Aging Report: Camacho Havana Monarca

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Introduction
There is no dearth of information on the internet about how to store and age cigars. Vintage cigar smokers have been hoarding boxes in their climate controlled cellars for a long time now, and they’re the real experts on the subject. Now I’d be happy to pontificate on the 70/70 rule for you (I don’t agree with it.) And I’ll tell you all about the Great Cellophane Debate (it’s air permeable and taking it off doesn’t make a damn bit of difference.) And some will agree with me. Some won’t.

What I can’t tell you is how aging affects cigar flavors and performance, because I don’t know. But I aim to find out.

Up until a few months ago I didn’t even date the singles in my humidor. Now most of them have neat little stickers on them and my humble collection looks like it has smallpox. I do have a few boxes that I had the presence of mind to date stamp, but not many. Smoke ’em if I got ’em is usually what I do, and quite promptly, so there aren’t too many cigars in my humidor that have escaped that pithy credo for long.

But there are a few long-term survivors. Periodically I plan to round up these refugees and put them to the test for a new category here called “Aging Reports.” Most of them will be cigars that I have reviewed here before, so there will be a reference point of comparison.

But this Camacho Havana is an unusual case: a box that I purchased already aged. I didn’t know it would be aged when I received it in the mail, but I was happy about it, because an aged cigar is always better… right? The box was stamped 2002 and by all appearances it was kept in great condition. But now that I’ve burned my way through most of the box, I have to say that an aged cigar is not always, without exception, a better cigar.

The Report

The Camacho Havana has been around for a long time. According to cigarcyclopedia it was originally produced in Nicaragua in the 1960’s. Later production was moved to Honduras, where it remains today. Like many Camacho cigars, the Havana is a Honduran puro — in this case a Jamastran criollo wrapper surrounding a corojo blend filler.

This is a great looking and well constructed robusto. The burn on all of these oldsters has been sharp and even, they have a perfect draw, and they form a strong solid light gray ash. Absolutely no complaints there whatsoever.

When I first received these about six months ago I noticed that they seemed incredibly mild when compared with the box of churchills I started in 2006. The Havana line is relatively mild, for a Camacho, but they still have a nice little kick to them when fresh. The flavor, if memory serves, is basically leather with a dash of black pepper. I like the fresh ones quite a bit.

After smoking through most of this 2002 box I have come to the conclusion that they are well past their prime. They still have a nice aroma — it’s almost like fresh sawdust and mild ginger. But the body has been completely sapped out of these poor seniors, and there’s nothing that Richard Simmons can do about it. No Sweatin’ to the Oldies for these guys.

There is almost no flavor left here. They start out super mild, and at the mid-point they take on a slightly unpleasant burnt rubber flavor, like air from an old tire. The wrapper is still putting out good vibrations, but it has no backup from the filler so I have been pitching them at this point, mostly from boredom.

The Camacho Havana line is normally a punchy smoke, and I would expect that a certain amount of age would mellow it a bit, but obviously six years is a few years past the mark. The aroma is still quite nice, though very subtle, and that’s about all that remains of a once admirable cigar.

I am doing a little research about tobacco chemistry and the aging process and if I can make any sense of some very technical papers I will post my findings here in the near future. Meanwhile, check out Stogie Fresh, where the good Doctor compiles reviews and ratings of many premium cigars at different points in the aging process. Definitely worth a gander if you’re at all curious about cigar aging.