Ten of the Best Cameroon Wrapper Cigars You Should be Smoking
By Gary Korb
“There were moments when one’s past came back to one, as it will sometimes when you have not a moment to spare for yourself; but it came in the shape of an unrestful and noisy dream, remembered with wonder amongst the overwhelming realities of this strange world of plants, and water, and silence.” – Joseph Conrad, Heart of Darkness
Africa, “the dark continent,” teeming with untold riches. Among them, an exquisite and flavorful tobacco leaf that imparts a sweet-spicy flavor and aroma to a fine cigar. Located in the northwestern quadrant of the continent nestled between Nigeria to the north and the Republic of Congo to the south, Cameroon, like Ecuador, has an ideal climate for growing tobacco and a heavenly canopy of natural cloud cover for producing this toothy, yet delicate tobacco that, when perfectly aged, will entice a cigar lover’s palate with toasty notes of leather, pepper, and sweet wood.
Possessing similar flavor characteristics to Cuban tobacco, Cameroon wrapper was originally used on some early Dominican-made cigars to give them a Cubanesque bouquet. These days, Grade-1 Cameroon is one of the most expensive wrapper leaves, yet, although it is found in many cigars made by Partagas and Arturo Fuente cigars, premiums rolled with Cameroon wrapper are more atypical among handmades. Moreover, when rolled around the right balance of fillers and binders, Cameroon will impart more complexity to the blend.
I’ve been a fan of Cameroon wrapper since I smoked my first Fuente 8-5-8 Flor Fina cigar 15 years ago. So, in an effort to raise your awareness about the most redeeming qualities of Cameroon capa, below are 10 cigars I’ve found to be especially outstanding for their body, flavor, complexity, and aroma. Ready to sail into the heart of darkness? Climb aboard. . .
ACID One (5″ x 54 Torpedo)
ACID Cigars may not be the first thing that comes to mind when looking for premium cigars with African Cameroon wrappers, but the ACID One comes with an additional surprise. Although it has the familiar sweetened cap, unlike most ACIDs, ACID One is non-aromatic. The Nicaraguan core tobaccos used for this shorter Torpedo are cured with red wines from California, Italy, France, and Spain along with some Nicaraguan Sangria. The cigar offers a perfect burn with a subtle spiciness plus tannin notes that naturally meld with the wrapper’s inherent spice and aroma properties. The result is a smoke of “singular” proportions that pairs well with a glass of Pinot Noir, or a good Burgundy.
Arturo Fuente Don Carlos No.3 (5½” x 44 Corona)
The Arturo Fuente Don Carlos selection was created in honor of the Fuente family patriarch, Don Carlos Fuente Sr., and is considered among the world’s most admired cigars. The construction is as good as it gets, and the core consists of vintage Dominican tobaccos that have been aged for 10 years, which is why they’re made in very limited quantity. The African Cameroon wrappers are equally exquisite, and when you think about it, the Fuente’s could have used any wrapper they wanted, but they went with Cameroon. That alone should tell you how precious and flavorful this wrapper leaf is, right there. The No.3’s dimensions are also ideal for issuing a smoke that’s creamy-smooth, full-flavored, perfectly balanced, and brimming with spicy complexity. Yet, despite its luxury-class quality, the No.3 is also surprisingly affordable. Smoke it with you favorite pairing. You can’t miss.
CAO CX2 Robusto (5″ x 52)
If you’re already a fan of Cameroon wrapper leaf, the CAO CX2 Robusto will double your pleasure. Why? Because it’s handcrafted with both a toothy, top-grade African Cameroon wrapper and a Cameroon binder that envelop a well-balanced blend of hearty Nicaraguan and Colombian long-fillers. The velvety smoke is medium-bodied with notes of earth, sweet wood, spice, and you may pick up a hint of roasted coffee bean, too. Great any time of day, or try it after dinner with a fine Port or dark Rum.
Carlos Toraño 1916 Robusto (5½” x 52)
Taking a walk on the milder side, the Carlos Toraño 1916 selection is one of the most definitive African Cameroon cigars, because the wrapper is a real standout. Overwrapped in cedar sleeves to preserve their aging room bouquet, the core consists of perfectly-balanced Nicaraguan and Honduran long-fillers. The Robusto has become one of my favorite “first smoke of the day” cigars for its ultra-creamy, medium-bodied smoke laced with mellow flavors of cedar, toasted nuts, and nutmeg; plus, it’s never disappointed. It’s also one of the most relaxing cigars you’ll ever smoke. Perfect for new cigar smokers who want to discover the complexities of Cameroon wrapper at a very reasonable price.
