Caminos El Retiro | Cigar Reviews by the Katman

Wrapper: Negrito
Binder: Vizo 2020, Vizo Criollo 98, Ligero Criollo 98, Ligero 2020
Filler: Havana Vuelta Arriba
Size: 5.5 x 54 Cortos
Strength: Medium/Full
Price: $8.25

Today we take a look at the Caminos El Retiro.
A gift from a good friend, John P.
Thanks to Tyler Jeffery for a place to sit and write this review:

Debuted at the 2016 IPCPR trade show.
Regular production
Cigars can be purchased online at the Caminos Cigars web site.
Blended by Francisco Chico Rivas (Chogui)

Largos: 7 x 48 $9.25
Cortos: 5.5 x 54 $8.25
Trillo: 6 x 52 $8.75

This is a stout fucking cigar. Like a small telephone pole in my hand. (I’m not telling what’s in my other hand but it ain’t no telephone pole).
Solid as all get out. Rock hard. Stiff as a board. Kryptonite.
The wrapper is a beautiful mottled caramel/rust color. Seams are hidden but vein content is in overload. Looks like a map of the London Underground.
And lastly, the triple cap is flawless.

From the shaft, I can smell honeysuckle, black pepper, cream, mild cocoa and coffee, cedar, and a generic sweetness.
From the clipped cap and the foot, I can smell strong barnyard, really potent black pepper, cinnamon toothpicks, lots of perfumey honeysuckle, chocolate, espresso, and cream.
The cold draw presents flavors of oodles of cedar, black pepper, malt, espresso, cocoa, and cinnamon.

The draw belies its petrified wood appearance and feel. Don’t need my PerfecDraw cigar poker.
Early flavors are bland. Nothing pops. But there are elements of honey, malt, pepper, Ritz crackers, and milk chocolate.

A few minutes later, we have a rover landing of caramel and fruit. This is yummy. (Great. I’m talking like a 6 year old little girl).

The fruit is dark cherries. Very sweet but earthy.
I may have to use my PerfecDraw because the stick keeps going out. Ream away the bad and suck in the good. (???)

A touch of complexity arises from the ashes giving a pleasant approach that was missing during the first puffs. But then this is a big cigar…for me anyway. I find big ring gauge sticks take a long time before the blender’s intent is found floating around my parietal lobe.
Cherries go bye bye. Replaced by either hanging fruit like apple or pear.

I’m writing on location today. Can’t smoke at home because of Charlotte’s upcoming surgery so I’m at my local B&M Havana Lounge and Cigar here in West Allis, WI.

And you will never guess who I’m talking to while I’m reviewing this cigar: Glen Case of Kristoff Cigars. He is doing a couple events here in Milwaukee so we had a nice talk. He told me he is bringing back the 2004 Kristoff Vengeance. They have gone through 15 iterations of the blend trying to get it right. It sounds pretty damn fine. Can’t wait.

Glen doesn’t know this and won’t til he leaves…I took his wallet when he was on the phone. All I found was his membership card to the 1966 Playboy Club on Sunset Blvd…and a nude photo of his dog, Maurice. No cash.
Glen Case thinking another idiot wants my photograph:

Back to the Caminos El Retiro. I’ve had this cigar marinating for over 2 months. It should be ready to go. But it is a slow crawl due to the jamming of tobacco into its natural casing using hydraulic gear. This should be a 90 minute smoke. It may be an all-day sucker at this rate.

The Caminos El Retiro slouches in its chair…going bland on me. I hate a prick teaser. It started out slow but then showed some potential only to be flattened like a Texan armadillo…I dated an armadillo but I realized too late when I discovered she wasn’t a possum as I first thought.

I’m getting char line issues.
This is my prediction….follow along…Cigar blend starts out slow, gets better, then hanged by the neck til dead, recovers in the second half…and then…who knows? The cigar has been out almost a year and I think I counted 3 or 4 reviews. Not a good sign for a burgeoning blend. I see the writing but I ignore it like I did my Hebrew lessons just before my Bar Mitzvah.

