Cuba Caiman is a relatively low-profile cigar company, at least by comparison with the larger outfits that dominate the market. The company is headquartered in North Miami Beach and their production facility is in Danli, Honduras. In addition to their premium Cuba Caiman blend, they produce naked bundled cigars and are able to provide custom banding through their “Label Your Cigar” division. It sounds a little fly-by-night, but they have been in business for over ten years — which in this business is an achievement in itself.
I asked their media contact about the name “Cuba Caiman” and it turns out the Caiman is actually the island of Cuba itself. The geographic shape of Cuba resembles a crocodile. (I’m not sure if there is a political statement in there as well, but it wouldn’t surprise me.)
Tabacalera Danan in Danli is operated by Pedro Estevez, a Cuban native who learned the trade as it was passed down from his family. Today Estevez produces the Cuba Caiman Premium blend, Pedro Estevez “Naked Bundles,” which is the blend available with custom banding, and other blends for private customers.
Each line is available in four styles — Connecticut, Habano, Maduro, and Barber Pole — and all four styles are produced in nearly all the standard sizes. The Cuba Caiman blend and the “Naked Bundle” blends are very similar to each other in performance and flavor, but they are not identical in composition.
The Cuba Caiman Connecticut has an Ecuadorian “Cajuca” wrapper, a Nicaraguan Habano binder, and filler from Nicaragua and Honduras. The wrapper on the Pedro Estevez “Naked Bundle” cigar is also an Ecuadorian Connecticut seed leaf, but with its Honduran habano binder and slightly different fillers it tastes a bit different.
The Cuba Caiman Connecticut robusto is smooth and earthy with a creamy texture. It’s medium in body, but mild and floral in the way that most Connecticut-wrapped cigars are. The unbanded Pedro Estevez lancero was quite distinct — leathery with a sandalwood spice on the nose. The texture and strength were on par with the Cuba Caiman, but otherwise it was completely out of character for a Connecticut stick. With its woody aftertaste and mildly tannic, peppery finish I was surprised to learn that this was a Connecticut and not a Habano wrapper. Both of these were excellent smokes, but I was surprised at how different they were.
The delegates from the Maduro division were much more similar to each other, probably because they have a similar makeup: both feature Mexican wrappers from the San Andres Valley and Sumatran binders. Both the banded torpedo and the unbanded churchill were very mild, easy smoking cigars with a touch of chocolate sweetness and a bit of char over a woody base. This would be an excellent cigar to hand out to new smokers. First, because this blend is mild and effortless to smoke, and second because it’s a perfect example of how a big black brute of a stogie can smoke like a sweetheart.
And finally, the Habanos. With binders from Sumatra and slightly different Nicaraguan/Honduran filler blends, these had a similar flavor, but the two cigars I had were so different in shape that they still showed different personalities. The Cuba Caiman churchill was musky with some caramel sweetness on the nose and gathered strength as it burned, by the end becoming fairly spicy with a peppery finish. The 6 x 60 unbanded Pedro Estevez was rolled a little bit too loosely, but the flavor was excellent: leathery but smooth, with plenty of Nicaraguan acidity and some of the sandalwood spice that I found in the unbanded Connecticut lancero.
Construction qualities were very good throughout the sample selection — with the exception of the Cuba Caiman Habano churchill, which needed a touchup now and then, these cigars are maintenance-free. I was a little surprised at how fine the naked bundle smokes turned out to be — the lancero in particular was quite attractive. The roll was a little soft, but that didn’t show up in the draw or the burn. (So who cares?)
I have to say that I was impressed by the Cuba Caiman, and surprised by the high quality of the Pedro Estevez bundled cigars. The Maduro was a little too mild for my taste, but I wouldn’t hesitate to choose these economically priced cigars for a special event, especially if cigar novices were expected to attend. Since I’ve only smoked one of each cigar I won’t rate them, but of the bunch I’ll say that the Connecticuts were my favorites — the Cuba Caiman robusto and the unbanded lancero.
Full pricing details are available at the Cuba Caiman website, but as representative examples, the Cuba Caiman robusto is available by the box for $95 or the bundle for $75, and the Pedro Estevez naked lancero is priced at $35 per bundle of 25. Given the quality of this cigar, that’s a steal. And if you’re thinking about customized banding for a special event, their Label Your Cigar division can dress up those naked smokes in the tuxedo of your choice (for a nominal fee, of course.) It might be the next best thing to having a cigar roller at your event.
Thanks to Cuba Caiman for offering these samples. I think I’m going to get in line for some of those lanceros quite soon.