At the 2009 IPCPR show Oliva released Cain, the second of their two new age lines following NUb’s release in 2008. Sam Leccia was pegged to serve as the face of both brands, which were a departure from the family’s core lines.

In exchange for bringing in the regular Cain Habano and Maduro lines, retailers were offered prerelease five count boxes of Cain F, an even stronger version of the Ligero-based product. The cigars were 5 x 50 Robustos, a size that would never be offered outside of the prerelease format.



Dave Wagner, Vice President of Sales for Oliva, explained the background and development of the Cain F line:

When (we were) working on the Cain blends, ligero was the focal point. The desired flavor of these cigars was achieved by blending ligeros from three different regions in Nicaragua. Each region (Esteli, Condega, and Jalapa) offers its own unique characteristics to the blend. Most other cigars are blended with a half, or quarter leaf of ligero, and some with no ligero at all. As the most powerful leaf on the plant, it’s traditionally added in small quantities for strength.

The Cain Habano cigars, and Cain Maduro cigars, offer the original blend of triple fermented ligeros from each region to achieve a balanced, full body, yet smooth cigar. The Cain F cigar was originally created to push the limits.

By increasing the amount of ligero from Esteli (the strongest ligero), the blend was ‘kicked up a notch’. That’s why we only made the 5 Packs. Then, after all of the enthusiastic feedback from the 5 Packs, the (factory) confirmed the launch of Cain F as a regular production cigar for the following Spring.



This is what the box of Cain F prereleases looks like:

Cain F Prelease Box 1

Cain F Prelease Box 2

Cain F Prelease Box 3



Now you know the background, so let’s get to the review.

Cain F Prelease 1

  • Cigar Reviewed: Cain F (Prerelease)
  • Country of Origin: Nicaragua
  • Factory: Tabacalera Oliva de Nicaragua S.A.
  • Wrapper: Nicaraguan Habano
  • Binder: Nicaragua
  • Filler: Nicaragua
  • Size: 5 Inches
  • Ring Gauge: 50
  • Vitola: Robusto
  • MSRP: $7.00 (Boxes of 5, $35.00)
  • Release Date: August 2009
  • Number of Cigars Released: n/a
  • Number of Cigars Smoked for Review: 1


This Cain F Robusto has a brown wrapper showing a couple of noticeable veins, but is otherwise flawless. It has a very soft feel, almost like sheepskin, but is thick and sturdy. There is a very light plume around the top of the cigar as well. Seems are barely visible, the double cap is well-applied and the cigar is firm without any soft spots. The aroma coming off the cigar is very minor and almost indistinguishable, but I still pick up some light cedar notes. The pre-draw brings very light spice and a little bit of licorice, but that’s about it.



Starting off with the first third I’m getting some woodsy notes with only some minor pepper and an almost sweet cinnamon note. Overall it is much more flavorful than the cold draw led me to believe. Continuing, there are some wonderful cocoa and coffee notes and a surprising lack of spiciness or pepper. The draw is perfect with only a slight resistance and the Robusto is producing thick billowing clouds of white smoke. While the ash had started to split apart at the foot, it still held nicely to an inch before I ashed it.

Cain F Prelease 2

Moving along to the second third and I’m still getting cocoa and nice dark roast coffee notes. Noticeably missing still is the peppery kick that you might expect from a cigar with a selling point being 82% Nicaraguan Ligero. A nutty almond flavor is developing alongside some background cedar notes. Towards the end of this third the signature Cain F strength is there in the background, although the cigar is still fairly smooth.

Cain F Prelease 3

The final third has developed nicely into a smooth, mildly spicy end to a flavorful cigar. With the coffee note gone, the remaining cocoa has turned into more of a chili pepper chocolate bar flavor. The strength is still there, but not nearly what I’ve come to expect from the regular Cain F line. As the cigar wraps up it is not harsh at all, but smooth and flavorful with chocolate notes continuing to shine at the forefront.

Cain F Prelease 4



Final Notes:

  • As is mentioned above, despite the name, the Cain F 550 is actually 5 3/4 x 50, as opposed to the logical 5 x 50.
  • Oliva products always have fantastic construction, this was no exception. The burn was sharp and the ash could have probably held on longer than I allowed it to.
  • According to Wagner, the unbanded versions of the prerelease Cain F Robustos are actually quite rare. The bands weren’t available immediately, so some of the cigars went without bands.
  • Earlier in 2009, Pete Johnson released a cigar entirely made of Ligero, the legendary Tatuaje T110.
  • The concept of releasing limited versions of new blends to test market reaction is not all uncommon. At IPCPR 2011, My Father Cigars tested an Ecuadorian Connecticut version of the Jaime Garcia Reserva Especial Limited Edition 2011.
  • These were the forerunners for the full Cain F line that was released in March of 2010 during the national tour. That year they gave away a motorcycle with a Cain F inspired paint job.
  • For those wondering the status of Sam Leccia, presumably still in courts.
  • Last year’s STUDIO TOBAC sampler delivered a few prototype blends that are stronger than the Cain F, notably Cain FF.
  • During the Cain F tour, they had Cain F energy drinks keeping with the high speed feel of the Cain F line.
  • The Cain F was the last entirely new line released before STUDIO TOBAC took over the NUb and Cain brands. Cain NUb would be introduced in 2010. Cain F NUb was launched in January of 2011, after the introduction of STUDIO TOBAC. The first entirely new line released under the STUDIO TOBAC name was the Cain Daytona, which is at the opposite spectrum of Cain F, i.e. noted for being lighter.
  • Final smoking time was one hour and thirty minutes.



The Bottom Line: With the exception of the Cain F Lancero, the Cain F doesn’t do much for me because of the in-your-face powerhouse of Ligero filler, it’s just not my preferred cigar profile. Having said that, the two and a half years of aging has created, in my opinion, a completely different cigar. Gone was the spicy kick of pepper you might expect and the strength is toned down significantly. However, those years did not take away from the flavor profile at all and if anything, the lack of overwhelming pepper notes allowed the rest of these flavors to shine through wonderfully. I asked Dave Wagner if the prerelease was the same blend as the regular release sticks, and save for the extra ¾ inch on the Cain F 550, he said there was no change in the blend. This leads me to believe that all of the Cain F cigars have fantastic aging potential and has definitely renewed my interest in them.


Final Score: 91

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Brian Burt

I have been smoking cigars since 2005 and reviewing them as a hobby since 2010. Initially, I started out small with a 50-count humidor and only smoking one or two cigars a month. Not knowing anybody else that smoked cigars, it was only an occasional hobby that I took part in. In March of 2010, I joined Nublive and Cigar Asylum, connecting me with many people who also shared an interest in cigars. Reading what they had to say about brands I had never heard of, I quickly immersed myself in the boutique brands of the industry and it was then that cigars transformed from a hobby into a passion.