In 2020, CLE Cigar Company announced a cigar to commemorate owner Christian Eiroa’s 25 years in the cigar business. The cigar is called the CLE 25th Anniversary. One of the vitolas in the line would be made an exclusive cigar to the Tobacconists Association of America (TAA) 2020 Exclusive Series. 11/18 is a size introduced by Eiroa during his Camacho days. The vitola is a shape that is cylindrical that has tapering from both ends, but is not tapered as narrow as a perfecto or salomon. Eiroa has brought the 11/18 size into CLE Cigar Company. What’s a little different about the CLE 25th Anniversary 11/18 is that it is a box-pressed offering. Today, we take a closer look at the CLE 25th Anniversary 11/18 offering for the TAA.
The TAA Exclusive Series consists of cigars made by leading manufacturers that are exclusively sold at TAA member retailers. The TAA is a small group of retailers. At press time the number of retailers is approximately 80. The TAA has defined itself as:
The Tobacconists’ Association of America, Ltd. is a trade organization established in 1968 by visionary retail tobacconists. By providing education, communication, research, advocacy, and member discount programs, The TAA works with our members and the industry they support to offer the tools and relationship building opportunities needed to maximize professionalism and success.
There are 12 cigars released for 2020 as a part of the TAA Exclusive Series:
- AJ Fernandez Belles Artes Maduro Figurado
- Brick House Ciento por Ciento 6 1/4 x 54 (Return from 2019)
- CAO Expedición
- CLE 25th Anniversary 11/18
- Encore 656 by E.P. Carrillo
- Kristoff San Andrés Box-Pressed Toro TAA 2020
- La Aurora TAA Exclusivo
- My Father The Judge TAA Exclusive
- Rocky Patel TAA Exclusivo 2020
- Tatuaje TAA 2020
- Timeless TAA 2020 (Nat Sherman)
- Villiger TAA Exclusive 2020
There were four additional TAA Cigars that were announced but never released in 2020. While it was never explicitly stated, the reasons were most likely related to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Crowned Heads release was postponed indefinitely while the La Flor Dominicana and La Palina releases will be a part of the 2021 TAA Exclusive Series.
- Crowned Heads Lost Angel 2020
- La Flor Dominicana TAA 52nd Oro Tecera Edición 6 1/2 x 58 Chisel Natural
- La Flor Dominicana TAA 52nd Oro Tecera Edición 6 1/2 x 58 Chisel Maduro
- La Palina White Label 6 x 50
There have been a total of seven TAA Exclusive releases by CLE Cigar Company. The CLE 25th Anniversary 11/18 was the sixth release of the series.
- 2015: Asylum Nyctophilia Maduro
- 2016: C.L.E. Azabache
- 2017: Asylum 13 Box Pressed 70 x 7
- 2018: Eiroa First 20 Years Diadema
- 2019: Eiroa Jamastran 11/18
- 2020: CLE 25th Anniversary 11/18
- 2021: CLE Signature THT-EKE 0317 11/18
Without further ado, let’s break down the CLE 25th Anniversary 11/18 and see what this cigar brings to the table.
Blend and Origin
In addition to the Ecuadorian Sumatra wrapper, the remainder of the blend of the Tatuaje TAA 2020 consists of all-Nicaraguan tobaccos.
Country of Origin: Honduras
Factory: El Aladino
The CLE 25th Anniversary is offered in four sizes. Other than the 11/18 size being first exclusively released for the 2020 TAA Exclusive Series, the other sizes are generally available. All four sizes are box-pressed offerings and each is presented in 25-count boxes.
50 x 5: 50 x 5
54 x 6: 54 x 6
60 x 6: 60 x 6
11/18: 54/60 x 6 1/4
The Honduran wrapper of the CLE 25th Anniversary 11/18 had a cinnamon color. There wasn’t much in the way of oil on the wrapper, but there was some mottling present on the surface. There were some veins and a few visible wrapper seams. The 11/18 is tapered on both ends with its thickest ring toward the center of the band.
