Caldwell Cigar Co. III. Satisfying Marquee Reviews

Review: Caldwell Cigars The King Is Dead Supreme

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Matt Masters
Written by Matt Masters


The King Is Dead launched last spring as one of the three debut blends for upstart Caldwell Cigar Co. The unique release utilizes a negrito capa that was essentially forgotten until the King Is Dead. Negrito is a Cuban seed tobacco once popular in the 50’s. Back then, the seed was brought from the legendary island and grown in the Dominican but has gone un-grown there until recent times. In the early 2000’s it was resurrected in the Dominican by Leo Reyes, the man Robert Caldwell sources much of his tobacco from. The moment Robert tasted the uncommon leaf, he was hooked.

I smoked the first year crop years ago and fell in love. It is very hard to blend with but it is such a unique flavor.

The blend was finalized by incorporating a binder of Dominican Corojo from a crop in 2006 and a host of aged filler from the Dominican: 2006 Corojo Ligero – 30%, 2008 Negrito Viso – 20%, and HVA 20/20 – 50%.

My words to Leo when I sat down with him back in September (2013) were, “I want the most unique and special tobaccos you have.”

Thus, The King is Dead was born.
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Country of Manufacture: Dominican Republic
Rolled: Tabacalera Ventura
Size: 7×52 Churchill
Wrapper: 2008 Negrito (DR)
Binder: 2006 Corojo (DR)
Filler: 2006 Corojo Ligero (DR), 2008 Negrito Viso (DR), 2010 HVA 20/20
MSRP: $12.00
Sample: purchased by CM
Quantity smoked: 1
Box-Date: 2014

Pre-Light Notes:
  • Slight marbled texture on this rich, caramel brown colored wrapper
  • Minimal veins
  • Exceptionally well-packed, nice heft in hand
  • Pigtail cap
  • Perfect cross-section of leaf at foot
  • Wrapper: leather, earth
  • Foot: sweet bread, white pepper, earth
  • Cold Draw: Snug yet workable draw. Bread, white pepper, cedar. 

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First Third

This behemoth of a cigar initiates my palate with a nondescript sweetness followed by white pepper and cedar on the retro-hale. If the draw were more open, I feel like the flavors I’m getting would be more intense but for now, the flavor intensity is adequate. The smoke characteristic is silky & smooth. Surprisingly, even though the draw is snug, the smoke production is fairly normal. Medium length finish consisting of non-descript sweetness & cedar. Mild-medium body. Mild strength.

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Second Third

White pepper transitions into a faint red pepper, but is barely detectable through the retro as the cigar progresses into the second third. The sweetness is becoming more noticeable and more caramel-like at this point. Cedar is still hanging around in the profile, accompanied now with citrus undertones. Further underneath are whispers of anise. Smoke characteristic is the same as before, silky & smooth. Medium length finish comprised of cedar, citrus, caramel & anise. Medium body. Mild-medium strength.

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Final Third

The draw finally opens up a fair amount in this third. Because of this, I feel that I’m getting more bread-like flavors along with a chewier smoke characteristic.  The flavors becomes almost dessert-like with the abundance of caramel at the forefront of the flavor profile. On the palate, the citrus tones blend wonderfully with the caramel. The cedar remains at the same intensity as before, and same goes for the anise. There are times where red pepper pokes through during a retro-hale, but for the most part, it’s nearly non-existent. Long finish of caramel, cedar, bread & citrus. Medium body. Mild-medium strength.

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There’s an “x-factor” to the King is Dead that makes certain aspects more difficult to put my finger on. It has the cedar, citrus, caramel & bread notes that are synonymous with the Marquee class, yet the red pepper in final two-thirds is more characteristic of a Santa Fe. Although the pepper is a big part of the overall profile, I still had to lean towards Marquee due to the sheer breadth of flavors that were exhibited from this class.

This is a big cigar. The most problematic aspect of a cigar in this vitola is the likelihood that it can become a monotonous experience. That’s not the case here with the King is Dead, which provided nice complexity and balance. I feel the snug draw held it back a little bit in terms of flavor intensity, but at no point was I struggling to get smoke. Half-way through the cigar, the draw began to open up noticeably, allowing for more flavors to poke through. Once I acquire another sample, I’ll reassess things if necessary but this particular sample provided a III. Satisfying experience.
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  • Caldwell Cigar Co. recently announced the forthcoming of an untitled limited edition, due to hit the market sometime this spring. The press-release was titled with this: последний цар. The Russian words translates to Last Tsar on Google Translate.
  • Josh recently took a 3-pack of Caldwell’s Yellow Cake for a spin. Read his review of the petite corona event exclusive here.
  • For a more in depth look at Caldwell Cigar Co. check out our interview with Robert Caldwell (owner) and Jeremy McDonald (national sales manager) of Caldwell Cigar Co. conducted in April of last year. Josh also caught up with Robert at IPCPR 2014 in Las Vegas where he showed off his debut blends for the camera.

About the author

Matt Masters

Matt Masters

Matt is a figure who is able to observe the chaos around him but not always be a part of it. Matt is generally completely indifferent to what goes on in his friends' lives, seeing their misery as merely an entertaining distraction, as well as an opportunity for joke material. He often plays along with their hare-brained schemes (like this site), even encouraging them, often just to see them fail.