When it comes to exclusive cigars produced for the Premium Cigar Association’s annual trade show, the story is generally the same in that a company will produce a new blend and release it in a single size with a couple hundred or maybe 1,000 or so boxes produced.
Then there is what CLE Cigar Company does. In 2023, the company produced three different lines for retailers who attended the show to order: the Asylum PCA Exclusive 2023, the CLE PCA Exclusive 2023 and the Eiroa PCA Exclusive 2023.
The three lines share a number of common traits, starting with the use of tobacco from a new CLE farm in an unnamed South American country.
”I am loving this tobacco from our new South American farm,” said Christian Eiroa, CLE’s founder, in a press release when the cigar was announced in June. “We are taking the bold move to use this tobacco in a few of our new releases at PCA. The combination of the authentic corojo with this new tobacco I think makes this a special blend.”
For the Eiroa PCA Exclusive 2023, the blend features a Honduran corojo wrapper, while the binder and filler are undisclosed. For comparison, the Asylum PCA Exclusive 2023 has an undisclosed wrapper, while the CLE PCA Exclusive 2023 uses an Ecuadorian Connecticut wrapper, and both of those cigars also have an undisclosed binder and filler.
While many PCA-exclusive releases are limited to a single vitola, the Eiroa PCA Exclusive 2023, as well as the Asylum and CLE-branded exclusives, are offered in the same four sizes and at the same price points:
- Eiroa PCA Exclusive 2023 50X5 (5 x 50) — $17 (Box of 20, $340)
- Eiroa PCA Exclusive 2023 11X18 (6 1/4 x 52/60) — $18 (Box of 20, $360)
- Eiroa PCA Exclusive 2023 52X6 (6 x 52) — $18 (Box of 20, $360)
- Eiroa PCA Exclusive 2023 60X6 (6 x 60) — $19 (Box of 20, $380)
Each of the four vitolas is limited to just 150 boxes of 20 cigars, a total run of 3,000 cigars per size and 12,000 cigars for each line. This is yet another trait shared by the exclusives for the CLE and Asylum brands.
The Eiroa PCA Exclusive 2023 was the first of the three exclusive cigars to ship to stores, with the company shipping them at the end of August. The Asylum PCA 2023 began shipping right after the Eiroa, with the CLE PCA Exclusive shipping in early October. This is the third consecutive year in which CLE Cigar Co. has produced PCA-exclusive releases, though the first time that the CLE brand has been utilized, as the previous two releases came from the company’s Eiroa and Asylum brands.
- Cigar Reviewed: Eiroa PCA Exclusive 2023 11/18
- Country of Origin: Honduras
- Factory: The CLE Factory
- Wrapper: Honduras (Corojo)
- Binder: Undisclosed
- Filler: Undisclosed
- Length: 6 1/4 Inches
- Ring Gauge: 52/60
- Vitola: Perfecto
- MSRP: $18 (Box of 20, $360)
- Release Date: August 29, 2023
- Number of Cigars Released: 150 Boxes of 20 Cigars (3,000 Total Cigars)
- Number of Cigars Smoked For Review: 3
With the large piece of tissue paper on the cigar, I’m left only a small bit of the wrapper to look at for an initial impression. Instead, the first thing I notice is that the tissue paper is just off-center enough from the band to be noticeable, and it leads me to wonder which one goes on the cigar first and thus serves as the reference point for centering and the front face of the cigar. Once the tissue paper is removed, I find a generally evenly colored wrapper, though it does get a bit lighter around the veins. The wrapper leaf is soft to my fingers, not particularly oily but also far from dry. If anything, I’d call it a bit of a waxy sensation. The cigar doesn’t have much give but doesn’t feel hard or overly firm, either. Other than some faint hints of hands of light tobacco and corn cereal with just a touch of creaminess, the foot doesn’t have much in the way of an aroma. The cold draw on all three cigars is a bit open in terms of airflow, with one even approaching loose. The flavors are equally as mellow as the aromas, with some baked pretzels, a bit of sweet corn cereal and a touch of creaminess.
