CLE PCA Exclusive 2023 Review

C.L.E. PCA Exclusive 2023 Robusto

Today, we are reviewing the C.L.E. PCA Exclusive 2023 in the Robusto size. Recently, the concept of PCA Exclusive cigars has gained more attention. PCA Exclusives are cigars that will only be available from and carried by specific retailers that attend the Premium Cigar Association (PCA) Trade Show. Offering products only available at the PCA Trade Show gives the retailer a reason to attend PCA. Since 2021, the PCA organization has encouraged (and has tried to even formalize a program) for retailers to carry PCA Exclusives. C.L.E. Cigar Company is one such company that has been on board with this concept.

For the first two years, C.L.E. did PCA Exclusives around its Eiroa and Asylum brands. In 2023, C.L.E. added its eponymous C.L.E. brand as a PCA Exclusive. The three brands also had PCA Exclusive releases in 2024.

Furthermore, each of the three PCA Exclusive blends for both 2023 and 2024 contains tobacco from a farm that C.L.E. owns in South America. Regarding what country in South America, C.L.E. is not disclosing the information. In the case of the three PCA Exclusives, the company appears to be using the South American tobacco as (what I am terming) the “secret sauce.”

It’s time to break down the C.L.E. PCA Exclusive 2023 and see what this cigar brings to the table.

C.L.E. PCA Exclusive 2023 Robusto– Cigar Review


Blend and Origin

Aside from disclosing that it is using some South American tobacco, C.L.E. Cigar Company isn’t saying much about the blend. Other than the use of an Ecuadorian Connecticut wrapper, the remaining details about the blend components for the C.L.E. PCA Exclusive were not disclosed.

Wrapper: Ecuadorian Connecticut
Binder: Undisclosed
Filler: Undisclosed
Country of Origin: Honduras
Factory: The C.L.E. Factory

Vitolas Offered

The C.L.E. PCA Exclusive 2023 was produced in four sizes, each presented in 20-count boxes. A total of 3,000 cigars (150 boxes) per vitola were produced.

50 x 5: 50 x 5
52 x 6: 52 x 6
11/18: 52/60 x 6 1/4
60 x 6: 60 x 6


The Ecuadorian Connecticut wrapper of the C.L.E. PCA Exclusive 2023 Robusto was quite pristine. It had a classic light brown wrapper color. Depending on how the light hit it, it could give off a slight rosado tint. The wrapper had a very light sheen of oil on it. Some thin veins and seams were visible.

C.L.E. PCA Exclusive 2023 Robusto (Paper Sleeve removed)


Pre-Light Draw

Before lighting up the C.L.E. PCA Exclusive 2023 Robusto, I removed the paper sleeve from the cigar and then placed a straight cut to remove the cap. Once the cap was removed, it was on to the pre-light draw ritual. The cold draw delivered a mix of cream, wood, and a slight amount of musty notes. Overall, this wasn’t the most exciting pre-light draw. Since the pre-light draw is not factored into our numeric merit scores or value ratings, there was no loss of points here. At this point, it was time to toast up the footer of the C.L.E. PCA Exclusive 2023 Robusto and see what this cigar would bring to the table.

Tasting Notes

At the start of the C.L.E. PCA Exclusive 2023, Robusto opened with more cream, wood, and must notes. Some bread notes were also present. The cream and bread notes moved to the forefront as the cigar moved through the early stages. The wood and musty notes settled into the background and were joined by a slight berry note. The musty notes were also present on the retro-hale.

As the C.L.E. PCA Exclusive 2023 Robusto moved through the second half, the bread notes were still primary. The cream notes subsided, joining the wood, musty, and berry notes. During the second half, the musty notes increased in intensity while the berry notes decreased. There was also an emergence of a white pepper note on the tongue and retro-hale.

The final third saw the musty notes join the bread notes in the forefront. There were still wood and pepper notes in the background. By now, the berry and cream notes had dissipated. This is how the C.L.E. PCA Exclusive 2023 Robusto came to a close. The resulting nub was soft to the touch and cool in temperature.


The C.L.E. PCA Exclusive 2023 Robusto had excellent construction, which was reflected nicely in the burn. This cigar required minimal touch-ups to maintain a straight burn path and straight burn line. The resulting ash was silver-gray in color. While there was a slight amount of occasional flaking, this was a firm ash in general. As for the burn rate and burn temperature, both were ideal.

Burn of the C.L.E. PCA Exclusive 2023 Robusto


The draw to the C.L.E. PCA Exclusive 2023 Robusto was open but not loose. Normally, I prefer a little more resistance only draw. This open draw did not adversely affect the smoking experience.

Strength and Body

The C.L.E. PCA Exclusive 2023 Robusto opened with mild to medium strength and medium-bodied flavors. While the strength and body intensity slightly increased, the cigar remained mild to medium in strength and medium-bodied.

The body maintained the edge throughout the smoking experience in terms of strength versus body.


While the powder/Carolina blue color does not look bad against the Connecticut wrapper, I still think it’s too soft for a cigar. The cigar could easily be confused with an “It’s a Boy” cigar. If you look at the band and vista logo, you will see it looks like the revamped look introduced in 2024 for the C.L.E. line.

As with C.L.E.’s 2021 and 2022 PCA exclusive releases, the top of the box can be used as an ashtray.

Packaging of the C.L.E. PCA Exclusive 2023 (Gordo size shown)


Final Thoughts

When I reviewed the Eiroa PCA Exclusive 2023, I wrote the following:

I have been critical of many PCA Exclusive releases because they lacked creativity and innovation. This has not been the case with C.L.E. Cigar Company, as it has put its best foot forward with its PCA Exclusive releases. Regarding the PCA Exclusive 2023 releases by C.L.E., the use of South American tobacco intrigued me.

As for C.L.E. PCA Exclusive 2023 Robusto, the flavors simply didn’t do it for me. I prefer a traditional Connecticut, especially a C.L.E. Connecticut (at a lower price point). Whatever this South American tobacco is, I do believe it’s something very different than I’ve smoked before. Unfortunately, most non-traditional tobacco blends disappoint me, and the C.L.E. PCA Exclusive 2023 falls into that category.  While this cigar fell short, I’d encourage you to try a sample and see what you think.


Key Flavors: Bread, Cream, Musty Note, Wood, Berry, Pepper
Burn: Excellent
Draw: Very Good
Complexity: Medium Plus
Strength: Mild to Medium
Body: Medium
Finish: Very Good


Value: Try a Sample
Score: 87


News: C.L.E. Cigar Company PCA Exclusive 2023 Announced
Price: $17.00
Source: Cigar Coop
Brand Reference: C.L.E.

Photo Credits: Cigar Coop