Little glimpses of undressed women but then it quickly redirects my attention to a locker room full of old fat men with balls around their ankles.

I believe I’ve written around 3000 words and I’ve not gotten to the second third.
There is a charred smoky meat element now. It’s like walking into your favorite BBQ joint and inhaling all that wonderful smokiness. The fruit is apple; not pear. The caramel becomes a playa’.

Smoke time is 45 minutes. Yikes!

Oh yeah….strength. Medium moving towards medium/full.

Black pepper hits the back of my throat like me using a ball peen hammer to fix my laptop every day.
And here it is: Inconsistent. The death knell for any cigar blend. I’m going to say something really negative about Kristoff Cigars now because Glen Case said he was going to read this review. “I once had a Kristoff cigar.” That’s it.

The few reviews I took a gander at are reporting the same experience as mine. A limited amount of generic flavors that don’t seem to stray from one palate to another. A one trick pony.

A graham cracker sweetness appears and brings out the creaminess and cinnamon. Malts decide to join the circle jerk.

Real complexity finally precedes me giving this blend a rating of 4. Do we have change? Do we have lizards licking your ear lobes? Do we have a history of doing drugs when we were young? If you answered any of these questions, my wife is accepting new patients.

Speaking of mental patients, there is a middle age morbidly obese guy sitting at the bar right next to where I’m typing. He says to Tyler’s dad who is visiting, “What does a Jewish pedophile say to kids?” Tyler’s dad, Dirty Dan, heard the punchline and just shook his head in disgust. It was “Little girl…do you want to ‘buy’ some chocolates?”
So I got up and put my face into the asshole’s and asked him to repeat the joke. He did. Then he saw I didn’t smile and asked if I was a Jew? Well, you know the answer. Fucking people. I gotta make a call to the Jewish Defense League. They will disappear him within 5 hours of my phone call.

In a bizarre way, I know what it is like to be a person of color. Except I’m Caucasian. So idiots make Jew jokes in front of me my entire life; both in personal situations and work. I don’t have a big stereotype Jewish shnoz. So everyone is always surprised when I say, “Yeah, I’m a Jew.”
So what’s worse? It’s a conundrum. People insult you behind your back. Or they insult you to your face because they don’t know you’re the object of their bigotry?

The cigar. Caminos El Retiro. C’mon. Do something!
Construction is on point. The blend…not so much.

It comes and goes and comes and goes…This is the bane of all blenders. You just know that these guys realize they are selling dog turds but since they have invested their mother’s pension into the development of the blend, they aren’t scrapping it. In fact, they are hoping they can get away with murder and sell the stinker off to smokers who don’t know any better. You came to the wrong laptop my dear.

The halfway point arrives and it only took 14 hours.

Maybe this is a prime example of very old school blending. Then again, I might be hiding three penises in my boxers.
There is just enough flavor to not make me want to ditch the review and come back another day with a better cigar.
Just as the flavor profile appears to hit the last curve on the track and is making its run for the gold, it trips and falls flat on its face killing the jockey and shocking the greyhound into speaking Greek, Italian, and Estonian. Go figure.

I’m wearing this tee shirt today. No one gets it. Do you? Comment below.

It always figures that the cigars that take the longest to smoke are the inconsequential blends. I should be reviewing a Kristoff. I gave Mr. Case my business card. Maybe he won’t be a stick in the mud and send me his new blends when they appear. Come on Glen. I will tickle your tummy and rub your forehead if you do.

Strength is medium/full.

Creaminess and malts now dominate the blend. Who cares.
The black pepper has not allowed any letup. It sits in the back of my throat making me jones for a Luden’s cough drop.

It was 1979 and my girlfriend of 8 years dumped me. She made me cry for days and then she came back. We took a ride to Palm Springs and took the gondola up the mountain to hike around the mountains surrounding the valley.
We hiked to where we thought we were alone and she began to give me head. About 5 minutes into it, we heard giggles. Right above us was the trail where anyone could walk and there was around 30 people standing and watching.
When we got home, my girlfriend broke up with me for good.

