June 2, 2010
This was the Camacho feature from the Spring 2009 issue of Cigar Press Magazine. This article was a beautiful 10 page spread pictorial with over 40 photos in print. Story by Thor Nielsen, Photography by Jacob Fuller.
We made our approach from Miami International airport to Toncontín International Airport, in Tegucigalpa, Honduras, the best of us were drunk, groggy, or edgy with anticipation, but were all excited to get on with the next phase of the trip. Suddenly a loud ding-dong chimed and the seatbelt sign turned on. Drained laptops and carry-on containers were placed in the appropriate overhead and under-seat compartments. All electronics including two way pagers and receivers had been turned off. The lights kicked on and blinding rays of sunlight shot through the windows as the plastic shades flung open. Within that single motion the chaos and excitement of landing was silenced and the cabin was still. The mood was deafened by an evident uncertainty and an overwhelming sense of nervousness. Ironically the plane cabin turned from anarchy to prayer in the blink of an eye. Elderly Honduran women crossed themselves while kissing the rosaries clenched in their fists. I clenched a Camacho SLR maduro in mine. Oxygen masks wanted to bust through overhead. People took their seat cushions and positioned them as flotation devices in their arms. The ground below the plane had come inevitably closer. The airplane’s right wing shot vertical into the horizon, followed by a stomach-dropping swoop. Within a blink, up went the left wing. Like a seesaw the plane struggled to balance its position. Out of the window we saw mountains just ten yards from each wing tip. Just then we realized that the pilot’s bobbing and weaving action through the mountains was a necessary evil in order to make the final descent onto one of the world’s shortest, and most notorious runways.
The airplane managed to make one more sharp turn, racing along side the mountain’s edge before the tires finally gripped down on the runway. The brakes smoked and the airplane slowed down. A unanimous roar of applause tore through the cabin. Before the plane could even stop, seat belts clanked open while people grabbed their bags and rushed to the front of the airplane like they were handing out sacks of hundred dollar bills. As I toyed with the Camacho in my fingers I thought about the first time I ever traveled to Honduras. I was on the same trip flying into Tegucigalpa to visit Rancho Jamastran and learn where Camacho cigars came from. The flight into Honduras is almost as exhilarating as the first time you try a freshly rolled Camacho Corojo. It’ll make the hairs on the back of your neck rise, just like walking into Camacho’s fabrica (rolling room) and hearing the sounds of the torcedores (cigar rollers) banging their chevetas (wrapper tobacco cutting tool) on their rolling tables. Camacho was the first cigar factory I had ever been to. Now going back years later to revisit the same farms and factory feels like a sweet reward. I couldn’t wait to see the evolution that had taken place within Camacho cigars since my original visit.
After seeing how a cigar is made and where it comes from, it never seems to taste the same again. The air, ambiance, farmland and culture that surrounds a cigar brand inevitably has a way of becoming part of the cigar, just like every person along the way who has helped bring that experience for us to enjoy. Camacho is a true do-it-yourself organization from start to finish. They grow their own tobacco, produce their own seeds, process their own tobacco, roll, age, and export their own cigars. They have left their signature all over the world with an impression that begins in the Jamastran Valley in Honduras, and ends with clouds of thick, rich smoke all over the world. It becomes hard to think of Honduran cigars, Danli or the Jamastran valley without Camacho coming to mind. They represent a family-owned cigar company that is rich in family tradition and values, while being unique to Honduras, representing the vision of Don Julio Eiroa and his son, Christian Eiroa.
We headed east from the airport in Tegucigalpa for roughly three hours towards Danli, where Camacho cigars are produced. The arduous truck ride is comparable to the landing at the airport no matter who’s driving. Not far from Danli off of an unmarked road we passed a small town opposite a barbed wire fence on a dirt road. Dodging roosters, dogs and children playing in the street, we soon reached an armed guard who opened the gates to Camp Camacho.
Camacho’s core brands include old and new favorites such as LegendArio, Baccarrat, La Fontana, and the brand National. These brands represent an array of flavors and body strengths. Their premium line includes a cigar that not only defined them as a symbol of Honduras, but as a namesake for the entire cigar industry, the Camacho Corojo. This full-bodied, full-flavored cigar was launched in June of 2000 and can now be found all over the world. This particular cigar has been known to put even the most seasoned cigar smoker in their place… sending them searching for the nearest sugar cube to put under their tongue in hopes of lessening the effects of a nicotine overdose. It is Christian’s bold and rebellious nature that enabled him to help revitalize the industry after the mild-bodied boom days of the 1990s. Camacho’s premium cigar line also includes the SLR Natural and Maduro, Camacho Coyolar, and the Camacho Havana.
Camacho claims to have the only true and authentic corojo seed tobacco grown outside of Cuba. Their seeds come directly from the Corojo regions of Cuba, where Don Julio Eiroa once originated before gaining the status of expatriate thanks to the Fidel Castro regime. Julio Eiroa left Cuba in 1958 and fought in the Bay of Pigs invasion in 1961. He is originally a farmer and a cigar manufacturer. He purchased La Victoria, which was a farm at El Corojo in the San Luis district of Cuba. Eventually, Don Julio settled down in the Jamastran valley of Honduras. Don Julio and Christian Eiroa are a father and son team, representing two ends of the spectrum. Christian’s father, Don Julio prefers the lighter side of cigars while Christian is intrigued with full-body powerhouses. You can easily find yourself engulfed with Christian’s quest for the most full-bodied cigar he can muster, or be captivated with the milder, traditionally sweet-tipped La Fontana line. Over the past few years Camacho cigars have grown and developed, proving themselves to the cigar smoking culture over and over again. They have introduced new lines that prove their capability to make extraordinary cigars with a large range of flavor profiles and body strengths.
The ultra premium line of cigars is the best representation of what Camacho has to offer. They are only offered at select retailers. Each cigar, from the Triple Maduro, to Camacho 10th Anniversary, to the famous (and sometimes infamous for novices) Camacho Diploma, Liberty series, or the Camacho Select, are the top of the line for Camacho Cigars.
Camacho runs a tight ship when it comes to the cigar making process and cuts no corners along the way. The cigar making and tobacco processing methods are impeccably clean. There is no cooking, dying, or tampering with the wrapper just to give it more shelf appeal. The tobacco you find in and on Camacho’s cigars is the result of following a natural, time-honored and maintained process. It is tobacco that is properly cured, fermented, and aged. Not all companies have the luxury of growing their own tobacco while also creating the best cigars possible with top grade tobacco from their own farms. The ultra premium line of Camacho Cigars represents the choicest tobaccos available from Camacho’s own farms. No other cigar in the market tastes like a Camacho, which is one of the reasons that their family and brand name has been able to gain a legendary status in the cigar world.
Camacho is included amongst the ranks of all of the great cigar manufacturers of any era, and are without a doubt a staple in the worldwide cigar industry. They stand apart from the rest because of their unique flavor, feel and overall impression. Camacho has not only become known as a symbol of quality, but also as a symbol of Honduras. They are certainly one of the finest examples of excellence in Honduran cigars and cigar making.