Camacho Powerband | Cigar Reviews by the Katman

Wrapper: Ecuadorian Habano 2000
Binder: Mexican San Andrés Negrito
Filler: Honduran Corojo Ligero, Nicaraguan Estelí Ligero, Dominican San Vicente Ligero, San Vicente Viso and Dominican Piloto Cubano.
Size: 5 x 50 Robusto
Strength: Medium/Full
Price: $11.00

Today we take a look at the Camacho Powerband.
I bought two cigars at my local B&M.

BACKGROUND:
From Cigar Aficionado:

“It’s called Camacho Powerband. It’s made with a proprietary bunching method that the company says delivers bursts of accelerating flavor and strength intensity while maintaining even combustion throughout the duration of the smoke.

“Our method is the combination of two bunching methods that, in the end, produce peak combustion and airflow through the cigar, with perfect resistance,” Dylan Austin, vice president of marketing for Davidoff of Geneva USA (Camacho’s parent company) told Cigar Aficionado. “A blend of old world and new world techniques.”

“Camacho Powerband is draped in an Ecuadoran Habano 2000 wrapper, two Negrito San Andrés binders from Mexico and contains five filler tobaccos—three of which are fortifying ligeros, which grow on the upper portion of the tobacco plant and tend to be full bodied. The filler tobacco includes Corojo ligero from Nicaragua and Honduras, as well as Dominican San Vicente ligero. The rest is San Vicente viso (which is a lower priming than ligero) and Piloto Cubano both from the Dominican Republic.

“The leaves of the two Corojo ligeros are tipped outwards, so the cigar starts intense, drops down after the first third, where the performance peaks,” Austin explained. “The cigar, after the performance peak, accelerates to be more intense and flavor-forward than before.”

The cigars will retail from $11 to $13 and begin shipping to U.S. retailers on June 13. International customers, however, have to wait until May 2017.

“Following Camacho American Barrel-Aged released last year, Powerband is the second installment in the company’s Master Built Series. Like its predecessor, Camacho Powerband is manufactured at the Davidoff-owned factory Occidental Cigar Corp., located in the Dominican Republic. Other Camacho lines such as Camacho Criollo, Camacho “Powerband will launch in three sizes: Robusto, at 5 inches by 50 ring gauge; Toro, at 6 by 50; and Gordo, 6 x 60. The cigars are made in Honduras at the AgroIndustrias Laepe S.A. factory.”

DESCRIPTION:
Not an extraordinary looking cigar. But it possesses an oily wrapper whose hue is cinnamon/penny.
Seams are tight and there is no shortage of small and large veins. The triple cap is nicely applied. The stick feels to be perfectly filled without hard or soft spots.

AROMAS AND COLD DRAW NOTES:
From the shaft, I can smell an inordinate amount of sweetness, mild spiciness, fruit, heavy cream, maple, cedar, and floral notes.

From the clipped cap and the foot, I can smell green apples, maple, cedar, mild spiciness, floral notes, chocolate, and espresso.

The cold draw presents flavors of dark cocoa, café latte, maple, green apple, cedar, mild spice, muskiness, and cinnamon graham cracker.

FIRST THIRD:
The draw is open and clear. No cigar poker needed. First up is some mild red pepper, then the following: baked apple with cinnamon, chocolate, café latte, maple syrup, cedar, graham cracker, cream, lime citrus, and a deeply aged tobacco flavor.

The spiciness ramps up til my eyebrows begin to glow.

The baked apple with cinnamon is very strong and makes me hungry. I always write my reviews first thing in the morning on a fresh palate and I don’t eat a thing til I’m done. Sometimes, the cat looks tasty as he lies on my jewelry work bench in front of me.

Strength is a solid medium body.

There is no gigantic blast of flavors in the sense of being bowled over immediately. My guess is that this will be a slow roll in terms of flavors coming to fruition.

The char line behaves. (My hero).

BTW- I’ve had these couple of sticks for about 2 months. I hope that’s enough. After all, it’s Camacho. Not exactly known for New School blending styles. Especially, since Davidoff took over. Eiroa must be spinning in his driver’s seat…and hopefully laughing all the way to the bank.

I’m ¾” in and the flavor profile is lazy. All those wonderful flavors are now muted being led by bold spiciness and sweetness.

The Camacho Powerband falls into the price range of all new cigars coming out of Detroit. Still, based on the PR, I expected a real blast of excellence. Instead, I got a $4 Torano climbing and clawing its way to the middle.
Hopefully, things change…but do it quickly.

All of the Big Guy reviewers rated this cigar a 90 or better so this little sausage of tobacco should be surprising me at any moment.

And the moment appears just ½” prior to moving on to the second third.