The band of the CLE 25th Anniversary had a red, gold, and green color scheme to it. On the center of the band is a red field with the text “CLE” in gold font. There were gold leaf designs on the red and green background on most of the remainder of the band. On the upper and lower portion of the band is the text “Christian Eiroa” in gold font repeated several times. On the far right side is a green circle that serves as a band fastener. On the circle is the text “COROJO” in gold font and a gold leaf on it.
There is a tissue sleeve covering the lower 3/5 of the CLE 25th Anniversary from the footer of the cigar. The band is green and red in color. On the sleeve is text CLE surrounded by leaves – all in white font in landscape mode. Below the leaf design is the text “C.L.E. 25th Anniversary” – also in white font in landscape mode.
Prior to lighting up the CLE 25th Anniversary 11/18, the paper sleeve was removed from the cigar. From that point a straight cut was used to remove the cap and then it was on to the pre-light draw. The cold draw delivered a mix of cinnamon, earth, baker’s spice, and some fruit. This was an excellent pre-light draw. At this point, it was time to toast up the footer of the CLE 25th Anniversary and see what the smoking experience would bring to the table.
After a quick spurt of black pepper, the CLE 25th Anniversary 11/18 opened up with notes of cinnamon, bread, baker’s spice, cedar, lemon and black pepper. It didn’t take long for the bread notes to emerge as the primary note. There were secondary notes of baker’s spice, lemon, cinnamon, cedar, and black pepper – of which the baker’s spice and lemon were more prominent. Meanwhile the retro-hale delivered an additional layer of black pepper.
During the second third of CLE 25th Anniversary 11/18, there wasn’t much of a change in terms of the flavor profile. The bread notes remained primary with the lemon and baker’s spice the most prominent of the secondary notes. The only difference is during the early part of the second third, there was an increase in the pepper notes. By the midway point the pepper eclipsed all of the other secondary notes and moved into the forefront.
The last third remained constant with the bread and pepper notes grounded in the forefront and notes of lemon and baker’s spice rounding out the flavor profile with some hints of cedar and cinnamon. This is the way CLE 25th Anniversary 11/18 came to a close. The resulting nub was slightly soft to the touch and cool in temperature.
Each CLE 25th Anniversary 11/18 cigar I smoked started out with a straight burn path and straight burn line requiring minimal touch-ups. As the cigar burned further, this required more touch-ups along the way to keep the burn straight. The resulting ash was on the firm and near white in color.
I had my doubts about how the draw of the CLE 25th Anniversary 11/18 would perform. I was concerned the draw would be too open. This didn’t prove to be the case with the CLE 25th Anniversary. It had the perfect balance of openness and resistance.
Strength and Body
In terms of strength and body, the CLE 25th Anniversary 11/18 opened up as a medium strength, medium-bodied smoke. By the second third, the strength and body both advanced to medium to full territory where they remained for the duration of the smoking experience. Both the strength and body balanced each other with neither attribute overpowering the other.
The CLE 25th Anniversary 11/18 is a cigar that performed the way a TAA cigar ought to deliver. It’s a cigar that excelled in the most important category – flavor. The 2020 Tobacconist Association of America (TAA) Exclusive Series is not going to go down as one of the more memorable ones. When it comes to the CLE 25th Anniversary 11/18, this is a cigar that will perhaps be remembered as one of the better offerings in the 2020 TAA Exclusive Series. This is also a cigar where I’m intrigued on how the regular Robusto, Toro, and Gordo sizes perform. In the end this is a cigar I recommend to any cigar enthusiast. As for myself, this is a cigar I would buy and smoke again. At 90 points, this cigar earns a Cigar Coop Standard of Excellence designation.
Key Flavors: Bread, Lemon, Baker’s Spice, Cinnamon, Cedar, Black Pepper
Burn: Very Good
Strength: Medium (1st 1/3), Medium to Full (Remainder)
Body: Medium (1st 1/3), Medium to Full (Remainder)
Finish: Very Good
Value: Buy One
Cigar Coop Standard of Excellence
Photo Credits: Cigar Coop