For his latest project, Walter Santiago of Crémo Cigars said his goal was simply to blend two Miami-based companies.
The first of which is his own Crémo Cigars, a company that launched its debut Classic line in 2011 before making its IPCPR Convention & Trade Show debut in 2012 with the Classic Maduro. While the current incarnation of the line is still relatively new, the name has been in the cigar world since the early 20th century when it was produced by a New York manufacturer and linked to the famed musician Bing Crosby.
The second of the two companies is Clutch City, an “ambition inspired street wear company” from Miami whose vision is to always “stay ‘fresh’ while remaining timeless by designing progressive graphics that embody an aspirational lifestyle.” The company produces everything from apparel to posters to skateboard decks.
For this collaboration, Santiago decided to expand his Capa Caliente line by three vitolas, a 5 x 54 robusto ($10), 6 x 54 toro ($12) and 6 x 54 torpedo ($12), with Clutch City handling the design and all three sizes coming in ten-count boxes. The blend stays the same as when it was released in 2013, using a dark Ecuadorian habano wrapper over a Nicaraguan binder and filler from the Dominican Republic and Nicaragua. Santiago said it is truly a line for them, though the very limited production cigar is available to any Crémo retailer who wants to carry it.
Santiago also noted that this is the first blend for Clutch City and is being called Horsepower. He added that he’s currently working on a second blend to be released as part of the partnership.
- Cigar Reviewed: Crémo Clutch City Horsepower Toro
- Country of Origin: USA
- Factory: El Titan de Bronze
- Wrapper: Ecuadorian Habano
- Binder: Nicaragua
- Filler: Dominican Republic & Nicaragua
- Size: 6 Inches
- Ring Gauge: 54
- Vitola: Gran Toro
- MSRP: $12 (Boxes of 10 $120)
- Release Date: Nov. 1, 2014
- Number of Cigars Released: 1,000 Boxes of 10 Cigars (10,000 Total Cigars)
- Number of Cigars Smoked for Review: 3
When I take the first Crémo Clutch City out of the bag, I’m struck by its weight; not so much that it feels overly heavy or dense, but just that it has an appreciable feel in the hand. The wrapper is a dry leather color, medium in shade but leaning a touch on the lighter side if anything with one sample showing a nice amount of sheen. There’s no hiding the veins but the roll quality does everything it can to minimize them, with a slightly visible seam but otherwise clean presentation. Reinforcing the heft of the cigar, there’s almost zero give found with a gentle squeeze from head to toe. The pre-light aroma is very light and cool, coming across much like vanilla ice cream due to its distinct dairy creaminess, though there’s a good bit of pepper that comes out with a second and third sniff with floral notes being found in varying degrees from sample to sample. The cold draw is very creamy, with the air feeling thick and slow moving; not that there’s a firm draw or the cigar has any construction issues, but it’s as if the air in the Clutch City just happens to have a higher viscosity than that of other cigars.
For as excited as the pre-light experience had me, the first few puffs dashed those hopes pretty quickly as I’m greeted with a sour taste that is amplified by the pepper trailing behind, tingling my tongue with both surprise and pepper. The sourness fades away rapidly and what’s left behind is an fairly flavorful smoke, marked by woody creaminess and a light sprinkling of white pepper that comes across much stronger on a retrohale than it does on the tongue. The burn has been fantastic, with neatly stacked layers of ash that evoke the ‘stack of dimes’ analogy, as well an even burn line. The Clutch City stays on its course through the majority of the first third, a fairly gentle flavor that has touches of pepper but stays well short of being bold with its offerings, with a faint coffee note joining the mix at times and further solidifying this as a solid morning cigar option.
To say that the Crémo Clutch City is an easygoing cigar would be an understatement, at least through the first half, as it keeps a fairly low profile and makes a perfect partner for a lazy, relaxing day. There isn’t an overwhelming amount of pepper to be found, something that makes easing into the day a bit more enjoyable. The draw remains a touch on the firm side but there doesn’t seem to be any impediment to it, nor am I searching for a way to open it up. Retrohales are also very subtle and offer small tingles of white pepper with a touch of creaminess, making for about as easy of a retrohale as I can recall. While it might be tempting to call the flavor progression lacking or even a bit boring, I’m not sure that’s applicable here; while it doesn’t show big changes in the first half, it stays remarkably consistent and offers a flavor that I can keep going back to without getting bored by it. The final puffs of the second third begin to show a bit more body and pepper, a light but prominent note that is the first real change the cigar has offered, other than the bit of flavor confusion that kicked things off.
There’s a nice steady trail of smoke coming off the Clutch City that scents the air with fresh wood and just a touch of pepper, a great smell for the morning or afternoon. With the band removed and the burn line making steady progress up the cigar, the body picks up a bit as the wood note becomes a bit fuller and bolder, small and measured steps that nudge the cigar into medium-minus territory. Wood and hints of leather come into the equation, along with more nicotine that elicits a reaction in the chest that hadn’t been felt to this point. As the cigar continues to get stronger, there’s a flavor that comes in that simply doesn’t want to play nicely with the others; it’s not sour per se but is just rather off putting and hard to get past. It doesn’t make the Crémo Clutch City unsmokeable, but is a less than ideal finish to what has been an otherwise very enjoyable cigar, though it does offer a bit of motivation to move on with the day after starting it with a very enjoyable smoke.
- I smoked the first cigar for this review on Columbus Day morning, a fairly lazy and quiet Monday that just happened to have seemingly perfect weather in the shade, with the temperature in the mid 80s and a slight breeze that made for about as perfect of an accompaniment for the cigar as I could have asked for.
- The second cigar was also smoked in the morning on a fresh palate, while the third was smoked after dinner in the late evening. I was surprised by how much different the third tasted, as it seemed to play off of whatever was left on my taste buds whereas the other two were much more subtle.
- There is absolutely no mention of Crémo on the Clutch City band.
- Up until the final third, I thought I would ready for another Clutch City, but the nicotine kick of the final third changed my mind pretty quickly.
- While a not a major issue, the second half of the Clutch City struggled to stay lit a few times and needed some relights.
- When I first heard the name Clutch City, I thought this might be another project for Stogies World Class Cigars in Houston, since Clutch City is one of Houston’s unofficial nicknames, as I mentioned in my review of the Room101 Namakubi Ecuador H-Town Lancero.
- It’s a bit intriguing to see the ever so slight change in vitolas, as the original Crémo Capa Caliente was released in a 6 x 52 toro as well as a 5 x 50 robusto.
- Also, I’m not sure what to make of this being an extension to the Capa Caliente line yet bearing no indication of the relation.
- If you’re wondering how this compares to the original release, I haven’t smoked the original Crémo Capa Caliente so I can’t help you there.
- If anything, this looks like a cigar that was designed by Ferrari, given that company’s well-known logo.
- If you dig Clutch City’s horse design and logo, you can find t-shirts and sweatshirts with the logo here.
- There are 1,000 boxes of ten cigars in each size being released for this project, for a total run of 30,000 cigars.
- Final smoking time was two hours and 30 minutes on average.
- The cigars for this review were provided by Crémo Cigars.
In the case of the first two cigars smoked for this review, the Crémo Capa Caliente might have been just the right cigar at just the right time. While the original Capa Caliente was billed as full bodied and full flavored, this Clutch City Horsepower version struck me as being mostly mild but full of subtle flavors. While the first few puffs and final third could have meshed a bit better, there's still a lot of cigar to like, especially in the right environment.