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Caldwell The King is Dead Toro Negrito

Origin : Dominican Republic
Format : Toro
Caldwell Cigar CoSize : 6 x 52
Wrapper : Negrito Dominicano – 2008
Filler : Corojo Ligero Dominicano 30% – 2006; Negrito Viso Dominicano 20% – 2008; HVA 20/20 50% – 2010
Binder : Corojo Dominicano – 2006
Price : $10.50 MSRP
More info about purchasing Caldwell cigars…

Please welcome Scott AKA The Bare Hand, our new author! He starts with a very detailed review of a boutique cigar, Caldwell The King is Dead. Enjoy!

The King is Dead by Caldwell Cigar Company, owned by Robert Caldwell, is their second blend. They make very small batch releases, so finding them can be somewhat tough, but this cigar has been a hit, and I’m excited to finally give it a go after resting in my humidor for about a year.

Interestingly, according to Robert Caldwell, this cigar was blended with the intention of smoking the related brother blend, Long Live the King (which is fantastic BTW), just before. Unfortunately, I did not have that opportunity, but this cigar was enjoyable nonetheless.

This blend utilizes some rare and underused Dominican tobaccos (just check the blend. What a mouthful!), so I’m preparing for a unique experience.

Appearance : 4 out of 5 stars
With a rustic look, the cigar is slightly lumpy and not perfectly round. It’s got an interestingly reddish brown mottled wrapper. It’s got a waxy, soft feel. There are a few small veins and the seam is visible, but perfectly smooth. It’s got a nice pigtail cap, and at the foot, the pack looks great and ripe for a perfect draw.

Caldwell The King is Dead

Construction : 4.5 out of 5 stars
As you can see in the pictures, this example had a razor sharp burn line, a nice solid speckled gray and black ash that fell off only once, and the draw was perfect with just the right amount of resistance. My only knock is that the cigar seemed to want to be puffed more often than I’m used to to keep ample smoke coming on the draw. I adjusted and all was well. Just be aware, you may not want to sit this one down for long periods between puffs or it might go out. Final burn time was 1 hour and 24 minutes.

Caldwell Cigar Co. - The King is Dead

Flavor : 4.5 out of 5 stars

Pre-light experience:

The wrapper smells exactly like raw honey. I should know. I’ve been a beekeeper for 7 years. It’s dead on. Amazing. The cold draws are forgettable with a very subtle coffee, fruit, and black pepper. There are perhaps some of the dreaded “brown paper bag” notes.

First impressions:

Roasted coffee bean, floral honey, and just a hint of a red pepper zing on the roof of my mouth. Completely smooth through the nose where I pick up a subtle milk chocolate. It has quite a long finish where the pepper tingle lingers for a minute or two. All in all, it’s a mild-medium start, and very subtle.

First 3rd:

By the first 1/2 inch, a buttered toast and a light caramel have begun to show themselves. The red pepper zing has morphed more to a black pepper flavor. It’s got a long creamy finish, just a touch of a pepper sizzle, and it’s becoming richer by the puff. Excellent. It’s burning very slowly – 25 minutes in and I’m only about an inch down. The burn line is noticeably razor sharp.

Rounding out the first 3rd, a strong vanilla, roasted black coffee, and cedar has joined the mix. It’s very complex. I’m really enjoying this.

Second 3rd:

The retrohale is divine at this point. The medium-bodied flavors have melded together now to produce a wonderful oatmeal cookie dunked in black coffee. We’ve got sweet cream, vanilla, cinnamon, brown sugar, milk chocolate, wheat, a touch of black pepper, and a nice base of that dark roasted coffee. The finish is very long. The draw is still perfect with plumes of smoke, and the burn couldn’t be any straighter. The ash held on to just before the halfway point at the 47-minute mark.

Final 3rd:

There is an interesting shift right as the ash fell. The sweetness has died down, and woodiness, pepper, and a drier mouth-feel are on the rise. The smoke output has fallen off, creating the need for triple puffs that seem to be creating a hotter smoke. The body is now medium-full, and I’m noticing a little strength in the nicotine department.

The last couple inches are mostly cedar, black pepper, coffee, and a welcomed toasted peanut. I was hoping for more of what the second 3rd had to offer, but this combo was enjoyable nonetheless.

Value : 4 out of 5 stars
At $10.50, while not the cheapest price point, this cigar is probably right in line with what I would expect with the rare tobaccos used, and the performance and flavors I experienced.

