CRAFT 2013 La Campaña de Panamá Soberana (Prerelease)

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While it is not the biggest thing RoMa Craft Tobac will introduce at the 2013 IPCPR trade show and convention, the company’s flagship limited edition is perhaps the most interesting. The concept was simple: take parts of each of the companies four lines and put it into one cigar with a unique shape.

Brand owner Skip Martin took to our forum to announce the project, his post reads like this:

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Mike and I are very proud to announce the launch of our new cigar brand here, on the halfwheel forum, where we have gotten so much love from our fellow brother’s of the leaf.
When we flew to Managua in September of 2010, almost two years to-the-date after Hurricane Ike devastated my retail shop in Galveston, we had no idea that the blend we were working on would become the foundation of a new cigar company. Our partner, Esteban Disla, who spent that week at a small table in his garage had no idea that his life-long dream of owning and operating his own factory would be realized less than a year later. The truth is, if these activities hadn’t taken place simultaneous to the emergence of social media, the twilight of new media in the cigar industry and at the dawn of a golden age for quality tobacco neither would have ever developed.
We have never viewed ourselves as a boutique cigar company. We chose the name of our company to connote our dedication to the artisanal craft of making cigars by hand. We launched with the commitment to produce and deliver a differentiated product, in a differentiated manner without compromising any of the time honored traditions of our craft.
From the beginning, we have committed ourselves to making four continuously produced blends. The production has always been dictated by two factors: availability of the specific tobaccos we selected for the initial blends and the volume our team could consistently produce without sacrificing quality in any way. While our production remains small, less than 25,000 cigars each month, we have amassed enough tobacco and finished cigar inventory to ensure that our cigars are consistently available for at least 24 months beyond our current month’s import.
Our process for selecting and allocating our retail tobacconist partners ensures that their inventory of RoMa Craft Tobac is available to their customers month in and month out without exception. In short, with the exception of special projects, event only sizes and retailer exclusives, we have strived to ensure that or retailers and customers never viewed us as a ‘one-hit wonder’ lacking staying power or as a ‘gimmicky’ boutique releasing a patch work of artificially limited ‘hit-or-miss’ blends with hyped up brand names, art work and packaging.
Last month, while I was in Esteli, Esteban Disla and I completed a year-long effort to produce what we felt was manifestation of this commitment. La Campaña de Panamá Soberana is made completely by hand, without molds. In fact the only tool used in its production is a chaveta. This blend and Vitolla is our 2013 selection for CRAFT, the first in an ongoing series of annual limited edition cigars produced in this manner.
CRAFT is what a limited edition cigar should be. Something exceptional, limited by the rare nature of the tobacco and the time-consuming nature of the process used to produce it.
CRAFT 2013 will consist of approximately 1000 10-Count boxes of unbanded La Campaña de Panamá Soberana. Each RoMa Craft Tobac retailer will be allocated a minimum of 10 boxes. The MSRP will be $15.00 per cigar, or $150.00 per box.
CRAFT will be made available to order annually to RoMa Craft Tobac select retailers at the IPCPR Trade Show and Convention. This year’s production is expected to ship in November 2013.
It has taken us almost three years, and a lifetime of experience prior to that, to get to where we are today. Thank you for your support. We hope you receive our new effort in the spirit it is intended, our love song to you, our brother’s of the leaf.

The company has since announced that 90% of the production cigars will feature a covered foot. Each box will contain nine cigars with the covered foot and a single cigar with the traditional foot.

CRAFT 2013 La Campaña de Panamá Soberana 1

  • Cigar Reviewed: CRAFT 2013 La Campaña de Panamá Soberana
  • Country of Origin: Nicaragua
  • Factory: Fabrica de Tabacos Nica Sueño
  • Wrapper: Ecuadorian Connecticut & Brazilian Ariparaca
  • Binder: Connecticut Broadleaf (USA)
  • Filler: Cameroon & Nicaragua
  • Size: 5 Inches
  • Ring Gauge: 46/60
  • Vitola: Belicoso
  • MSRP: $15.00 (Boxes of 10, $150.00)
  • Release Date: November 2013
  • Number of Cigars to be Released: 1,000 Boxes of 10 Cigars (10,000 Total Cigars)
  • Number of Cigars Smoked For Review: 1 

It’s somewhat shocking how small the CRAFT 2013 is compared to my expectations. The only pictures I saw that gave reference to the cigar were next to Martin’s hands, not that we need any jokes. As for the La Campaña de Panamá Soberana itself, the cigar is rolled with a bit of roughness that you don’t find on the company’s other lines with some noticeable bumps across the wrapper. That being said, the cigar looks great. There’s gigantic aromas from both the wrapper and foot. While the former provides a mostly leather note, the foot has all sorts of unfinished notes with an extremely strong veneer-like smell, sweet cedar and a painful amount of black pepper. After a minute or so of recovering my sense, I take a few cold draws which retain some of the intoxicating wood notes from the foot, although there’s a plum-like sweetness and a much more controlled pepper. Once concern is the draw is ridiculously open, see more on that below.