OK. The Caminos El Retiro. Oy.
Man, I’ve been dying to smoke this baby for two months. If I were you, I’d take a nap right now or go read the new FDA rules along with the new federal budget.

This is a good time to tell you about my buddy Tyler Jeffery. He is the man here at Havana Lounge and Cigar.
We met because we both have rodent fucking fetishes. We don’t actually fuck them but we do make them clean our bathrooms with baby wipes and then BBQ them afterwards. My favorite rodent is the Capybaras. Tyler loves the Tuco-Tuco because they are small and he can fit 5 into his mouth at once.

Tyler recently had a series of surgeries to his nasal passages. Really. No shit. Turns out he is telling folks it was a benign tumor. Nope. His sinus cavity became full of Tuco fur and this caused him to sneeze with fur flying out of his nose while tending bar at the cigar shop. Most patrons don’t mind since they water the drinks down so much.

I’m going to skip to the last third or I will still be here for Passover.

Smoke time: 2-1/2 days.

Ever want to make time stop? Smoke a Caminos El Retiro.

And then the inevitable happens….It’s Alive! It’s Alive!
It now surpasses a $5 Torano and is aiming for the stars by becoming a high falutin Quorum.

I check the reviews again. Am I hallucinating? Most are giving the cigar a rating of 85-90. I’m either really fucked up and out of my mind because I’m star struck by getting to meet Glen Case of Kristoff Cigars or I’m OK and the cigar is a turkey on roller skates.

Flavors really do begin to finally come together in the last third. From experience, I know this confirms the cigar is a dud. At the very least after two months of humidor time, I should have tasted great potential from the start with maybe just a small lull in the first third. But this Universal Pictures monster waits til it is highly annoying that it made me smoke for an hour and a half before hitting a base hit to centerfield.

Strength is now full.

Nicotine rears its pretty head. I haven’t smoke much lately and I’ve become super sensitive to Vitamin N. My head is spinning. My vision is blurred. And one of the patrons at the bar says my fly is down.

I get the feeling that if Rivas had just spent a little more time and focus on this blend it could have been something special. Rivas has another blend on his web site called TMM. I have one but now I don’t know if I want to review it. Writing shitty reviews isn’t much fun. And all it does is warn you off buying one. You can buy one. No more.

I get little blasts of flavor that please my palate. But they are light and disappear into the ether without warning or pronouncement.

I trudge through the final moments of the Caminos El Retiro and call it a day.
This was a few hours I’ll never get back.


And now for something completely different:
This old story popped up in readers’ search for an inexpensive catalog cigar I reviewed about 3 years ago.
It was the first time I took acid. 1973. I was 23.
A good friend, and band mate Mike Cook, now passed (prostate cancer), came over with some blotter and we decided to make the day of it.

Two friends and I had rented a house in Santa Ana, Ca. They were gone for the day…so just me and Mike.
We had recently moved into the house less than a month earlier. And while putting the very first thing into the rented moving truck, I had an accident and broke my wrist. My 10 speed bike I’d had from the age of 13 did me in.

I took a flying leap trying to drive the bike up the ramp and just as I got to the top, I ran out of steam and fell sideways to the ground, four feet below. My feet were in the rat traps so the only thing I could use to break my fall was my right arm. Snap!

A whole bunch of friends had accepted our invitation to help all us move from our 3 different abodes.
I walked back into the apartment where everyone was drinking and smoking joints and I said, “I think I broke my arm.”

My oldest buddy, Skip, grabbed it…looked at it and said I was fine. He now makes antibiotics for farm animals.

That day was horrendous. It ended up being a 15 hour move. And to make things much worse, no one knew how to drive a stick on that big truck but me. The stick seemed like it was 6 feet tall. And each time I had to use it, I screamed out in pain.

On the way back from Riverside (where the third friend was moving from), one of the guys said he would drive the truck. Why he let me drive that whole time in so much pain is beyond me.
Mike and I were in the back with the door closed. It was pitch black. And the pain was making me crazy. It had now been 12 hours since I heard my wrist snap.
Mike told me to take a hit of hash, which I did. Then the pain went from 0-60 in 4.4 seconds.