Overall Rating : 4.5 out of 5 stars
This was close to a 5 star cigar for me. In the final section, the flavors and smoke output sort of fizzled. If the oatmeal cookie would have continued, this would be a 5 star rating for me – perfect construction, burn, draw, and a flavor profile right in my wheelhouse. If you want to splurge, you could grab a box, but I confidently recommend a 5-pack purchase.

Pairing recommendation:

Caldwell The King is Dead would pair well with a coffee in the morning. In the evening, I think it has just enough body to pair up with a sweeter, round, lower alcohol content bourbon or rum. A too-powerful spirit could crush the nuances of the flavor profile.

Caldwell The King is Dead

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Illusione Ultra

With summer drawing to a close, it is time for another round of cigar news. This week we have a lot of legal news to report. Some of it is good, some of it isn’t—as usual it is a mixed bag for the cigar industry. But first, let’s talk about new releases.

New and Upcoming Releases:

  • Fans of the Illusione Ultra line will be excited to learn that there are now two new formats available: a Churchill and a short robusto. The short robusto is known as the Op. No. 3, and measures 4 1/4 inches with a 50-ring gauge. You can purchase it for $8. The Churchill is the Op. No. 8, measuring 6 3/4 with a 48-ring gauge. The larger size will sell for $13. You can purchase the new sizes in boxes of 20, but there are also limited-edition 48-count boxes of the Op. No. 3, each adorned with special artwork.
  • Fans of Oettinger Davidoff AG and the Corona Cigar Company know these two cigar giants have enjoyed a longstanding business relationship. To celebrate that association, Davidoff is releasing a limited edition cigar to celebrate the 20th anniversary of Corona Cigar Company. The Davidoff Exclusive Corona Cigar Co. 20th is a 6 x 52 Belicoso featuring an Ecuador Connecticut Rojiza wrapper, a Mexico Negro San Andres Binder and a combination of Florida Sun Grown and Dominican Republic fillers.

Legal News:

  • You may know there is a ban on smoking in restaurants, casinos, bars, video lottery establishments, and package liquor stores in South Dakota. A business owner recently challenged this ruling and it went to the circuit court. Unfortunately, the ruling has now been reaffirmed and still stands, so this represents another loss for the cigar community.
  • The FDA has just issued its first set of warning letters to retailers who sell newly regulated tobacco products. The goal with these particular letters is to stop the sale of tobacco to minors. The FDA has been conducting inspections and issuing similar warnings (and penalties) since 2009, but the list of newly regulated products includes cigars. Fifty-five letters have been sent out so far to retailers across the country.
  • Did you know there is a ban prohibiting the donation of cigars to U.S. soldiers abroad? U.S. Representative Kathy Castor, D-Florida, is currently spearheading an effort to get the ban overturned by introducing H.R. 5955. Be sure to write in to your congressmen in support of the bill so our troops can get back to enjoying donated cigars on their tours of duty!
  • Finally, in a solid victory, the General Assembly Commerce and Economic Development Committee of New Jersey voted 9 to 1 to permit a municipality to authorize new cigar lounges. At the present time, cigar bars which opened prior to 2005 are exempt from the Smoke-Free Air Act. Patrons in these exempt bars can smoke, but patrons at newer lounges cannot. This bill will allow new cigar lounges the same rights as those which opened before 2005.
  • Here is one more exciting legal news item. After more than five decades, the U.S. Department of Transportation has finally approved flights to Havana! Eight airline companies will be participating. This is a great step forward in cementing commercial relations between the US and Cuba, and a great day for Cuban cigar fans in America.

Thank you for checking in for this week’s cigar news. Be sure to check back soon for another set of updates!

You might be interested in these articles too:

New Illusione Sizes, Davidoff Exclusive & Legal News

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Rafael Gonzalez Petit Piramide (Regional Edition Germany)

Rafael GonzalezOrigin : Cuba
Format : Petit Piramide
Size : 127 x 19 mm (5 x 50)
Released in : 2013
Price : ~10 EUR each
More info about purchasing Rafael Gonzalez cigars…

You are probably familiar with the Edición Regional program from Habanos S.A. This is a program where Cuban cigar brands create unique limited-edition cigars for exclusive distribution to retailers in particular countries. One interesting aspect of this program is the fact that all the release ideas must be initiated by the distributors, who must also provide the financial underwriting.

The program first launched back in 2005, and since then many Cuban brands have participated (except for global brands like Cohiba, which are prohibited from participation). One which did not until 2013 was Rafael González.

