A few weeks ago, Christian Eiroa announced the formation of CLE Cigars. Eiroa is best known for his tenure as President of Camacho Cigars. After Davidoff acquired Camacho, Eiroa stayed on for a while before recently leaving to launch CLE. CLE stands for the initials of Eiroa’s full-name – Christian Luis Eiroa. As a part of this announcement, two blends were announced with plans that the cigars would be launched prior to the 2012 IPCPR Trade Show. In this assessment, we take a look at one of the new blends – the CLE Cuarenta. Overall, this was a nice debut for the Eiroa and his team at CLE. This delivered a solid cigar experience with some unique flavors.
The name “Cuarenta” is Spanish for the number 40. As part of CLE’s launch, they targeted their cigar release for July 5, 2012 – which happens to be Eiroa’s birthday. The CLE Cuarenta was also joined by the CLE Corojo as the two cigars that have been launched by CLE company.
The cigars will be rolled in Honduras, at the Tabacos Ranchos Jamastran factory. This is the same spot where Camacho Cigars have been made. Without further adieu, let’s explore the CLE Cuarenta and see what it brings to the table.
Thus far, much of the information on the CLE blends have not been disclosed. We do know that the CLE Cuarenta wrapper is a Habano seed wrapper. I have heard it was grown in Honduras, but have not gotten any official confirmation on that.
Wrapper: Habano Seed
The following are the sizes that have been initially released for the CLE Cuarenta:
11/18: 6 x 50
Robusto: 5 x 50
6 x 60: 6 x 60
Corona 5 3/4 x 45
For this cigar experience, I opted to go with the 11/18 vitola. The 11/18 vitola is something that was a unique staple of Camacho Cigars while Eiroa was there. It was basically a figuardo vitola. The 11/18 got its name from the birthday of Eiroa’s mother (November 18th). In the case of the CLE Cuarenta it differs somewhat from the Camacho 11/18 vitolas. The CLE 11/18 has more a classic toro look – although there is somewhat of a figuardo shape to it.
The wrapper of the CLE Cuarenta 11/18 has a caramel brown color to it. The wrapper itself is bumpy with a slight oily sheen to it. The wrapper has several visible veins on it, and there are some visible wrapper seams. Overall, the wrapper has somewhat of a rustic look to it.
The band to the CLE has a maroon background with silver striping across the top and bottom. In the center of the band is the company name “CLE” in silver font. To the left of the CLE text is “2012” in a small pale peach-colored font. To the right of the “CLE” text is “CUARENTA” in silver font to the right.
Preparation for the Cigar Experience
For my CLE Cuarenta 11/18, I went with my usual straight cut into the cap of the cigar. It was then on to proceed with the pre-light draw. The dry draw notes were not very bold, but a lot of nuances could be detected. These notes included wood, cedar, citrus, and a hint of cocoa. Normally I like a little more flavor on the pre-light draw, but since we do not score the pre-light experience in our assessment, there is no loss of points here. It was now on to light the CLE Cuarenta and see what the cigar experience would deliver.
The initial draws of the CLE Cuarenta provided wood and exotic spice notes to start. It was safe to say the exotic spice was along the lines of a “spice blast”. The spice (and wood notes) quickly subsided into the background and gave way to notes of cocoa, citrus, and floral notes.
The cocoa, floral, and citrus notes all complemented each other very nicely in the forefront. The exotic spice and wood also worked well together in the background Around the one third point, the citrus notes (which at times also had a cherry sweetness to it) moved into the forefront. The cocoa notes became secondary, and the exotic spice and floral notes settled as tertiary notes. This would be the flavor pattern that would evolve for the lion’s share of the smoke.
In the last third, the exotic spice and floral notes progressed to the forefront. The exotic spice definitely took over as the dominant flavor. Toward the end, I could also detect some cinnamon notes at the end. The close to the cigar had spice, but was not harsh. The resulting nub was slightly warm and soft to the touch.
Burn and Draw
For the 11/18 vitola, I have to say the CLE Cuarenta had some nice scores when it came to the attributes of burn and draw. For the most part, the burn few touch-ups from me to keep it burning straight. The ash was white in color and while it wasn’t the tightest ash, it still wasn’t a bad ash. The burn rate was ideal. The burn temperature was also ideal for the majority of the cigar experience except for the very end. The draw was also very nice. This is not a cigar you will have to fight the draw on, and it will provide a low maintenance experience when you puff on it.
Strength and Body
With the strength and body, the CLE Cuarenta evolves in terms of the depth of these attributes. From a strength perspective, the Cuarenta actually starts out on the milder side. In the first half, it starts mild to medium, and progresses to medium strength in the second half. Meanwhile the depth of the flavors follows a similar pattern. The body of the CLE Cuarenta starts out mild to medium. I was a little concerned because I felt the flavor profile of the Cuarenta was going to need more depth to be effective. I was pleased when the body increased to medium by the middle of the smoke, and medium to full in the second half. As both the strength and body increased in depth, these attributes remained balanced throughout the smoking experience.
Overall the CLE Cuarenta delivered a nice smoking experience. I liked the fact that it did not have a cookie cutter flavor pattern. It also provided a well-constructed cigar to go along with some nice flavors. I was a little concerned early on that this cigar’s potential was being muted because it was too mild in terms of body, but it progressed very nicely to correct this. his is a cigar I would recommend to a novice enthusiast who wants to get a good idea how strength and body can change a cigar experience. Experienced and novice enthusiasts will appreciate the nuances of the flavors. Overall, this is a cigar I would smoke again, and I am curious to sample some of the other vitolas.
Strength: Medium (Starts Mild to Medium in first half)
Body: Medium to Full (Starts Mild to Medium and progresses)
Assessment: Nice to Have
Source: The cigars for this assessment were purchased from Outland Cigars in Charlotte, North Carolina.