That night, we partied in the new place and everyone had to put their two cents in by grabbing my arm, while I screamed, and told me I was OK.

Two days later, on Monday, I went to an orthopod and all he did was look at it as he passed me in the hall and told me it was broken. But an X-ray was in order.

Anyway, back to the acid story.
Mike handed me the little piece of blotter paper and we sat on the living room floor and listened to records and read our Hippie counter culture comics.

45 minutes later, the acid hit me. Whoa. You cannot explain what taking acid is like to someone who has never taken it. Like Jimi said, “Are You Experienced?”
Mike got real paranoid and did a lot of stupid things.

Two things stand out in my memory.
The first being that Mike told me he was worried that I would hit myself in the head with my cast and split my head in two. So he spent a lot of time holding my arm to make sure that didn’t happen. I kept saying, “OW!”…a lot.

The second was that a song came on the radio called “Frankenstein” by the Edgar Winter Band. It was an instrumental. A synthesizer part came on and we began to freak so Mike yelled at me to turn the radio off.
I crawled over to the radio and it might as well have been the dashboard on the NASA shuttle. I had no idea how to do anything. All those knobs confused me so we had to leave it on.

That evening, friends stopped by and one took me for a ride in his new sports car. I was still frying and he knew it so he drove like a maniac scaring the shit out of me.

That’s the nice thing about friends. They are always there to take advantage of your situation.
Late that night, the stuff wore off and the hallucinations stopped. I was a limp noodle.

I took it another time when we went to Disneyland. That was a huge mistake. Standing in those long lines; frying. It felt like everyone in line knew what was going on.

And the third, and last time, I took acid was on my 25th birthday in London. It was the perfect trip and around a dozen or so of my musical friends took it with me. It was a great night and I made the decision to never take it again. Go out on a good experience.

And now for something completely different Part 2:
The Eddie Munster Chronicles 1983:

It was the day before the first shoot. I hadn’t written a script yet because Butch kept putting off getting together with me. Thank goodness because I got a hair up my ass and whipped it out in two minutes. No changes needed.

The first shoot was an exterior. There is a line in the song that says, “I got up and left school.” So we got the infamous George Barris to loan us John Travolta’s souped up Trans Am. George insisted that he provide the driver. The scene was two shots. It was Butch running down the steps of the high school in cap and gown. And the second was the Trans Am burning rubber taking off from the school.
Our second shoot for the Eddie Munster video (“Whatever Happened to Eddie?”) was a complete success. We fooled the cops on Sunset Blvd and shot right in front of Hollywood High School. But that was only 2 scenes. My shooting script had 31 more scenes to go.

I scoped locations. In San Pedro, CA, there is a permanently docked boat that has a couple restaurants, and a chapel on top.

The chapel would be perfect and I made financial arrangements with the chaplain.

I gathered my crew, and my extras, and the band and we showed up at the Princess Louise around 6pm.
I was immediately met by the owner of the boat who said the chaplain had no authority to allow us to shoot. FUCK! (%#^$#%&*(*&!!!!
$2000 please…as the owner stood next to his brand new Rolls Royce.

I drove home like a maniac while the crew was moving their gear to the chapel. I went into my safe and grabbed the dough. The owner, and his Rolls Royce, were waiting for me. I handed the money over and he left but not before I gave him the finger. Only a few of my crew knew what had happened. I couldn’t afford another disaster like the mortuary catastrophe. (Another story)

I had rented 5 outlandishly decorated caskets from Cassandra the Casket Queen in Hollywood. We were forced to hold them over our heads as we transported them upstairs to the chapel. We actually had to wind our way through a crowded restaurant to do this. Forks fell in unison.

The camera crew set up in the chapel while our make-up artist did her thing with the band members….Eddie in white; while the Monsters were in green make up. All good looking boys. In fact, one of them was Butch’s brother, Mike.

I go over the script with Marvin Rush, my cinematographer (Who went on to be one of the most used cinematographers in L.A. He did some Star Trek movies.)