The Camacho Powerband has decided it’s time to get serious. Complexity makes all the difference in the world. Without it, the cigar is merely something to stick in your mouth while you are getting a pedicure. With it, there are endless possibilities.

Transitions are late and left waiting at the gate. The finish remains short.

Now I’m seriously wondering if two months of humidor time was sufficient. We shall see.

Strength remains at medium. I prefer a little more pep and pizzazz from my smokes. Medium is merely a stepping stone to the big boy full bodied strength.

Red pepper becomes black pepper and is really very strong. Maybe too strong as it seems to impair the progress of other flavors.

I don’t think a bevy of flavors is Camacho Powerband’s thing. It is more about the variety of tobacco and their interplay. I bet you a dollar right now that I will be more impressed by the whole rather than its parts.

The complexity saves the day by making this blend a very pleasant experience but I would prefer a more substantial list of things to report on.

Transitions are nearly non-existent. The blend plops itself into a self-regulating process of composition. No surprises. And no excitement. All that PR for a cigar that tastes like every other $11 cigar….or maybe not quite in that league.

I should be raving by now. I’m not.

Pleasant isn’t what I expect from a list of 7 tobacco ingredients. I expect Julie Andrews swirling on a mountain top singing “The Sound of Music.”

The thing is…I can buy all the pleasant cigars in the world for $6 or under.
OK. Fingers crossed that this portion of the cigar is merely a warm up for better things to come.

SECOND THIRD:
Smoke time is 25 minutes.

Creaminess moves to the forefront teasing me that better things are on the horizon.
I get a hint of malt. The black pepper relents a bit allowing the flavors of chocolate, lime, maple, baked apple, cedar, slight nuttiness, and graham cracker to make their move.
Transitions begin. The finish stretches out now.
I’m getting a hint of the blender’s intent now. It is more balanced with subtleties and dollops of nuanced aged tobacco flavor.

Still, even with the Camacho Powerband beginning to strut its stuff in the second third, I believe this should have happened earlier.

We have zipped past pleasant and are entering the Xander Zone.

We have begun a new phase for the Powerband as “I walk a road, horizons change and the tournament’s begun.”

Speaking of Brian Eno, in Curved Air, we were booked at Island Studios in London to do my second album with the band. Eno booked the time just before us. We would spend half an hour of our time pulling the multi-colored tape off the grand piano keys that Eno placed there so he wouldn’t lose his place. The least he could have done was remove them as a courtesy to us.

The Camacho Powerband is being driven by the extreme creaminess and fruit elements. My beloved malts are nearly non-existent. I love my malts.

Even the very potent spiciness lays back. It is merely a wisp of what it was in the first third. While I love red pepper in my blends, black pepper has the habit of becoming overwhelming.

Flavors are oh so subtle. Nuance leads the charge. I’m absolutely positive that with 6 months of humidor time this would be a much better smoke.

I’m now enjoying this blend but all those different tobaccos should be making a major impact on the flavor. But they are not. This should be a spectacular blend. Which is told to you by other reviewers who rate this cigar, on average, a 90. That’s good. Not great.

I don’t have Camacho or Davidoff as sponsors so I’m not tied down to the party line.
God help you if you piss off Davidoff. Off with your head and no more samples for you.

The halfway point is more encouraging. The pepper returns causing my nose to run and forcing me to stuff Q-Tips up my nose in bunches.

Flavors finally decide to show off.
The complexity is the thing. Transitions please my palate. The finish is now a mile long.
It’s been a 40 minute smoke to get to the halfway point. That’s a lot of smoking before body orifices begin to pucker in rhythm to “Me and Julio Down by the Schoolyard.”
The char line begins to misbehave. I curse its heirs.

I don’t believe the Camacho Powerband deserves to be in the 90 realm of genuflection. It’s a decent cigar but once again I must figure in the price point. Instead of $11 a pop, I’d be more agreeable if it was in the $7-$8 region.

Clearly, Camacho and Davidoff spent a lot of dough to PR this new line of “Master Built Series.”
I reviewed the first blend of the series: Camacho American Barrel Aged a couple years ago and found it to be a spectacular blend…for the same price as this robusto I’m reviewing.
The Camacho Powerband doesn’t come close to the excellence of the Barrel Aged blend.

The Powerband continues on its journey of exposing its petals to the sunlight. Better with each puff. But still lacking the magic that one would expect from such a bushel of diverse ingredients.
Clearly, the second half is the main attraction for this blend.

LAST THIRD:
Smoke time is one hour.

I am somewhat dismayed by the constant touch ups required for the burn line. Should have been rolled better.

Then we discover the sweet spot. Finally. Too little, too late?
Any time this occurs, I am awash in a quandary of the chicken and the egg. Does it take most of the cigar to kick this blend in the ass? Or is it merely as simple as the question of extended humidor time the answer to the riddle that no one asked?

