Cigar Review: Camacho Nicaraguan Barrel-Aged

  • NBA_straightVitola: Robusto
  • 5” x 50 ring gauge 
  • MSRP $10
  • Purchased at Burns Tobacconist

Background

I guess it shouldn’t have been a surprise…every great story gets a sequel, so why should have Camacho’s American Barrel Aged been the first and last time we got tobacco aged in liquor barrels from the famed Honduran company? Two years after the ABA hit stores and delighted palates nationwide, the sequel is ready to go…Camacho’s Nicaraguan Barrel Aged has started hitting shipping in the past few weeks.

Having pioneered and perfected the art of aging Original Corojo tobacco in Kentucky Bourbon barrels, our master builders have continued their relentless quest, venturing further south to harness the wild flavors of Nicaragua. Starting with the sweet, spicy, and oaky flavors that define tobacco from this region, our Esteli-grown Corojo is aged in some of the world’s oldest Nicaraguan rum barrels. Once filled with bourbon, these well-seasoned rum barrels were hand selected for optimal humidity and add layers of complexity for an entirely unique experience. Toasted flavors combined with leather and oak are rounded out by sweet flavors and caramel notes from the aged rum. Our proprietary Powerband™ bunching process amplifies this complex combination, resulting in a peak performance flavor explosion that once again pushes the limits.

There’s a lot to unpack in that last paragraph of marketing-speak…let’s get busy. As well as being a sequel to the ABA, the NBA (wait…there’s a Lebron James joke in there somewhere) is part of the “Master Built Series” which uses the “Powerband bunching process” that another of the MBS was named after. While the ABA used Bourbon barrels, a little Honduran leaf and a lot of Pennsylvania and Connecticut Broadleaf, this new NBA uses Flor de Caña Rum barrels (which began life as Bourbon barrels) to age the Nicaraguan Corojo 99. That Corojo is added to Dominican Piloto Cubano and San Vicente in the filler, while a Mexican Negrito San Andres binder holds it together and an Ecuadorian Habano 2000 wrapper finishes it all off. So while it has a similar approach, this cigar really shares nothing in common with the ABA in terms of blending.

The Camacho Nicaraguan Barrel Aged showed up at Burns on a Thursday late afternoon…too late to be put in the computer for sale that day. I snagged one out to smoke…then bought 3 more when I paid for it the next morning. I was impressed enough to suggest it to a lot of people and we sold over half a box of Robusto, as well as a few Toro before the day was over. This review sample is the fourth time I’ve smoked this blend.

NBA_bandbackPrelight

While I find Camacho’s regular-line boxes to be a bit on the comically “loud” side, the Master Built Series tones down the circus colors. The original American Barrel Aged was good looking, but they have improved the box for the Nicaraguan Barrel Aged with the inside of the lid having a wood-grain background motif. Otherwise, the box and bands keep with the black and copper colors established by the ABA. The main and foot bands have plenty of writing on them, letting you know about different aspects of the cigar you’re about to smoke. Bold and vocal while still looking “serious”…it is a definite improvement on the standard Camacho banding.

I could smell the barrel-aged leaf as soon as I loosed the cigar from the cellophane, which is not something I recall about the ABA. The wrapper leaf of the NBA was a light-medium brown with an odd tone to it…almost like the grayish or silvery tone you pick up on Cameroon leaf…but not exactly. The wrapper had an aroma mostly of earth, with touches of oak and leather. The foot of the stick was where the very “rummy” notes were emanating from: I got more wood and prevalent rum sweetness, with notes of bread, earth, and grass all just riding slightly underneath the heavier aromas.

Whatever the “Powerband Bunching Process” is, it has yielded an excellent prelight draw on every one of these that I’ve smoked. The cold flavors were of hay and oak, rum and natural tobacco, with just a touch of pepper spice.

NBA_bandback2Flavor

The Camacho Nicaraguan Barrel Aged fired up with a medium-bodied mix of bread and earth flavors, followed up by sweetness and a slight touch of pepper. The retrohale had a lot more pepper, along with the first note of wood that I caught. Further puffs brought out more of an oaky note on the palate and a residual rum sweetness on the finish.

As I eased my way into the second third of the NBA, I noted that the rum sweetness had moved up to be the most prominent note, with bread riding just beneath and earth below that. Peppery notes had mostly dissipated on the palate, but were still present on the retrohale where I also got a strong oak note.

The last third had the oak notes coming on strong with the sweetness close behind. Bread and earth notes were muted during this phase, but still present. The pepper spice had all but disappeared.

NBA_footConstruction

Whatever the “Powerband Bunching Process” is, it definitely yields a great draw. I also had a very even burn line and solid ash on all the samples I smoked.

Value

The price of the NBA seems to be slightly below what the ABA sells for currently, which is a pleasant surprise. I really enjoyed this cigar and found it easily worth the price of admission.

Conclusions

One of the best selling cigars in our shop is the Trader Jack’s, a cheap rum-flavored stick that looks like it was put together by a beginning roller and knocks you over with its persistent stink every time you open a bag. I made a comment a few days ago that this Camacho Nicaraguan Barrel Aged is like a Trader Jack’s…but actually good. Unlike the American Barrel Aged, in which the barrel aging imparted just some notes of oak and vanilla, this NBA really had a rum aroma and flavor, but it was definitely not off-putting. In this application, and with just enough rum drawn from the barrels, the tobacco takes on a remarkable flavor that has makes you wish for a glass of Flor de Caña to go with it. I thoroughly enjoyed the ABA when it came out…but I might actually like this NBA more. Excellent cigar that has stood up to me smoking four sticks in a matter of five days…which is something I don’t find often. When the trend of “barrel-aged” cigars started, I thought it would fizzle pretty quickly. I was wrong…it seems to be picking up steam and this latest release from Camacho proves just how good they can be.

By-The-Numbers

Prelight: 2/2
Construction: 2/2
Flavor: 4.5/5
Value: 1/1
Total: 9.5/10

NBA_box

David Jones

David has been smoking premium cigars since 2001. He is co-founder and editor-in-chief of Leaf Enthusiast. He is a full-time retail tobacconist, working for Burns Tobacconist in Chattanooga, where he has also organized the Chattanooga Tweet-Up for the last four years. He is also an independent graphic designer and typesetter. Twitter: @dmjones1009

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  • czerbe

    I picked up one of these the other day on seeing your post via social media… I really enjoyed it. I will def. be picking up more. I apologize for not being around as much but this whole work thing has got in the way of catching up on Cigar Reviews. I hope all is well with you guys and look forward to reading all the good news about cigars these days again.