[Editor’s Note: I first met Tony in 1985 in US Army Basic Training at Fort Bliss, El Paso, Texas. He and I were both from Milwaukee and were both going on to the Medical Corps after basic and became friends. After basic training, Tony and I met up again in Advanced Individual Training at Fort Sam Houston, San Antonio, Texas. It’s here that he and I smoked our first cigars together, the year was 1986. The Cigar Boom was a few years off and neither Tony nor I knew anything about premium cigars at the time beyond what Finck’s Cigars in San Antonio had to offer for about a buck. He and I smoked nearly every brand Finck’s carried within our meager price range during the months we spent there, often accompanied by the cheapest beer to be had at the PX. After training, Tony went east, moving to Brooklyn while I returned home to Milwaukee. Tony and I keep in touch regularly and as his job entails frequent trips back to Milwaukee. Tony and I continue to get together for cigars as often as we can. And although we don’t smoke nearly as many Finck’s brand cigars anymore, we still fire up a good old, and I mean old, Havana Blend for sentiment’s sake from time to time. This first article opens with a recent discussion Tony and I had about the Licenciados Cameroon Robusto and finishes with Tony’s review.
(Scene: Inside garage, two men seated in folding chairs with cigars; cutters, lighters, and drinks lay around their feet….)
Marty: Hey Tony, have I got a deal for you…
Tony: Un-huh, deal… I know your deals.
Marty: No, really. I’ve got the perfect cigar for you… all you’ve got to do is sit here and smoke it, then tell me what you think about it. That’s it.
Tony: Un-huh, don’t believe you…. There’s got to be more… there’s always more with your “deals.”
Marty: Yeah, so anyway, here’s the cigar. It’s a Licenciados Cameroon Robusto from Mike’s down in Miami.
Tony: Great, so your idea of a perfect cigar for me is a store brand? (Punch; right in the arm….Did I mention that Tony was a boxer?)
Marty: Ow, bastard! No, it’s not a “store brand,” it’s made by Manuel Quesada at MATASA down in the Dominican Republic. You know Quesada, he makes Casa Magna… I know you like those.
Tony: So, you don’t bring me a Casa Magna (punch; in the other arm) but this is made by the same guy?
Marty: Ow, damn it, stop! Yes, same guy. Actually, this cigar even reminds me of you a bit. It’s short, dark, the wrapper’s from Cameroon, strong cigar, heavy smoke, great taste.
Tony: Well, dark, and strong with great taste does sound like me, but I don’t care for that short part. (Punch; back to the first arm again…)
Marty: Son of a…… will you quit hitting me, dammit… Trust me on this one, you’ll like the cigar.
Tony: Yeah, well we’ll see. (One final punch to the other arm….)
So, the other day, I get a call from my old Army buddy, Marty. He told me he found a new cigar for me to try; one that reminded him of me. I have to admit, my curiosity got the best of me, so a few days ago I stopped over at his place for a smoke.
The cigar he produced was a Licenciados Cameroon Robusto; an admittedly short, thick cigar with a dark brown, Cameroon wrapper. He told me that the cigar reminded him of me because of its short stature, thick body, and dark wrapper. First I punched him; then I tried his cigar…
The Licenciados Cameroon Robusto was a thick, short cigar, but it is this that made the flavors and aromas of the cigar shine through. The cigar started out a bit mild, but quickly became more full bodied and rich. The smoke was thick and smooth with a strong spicy component in the nose.
The cigar gained intensity and complexity as I continued to smoke it, turning into a medium to medium/full body with tons of spice and just a touch of sweetness.
For a “store brand” the Licenciados Cameroon Robusto surprised me. It smoked great, produced tons of sweet and spicy smoke with a good amount of body to it. The flavors and aromas built in intensity ensuring continued interest throughout the entire smoke. The quality and construction were what I would expect from a great shop like MATASA, whose Casa Magna Oscuro is one of my favorite smokes. Then, when I went online and looked at the prices at Mike’s Cigars and found that the Licenciados Cameroon Robusto are a mere $92.95 per box of 25 (a paltry $3.70 per stick) and that was the icing on the cake; I ordered a box. You should too!
– Tony Short