Cohiba “Red Dot” Robusto (5″ x 49)
Remember I noted above that some early Dominican cigars were rolled with Cameroon wrapper for its similarity to Cuban tobacco? Well, here’s a perfect example. With a name that virtually defines Cuban cigars, the Dominican “Red Dot” Cohiba made by General Cigar does just that. Using long-aged Dominican Cuban-seed long-fillers framed by an Indonesian Jember binder, then capped with an exquisite African Cameroon wrapper, the Robusto achieves a flavor that’s as distinctive as its Cuban cousins. The creamy, aromatic smoke is medium-bodied and laden with notes of cedar, spice and sweet tobacco. Made to the highest standards, this Dominican Cohiba is worthy of its name, and well worth a try, even for newer cigar smokers. The Robusto goes well with cafecito (espresso & sugar), or pairing it with a long-aged Bourbon, Single Malt Scotch, or dark Rum will bring out even more of its finer qualities.
H. Upmann Vintage Cameroon Toro (6″ x 54)
Here’s another historic Cuban cigar in a Dominican-made blend that I would compare to the Toraño 1916 above in terms of getting a good “feel” for the taste of African Cameroon wrapper. (They also come in cedar sleeves.) This medium-bodied cigar is a bit more complex, too, with its blend of Dominican, Nicaraguan and Peruvian tobaccos at the core. I like the Toro for its 54-ring dimensions that reveals more of its redolent, cedary aroma while offering a more full-flavored smoke. Rich-tasting notes of wood and nuts prevail, underscored by a creamy spiciness throughout. Another highly-recommended cigar for new cigar smokers or vets who prefer milder cigars. Great with coffee in the morning, but equally enjoyable any time of day.
Hemingway Work of Art (4 7/8″ x 56 Figurado)
Here’s a cigar that really lives up to its name, and as the Arturo Fuente Cigars website says, “It takes a real master to make a true Perfecto cigar.” Yes, construction-wise, few figurados are made to this exacting standard, but it’s the smoke in this attractive-looking cigar loaded with perfectly-aged Dominican long-fillers that makes it one of the best African Cameroon-wrapped examples you’ll ever put to your lips. Medium in body, this is a real showboat with a head-turning aroma that issues an ultra-smooth and chewy smoke with a honey-like sweetness, plus notes of dark chocolate, cedar, nutmeg and other savory spices. You might look at this vitola as one of those “special occasion cigars,” but it’s priced pretty reasonably. It pairs beautifully with a good rum, too, which I’m sure Ernest Hemingway often enjoyed with his Cuban cigars. Who knows? It may even inspire you to write the great American novel.
La Aurora Preferidos Platinum Cameroon No.2 Tubo (5″ x 54)
Talk about perfection when it comes to Perfectos, La Aurora has been making this classic shape since 1903 when 18 year-old Eduardo León Jimenes founded the company. It’s my favorite shape (they call it a doble figurado, for its twin tapered head and foot), and I’ve only found a few that smoke as well as this No.2. The blend consists of choice Cameroon, Brazilian, and Dominican longfillers aged in oak rum-barrels and capped by an oily mouthwatering African Cameroon leaf (trust me, it looks gorgeous). The fragrant smoke is dense, full-bodied, and complex issuing well-balanced notes of oak, pepper, earth, leather, spices, and just the right amount of sweetness on the finish. Presented in elegant, eye-catching tubos, if you’re looking for something really different, or a great “special occasion cigar,” put the La Aurora Preferidos Platinum No.2 at the top of your list.
Oliva Serie G Torpedo (6½” x 52, Box-pressed)
Ever seen a box-pressed Torpedo? Well, you have now. This Oliva Serie G Torpedo is quite a stunner and looks more expensive than it is, too. It’s also a marvel at how Oliva got its delicate African Cameroon wrapper to square so flawlessly. Under that specially-aged wrapper lies a core of Nicaraguan Habano-seed long-fillers for a creamy, medium-bodied smoke laced with well-balanced notes of earth, cedar, spice, and dark roasted coffee. Another excellent choice for new cigar smokers with a reasonable price, an enjoyable mix of flavors, and evocative aroma.
Rocky Patel Vintage 2003 Cameroon Toro (6½” x 52)
I’ve been a fan of Rocky’s Vintage series since he released his 1990 & 1992 editions back in 2003. So when he came out with the Vintage 2003 Cameroon, I picked up the Toro and never looked back. A perfectly-aged, 2003 African Cameroon wrapper conceals a perfectly-balanced blend of eight-year-aged Nicaraguan and Dominican long-fillers. The chewy smoke is medium, medium-plus and brimming with flavors of cedar, dark chocolate, espresso, and sweet spice with an aroma to die for. This has become one of my personal Rocky Patel favorites over the years, and I always have some on-hand. For both newer and more experienced cigar smokers, I can’t recommend them highly enough.
So, there you have it – the scrumptious world of African Cameroon cigars. I would only add one small piece of advice: Because African Cameroon wrapper tends to be quite delicate, I suggest storing them with their cellos on to avoid tearing them while rummaging through your humidor.
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