For all of the background information on the Eastern Standard and nearly everything else you can find out about its inception, check out our interview with Robert Caldwell and Jeremy McDonald. Read The King Is Dead Corona (Pre-Release) Review to get Matt’s take on one of the three debut blends from Caldwell Cigar Co.
Rolled: Tabacalera Ventura
Country of Origin: Dominican Republic
Smoked for review: Two
Size: 5.5×44 (Corona Gorda)
Wrapper: Ecuadorian Hybrid Connecticut
Filler: Dominican & Nicaraguan
This corona gorda is topped by a beautiful caramel colored wrapper coined a “Dark Connecticut”. The wrapper has very minimal veins with semi-tight seams. Both samples were solid but one was packed to perfection while the other was more lightly packed near the foot. On both samples the wrapper smelled of hay and cedar with a slight leathery scent underneath. The aroma from the foot was composed of cedar, leather and light earth. The cold draw was slightly bitter and delivered notes of white pepper, hay, cedar and leather with a light earthy undertone.
Starting off, The Eastern Standard delivers a medium white pepper and a collection of clean flavors in the background: cedar, hay, faint leather. The smoke has a velvety and creamy texture, something often associated with Connecticut shade wrappers. The finish lingers with salt and white pepper for 10-15 seconds after each puff (sinuses and mouth). The draw is solid and the cigar puts out a good volume of smoke. My only complaint is that the smoke tends to parch the palate a bit. Coming towards second third the white pepper takes a step up to medium-full. Flavor intensity is mild-medium other than the pepper. Strength is higher than expected, hovering around medium.
As the second third commences the profile turns earthier and the white pepper continues to dominate. The leather dissipates and a faint sweetness arrives but much of the original qualities continue underneath: saltiness, creamy texture/flavor, cedar and hay. At the halfway point a lightly roasted coffee joins the earth atop the flavor profile but the 10-15 second finish is mostly salty and tangy. For much of this third the flavor intensity on the tongue was below that of the first third. Most of the flavor, and therefore my enjoyment, came from the excellent retro-hale. Coming to the half, flavor picked back up almost to medium and the pepper calmed down considerably. On the plus side the mouth drying aspects withdrew. Strength was a steady medium.
There aren’t any major changes going into the final third but the profile continues to evolve towards earth and lightly roasted coffee bean. The character of the cigar becomes more savory and the enhanced creaminess pairs excellently with the earth and coffee. The aromas of the Eastern Standard become toasted and the faint sweetness from the second third turns to an almost light butterscotch flavor. The cedar/hay combination continues to get pushed to the background but the saltiness and tanginess continue on the finish. The salty/tangy qualities on the finish are reminiscent of many Cuban cigars. The wrapper began to crack all over with an inch left but the cigar was at its absolute best; the finish lingers much longer and the flavors fill the mouth. The cracking of the wrapper also marked the arrival of a cinnamon-like tingle on the tongue. I smoked the cigar to the very nub even as it came apart. Strength medium.
In the first half the Eastern Standard was composed of cedar and hay with a light creamy texture. Even though the flavors were mild to medium there was an abundance of white pepper to keep things interesting. By the half things began to change as a touch of sweetness accompanied the development of a light mocha character. The predominant cedar never left the profile and in the final third an aura of toastiness finished things off.
The first half of this cigar was a little mild for my tastes other than the white pepper and it tended to parch the palate until things kicked off at the half. The construction and smoke out-put was solid on both samples but each cigar cracked a lot in the last inch. Fortunately, the last inch is truly the best part of this cigar where the flavors coalesce and it becomes toasty and savory. I wanted it to keep going. The Eastern Standard is a lightly balanced and nuanced cigar with a lot to offer for fans of mild-medium cigars.
A side note about construction: I keep my cigars at 65% humidity and where I live in Southern California it is often quite dry. I attribute the cracking of the wrapper, at least in part, to these conditions.