The year was 2007 and Julio Eiroa launched a special Cameroon cigar for his family’s brand, Camacho. It was a super-premium cigar called Camacho Select. Initially, it was only available at select retailers, but demand forced the company to make more and release it throughout the United States. It was praised for its richness and aroma. However, a year later, the Camacho brand was sold to Davidoff and the Select fell by the wayside. But Julio never forgot that special Cameroon cigar, or the tobacco.
Julio has a natural calling as a farmer, being one of the first Cuban expats to set up shop in Honduras in the 1960s. His love for the land, in his case Jamastrán, is obvious. Under Julio’s guidance, Camacho was known for its original seed Corojo from the farm of the same name in Cuba. But after selling the brand to Davidoff, Julio continued to farm and realized he was sitting on lots of tobacco, because the new Camacho owners did not want his crops. So in 2015, Julio and his older son Justo started a cigar company using Julio’s initials – JRE.Their first release used much of the Corojo and Habano tobaccos grown at the farm. Being a tobacco man at heart, however, Julio began growing Connecticut in Honduras and then remembered his love of the Cameroon. In 2018, he planted about five acres of Cameroon tobacco, compared to his 100 acres of Corojo.
The results were terrific, though Julio admits that Cameroon can be tricky, adding that he tried it three times before getting it just right. “With Cameroon, testing could only be done once a year, which was not easy,” he explains. “All tobacco varieties have their own unique characteristics, both in crops, sizes, priming, drying, etc. I didn’t have the experience at the beginning, even though I understand tobacco, but I learned about the uniqueness of Cameroon.” The results are worth it, says Julio, “It’s known and recognized as one of the best wrappers in the world for its characteristics.”
The result is this year’s release of the Aladino Cameroon. The silky Honduran-grown Cameroon wrapper covers the same Corojo binder and filler as the regular Aladino line. The line debuted this spring, but now due to the situation surrounding COVID-19, business has slowed down. Justo Eiroa says his father’s farm and factory were open longer than others because of the certifications by the pharmaceutical company Bayer, however, in March, the country did order the factory to close, while allowing the farming operation to continue. The reason was that the tobacco was still in the fields and needed to be harvested and then put up in the barns. If the farming operation and curing process were forced to stop, the whole crop could be lost. In addition, in Florida all non-essential businesses have been forced to close, meaning that distribution of Aladino has been suspended.Justo and Julio are looking forward to the end of the quarantines in Honduras and the United States. They say that once the virus subsides and businesses open up again, JRE will immediately be able to fill its pipelines.