CLE Azabache | Cigar Reviews by the Katman

Wrapper: Mexican San Andrés
Binder: Honduran
Filler: Honduran, Nicaraguan and Peruvian
Size: 6 x 54 (Box pressed)
Strength: Medium/Full
Price: $7.50

Today we take a look at the CLE Azabache.
I bought a couple sticks at my local B&M around 2 months ago.

Release Date: April, 2016
This is all that the CLE web site has to say about this blend:
“The CLE Azabache cigar is carefully hand-crafted in Honduras. Azabache, which translates into “Jet Black,” is a glistening coal that is often used in jewelry in Cuban culture.”

“In early March, the Tobacconists Association of America (TAA) held its 48th annual meeting in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, and as has been the case in years past, cigar manufactures released a number of exclusive cigars to members of the organization.

“One of those exclusives was the CLE Azabache, a cigar that takes its name from a type of reflective black coal that is often used by many in Latin America as a good luck charm. The new limited production line is being rolled at CLE founder Christian Eiroa’s El Aladino factory located in Danlí, Honduras, and is composed of a Mexican San Andrés wrapper covering Honduran binders and filler tobacco sourced from Honduras, Nicaragua and Peru. In addition, only 320 boxes of 25 were released of each size.

“The CLE launched in three different vitolas, all of which are named after each specific size and are sold in 25-count boxes.”

I am highly aware that only 320 boxes of each size were produced in April of 2016…that’s roughly 16 months ago and they are still being sold instead of sold out. This is never a very good sign. Word of mouth would have worked its wonders if this was a great cigar. To see this cigar being sold everywhere online seems to be a warning. But then I could be wrong…for a change.

5 x 50 Robusto $7.36 ($6.64 online)
6 x 54 Toro $8.36 ($7.56 online)
6 x 60 Double Toro $9.36 ($8.45 online)

Once the toilet paper is removed from the shaft, a beautiful wrapper is exposed. It is very toothy and mottled like a brindle Boxer. The wrapper is chocolate/hickory in color.
Seams are nearly invisible and veins are almost non-existent. The triple cap is gorgeous in its presentation.
The stick feels perfectly packed without soft or hard spots.

From the shaft, I can smell barnyard, chocolate, red pepper, vanilla, a super sweet elegance, big dark raisins, buttered toast, cedar, espresso, cream, rich malts, and tangerine zest.

From the clipped cap and the foot, I can smell chocolate covered raisins, cashews, vanilla, buttery, creamy, malts, citrus, sweet toffee, and cedar.

The cold draw presents flavors of popcorn, vanilla, chocolate, espresso, cedar, citrus, raisins, and black pepper.

The draw appears to be spot on. Based on how solidly packed this stick was, I fully expected to need my PerfecDraw cigar poker. So far, so good.
There is an array of starting flavors: Black pepper, chocolate, coffee, creamy, generic sweetness, malts, cedar, and mushroom.
The creaminess moves to the forefront right near my foreskin and forgone conclusions.

I have no luck with box pressed cigars burning on point…yet; the CLE Azabache is holding its own.

Chocolate malted milk balls. One of my favorite candies as a kid; especially at the movies. Made your teeth hurt but oh so good.

The stick, while containing some nice flavors, does not swing for the fences. It doesn’t pop and make your ass pucker as a great cigar normally does from the get go.
If your ass can pucker, why can’t you whistle out of it? Just wondering. (Or can you?)

An inch in, I get some unwanted bitterness and cardboard flavor. Nicht gut.

Only 8,000 cigars made of each of the three sizes. 15 months ago. If this was a killer blend, they would have sold out two months after release; or sooner. Instead, they are lingering on store shelves.

I’ve found that most Eiroa blends are pretty good but not consistent. There is a slap dash element to some of Christian’s blends. I don’t know about you, but I miss the original Camacho brand…not the crappy Davidoff versions. With the colorful cigar band presentations to make unschooled smokers go “Ooh and Ahh.” Cheap tactic.

Flavors dissipate dramatically leaving only red pepper, malts, raisins, chocolate and cedar. But none stand out.
Sonovabitch. I was looking forward to this blend. If for no other reason that Eiroa spent the time to dress up the cigar to make it look ever so appealing in appearance. A sham.
My luck runs out on the burn line and a sizeable fix is in order.

Smoke time is 25 minutes.

The blend refrains from blossoming and sticks with its roux of chocolate, creaminess, malt, dried fruit, black pepper, cedar, and coffee. The sweetness is being held at ransom by the lingering touch of bitterness.

