Casta Cigars Pre-Embargo Fusion, Puro and Mareba Brazilian Maduro Cigars

Several years ago I remember reading about J. Castañon and his wife settling in York County, PA (which is west of Lancaster where the great PA Broadleaf is grown, and two counties to the west of my home), and having something to do with the 120 year old Hain’s Pipe and Cigar Shop in York and the even older Demuths in Lancaster (some say it’s the oldest cigar shop in the country, “Temporarily” Closed since 2010?). Sadly, I’ve not been to visit either shop, but heard that J. Castañon was launching  Casta Cigars with two of their offerings featuring tobacco from some long-lost bales of Cuban tobacco that was found under a barn in Lancaster County, having been “forgotten” for the last 50 years. Tales of lost pre-embargo tobacco have been told since the boom of the 90s, I think Camacho used some allegedly, and there was a brand called Pinar 3000 that I remember from the 90s that purported to contain some pre-embargo Cuban leaf. I always figured if there was such a thing as 50-year-old tobacco it would be in pretty rough shape, and the cigars would have a sprinkling of flakes in them. Casta Cigars are making two cigars with a large portion of what they term “1942 Pre-Embargo Cuban Picadura Seco Volado“, the Fusion and the Puro, both in Corona sizes, retailing for $15 and $20 respectively. Here’s a quote from their website about J. Castañon:


J. Castañon’s legacy first began in Cuba rolling at the legendary Cohiba Cigar Factory. His journey continued in the USA by rolling cigars at the country’s oldest cigar shop, Demuth’s Tobacco Shop in Lancaster, PA. Today, J. Castañon continues to develop wonderful new blends from the Dominican Republic.


Casta_FusionYesterday we had a snow day, and after doing some shoveling, I decided it was a good time to smoke some of these cigars. I was skeptical, I mean, 75-year-old tobacco? So I started with the Fusion, which has a 70/30 blend of the Cuban with Brazilian filler, wrapped in a 10-year-old Brazilian wrapper with Indonesian binder. I like Brazilian tobacco, and I don’t expect much from Indonesian, and when I hear Picadura Seco Volado I think Picadura=scrap tobacco, and Seco Volado=low priming, so again, combined with the fact that it’s 75 years old, expectations are lower. I’ve smoked a premium Cuban cigar from the 80s and it was uneventful, but I’ve had a Cuban Davidoff from the 70s that was spectacular. I have to say, the Fusion was pretty good. Construction was excellent, it burned well, and the flavor was pretty good, tobacco with some sweetness. I didn’t feel like I wasted an hour, and was left satisfied.


Casta_PuroAfter dinner I decided to give the not quite accurately named Puro a try.  Also presented in a corona size, which isn’t surprising given the rarity of the 75-year-old tobacco, this was also very well made. These didn’t feel like short filler, as hard as it is to believe that bales of tobacco under a barn for 50 years would be anything but dust. Perhaps picadura and seco volado meant something different in 1942 Cuban parlance.  Anyway, it had a decent tobacco flavor and the Brazilian wrapper lent a little sweetness. I smoked both cigars to about a half an inch. I can say I smoked cigars with 75 yer old tobacco, it was a very interesting and unique experience.


Casta_Brazilian MarebaTonight I thought give one of their non-pre-emabargo tobacco offerings a try, so I selected the toro shaped Maduro Brazilian Mareba, with a 10-year-old Brazilian maduro wrapper, Indonesian binder and Brazilian filler. These are rolled in the Dominican Republic, and I’m told that J. Castañon likes to hire Cuban rollers, who use the entubado method that Jesus learned while rolling Cohibas in Cuba. While searching around to see if Jesus was his name, it appears that the Mareba has been around for a few years, although it’s somehow eluded my notice. the wrapper has a nice, oily sheen, with a pigtail cap. This was a very flavorful cigar, with some similar flavors to the other two (they all share the 10 year aged wrapper), with a nice, sweet finish. The smoke had some sweet, earthy flavors and, again, the burn and draw was about perfect. I have a couple more sizes to try, the maduro in the gordo shaped Chuco (which would have been tonight’s choice if the weather had been better) the Sombra corona and the Cuerda which is a panatela sharing the Puro blend with the pre-embargo leaf.


I had my reservations, but I was pleasantly surprised by the flavor that the ancient tobacco had, and I have to believe what I’ve been told and it’s not marketing BS. I’ve lived in Lancaster County, PA, seen plenty of tobacco farms and barns and I suppose it’s a plausible story.  I didn’t consider smoking any of the cigars a waste of my time, I’m thankful for the chance to try these. Many thanks to Jacob Hammill, president of Casta Cigars, for answering my many questions, answers to many of which I could have found on the website had I looked closer!


That’s all for tonight, until the next time,







Filed under Review

11 Responses to Casta Cigars Pre-Embargo Fusion, Puro and Mareba Brazilian Maduro Cigars

  1. Patrick

    Life is good.

  2. Freakboy791

    Craig. Will I be able to pick up any of these variations at a brick and mortar shop?

  3. A bale of Cuban tobacco buried under a barn? Without humidity control? Hmmmm. I guess you have to rely on the word of the person who makes the cigar, right? With all that Brazilian leaf in them, I suspect that I would like them as well.

  4. I had Jesus’ dad Kiki at a live cigar rolling this weekend (3/25) and I got the facts behind the “pre-embargo” tobacco. As it turns out it’s true, but only because I knewand can verify the source of the tobacco, Geoffrey Ranck, a Lancaster icon in the tobacco business. Apparently after Kennedy raised the embargo in the 60s, Ranck, possibly concerned about confiscation, stacked 10 bales of Cuban tobacco in the back of his warehouse in Lancaster and destroyed the bale labels and invoices to avoid possible confiscation. Over the years he sold 8 bales and that may have been the source of some of the pre-embargo leaf that showed up over the years. Jesus had been rolling for Ranck and Demuths and at some point prior to Rancks death in 2010 he offered Jesus the 2 remaining bales of Cuban tobacco. These two bales are the basis for the current Castas brand cigars with enough for perhaps a few thousand Puros cigars and a few thousand more mixed tobacco like the Fusion and Shortcut. Get them while you can because, there really ‘ain’t gonna be no more’ when it’s gone.

  5. Matt Smith

    I grew up in the west York area. A few months ago I was in their shop smoking with Wayne (their local public promoter). I thought he said Jesus bought somewhere around 10 small bales of the tobacco that were in the climate controlled warehouse since 1942. I might remember the numbers wrong, but it’s an impressive feat to be able to make cigars with 75 year old tobacco.
    The shop looks the same as it did when I was a kid. Except now there is a rolling table next to the big humidor where Jesus Sr sits and rolls civil war style minuteman cigars with 10yr Brazilian tobacco. They are delicious and are currently $4.50/stick.
    All of the cigars on their website are available in the shop on S George St in York.

  6. Larry

    What’s with referring to 1942. The embargo was 1962.
    This is pure marketing BS.
    Any lost tobacco which was suddenly found would be beetle ridden and dried out with no flavor.
    Especially low priming tobacco which has little body and gum to start with. The cigar industry is famous for claiming that a certain cigar has 10 or 15 year old tobacco. All nonsense!

    • Technically 1942 is pre-embargo, and I’m just going on the information provided to me. I remain skeptical as well, like you say, lower priming don’t have a lot of flavor to begin with and 70 year old leaf found under a barn shouldn’t be good for anything, let alone making a cigar. I don’t begrudge you your skepticism.

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