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For the third year in a row, Bryan Scholle, STUDIO TOBAC ambassador, took to the road for a cross-country series of events called the STUDIO TOBAC World Tour. At each one, Scholle puts on a cigar rolling demonstration and talks about STUDIO TOBAC and its Cain and NUb brands with customers.

At some of this year’s STUDIO TOBAC World Tour events, raffles have been held for a box of a cigars that should catch the eye of the informed cigar smoker, the Cain F 543.

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The 5 x 43 vitola, also known as the No.4, has been increasingly used by Oliva in recent years, as they have released an Oliva Serie V, Serie V Maduro, Serie O and Cain Daytona in the size. It was first seen as a Serie V release made exclusively for members of the Tobacconist’s Association of America before heading to the European market.

Ian Hummel, National Sales Manager for the Oliva Cigar Co. and Executive Board Member of STUDO TOBAC, posted this picture on March 26, shortly before this year’s tour kicked off:

Cain F 543 Box

The Cain F 543 raffles this year follow up on last year’s world tour, where boxes of Cain Daytona NUb 460s and STUDIO TOBAC Cain Special Release cigars were raffled off among those who made purchases at the event.

As for the Cain F line, it debuted as an offshoot of the original Cain line, which was released in 2009 and offers cigars with Nicaraguan Habano or Mexican San Andrés wrappers over a significant amount of Nicaraguan ligero. The Cain F was the last entirely new line released prior to the formation of STUDIO TOBAC, which was announced on January 4, 2011. However, it traces its roots back to 2007; more on that can be found here. There is also the Cain Daytona line, which was introduced in 2011 as the first full release under STUDIO TOBAC and uses only Jalapa ligero to deliver a more refined (and most would say lighter) smoke than its counterparts.

At the 2009 IPCPR Convention and Trade Show, five-pack samplers of the Cain F 550 were given out to retailers who brought in the new Cain line. Those cigars were the precursor to the March 2010 full release of the Cain F line.

On the regular production side, the Cain F blend is available in six sizes:

  • Cain F 550 (5 3/4 x 50)
  • Cain F 654T (6 x 54)
  • Cain F 660 (6 x 60)
  • Cain F Lancero (7 x 38)
  • Cain NUb F 460 (4 x 60)
  • Cain NUb F 464T (4 x 64)

It bears mentioning that the Cain F Lancero is sort of a regular production cigar; since debuting in 2010 as the first creation under the STUDIO TOBAC header, it was a part of the 2011 STUDIO TOBAC World Tour Sampler and has since been released in three batches, the most recent coming in February 2013 after shipments in January and July of 2012. The majority of those boxes have been snapped up and finding them now can prove to be a challenge. Scholle said he sees more of them being released in the future, though he doesn’t have a date for that happening yet. He’s hopeful it will be early in 2014 that another batch is able to be shipped.

The Cain F has also appeared in the STUDIO TOBAC World Tour samplers:

If you’re wondering if this has any shot of becoming a regular production cigar, Scholle said it’s “possible, but not sure yet.”

Cain F 543 1

  • Cigar Reviewed: Cain F 543
  • Country of Origin: Nicaragua
  • Factory: Tabacalera Oliva de Nicaragua S.A. (TABOLISA)
  • Wrapper: Nicaragua
  • Binder: Nicaragua
  • Filler: Nicaragua (Estelí, Condega and Jalapa)
  • Size: 5 Inches
  • Ring Gauge: 43
  • Vitola: Corona
  • MSRP: n/a
  • Date Released: April 4, 2013
  • Number of Cigars Released: 80 Boxes of 24 Cigars (1,920 Total Cigars)
  • Number of Cigars Smoked For Review: 3

The Cain F 543 borders on feeling well-filled to firm with just a bit of give throughout its length and no bumps or other visual distractions. A touch of oil adds a light sheen to the smooth wrapper, which has just a few veins and a fairly uniform dark brown color. The foot band slides right off, and the aroma coming off the cigar is meaty, with faint notes of tree bark and sweetness, though no real spice to be found. The cold draw is easy, not too loose but not showing much resistance. The lips and tongue are greeted with a touch of pepper and a reversal of what the pre-light aroma offered: more tree bark than meat.

The Cain F 543 seems to live up to its billing of “straight ligero” as soon as the flame hits the foot of the cigar, as an absolute explosion of pepper and spice hits the mouth and nose. Light gray smoke billows off the foot, and for a few moments it appears that the smoke coming off the foot is different from that coming off the head. The big pepper and spice notes dial back a notch or two fairly quickly, but there is no mistaking the Cain F 543 for a very peppery cigar, and the pepper seems to have picked up a more lingering quality. A meaty, jerky-like note starts to come out and lead the way before the burn line has progressed an inch, giving the cigar a complex and full-flavored opening. If you’re fortunate, the cigar might also put off a somewhat sweet, somewhat savory aroma, though this wasn’t a consistent aspect of the three cigars reviewed. When it’s on though, it is on, and there’s just a bit of musk to be really enjoyable. A note of peppery, slightly charred steak carries the Cain F 543 into the second third as the burn line stays fairly sharp though not perfectly even.

