First of all this review is of a pre-release cigar. In fact, Caldwell Cigar Co. hasn’t even seen fit to announce the name of the damned thing. However, the company did send out a press-release that was titled with this: последний цар. The Russian words translate to Last Tsar on Google Translate. So for our purposes, we will call this the “Last Tsar” throughout the review.
From the press-release:
The project has been in the works since the early fall and they are in their final stages. The cigars were made in December but will need to hibernate through the winter. They are set to ship in May. The name of the brand has not yet been disclosed, but for the time being the company is referring to the brand as ‘Nothing You Ever Heard Of’.
It will debut in a very small run of 500 10 count boxes. They will be made available to a very select group of retailers. Caldwell has said that that group is not to exceed 49 merchants nationwide. “We are initiating a group called the First 49”, Caldwell says. “This select group will consist of the first 49 retailers that supported and continue to support this venture. We are releasing this product only to them. As we continue to release products in the coming years, these retailers will have first dibs on these releases”. Due to the tiny production of this limited release, all of the First 49ers may not even have a crack at it. We are limiting stores to 10 boxes each. The exception will be the launch partners, who will have access to 30 boxes a piece for the launch events”, states Caldwell.
The first run will be made only in the belicoso format. The plan is to release the cigar twice a year, each time in a different format. They will be made at Tabacalera William Ventura, in Tamboril, DR. Caldwell touts that these cigars are completely unique to anything he has smoked before. They will be full bodied, yet very refined. “They are going to be the fullest bodied cigar in the Caldwell Collection, yet palatable for most smokers.”
There is a limited amount of information being made available for the time being, but here is a vague breakdown: The first run will feature 500 10 count boxes. They are being made using a hybrid Connecticut Arapiraca Natural Maduro wrapper. The other blend information is being excluded for the time being.
Country of Manufacture: Dominican Republic
Rolled: Tabacalera William Ventura
Size: 6 x 50
Wrapper: Hybrid Connecticut/Arapiraca natural maduro
Sample: Provided by Penguin Footed Friend
Quantity smoked: 1
The construction of the “Last Tsar” feels good with a solid pack and nice belicoso tip. The wrapper is a multi-colored affair with dark spots flecked across a dark, reddish-brown surface. The wrapper is quite oily, leaving a residue on my finger tips after inspecting the cigar. The foot looks to be slightly under-packed at the center but I doubt it will cause issues.
The wrapper smells strongly of dark roast coffee with a bit of leather and deep wood. The foot is extremely rich smelling with notes of nuts, chocolate, nougat, and caramel. It’s like smelling a candy bar but there is definitely a little bit of coffee here as well. The cold draw is sweet with notes of caramel, nuts and wood. There is much less chocolate on the cold draw than smelling the foot. I did get some underlying red pepper from the cold draw which really intensified between the time I took the text draw and finished my notes.
The red pepper of the pre-light definitely carries over, providing the mouth, lips, sinuses and throat with a strong tingling sensation. It is quite sharp and really lingers, continually stinging after a puff. There is a contrasting softness to the smoke and an intense sweetness to help offset the initial burst of strength and pepper. Intonations of salty/sweet caramel, light woods and nut consume the taste buds while a creamy dark chocolate lingers with the pepper on the finish. Due to the strength, and perhaps the freshness, the “Last Tsar” makes my mouth water profusely, causing me to spit. Construction-wise it’s a mixed bag. The oily wrapper doesn’t burn at the same rate as the filler, requiring me to touch it up, yet the snug draw makes for a very dense, flavor packed smoke. Already a full-bodied cigar and quite possibly one of the richest cigars I’ve ever smoked.
As expected, the “Last Tsar” begins to soften moving into the second third but the strength is steadily rising. Meanwhile, the dark chocolate takes the helm, coating the palate with a creamier texture than the second third, and thankfully I’m not salivating as much. The undertones remain much the same with nuts, salty caramel and touches of wood. As I move towards the half, floral tones begin to blossom, creating a bit of tartness on the chocolaty finish with the ever-present pepper. Still, burn issues plague this cigar. I’ve continuously had to touch it up with my lighter as the wrapper just doesn’t want to burn evenly and the cigar is continually threatening to go out on me. I won’t blame this entirely on the cigar because for the past few days its been hot and the humidity in my humidor has been on the rise. On the bright side, once I stoke the fires of the cherry, it pours smoke from the foot and provides a thick, chewy smoke. Full-bodied, Full-Strength.
The biggest change in the final third is the caramel note developing into rich toffee with an up-tick of the salty component. It is precisely the perfect pair to the sweetness and dark chocolate of this blend. Later, the nuttiness explodes back onto the scene, especially on the peppery retro-hale. As the “Last Tsar” further deepens the dark chocolate takes on aspects of espresso but the sweetness keeps it in check. Much like the other deepening flavors, the wood follows suit becoming more akin to oak. Pepper migrates a bit from the lips and nose (retro-hale) to the back of the throat. It’s more evidence of the strength of this cigar—beyond my slight wooziness and heavy eye lids. With the way this cigar was making my mouth ooze saliva in the first third I found it interesting that it’s trending to the dry side, creating a slight “cotton mouth” effect in this third. With an inch to go, the sweetness tapers off and the espresso takes a leading role, but it manages not to get too bitter. The red pepper also comes roaring back, tingling the roof of my mouth. This is not a cigar you should start with if you plan on smoking more than one in a sitting, because it does fatigue the taste buds.
Intensely rich, the “Last Tsar” delivers high levels of nicotine from the get go. As I progressed the strength kept rising and didn’t let up. I was relaxed, yet wired for much of the cigar. In summation, the “Last Tsar” is not for the faint of heart. An exceptionally chocolaty cigar with lots of sweetness offset by salty caramel and toffee.
The currently unnamed “Last Tsar” encapsulates a term we’ve heard spread around the cigar world for a while now: flavor bomb. I can honestly say I’ve never smoked something quite so rich. Yet, at the moment, it is very unbalanced and fresh. When I say unbalanced I’m not referring to the flavors, but the sensations of this cigar. There is a biting pepper and some harshness that may subside with age, but I can’t score something on potential. I was very impressed by its flavor richness but it probably should have rested for a longer period of time, and with the release date coming in May, that is obviously not going to happen.