Despite putting off a good amount of smoke, the start of the Eiroa PCA Exclusive 2023 11/18 is rather unassuming in terms of flavor, or maybe it’s just so familiar that I don’t give it enough credit. It’s fairly creamy with a bit of raw almond, making me think of a coffee creamer, while just a touch of pepper dashes that thought as quickly as it appeared. Retrohales are a more vibrant expression of the flavor, almost a reverse echo effect. There’s a bit more pepper and the addition of dry wood in the first half-inch, and some suggestions about the Honduran corojo wrapper’s contributions, though their intensity varies across the cigars. Just shy of the one-inch mark, the cigar adds the flavor of a handful of cornflakes, not particularly sweet but with a vibrant flavor from that kind of cereal. While the creaminess is still present with these changes, it now has more of a challenge standing out as a flavor, but when it does, the profile is all the better for it. Pepper begins to make some moves in the profile, while the woodiness tastes fresher and more vibrant, changing from processed to lumber to freshly cut firewood. Flavor in this section is medium to medium-plus, body is medium-full, and strength is mild. Construction is very good thus far.
If the first third of the Eiroa PCA Exclusive 2023 11/18 is about laying out the components of the flavor and the early machinations of how they will come together, the second third starts by showing their complexity and combination. The flavors seem to have found an agreeable union, with the pepper and fresh wood leading, the creaminess reduced and now drier, and then some light earthiness filling in the spaces between. The changes to the profile have certainly slowed down as the cigar settles into an enjoyable combination that doesn’t hide the corojo flavors but also doesn’t taste like what I think of as a Honduran corojo puro. The flavors aren’t quite as intense or dense, and it’s easy to taste how the flavors interact with each other and transition into each other. The same can be said about the retrohales, which are nearly identical to the profile, though a tick or two more intense and concentrated. The final puffs of this section shift the creaminess to a bit of melted vanilla ice cream, one of the few changes I’ve picked up in this section. Flavor and body are both medium-plus, while strength has increased to medium-minus. The construction remains excellent, with a smooth and easy draw, an even burn line, plenty of smoke and the occasional relight only when I let my puffs get too spaced out.
Creaminess continues to return and build as the Eiroa PCA Exclusive 2023 11/18 gets into its final third, though it doesn’t do so at the expense of other flavors. In fact, a bit of smokiness begins to enter not long after this section starts, which latches on to the wood and earth and makes for a longer-lasting finish than what the cigar has offered thus far. Just before the band needs to come off, there is some serious creaminess going on; it continues through the rest of the final third, which makes the smoke full and smooth on my taste buds, while the smoky, peppery finish continues to give a contrasting experience. One cigar has a much earthier finish than the others, with that earth conveying more of the heat as well, something I don’t notice when the profile has more creaminess to it. There is a bit of a Goldilocks phenomenon in the final third, with the balance between creaminess and the hot, smoky earth and wood one of the few spots where the cigar hasn’t delivered consistently across the three samples. Flavor finishes medium-full, body is medium-plus and strength is medium but not enough to impart too much of an effect. Construction remains nearly flawless, with only some regular puffs needed for a smooth smoking experience.
- The lids of the boxes in which CLE’s three PCA Exclusive 2023 releases are packaged can be used as an ashtray.
- The three PCA exclusives also shared a number of packaging designs, with the same tissue wrap used to cover the lower half of the cigars. While the branding was unique to each line, so were the color schemes, as the CLE PCA Exclusive 2023 used a light blue color, the Asylum PCA Exclusive 2023 changed from primarily black to a black-on-gray design, and the Eiroa PCA Exclusive used red-on-black, a change from the previous versions which were primarily red.
- With new or undisclosed tobaccos in a blend, I find that I’m a bit more trepidatious about the nicotine strength they might offer, but the Eiroa PCA Exclusive 2023 11/18 didn’t offer anything out of the ordinary.
- The cigars for this review were purchased by halfwheel.
- Final smoking time was one hour and 55 minutes on average.
The most intriguing thing about the Eiroa PCA Exclusive 2023 11X18 may be the undisclosed tobacco that is in the blend, but whatever it is, the end result is a favorable one. The cigar has one of my favorite flavor structures, laying out the individual components in the first third, combining them in the second third, and then exploring some additional changes in the final third. Other than one cigar's first third that I found a bit too mellow and another cigar's final third to be a bit too much, there wasn't much to complain about from this blend. Construction was fantastic in all three samples, something that warrants recognition as well. If this is blend is a showcase of this new tobacco, consider me both interested and impressed.