Well folks, I guess we know conclusively why a limited production cigar released well over a year ago is still on the market. Word of mouth is powerful. Although, I did read a couple reviews and this blend got a few 90 ratings. I don’t see it. Just like I wonder about the way CA rates cigars, I wonder about ties to manufacturers that get douchey cigars a better rating than should be had. There is no way this cigar deserves a 90 especially as I gave the cigar a full 2 months of humidor rest…as it continues to disappoint. As if the cigar is caught in a giant sink hole or quick sand.

Flavors continue on their diminishing scale of returns. Black pepper, some chocolate, a tad touch of nuttiness, malts are gone, sweetness is gone, coffee vanishes, cedar intact, and no sign of dried fruit or fresh citrus.

The crappy cardboard flavor returns and takes over the ship. It’s a coup. A mutiny.

Eiroa is a brilliant blender so why does the CLE Azabache suck? I have no idea. Any time I smoke a limited production blend that is on the market far too long, I experience the same dread. Common sense should dictate that I stay away from these cigars as I do not like dissing a cigar. It’s more fun to rave about one. But at the time I bought these sticks, I had no idea of its current situation in the world of non-sales.

Strength started out at medium. Now it is a much stronger medium/full on its way to kicking my arse.
The bottom falls out. We have black pepper and some kind of woodiness.

The halfway point appears to seal the deal…don’t waste your dough on the CLE Azabache. It was a mistake to release it so don’t make the mistake I did and buy any.
Sure it’s pretty. As a bachelor, I dated lots of pretty girls with blank stares, big boobs, and a total lack of brains. This is the CLE Azabache.

Flavors are gone. All that is left is the black pepper. This is like a cheap bundle cigar.

Of course, I read other reviews and thought I was in for a treat but was cold cocked by the reality of what I am now finding out. The truth. No one wants to piss off Eiroa.

I’m going to skip to the last third as this is now becoming waterboarding to my palate.

Smoke time is 50 minutes.

I believe the CLE Azabache is giving me blue balls. I’ve been dry humping the cigar for two months by being patient and keeping my johnson in my pants. Only to find out I it was all for naught.

There is actually a slight improvement of the flavor profile at this point. Its own version of a sweet spot appears.

Throughout this experience, there have been no transitions, no complexity and a non-existent finish. Flavors are that of a $2 cigar. And zero Wow factor.
Other than that, not bad.

Futility is the word that comes to mind. I keep waiting for something to happen all it does is lay there like a flounder.
At the very least, I should be getting hints of potential…but there is none.

I feel like a guinea pig on this one. I was lured by the beautiful presentation and therefore relinquished my responsibility of using my head. The cigar still being on the market would have stopped me from wasting my money. It was an impulse buy and now I’ve painted myself into a corner…wearing a dumb ass dunce cap.

The CLE Azabache has made a few improvements with the return of small amounts of creaminess, chocolate, sweetness, and coffee…but that’s it. Might as well smoke a Torano.

Bitterness finally subsides allowing flavors a struggling chance.

As the last third shrinks the cigar, I see no reason to continue as the deed is done. The CLE Azabache is not a good cigar so seeing it to the very end is an act of futility.


And now for something completely different (From a review in 2012):

I know a lot of the shit I write about seems impossible or downright fabrications but, my hand to God, they are all true. There is a lot to be said about following your dreams when you are young; and most importantly, being in the right place at the right time. It started with me following my dream of making music my life’s work. Thank goodness a lot of luck followed. The magic is putting yourself out there, taking big chances, and be ready to deliver the goods. None of my young musician friends did what I did. I understand. I was always scared shitless making those giant leaps…but I did them anyway. I was young. I knew music and I was a damn fine bassist. Not bragging. If you are good at something, odds are you know that.

My luck ran out 10 years after I began my career at 24. By the time I was 34, I felt the hunger waning. I had pretty much done everything I had dreamed of doing to some degree or another. There wasn’t much I hadn’t done.

Even my adult friends who continue to take their music seriously and try to earn a living from it…have day gigs. I don’t know a single successful musician friend that doesn’t do something else to make sure his family is housed and fed. Some teach. Others do whatever it takes.

I feel fortunate to have always been able to play out in good bands once I went back to a straight life. It takes the pressure off of you to make enough to survive with money playing out. Club or bar bands don’t make much dough. And I refused to be in a wedding band or cruise ship band playing “Tie a Yellow Ribbon” or Carpenter’s tunes.

Working for a living allows you to cherry pick the bands you want to play in. On the other hand, if you are trying to make a living doing this, you must play with just about anyone to get by. You say to yourself that you’re a great player so why isn’t it happening for me?

Most musicians make $50-$250 per gig depending on the type of band and the number of members. You gig out 3-4 times per week and what have you got? At best…$600 per week.
And no health insurance for your family.

Or you’re divorced because your wife doesn’t understand why you won’t grow up.

