Number of Cigars Smoked For Review: 3
Covered in a cinnamon mocha brown wrapper that is relatively smooth to the touch, the Camacho Shellback features quite a few viens running up and down the length of the cigar. There is a touch of oil present that I can see and it is a bit spongier than normal when squeezed, albeit not bad enough for me to think there will be a problem. Aroma coming from the wrapper is a combination of almonds, manure, grass, aged cedar and earth, while the cold draw brings flavors of sawdust, oak, sweet earth, leather, barnyard and dark fruit.
Immediately after lighting the foot, the profile of the Camacho Shellback starts off with a distinct maple sweetness interspersed with earth and black pepper, along with an espresso bean bitterness on the finish. Sadly, the sweetness does not stick around long at those elevated levels, and becomes a background note fairly quickly, joining other flavors of almonds, bread, creamy oak, dark chocolate and a touch of spice on my lips. Construction-wise, the draw is a bit loose, but still well within normal limits, and while the burn is far from perfect, it is not bad enough for me to have to touch it up yet. There is plenty of smoke emanating from the foot of the cigar, and the strength comes close to hitting the medium mark by the end of the first third.
The combination of gritty earth and black pepper takes over the dominant flavor combination early in second third of the Camacho Shellback, while other flavors of doughy bread, cream oak, leather, dark chocolate, espressos beans and nuts flit in and out. Interestingly, the maple sweetness that had been waning since its hight point early on makes a significant comeback around the halfway point, but it does not last long, receding almost as quickly as it showed up. The draw has tightened up nicely, but the burn starts to wander, forcing me to touch it up a couple of times. The strength easily hits the medium mark by the halfway point, and is not showing any signs of slowing down.
The maple sweetness that really made things interesting is long gone by the start of the final third of the Camacho Shellback, replaced with the very familiar earth and black pepper combination. There does seem to be more dark chocolate in the profile as well, along with notes of peanuts, oak, licorice, leather, tobacco, yeast and a touch of dark fruit. Both the burn and draw are doing great after a not so great start, and the smoke production continues to be quite copious from the foot. As expected, the overall strength continues to increase, and makes itself known by hitting a point just shy of the full mark before I put the nub down with less than an inch left.
- I have to say, the sawdust note I tasted on the cold draw was as unique as it was distinct, and not something that I have tasted very often. Interestingly, it was not present in the actual profile of the cigar as I was smoking it.
- In addition, the maple sweetness that was present in the first few puffs on each of the samples and around the halfway point was quite nice, but just did not stick around long enough to really make much of an impact overall.
- Like most of the new packing in the Camacho brand, the box and bands are both great, especially the boxes, which feature an actual working compass built into the lid.
- The Camacho Shellback shipped with two other limited edition cigars from Davidoff of Geneva USA: Ditka Gametime by Camacho and Room101 Johnny Tobacconaut.
- The final smoking time for all three samples of the Camacho Shellback averaged one hour and 35 minutes.
- The cigars smoked for this review were sent to halfwheel by Camacho. The company also advertises on halfwheel.
- If you would like to purchase any of the Camacho Shellback cigars, sites sponsors Atlantic Cigar, Cigar.com, Corona Cigar Co., JR Cigar, Habana House Cigars (512-447-9449) and STOGIES World Class Cigars all have them in stock.
I am both a big fan of Camacho's redesign as well as its American-Barrel Aged release, but the Shellback falls well short of that line. While there are times the profile is quite good—specifically of the maple sweetness that is present on the first few puffs and around the halfway point—the overall profile is dominated by a combination of earth and black pepper that tends to overwhelm other flavors. Despite having to touch-up each of the samples a couple of times each, construction was fine and there was plenty of dense white smoke to go around. In the end, the Camacho Shellback is a decent enough cigar, but not one that is good enough to sway me from some of the other great sticks the brand already has to offer.