Camacho Havana Petit
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Remember simpler times when Camacho only had two, count ‘em, two lines on the market? There was the Corojo which started it all, and the Criollo-wrapped Havana blend.
Now, Camacho has gone the way of Gurkha and RP, with a new release every Tuesday. I can’t can’t keep track of any of them without a scorecard and a decoder ring. I stopped caring a couple years ago.
My box of 5.5″ x 42 Petits came from one of those “yellow cello” deals. Some time ago, Cigar.com announced the discovery of a “forgotten” stash. Allegedly, they’d been festering in Camacho’s aging room since 1999. (Oh, really? Anything like those pristine bales of pre-embargo Cuban wrapper that keep turning up in Trenton, NJ warehouses?)
Whatever. The introductory price was not outrageous — $80.00/box, as I recall. So I really didn’t care if they were from ‘99 or from last week.
(A funny side note is that the smokes arrived in a box stamped DIC2006! Cigar.com had some ’splainin’ to do, and added the following clarification to their site: “These cigars were boxed recently and each box is dated 2006. This date refers to the year the box was made. The cigars themselves were rolled in 1999.”)
If these are really nine years old, they haven’t lost any of their spunk. They are much as I remember them. I’m sure to draw some eye-rolls here, but I find Camacho’s Havana blend to be the closest non-Cuban approximation of the Cuban Bolivar. They share a similar profile and balance — an earthy, leathery core, surrounded by nuts and spice. The Bolivar has a far greater dynamic range, of course, but that’s for a future review.
The Petit is delicious. Even with significant age, it’s stronger than I remember the 50-gauge Monarcas and Toros being. Most likely, it’s a function of the narrower ring gauge concentrating the flavors. It’s a surprisingly heavy smoke.
The build is just so-so, which leads to some performance issues. It’s burning straight, but it needs careful monitoring to keep it lit. Worse, hitting it too often takes it over the line quickly and it develops hot, funky notes. Tending to this smoke can be a tedious balancing act.
The second half gets stronger and loses some balance. Earth becomes more prominent and it begins to taste more like the Honduran puro it is. But it remains a very good smoke until it’s too hot to handle.
BTW, in fairness to both Camacho and Cigar.com, the cello really is yellow. I have no reason to believe these aren’t exactly as billed.
CONCLUSION: I’ve always loved the old Camacho Havana blend, and this aged Petit is no exception. It packs dense, Cubanesque flavors in a handy size. The fussy burn can’t be overlooked, but the flavor is worth the hassle. They’re an average value, as I see the price has gone up to $100.00/box. If you’re in the market for a snack-sized stick, these are still a good choice.