Cigar Reviews

Carmelo Red Label

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So after a short time off due to a nasty throat infection I’m back in cigar smoking form and ready to tackle my next task. The cigar I’m smoking today is one I discovered locally through a herf I attended. After asking around online it seems some people have seen the name before but not many people have actually tried it. At the herf, I had the lucky opportunity to shake hands and chat with companies owner, Clayton. He is a very friendly and kind person who clearly shows a passion for what he does with the stories and history he talked to us about. Clayton sat back with a cigar and answered all the questions we could throw at him.

The company who makes the cigar is called Honduras Caribbean Tobacco. The Carmelo is their first cigar released a few years ago and they have recently also released a cigar carrying the companies name on the label. The Carmelo is available with a blue or red label. The blue label is wrapped with a Nicaraguan tobacco leaf while the red label has an Ecuadorian shade-grown wrapper. Both of the Carmelo cigars have Nicaraguan fillers and binders and are available in a variety of sizes ranging from a Carmelito (4 x 40) up to a Churchill (7×48).

I’ve had the chance to enjoy a few Carmelo’s before as they are a popular mild cigar at the herf I frequent and are offered up at a fair price. The Carmelo has been around for a few years now and the company itself is still fairly young opening only in 2005. Honduras Caribbean Tobacco is headquartered in Miami and have a large tobacco field on the border of Honduras and Nicaragua. After smoking a few offerings from Honduras Caribbean Tobacco at the herf I purchased a few more to take home with me so I could write up a review. So here it is!

Cigar: Carmelo Red Label
Drink: RocketfuelCoffee.com KonaKaze
Vitola: Toro (6 x 52)
Wrapper: Ecuadorian Shade-Grown
Binder: Nicaraguan
Filler: Nicaraguan
Price: $6.40 MSRP
Burn Time: Just under 2 hours

Construction:
• The Carmelo cigar is wrapped with a very light shade of brown, it also appears fairly fragile
• There are almost no veins to be seen on the cigar, they are very light and small and the cigar is very smooth
• The top of the Carmelo is finished with a clean triple cap and is slightly darker in color, likely due to the glue
• The foot of the cigar is well packed and is also darker in color with some leaves appearing nearly black
• The shape of the cigar is slightly box pressed and has a soft springiness to it
• The cut was easy and clean
• Draw is just about perfect, offering up just the right amount of resistance

Burn:
• Took some time to get the cigar toasted evenly but it ended up being perfectly toasted without causing any initial burn problems
• The burn is progressing nicely through the first third with only a minor wave in it
• The wave is always present but it never burned out of control and no corrections as I pass the half-way mark
• As I approach the end of the cigar it still hasn’t required any touch ups but is starting to burn a bit hot

Smoke & Ash:
• Lots of smoke is apparent right from the first draw, easily fills the mouth
• Resting smoke is light but noticeable and fills the room with more woodsy aromas
• The ash is very close to being completely white, it’s smooth and tightly packed
• First ash last about an inch before I tapped it off into the ashtray
• Other ashes were all about an inch before being tapped off into the ashtray

Tasting Notes:
• The wrapper aroma is mostly a light mild tobacco aroma with some hints of woodsiness
• The foot has a lot more woodsiness to the aroma, I’m picking up a pine-like or freshly cut cedar scent
• Pre-light draw brings more freshly cut woody flavors and a touch of spice that lingers on the lips and tongue
• Initial draws bring more woodsy notes and a burst of pine flavor specifically
• As we keep moving, the pine is settling in and balancing out with some cedar and a smooth creamy finish
• The cigar itself is fairly mild and the retrohale has no bite to it but has a nice creamy and woodsy finish
• As I approach the middle of the cigar I’m getting an interesting leafy flavor that’s pairing well with the woodsy flavors
• I’m also picking up some sweet bready flavors, similar to something like a brioche
• The creamy and pine flavors have stuck through the entire cigar, I find these to be a very unique pairing
• Some slight pepper spice sneaking in as I burn through the last third

Final Thoughts:
This was a tasty mild cigar and definitely worth trying. It’s not something overly complex or in your face but I don’t think that was the goal of this cigar. It’s something you can pick up anytime of the day, including the morning, and just sit back, relax and enjoy. The pine flavors in this cigar always stood out to me every time I’ve had one and is something unique that I don’t find in many cigars. I did find that they have a tendency to have burn issues if they are overly humidified but smoke perfectly when kept just under 65% or dry boxed a bit before smoking. I think this is mostly due to the delicate wrapper on these cigars but as you can see in this review, I had no issues with the burn at all even in colder temperatures. If you are looking for something different to add to your mild or morning range of cigars, pick up a few of these. They are a nice change from the typical mild Connecticut cigars.

Pairings:
Today I’m pairing with a non-alcoholic beverage for two reasons. Firstly, I’m still taking some medication to fight this infection and I hear it’s generally a bad idea to mix alcohol with that, lol! Secondly, I’ve made the jump to enjoying some premium coffee lately and it pairs very well with cigars, especially ones in the milder range. RocketFuelCoffee.com is an online coffee retailer specializing in premium gourmet coffees. they have at least 8 varieties on their website that cater to a varying audience. Don’t expect any flavored coffee here though, it’s only the all natural and tasty stuff. They even carry the infamous Kopi Luwak coffee! Check out their website and if you’re a coffee lover you won’t be disappointed.
I was going to purchase this coffee online but after speaking to the owner, Lisa, on Twitter (@RcketFuelCoffee) we decided to get together and share a cigar over coffee instead since she also lives in the Great White North near Toronto. We had a great time chatting over some good coffee and cigars. One of the blends I picked up was this Konakaze blend. I love a strong bold coffee and I love espresso so she suggested this one which is a blend of Hawaiin Kona and Espresso. The coffee definitely does not disappoint, you can easily detect the bold flavor of the espresso. To compliment it perfectly, the bright and balanced flavor of the Kona brings a whole different layer to the cup. It fills your mouth with an interesting mixture that fit my coffee tastes perfectly. The coffee paired excellently with this mild cigar and the espresso notes tell me it could pair well even with some stronger offerings. Other good pairings for this cigar would include a light beer, soda or even water. You don’t want anything too strong to overpower the cigar, get something that will let you enjoy it’s flavors.

Daniel T. (a.k.a. Dalamscius) is an IT Professional from Toronto, Ontario, Canada. He enjoys cigars, scuba diving, hockey, fishing, nature and anything that challenges his mind. If he's not sitting on his big comfy couch or at work you can usually find him in a boat on top of the water or 100ft under the water enjoying a dive. He is engaged to a wonderful Fiance and looking forward to his wedding. Feel free to contact Daniel anytime via email (dalamscius[at]gmail[dot]com). And make sure to follow him on twitter http://twitter.com/Dalamscius

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