If the Powerband had shot out of a cannon like this from the first, this would be a different review.
Flavors shift slightly: Creaminess, baked apple, cinnamon, spiciness, baking spices, lime citrus, cedar, a touch of malt, and that’s about it. The chocolate, maple, and coffee disappear completely.
The flavor profile circles the wagons around the variety of tobaccos. This is the manifest destiny of this blend.

Sophistication coming from the complexity is the headliner. Not the flavors. Transitions slow down to a crawl while still allowing a medium long finish.
It’s missing some needed chewiness.

You know, I read about cigars with incredible stories about their production and expect the second coming. Honestly, most of the time, they are just ordinary good cigars.

My palate is not good enough to taste all that went into this blend. I can’t detect 7 different tobaccos in the flavor profile. This should matter.

Some bitterness shows up. I allow the cigar to rest for a bit. I must have been puffing too hard.
The blend has self-healed itself and we are good to go now.

Finally, with a short time to go, the Camacho Powerband soars like Rodan.

Flavors are bold. Strength hits medium/full. Complexity is spot on. Transitions are better. The finish is long.

The balance is right on the money now. It’s cooking up a storm. If I had gotten a hint of this early on, you would have seen a 90+ rating. But that time has come and gone.

My advice is to take your new Camacho Powerbands and place them in your humidor and forget about them for at least 6 months. This may make all the difference in the world. At least I hope so. But considering this blend is being touted as a New Breed type of concoction, a couple months should have been sufficient.

Final smoke time is one hour 25 minutes.

RATING: 82 for the first half. 89 for the second half.

And now for something completely different:

I was in a band called The Attitude. It was the early 80’s. And we were really good. We only played our original material.

We had decided to record our first album in a high falutin’ recording studio: Sunset Gower in Hollywood. $250 an hour in 1981.
Rick Tunstall, our band leader, composer, singer, and guitarist had managed to get hold of world famous, Rock and Roll Hall of Fame drummer, Hal Blaine.

I had worshiped this man since I was 16.

I’d put on all my favorite records and lay in my bed reading the liner notes on all of those albums. He was part of a rhythm team that played on all the Simon & Garfunkel albums, all of the Mamas & Papas albums, the Beach Boys, the Monkees, Nancy Sinatra, Jan and Dean, Elvis Presley, John Denver, the Ronettes, the Carpenters, the Grass Roots, the 5th Dimension, the Partridge Family, and Steely Dan, Frank Sinatra, The Byrds, The Supremes, The Association, Neil Diamond, Cher, Barbra Streisand, J.J. Cale, Glen Campbell, Johnny Cash, Ray Charles, Nat King Cole, Sam Cooke, Bobby Darin, Sammy Davis, Jr., The Everly Brothers, John Lennon, Dean Martin, Roy Orbison, Louis Prima, Paul Revere & the Raiders, Ike and Tina Turner, and lastly: Sonny & Cher….And just about everyone else in the music business. He is a brilliant drummer. If you look at a photo of Hal’s drum kit, it is the exact same as Ringo’s kit. Ringo copied Hal’s set up…and in fact, Hal played on quite a few Beatles songs.

Rick and I were already at the studio. The cartage company had arrived with Hal’s drum set. We were charged $250 for them to move Hal’s drums and set them up how he liked it. They worked like clockwork to assemble it properly….and then…The Man showed up.

I had been in contact with all of my rock n roll heroes while I played in the English band, Curved Air in the mid 70’s so I knew how to keep my cool…but with Hal, it was difficult.

The man was not very tall but had a slim build. He is Jewish so I let him know I was, as well….what was I thinking? “Ooh, I’m a Jew too!” Oh brother. I’m such a schmuck.

We kibitzed for a while and we explained the tunes we would be recording.

Hal sat at his kit fine tuning the kit. He reached into his stick bag, hanging from the snare, and pulled out some sheet music. He motioned me over and showed it to me.

It was the drummer’s sheet music written by hand. By Paul Simon’s hand. It was “Bridge Over Troubled Water.” I was in shock. Hal let me hold it. I stared at it like it was the Holy Grail.

We rehearsed the first song one time and Hal had it. Just before we hit the “Record” button, Hal said to me, “Phil, you’re a pretty good bassist. Have you done session work?”
I gurgled something that basically meant nothing significant.
“I can get you some work if you want?”
“#%^&&@D^@&(@!!!”
I think that meant, “Would I? Hell, yes!”

We spent a month recording an album’s worth of material. And Hal was there for about 2 weeks to do the rhythm tracks.