One of his crew members voices an opinion that it can’t be done in one night. Marvin immediately tells him to shut up. He tells the guy that Phil is the director and they will do whatever it takes to get it done.

The extras are ready. I picked regular folks. No models or pretty people.

I quickly spend a few minutes with all concerned to tell them what I need from them.
And then I yell “Action.”

We had begun to shoot our first scene of the night. Now mind you, the song was just barely 2 minutes long and I had written 33 scenes to shoot. That meant an edit every 3.6 seconds. The same way the Bourne movies are edited. Blink and miss a scene.

The first shot was of the 50 extras dancing into the chapel while the music played. I purposely picked a huge array of types; fat women, fat men, a rainbow coalition of ethnicities, young and old, and they were all thrilled to be there and have their 15 minutes, or shall I say 7.2 seconds? The longest scene of the video.

One of my friends, Ben, brought his friend, Jasper. Both were very well dressed in three piece suits. So I put them up front for two reasons….they were dressed to the nines, and could move their fat asses like no one else in the crowd.

One of the shots had the camera on them as they sang the chorus. All they had to was lip sync the title of the song. It turned out that it was the only shot of the night that required more than two takes. Jasper, could not for the life of him, remember the words, “Whatever Happened to Eddie?” So his mouth moved in total non-unison with the song. It was driving me nuts and taking too much time.

It was the only time I acted like a prima donna during the whole project. I screamed at Jasper that is he stupid or what? It was like talking to Forrest Gump. He just couldn’t do it. He promised he would on the threat of being sent away. I had 49 other extras lip syncing perfectly and there was Jasper in the second row fucking it all up.

I didn’t want to look at the play back. I had to move on….But I heard Marvin, my camera man, laughing so I knew that Jasper had failed miserably. That was the only scene where we needed extras so, upon completion of that part of the video, I sent them home.

And then we moved on to the parts with Butch and the band.
And it got really hairy at this point….things happened…the night turned into morning and everyone was running on cocaine…..tempers were out of control….
To be continued…..


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14 replies

  1. Hi Phil,
    I love chicken pot pie!


  2. Chicken Pot Pie

  3. Chicken. Pot. Pie

  4. Chicken pot pie! I love your stories and reviews Phil. Perfect accompaniment to sitting on my porch and enjoying a stogie. Most glad to see you’re writing regularly, and I hope your wife comes through her operation in good stead.

  5. Why would you wear a Cock Pie shirt?
    Maybe that’s all you really needed to write to describe the cigar?
    I’m glad you reviewed it, I may have purchased one just out of interest for the purdy band.
    Thanks for the chuckles, that’s what I like about you, you make me laugh while you endure these dog turds so we don’t have to.
    Everybody things their a comedian, you, in the other hand, are fricking funny.
    Stay strong….

  6. Hi (Insert name here),
    Thank you for the kind and generous words. And I concur with your assessment. When I rave about a cigar, I’m all excited and way less funny…when I have a turd to report on, funny is the only way I can get out alive without hanging myself for tying myself to a piece of shit blend for 3 hours (My reviews, in real time, take on average 3-1/2 hours). I really get into being an unbearable smart ass.
    You made my day (Insert name here – What is your name?),

  7. Todd, but you can call me Todd.

  8. Katman, I can’t let Caminos go out like this. I’m sure its the size of the cigar that caused the issue. Please let me know how many cigars you need for review so we can get this done properly. If I remember I think yo need 3 but hell might as well send a 5er but the other 2 will probably be something else. I have no affilliation with the brand I just enjoy it. Your my go to source for reviews and I think we have similar tastes in sticks. Let me me know how many and where to send the package.



  9. Where lurks the Katman? I hate the silence.

  10. Both my wife and I are having health issues at the same time. I expect to be back soon. We both need surgery but Charlotte’s is a priority so I will have to wait. I’m anxious to return…some good sticks that need the katman treatment.

  11. You two get well soon Phil!

  12. Thanks Vince…we are doing our best for a couple of old farts…
    By Monday, both Charlotte and I will know our final prognosis and be able to tag team our surgeries.

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