During the annual STUDIO TOBAC World Tour, STUDIO TOBAC Ambassador Bryan Scholle visited some shops in the Dallas/Fort Worth area and I was able to attend two of the events to watch him roll and interact with customers.

At one of the events, Scholle called me over and handed me a Corona that I had never seen before that turned out to be a Cain FF 543. When I pressed him for details, he told me that he asked the factory to roll him a few of the FF blend in the 543 size as an experiment, and that at that time, there were only eight of them in existence. 

The FF blend was first seen in the 2010 STUDIO TOBAC  sampler in a 6 x 52 Torpedo, and was seen again in the 2013 sampler in the form of a 7 x38 Lancero. The difference between the Cain F and Cain FF blends was explained by Steve Valle in 2011:

You might be asking yourself “What makes this so different from the Cain F line?” Well where the Cain F cigars are comprised of Ligero long-filler from Jalapa, Condega and Estelí, Nicaragua, this Cain FF has an increased amount of Ligero from Estelí, which is known for its strength and overall full-bodied character giving the cigar an even more nicotine and full-bodied kick than the Cain F.

With the addition of the 543, there have now been three different Cain FF vitolas that we have seen:

Here is a photograph of all three of the Cain 543 releases so far:

Cain FF Daytona F No 4

  • Cain Daytona 543 (5 x 43) – Regular Production
  • Cain F 543 (5 x 43) – 80 Boxes of 24 Cigars (1,920 Total Cigars)
  • Cain FF 543 (5 x 43) – 75 Total Cigars

Cain FF No 4 1

  • Cigar Reviewed: Cain FF 543
  • Country of Origin: Nicaragua
  • Factory: Tabacalera Oliva de Nicaragua S.A.
  • Wrapper: Nicaragua
  • Binder: Nicaragua
  • Filler: Nicaragua
  • Size: 5 Inches
  • Ring Gauge: 43
  • Vitola: Corona
  • MSRP: n/a
  • Date Released: n/a

  • Number of Cigars Released: n/a
  • Number of Cigars Smoked For Review: 2

The Cain FF 543 is covered in a dark mocha wrapper that is not only totally smooth to the touch, but also completely devoid of any veins and oils whatsoever.  Although seemingly well-rolled, there is very little resistance when squeezed. Aroma coming off of the wrapper is a combination of sweet milk chocolate, coffee and cedar. The cold draw is a bit tight, but easily manageable and has strong flavors of cedar, leather and earth.

There is a significant amount of black pepper on both the retrohale and the lips to start off the first third of the Cain FF 543, although flavors of sweet milk chocolate, leather, citrus and earth are easily recognizable. There is a very nice vanilla sweetness that is fairly strong in the first third, but seems to be tapering off as the second third comes closer. The draw is a bit tight, albeit not bad enough to impact the profile, but the burn is a bit wavy for the entire first third. The smoke production is immense. Strength-wise, the FF 543 barely hits the medium mark so far, and does not seem to be getting stronger very quickly.

Cain FF No 4 2

There is quite a turnaround in the second third of the FF 543, with the profile mellowing out a bit and presenting noticeably less black pepper on the retrohale, although there is still enough to affect the profile in general. I am also tasting a combination of sweet milk chocolate and strong earthy tobacco notes that easily take dominance throughout the second third. Other notes of bitter orange peel, cocoa and leather are noticeable at various points in the second third, and the smoke production continues to impress. Construction-wise, the burn has evened up nicely, and the draw has loosened up as well. By the end of the second third, the strength has increased a bit, but is still firmly in the medium range.

Cain FF No 4 3

The final third of the Cain FF 543 continues the trend of the second third, with less black paper on the retrohale and a little less sweetness overall in the profile. Dominate flavors include earthy tobacco and slightly bitter espresso, while the orange peel note from the first two thirds has increased in strength as well. Other less invasive notes include leather, hay, powdery cocoa and coffee. Both the burn and the draw continue to be ideal, and the smoke production has not let up at all. Surprisingly, the strength ends well short of the full mark, perhaps just a little stronger then a solid medium.

Cain FF No 4 4

Final Notes:

  • Although they are the exact same blend, there is a fairly significant difference in the color and shade of the wrapper on the FF Lancero and the FF 543 that I smoked, as you can see from this photo:
     Cain FF Lancero  No 4
  • I smoked two of the FF 543 and one of the FF Lancero for this review to compare. While the Lancero had a slightly more enjoyable profile, the 543 had significantly more pepper on the retrohale in the first third. Having said that, there were quite a few similarities in flavors between the two vitolas, as you would expect, especially the citrus note that is present.
  • Interestingly, I also found the FF Lancero to be slightly stronger than the FF 543, and the 543 vitola topped out solidly in the medium range.
  • As mentioned above, when Bryan Scholle gave me the samples for this review, there were only eight samples that had been made, but he mentioned to me at a later date that more had been made since then, and that the total number is now closer to 75.
  • All of the 543 vitolas that STUDIO TOBAC has released so far have the band on the foot, and the FF 543 is no exception. I moved the band to the traditional location near the cap to help the photographs of it smoking look better.
  • Steve Valle reviewed another preproduction Oliva 543 vitola back in 2011, the Oliva Serie V 543 Maduro.
  • Oliva uses the “No. 4” name for its Coronas, STUDIO TOBAC uses the dimensions of the cigar on all of its regular release, with the exception of the Lancero vitola.
  • Other than the 2013 sampler and the Cain F 543, STUDIO TOBAC has been fairly quiet in terms of new releases this year. The Connecticut and Habano/Sun Grown lines were scheduled to debut, but that seems to be unlikely at this late juncture.
  • The cigars smoked for this review were given to halfhwheel by STUDIO TOBAC.
  • The final smoking time for both samples smoked for this review averaged just over one hour.
  • The only way to get one of the Cain FF 543 at this point is to be handed one by Bryan Scholle, or steal one from the factory. The latter of which we do not condone.
90 Overall Score

Knowing how much Charlie Minato loved the Cain FF Lancero, I could not wait to smoke and review the FF 543. The orange peel note that is evident combines wonderfully with the earthy tobacco and milk chocolate flavors, and although the construction is not perfect, it is close enough that it causes no problems at all. While the Cain FF Lancero is better balanced and just a better smoke overall, the Cain FF 543 is an excellent example of what STUDIO TOBAC can do in the Corona format, and they are well worth trying to bribe Bryan Scholle for if you ever see him. He likes Budweiser.

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Brooks Whittington

I have been smoking cigars for over eight years. A documentary wedding photographer by trade, I spent seven years as a photojournalist for the Dallas Morning News and the Fort Worth Star Telegram. I started the cigar blog SmokingStogie in 2008 after realizing that there was a need for a cigar blog with better photographs and more in-depth information about each release. SmokingStogie quickly became one of the more influential cigar blogs on the internet, known for reviewing preproduction, prerelease, rare, extremely hard-to-find and expensive cigars. I am a co-founder of halfwheel and now serve as an editor for halfwheel.