Rafael González’s entry is an exclusive for Germany. Having heard good things, I decided to give it a try. Let’s check it out.

Appearance : 3.5 out of 5 stars
The outer appearance and feel of the Rafael Gonzalez Petit Piramides Regional Edition Germany isn’t bad, but it is concerning. You’ll notice some tooth on the light brown wrapper and surprisingly little oil. What bothered me when I picked it up is how hard it was. There is almost no give in these things. That made me worry about the draw.

Rafael Gonzalez Petit Piramide (Regional Edition Germany)

Construction : 4 out of 5 stars
As it turned out, I was right to be concerned, though my worry was out of proportion with the construction issues I did find. The draw was tight on the Petit Piramides, but it was still acceptable. The burn line also was a bit uneven—again still acceptable, but not perfect. It needed a few touch-ups, but it was okay.

Rafael Gonzalez Petit Piramide (Regional Edition Germany)

Flavor : 3.75 out of 5 stars (3.75)
I had heard that this was a creamy, sweet, mild cigar, and that is exactly what it was. Initial notes include hay, leather, earth, chocolate, coffee, and just a hint of orange. There is lots of creamy vanilla plus a bit of salt and pepper. Strength starts out at mild and starts to creep up on medium around the middle third.

Flavors in the middle third are still predominantly hay and cream. At this point, I pick up a lot of vanilla. Strength continues to increase gradually, but still isn’t firmly at the medium mark yet. In the last third, the flavors I already mentioned are still present (not a lot of change at all), but the citrus note has increased—and I now realize it is probably lemon, not orange. There is a dash of cinnamon to finish things off and plenty of creamy vanilla. In terms of strength, I would say at this point the cigar finally does hit medium.

While there is not a lot of transformation in these flavors, they are very enjoyable and make for a relaxing smoke.

Rafael Gonzalez Petit Piramide (Regional Edition Germany)

Value : 4 out of 5 stars
Overall, price is not bad considering that these are a regional exclusive for Germany. Generally speaking, though, I would expect to pay a little less for this level of quality. I would feel better about the price if it weren’t for the construction issues. I wish the draw had been a bit looser.

Overall Rating : 3.75 out of 5 stars (3.75)
These little cigars don’t transition much from start to end, but they do present a lovely, balanced, creamy flavor profile for an enjoyable mild smoke. Give them a try; I think you will enjoy them!

You might be interested in these articles too:

Rafael Gonzalez Petit Piramide (Regional Edition Germany)

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MBombay Gaaja

Origin : Costa Rica
Format : Toro Gordo
Asylum CigarsSize : 6 x 54
Wrapper : Ecuadorian Hybrid (Connecticut Desflorado & Mejorado 2004)
Filler : Dominican HVA Mejorado Ligero, Dominican Criollo 98 Viso, Ecuadorian Criollo 98 Viso, Peruvian Hybrid Habano, Paraguayan Hybrid Habano 2000 Viso
Binder : Ecuadorian HVA Mejorado Seco
Price : ~$15.50 each

The MBombay Gaaja is a cigar I have been excited to try because I have been anticipating it for so long, and also because I really liked the previous cigar from MBombay that I reviewed earlier this year – the MBombay Kesara Pyramid. Like the other cigars blended by Mel Shah of Bombay Tobak, the name of this one is a Sanskrit word (pronounced GUY-yuh) meaning “elephant.” The elephant is a symbol of patience, and patience was exactly what Shah needed in developing this cigar.

Just take a closer look at all the different types of tobacco which have gone into creating this boutique blend. No wonder the development process took four years to complete.

If you do some research, you will notice that this size, the Toro Gordo, is presently all that is available. This is because there are literally only a couple of rollers working at the factory to create these cigars right now. Once more personnel are trained, the line should be expanded.

In any case, the wait is over—so let’s set aside our patience and finally check out the Mbombay Gaaja!

Appearance : 5 out of 5 stars
The MBombay Gaaja is very pleasing to the eye and to the touch. The wrapper leaf is a light brown color with only fine veins. This cigar is box-pressed, which gives it a more distinctive shape. The band is also very distinctive with only a colorful geometric design and no lettering on the front. Mbombay always does a lovely job with band design, so this is great to see.

MBombay Gaaja

Construction : 5 out of 5 stars
Draw is on the loose side, but not too loose, and the cigar produces plenty of voluminous smoke. As to the burn line, it stays very even from start to finish. I only had to make the most minor touch-ups.