I made the decision when I was 34, using a crystal ball and Talmudic writings, to not be a burn out as I got older. The transition was very difficult. I hated my straight job. I hated commercial construction. But it paid well and I could raise a family with middle class status.

I had a decade of excitement and lots of road stories to prove it over the course of my 67 years. As it turns out, the pro music life was merely a small blip in my life…Yet, I was in the thick of things doing what I loved. And making a living doing it.

All things must pass.
OK. Onward Christian Soldiers…

Back in the early 80’s, I had a lot of friends because I owned a recording studio in Long Beach, CA. One of those friends was an L.A. disk jockey on a major rock station. 50,000 watts. KLOS.
His name is Marshall. He used to get me into to the cool places, private parties, and the hard to get into clubs in Hollywood.

I was always jealous of those good DJ guys that had such great pipes. What a gift. Of course, there is a reason none of them made it to TV or the movies. They had a face for radio.

We used to hang out at this one club that is long gone..don’t remember the name and was very small and off the beaten path. I met Ray Manzarek of “The Doors” there. He was very laid back and we saw him there the couple times we visited the club each week. It was a very cool hang out and seemed to attract a lot of musicians. Of course, the cool days to hang out was during the week; not the weekend. The real hipsters stayed away from the throngs.

We got friendly and I explained how I made my bones by playing bass in Curved Air. So we talked music…we traded road stories. It had only been 4 years since I left CA and The Police were huge so my association with drummer Stewart Copeland was a big deal. And we tooted nose candy together. Right there on the table.

The Fabulous Thunderbirds used to play at this club fairly often. And this was when Jimmie Vaughan was in the band…that’s Stevie Ray’s brother for those of you who live in a vacuum.

The club had two floors with a DJ playing music downstairs that held a lot of folks. But upstairs was the place to hang.
There couldn’t have been more than a dozen tables, a bar and no bandstand. The band played on the floor in the corner.

The FT’s were getting airplay back then and since Marshall was a big shot DJ, the boys of the band would always visit with us for a while. Bands knew that if Marshall liked them, they might get some serious airplay on a big station…which of course was not true. DJ’s don’t normally get to choose what they play. The program director takes care of that.

One night, Jimmie suggested I bring my bass with me next time they played. I was in shock. Actually, what was shocking was that this band of extreme talent only filled half the room of a dozen tables. We sat maybe 6’ from the bandstand. And we would kibitz with the band between songs. We turned into good natured hecklers. Sometimes, Manzarek would join us at our table and heckle too. And Vaughan would make “Doors” cracks. We drank, fed our heads, and laughed a lot.

The very next time we visited the club, I brought my 1980 Schecter fretless bass. I studied some of their songs at home so I wouldn’t make an ass of myself. I was ready.

Sure as shit, the boys asked me up to jam on their fourth set when there was basically no one left in the club. I got to play 4 songs with them and did OK. No clams. It was disconcerting having the legendary Ray Manzarek watching you play though.

After the gig, the band sat at our table, with Manzarek, and shot the shit while the roadies packed their gear. We sat there until 5am. These boys were hard drinking fellas. No way could I keep up with them. I had to do a fair amount of toot to stay conscious…which I spread around the table….in fact, everyone shared their stashes. So we talked all over each other and laughed all night…of course, with the club closed, out came the herb. So it was crazy nuts.

Jimmie told stories about his brother. It was about 8 years later that Stevie died. Ray told stories about The Doors that had us all rapt with wonder….

Jimmie told us how a roadie would super glue the tips of Stevie’s fingers back on during concerts. None of us could fathom that and wondered if he was pulling our leg.

The night ended and it wasn’t til that afternoon that I was calm enough to go to bed. Marshall and I continued to visit that club but I never took my bass back. I figured it would be presumptuous of me to bring it without being asked.

The Thunderbirds disappeared into the night playing much bigger gigs…but Ray Manzarek was always there. We eventually began to feel sorry for him. He always seemed to be sad. He took a big fall from grace from the 1960’s to the 1980’s. He got involved in the L.A. punk scene producing and managing….but a far cry from being a huge rock star.

I was shocked to read in 2013 that Manzarek had died of cancer at the early age of 74.

Yeah, doing the drugs was not a good idea but when you are young, you feel immortal. Plus if you were an adult in the early 80’s, you did coke. Unfortunately, I lost friends to that devilish drug over the years who didn’t know when to stop. You can’t do that shit when you are in your 50’s. You die.

But I was smart about it. In 1984, I met the love of my life while on tour, married her, and gave up my full time music career and all the drugs that went with the lifestyle. Went back to work making a decent buck and lived happily ever after. Protection Status


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1 reply

  1. This is one of my favorite stories Grandpa Kat..
    Oh, and about the cigar. Thanks for the warning!

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