Cain F 543 2

Between a slowing combustion rate and a slightly tighter draw, progress now moves at a turtle’s pace in the second third of the Cain F 543. Flavors continue to build as the burn line reaches the midway point, and halfway through is a full flavored smoke with a good amount of pepper providing some added kick to things. What seems to be lacking though is any sort of nicotine kick. Assuming the cigar stays lit, a steady building flavor continues, and at points a concentrated black cherry sweetness pokes through to add complexity and balance to the flavor.

Cain F 543 3

The pepper returns with a vengeance in the final third of the Cain F 543, much like it was in the first third of the cigar and goes right after my senses of taste and smell. The flavor loses a good bit of its juiciness, drying out while maintaining the full-flavored notes of steak and pepper. In the last inch and a half, a touch of sourness starts to enter the equation that is intensified by the heat, as the draw remains tight and requires a bit more energy to keep the burn alive. The burn rate crawls to the natural conclusion of the cigar, and as long as the draw stays relatively cool to prevent bitterness, it can be smoked quite far down.

Cain F 543 4

Final Notes:

  • I was amazed at how much smoke this cigar put off. It was so plentiful that it was almost as if I was getting two or three impressions from every puff because of how much it filled the ambient air.
  • In the 2013 STUDIO TOBAC World Tour Sampler, there’s a Cain FF Lancero. What’s the difference between the Cain F and Cain FF? The latter has more ligero from Estelí that is said to give the cigar even more nicotine and full-bodied kick than the former.
  • There has been a Cain FF No.4/543 sighted at STUDIO TOBAC World Tour events this year, though that is apparently a very hush-hush cigar for the time being.
  • For 2011’s STUDIO TOBAC World Tour, the official vehicle was a Chevrolet Corvette complete with a custom trailer, which you can see here, here and here, among other places. Last year, they switched to a Ford F-150 Raptor, the same vehicle used this year.
  • In 2011, Scholle gave me a cigar he called the Cain FU at an event in the Phoenix area. It was a 5 7/8 x 51 vitola that used a Sumatran binder leaf as the wrapper over Nicaraguan filler and an undisclosed binder.
  • In 2010, there was a Cain F energy drink that was part of the tour, as well as a motorcycle with a Cain F inspired paint job that was given away at the end of the tour.
  • In 2011, STUDIO TOBAC gave away cigar cutters made by Rick “HutcH” Hutchings.
  • I was a bit dismayed to find out this isn’t being called the Cain F No.4. I don’t know why, really; I just like that name. I do understand the naming convention that Cain, NUb and STUDIO TOBAC have been using and why 543 fits that better, but still.
  • You’ll notice that Oliva doesn’t use a space in No.4, which has typically been a naming convention in the world of Cuban cigars, including the Partagás Serie D No.4 Reserva.
  • I am a big fan of this size; in an era of bigger and bigger cigars, it’s refreshing to see Oliva utilizing this smaller size in more and more of their lines.
  • That said, I was hoping for this to be a shorter Cain F Lancero, which remains one of my favorite cigars. It’s not quite that, but I’d say it’s a solid #2 for me in the Cain line. I find the smaller ring gauges to really show off this line best, though the pepper will likely be too much for some.
  • I was floored by how long it took me – two hours – to smoke these cigars. The burn rate slowed to an absolute crawl in the second half, and while I’ve never been known to rush through a cigar, this one took its sweet time getting to the end.
  • Prior to smoking the third cigar, I dry boxed it for a day or so, and it cut about 20 minutes off the smoking time and made it a much more enjoyable cigar, thanks to a better burn, less charred flavors from having to relight it, and a less frustrating experience.
  • Oliva recently announced that the Serie V Maduro would be returning in November, this time in a 5 x 54 Double Robusto vitola.
  • The cigars for this review were provided by Oliva Cigar Co.
  • Final smoking time is about one hour and 45 minutes.
  • Other than getting them on the secondary market, the only way to get these is to win them at a STUDIO TOBAC World Tour event. For a calendar of upcoming STUDIO TOBAC World Tour events, click here.
91 Overall Score

As mentioned above, I really wanted this to be a short Cain F Lancero, and while it's close, it seems to fall just a bit short of the high water mark that cigar set. That said, this is a darn good second option, and I'm disappointed to know that this isn't a regular production cigar. When I first smoked the Cain F Lancero, my lasting impression was not only a well-balanced, complex and incredibly tasty cigar, but that it seemed to best capture everything great about the Cain F blend: clean strength that also offers flavor transitions and good balance. In other words, it showed off everything I love about the Cain F blend and everything I'd been hoping from it since its introduction. The Cain F 543 does the same thing, adding just a touch more strength than I recall the Lancero having. I really hope this vitola ends up as a regular production size as I know a bunch would make it into my humidor. If you can find some, by all means do so.

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Patrick Lagreid
About the author

I strive to capture the essence of a cigar and the people behind them in my work – every cigar you light up is the culmination of the work of countless people and often represents generations of struggle and stories. For me, it’s about so much more than the cigar – it’s about the story behind it, the experience of enjoying the work of artisans and the way that a good cigar can bring people together. In addition to my work with halfwheel, I’m the public address announcer for the Colorado Rockies and Arizona Diamondbacks during spring training, as well as for the Salt River Rafters of the Arizona Fall League, the WNBA's Phoenix Mercury and the Arizona Rattlers of the Indoor Football League. I also work in a number of roles for MLB.com, plus I'm a voice over artist. I previously covered the Phoenix and national cigar scene for Examiner.com, and was an editor for Cigar Snob magazine.

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