MBombay Gaaja

Flavor : 4.5 out of 5 stars
Flavors are complex, well-integrated, and difficult at times to describe. Initial notes include wood, natural tobacco, white pepper (pretty faint), banana, and something herbal I can’t identify. There is a light sweetness that never really takes over or offsets the other flavors.

MBombay Gaaja

The second third is very much more of the same—but this is not a bad thing. The sweetness and the spiciness of the peppery note vie for attention, but not in a dramatic or overbearing way. It is more like a dance than a battle.

In the final third, the cedar and herbs have fallen into the backdrop, along with a creamy note I sometimes detected. Natural tobacco is the predominant note, and the pepper/sweetness tradeoff continues. It does get a little harsh down at the nub.

In terms of strength, I would characterize the MBombay Gaaja as medium. Strength builds throughout the duration of the smoke, but in my opinion it does not quite make it into the full category.

All in all, my feelings about the flavors are largely favorable, but a little more variety at moments might have been nice. Still, I really liked the subtle dance between sweetness and spice, which was executed with more grace than it typically is in other stogies. The finish was also long, smooth and pleasant, allowing some flavors to really shine on the palate.

Value : 3.5 out of 5 stars
I am not going to dance around on this point—$15.50 is pretty darn expensive for a cigar. Is the price justified? I think you could argue that it is, given that this is a unique, interesting, and enjoyable cigar. A great deal of care, attention and craftsmanship have gone into its creation, so I can understand the price tag. Still, it makes it hard to afford these except on special occasions.

Overall Rating : 4.5 out of 5 stars
The MBombay Gaaja was worth the wait; it really is a very compelling and original cigar, not quite like anything else I have ever smoked. If the price tag were a tad lower or there was a touch more variety in the flavors, I think it would easily merit a 5/5. I very much enjoyed it and highly recommend giving it a try.

Now the part you’ve been waiting for – the giveaway. Thanks to Mel Shah and MBombay cigars, we’ve got three 2-packs of Gaaja to give away to three lucky readers. That’s ~$30 value per sampler! To enter the giveaway, please share this post on social media using the widget below! You will get an extra entry for each friend that enters the contest via your shared link. Good luck!

MBombay Gaaja Giveaway

Contest is open internationally, you must be of legal age to smoke in your country. Winners will be chosen randomly and announced in one week, next Thursday.

You might be interested in these articles too:

MBombay Gaaja (Review & Giveaway!)

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Romeo y Julieta Reserve Rare 11 Years Old


What’s been going on in the cigar industry? Here’s a quick overview of the top stories in the cigar world over the past couple weeks!

New Releases:

  • Altadis USA has just released a limited edition Romeo y Julieta aged for 11 years, predictably named the Romeo y Julieta Reserve Rare 11 Years Old. You can buy them in an 11-count box for a price of (you guessed it) … $11. Note that the “aged 11 years” here does not refer to the tobacco, but rather to the finished cigars, which have been on a shelf in a warehouse somewhere waiting that long to be sold and smoked.
  • J.C. Newman’s brand Perla del Mar was originally launched with a natural wrapper in 2012. Now a new line featuring maduro wrappers is being added. The Nicaraguan binder and filler will remain the same.

Cool Stuff:

Elie Bleu J-11 Lighters

  • If you enjoy collecting cigar accessories as much as you enjoy collecting cigars, you may own a few products designed by French manufacturer Elie Bleu. If so, you will be stoked to learn that the company is celebrating its 40th anniversary with the introduction of the J-11 collection. These lighters feature a slick design available with six different durable lacquer finishes.

Industry News:

  • There is a good chance you already know this, but earlier this month, Carlos Fuente Sr. passed away from cancer. He was 81 years old. He was of course a legend in the cigar world, and stayed actively involved in his business up until the day he died, serving as chairman of Tabacalera A. Fuente y Cia. He will be sorely missed by all cigar fans.

Legal News:

  • For once, we have a victory to report on the legal front. As you know, US tobacco companies have been struggling under harsh new restrictions on product packaging—including on cigars. On Tuesday, August 16th, U.S. District Judge Amit Mehta sided with Altria Group Inc., Lorillard Inc., Reynolds American Inc. and their subsidiaries, who argued that their First Amendment rights were being violated by the FDA’s new rules. Hopefully this lays the groundwork for a productive conversation benefiting the cigar industry in America.

Thanks for checking in with us! Be sure to check back next week for more exciting cigar news!

You might be interested in these articles too:

New releases from Altadis USA and J.C. Newman

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