Shockingly, the first third of the La Campaña de Panamá Soberana starts pedestrian. There’s sweet woods with a slightly less sweet finish. I can’t detect an ounce of pepper, although it’s clear there’s a lot of nicotine in the relatively small cigar. Unfortunately, the draw remains rather open, although smoke is pouring out of the cigar, so it’s not all bad. The flavors remind me of Aquitaine more than anything else, although the profile is significantly more woodsy than anything the company has put out so far.. Elsewhere there’s underlying sweetness, at times almost marshmallow like, with cocoa through the nose. Throughout the first inch and a half, there is little pepper to be found. Outside of the draw, construction is good with the burn avoiding touch-ups and smoke flowing generously. Strength is full, albeit, not the warning level amount that Martin has described in the past.

CRAFT 2013 La Campaña de Panamá Soberana 2

As the second third begins, I take out the lighter for precautionary measures as one half of the cigar begins to burn at a bit slower pace than the other. Flavor has seen a slight increase of pepper, although not taking over the profile, and remains a mixture of woodsiness and sweetness with the former dominating over the latter. For a few minutes I get a floral note in the back of the finish, but it disappears and required a lot of effort to detect. As the minutes progress, construction becomes a larger concern with the cigar needing a noticeably increased pace to stay in the safe zone of not going out, however, the ash holds on for over two inches.

CRAFT 2013 La Campaña de Panamá Soberana 3

I thought that as the La Campaña de Panamá Soberana decreases in ring gauge, there might be an intensifying of flavors. If there was, I missed it. The cigar is much like the first two thirds with a bit less sweetness and a bit more pepper, albeit the latter is still relatively restrained and without question a secondary note. There’s some added leather, but really the cigar is a progression from a to b, rather than a train with many stops. I get the cigar down well below the inch mark without it ever showing any increase in temperature, although eventually it goes out and I take one last picture.

CRAFT 2013 La Campaña de Panamá Soberana 4

Final Notes:

  • This is a strong cigar, but RoMa Craft Tobac might have gave us a bit too much as far as expectations of nicotine. It’s definitely not noticeably stronger than the company’s CroMagnon lines, but it’s still quite full. I would describe it as somewhat deceiving, the small size, light wrapper and slow burn time might lead you to believe it’s not delivering as much nicotine as some of the other cigars in the category, but at the end of the cigar, you’ve consumed quite a bit of strong tobacco. 
  • RoMa Craft Tobac is stressing the natural aspect of the rolling of these cigars, Martin told halfwheel the cigars vary +/- four ring gauge.
  • While the company has a variety of limited production cigars, particularly in the CroMagnon line, most are not true limited editions in the sense production is capped at a specific amount. This is not the first true limited edition for the company, that honor goes to the CroMagnon Fomorian.
  • In case you were wondering, I didn’t notice any flavor changes at the stripes.
  • The concept of putting a single cigar in the box that is different from the remainder is becoming more and more popular. My Father has done this with the Jaime Garcia Limited Edition releases the past two years and Miami Cigar & Co. is doing the same thing with its release of the Merlion Sea Lion this year. 
  • This shape is becoming more and more popular. Why? I don’t know.
  • RoMa Craft Tobac’s factory is undergoing massive expansion right now as the company looks to increase its overall production.
  • There was a divot in the top of the cigar. I tried photographing it, but those pictures didn’t show much. It was noticeable and odd. Unlike some manufacturers, where I notice this as common place, RoMa Craft Tobac normally doesn’t have this feature. Martin said it wasn’t intentional and was a result of the way the cigar is rolled.
  • The cigar for this review was provided by RoMa Craft Tobac.
  • Not only was I shocked at how small this cigar was, but I was equally as shocked at how slow it burned. Nearly two hours later I finished the La Campaña de Panamá Soberana.
  • If you would like to purchase some of the CRAFT 2013 La Campaña de Panamá Soberanas, you’ll have to wait. That being said, site sponsors Atlantic CigarCigar King and Tobacco Grove, are all RoMa Craft Tobac retailers.
  • Site sponsor Atlantic Cigar has the CRAFT 2013 in stock.
86 Overall Score

I thought this cigar would be a lot better. I think Intemperance is a phenomenal cigar, CroMagnon a unique cigar that I can appreciate without loving and find nothing wrong with Aquitaine, other than it's my least favorite of the company's lines. That being said, putting them together in one package produced something that makes me scratch my head a bit. While this is an enjoyable cigar—to me—it lacks the direction in each of the company's other releases while carrying a price tag that is substantially higher than anything else RoMa Craft Tobac has done. It's not an art cigar—the company already will have that for the show—but I can't help but wonder if it suffers from the similar form/function issue. The La Campaña de Panamá Soberana is an impressive feat and a unique offering to taste components from all of a company's lines, but for me, it fails the bar Martin and Rosales have set for themselves.

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Charlie Minato
About the author

I am an editor and co-founder of halfwheel.com/Rueda Media, LLC. I previously co-founded and published TheCigarFeed, one of the two predecessors of halfwheel. I handle the editing of our written content, the majority of the technical aspects of the site and work with the rest of our staff on content management, business development and more. I’ve lived in most corners of the country and now entering my second stint in Dallas, Texas. I enjoy boxing, headphones, the Le Mans 24-hour, wearing sweatshirts year-round and gyros. echte liebe.

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