Hal and I would sit in the booth while things were fiddled with by the engineer between tracks. He told me stories like he was Uncle Remus. He could drop names like it meant nothing to him at all. He told me inside stories that had me in rapture. Meanwhile, my partner Rick, took me into the lounge and proceeded to scream at me…”Do you know that the 15 minute story Hal told you cost us $85?”
I bowed my head in shame but I didn’t care.

And Hal was true to his word getting me big session work in L.A. He later went on to become my mentor doing all sorts of things for me at my own recording studio in Long Beach. We became good friends. He took scale money from me for recordings that made me a big shot in my customer’s eyes. At the time, there were only two recording studios in Long Beach…a town with around 400,000 residents. The other studio was inconsequential.

Hal and me at my recording studio in Long Beach, CA:

We became big shots in the musical community for having Hal Blaine on call.

It was the most wonderful time. Maybe I shall tell some of his stories in another review.

I have quite a few copies of his own hand written charts from my sessions. But they are carefully stored away. I found this pair of charts he wrote for a big project at my studio that was paid for by The Teague Family. For those older than dirt like me, Will Teague was one of the original members of the 1960’s folk group, The New Christy Minstrels.

Will decided to record 20 songs. And not using a rhythm section during the recordings. What a schmuck. I told him so. I told him that the timing was all over the place. So I called Hal and he agreed to come in and do the session.

He listened to the songs and shook his head. He asked why not even a friggin time keeping device was used? I thought he was going to split but I calmed him down from his high level of being exposed to unprofessionalism.
He listened a second time taking notes and writing charts.

He managed to pull all the songs together so they sounded like they were played in correct time. A real miracle and testament to the man’s brilliance on percussion.

As I was producing, I couldn’t play bass at the same time. So I came in after the studio closed, late, and spent my nights laying down bass lines all by myself in the studio. It was a real pain in the ass sitting in the booth with my bass…going direct…and operating the equipment at the same time.

Paul McCartney did the same thing starting with “Revolver.” It gave him the freedom to be more melodic.
I managed to get some nice lines down. And they paid me well.

Every 10 years, I pull out the cassette of the final mix and listen to the songs. I remember thinking how good the rhythm section sounded. I was proud as a peacock.

I asked Hal if he wanted a copy? I had wanted him to hear my bass playing against his miraculous mish mosh of trying to fix the songs.
He responded quickly to my offer:
“No. I don’t want to listen to that music ever again. Sorry Phil.”

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5 replies

  1. All this talk about a proprietary bunching method sounds like marketing propaganda. Maybe they should start aging these cigars in a Ronco food dehydrator.

  2. Only thing missing in the review is to recommend taking a roofie before smoking so you won’t remember the pain of paying $11 for this smoke.

  3. Howdy Mr Katman. First off, I want you to know that I appreciate your reviews. After reading for quite a while I can detect patterns in your reviews…or rather, your reviews are so precisely YOU that your personal tastes and expectations shine through. Even if we don’t taste the same thing in a cigar, or like/dislike the same cigars, I feel I have come to understand what your tastes and expectations will mean to me and my palate. But sometimes I just don’t know what you mean. So (and here is the point of this comment) I’m wondering if you’d write a sort of “Kohnhed’s Review Terminology For Dummies.” Like, what do you mean when you list off 15 flavors, then follow that up saying complexity is nonexistent? To me that seems contradictory, which makes me wonder if I even understand the term (in terms of cigar tasting and specifically, YOU tasting cigars). What do you mean when you say something is or isn’t a flavor bomb? What transitions are you referring to when you say they’re slowing down? These terms make sense to me in a general sense, but I’m not sure I understand how you mean them sometimes. I ask this because I want to taste cigars the way you do, and I think you’re a wealth of knowledge.

    Another question, you often say you review cigars before you eat anything first thing in the morning as to keep your palate clean, but how do you clean your palate from morning grody mouth? I can’t smoke anything for a couple hours after brushing my teeth as the toothpaste flavor lingers forever. I usually have my first smoke of the day after lunch when toothpaste flavor is finally gone. Just something I’ve always wondered.

    Anyway, thanks for everything you’ve written, and all the cigars you’ve helped me find and the enjoyment you teach me to find within. Hope you’re around for a long time. Glad to have more than one review this week, too.

    • Wow. And double Yikes!
      I will attempt to answer your questions in my next review this Monday. I might as well inform other readers to my vague inner dialog notions as well because after I explain them during just one comment on one review, it’s lost forever. So I will write all this stuff down and present it the best I can. It’s not like I don’t know what I’m saying. I’m saying that I need to make sure that you and other readers understand my terminology.
      As far as the morning mouth, I rinse my mouth with Hydrogen peroxide. It’s magic time. Cleans my mouth and palate at the same time. I can’t brush my teeth and smoke a cigar either.

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