Robert Caldwell Cigars

Gibraltar

 

Country:  Dominican Republic
Wrapper: Dominican Republic
Binder:  Dominican Republic
Filler:  Dominican Republic
Price:  $5.25 - $6.90

Available in 4 Sizes:

Corona (5 3/4 X43) [pictured]
Robusto (5 X 50)
Perfecto  (Perfecto)  
Magnum 60 (6 X 60)

Q&A

Robert Caldwell
President Caldwell Cigars

Gibraltar is part of your Seleccion Junior Varsity; these are your lower cost lines, correct?

The idea with JV is that it’s an everyday smoke. Regardless of what we might think of our Caldwell collections, some guys can’t afford it or they don’t want to spend the money. You know, you have all types of smokers. So we didn’t want to alienate anybody and we didn’t want to lose the business so we decided to have a line that was a more cost conscious line. These are cigars that the factory makes and they distribute actually in the Dominican Republic. So they have these three cigars that are made and distributed there and then we basically changed the blend a little bit to make them more amicable to the American market. They come in 10 count boxes so it’s easier to move by the box.

From a quality standpoint, is the level of quality comparable to say a bundled cigar?

No, much higher quality. What we do to save cost is they don’t have the stringent quality control measures applied to them that we have for Caldwell. You’ll notice when you open a box of them, you might have like a disparity in color. Caldwell usually is really in line but the JVs don’t go through a sorting process anything like the Caldwell stuff. So you’ll have one with a more reddish brown next to one with a lighter brown but guys who are smoking a $5 cigar don’t care and it just adds cost. So we take out some of those measures.

Caldwell Collection uses all Grade A tobacco. These use Grade B, which is probably the majority of what is used in a general market cigar. The other thing too with these cigars is that the cost of the tobacco is a bit less and the scarcity is not there. So these tobaccos, they’re just grown in huge quantities on these, where the Caldwell stuff is not. And also the age and things like that that are components with the Caldwell aren’t applied to JV. You don’t have wrappers that are four years old, or two years old, you know, the process is much easier to g et these cigars made.

What about aging? How long does a Caldwell cigar sit in the aging room before being shipped as compared to a JV cigar?

They vary. The Eastern Standard rests about 45 days before it can ship. Long Live the King needs almost 90 days. All the JV stuff usually ships around 40 days. The reason is that all the tobaccos we use in the JV lines play a little bit better.

The branding on these cigars is decidedly Spanish, not Cuban but Spanish. What’s the story with that?

A lot of brands come out and they do like a classic Cuban concept so we came out and we did a classic Spanish concept. The two ports of entry for tobacco in Spain were Gibraltar and Murcia and the first cigar factory was in Sevilla. So we named the brands Gibraltar, Murcias, and Sevillana.

It is interesting that your concept goes to Spain as opposed to Cuba.

Yeah, I had the Caldwell Collection idea lined up and then I was in Spain in November. I go to Spain every year. So I was down in Sevilla and I found out about this history. And I thought that classic Spanish is kind of a fun play on it. When I’m in a store guys ask all the time, ‘What is Gibraltar?’ I’m like ‘Oh it’s a British territory at the southern tip of Spain.’ And then you get to explain that history we just talked about. So it’s something that makes people ask another question.

Speaking of stores, which of your lines are available in s tores and which ar e available online?

Caldwell Collection is only available in brick and mortar stores and that’s due to the production levels. I just don’t think we’ll ever be able to make enough of that to sell beyond B&M. The JV lines however are sold in B&M and online/catalogs.

 

Long Live The King

 

Country:  Dominican Republic
Wrapper:  Dominican Republic
Binder:  Dominican Republic
Filler:  Dominican Republic, Nicaraguan & Peru
Price:  $9.00 - $12.00

Available in 4 Sizes:

The Heater (5 3/4 X46) [pictured]
My Style is Jalapeno (7 1/4 X 40)
Petit Double Wide Short Churchill (6 X 52)
Marquis (6X60)  

Q&A

Robert Caldwell
President Caldwell Cigars

 

So if the idea of The King is Dead is to set you up to smoke Long Live the King, then I assume LLTK is going to be stronger, right? How strong are we talking?

I’d say it’s on the full side, the lower end of the full side. That’s our full-bodied cigar and for some guys, you know, it wasn’t strong enough. But we didn’t want something that would kick you in the face or lay you out. What we wanted was a cigar that was full of flavor and really complex.

So where do you get inspiration for the blends?

When I went to Leo [Reyes, a tobacco grower in the Dominican Republic], what I asked him for was old tobacco, rare tobacco, tobaccos other people ain’t using. So the first step was smoking pachuches like right off the bale and then finding things that I thought were very unique and then putting them together. So we put the blending car ds on the box that describes exactly what’s in it, but that was the first step. Then blending from there, so literally my whole idea was to use shit that other people don’t use. So by using very aged tobacco, when you smoke the cigar you know the tobacco is old as fuck. It’s reminiscent of brands that you know age the shit out of their tobacco, which to me gives you a very unique flavor profile.

Now there are other tobaccos that we haven’t yet incorporated that are beautiful tobaccos. Like Carbonel, it’s a Dominican grown Habano. You could be at a party full of cigar smoke and you light a cigar with just a little bit of Carbonel in it and the whole room would go (sniff sniff) ‘what’s that?’ It cuts through everything.

You mentioned that the first step in the blending process was to smoke pachuches but most cigar smokers have no idea what you’re talking about.

Yeah a pachuche is a cigar that’s basically made from single origin tobacco. It’s a fucking leaf with another leaf wrapped around it, almost like a cheroot, but it will allow you to taste a single origin tobacco on its own to understand what that tob acco is like.

And literally my first blending trip with Leo, or my first trip down to the DR, was going to Leo’s factory and smoking 20 pachuches, taking the 15 tobaccos that I liked, bringing them to the factory and playing with them. And I mean dude, I’m a fucking 31-year-old white kid from Coral Gables. I’m not a cigar blender. But I have a good palate and along the way I guess I learned what I was doing to a certain extent, like what tobaccos work well with other tobaccos, and then you know, part of it is just luck of the draw. But like all the Caldwell shit I blended all those cigars.

But let’s be clear here when you say you blended those cigars. Obviously the actual blender at the factory has to have a lot of input in there because sometimes you want something, but it wouldn’t work. You may have fallen in love with a beautiful wrapper tobacco but when you try to get it to work in a blend, you need real expertise to pull it of f.

Yeah, and that’s exactly the process. I’ll say ‘I want this tobacco, this tobacco, this tobacco’ and you put them together and they taste great. But they’re missing this or they need that or something like that, and that’s where the Venturas (owners of the factory that manufactures Caldwell Cigars) come in and they’re like we should put this tobacco in because it’ll support this tobacco or take this tobacco out because it’s taking away from this tobacco. So I guess the gross blending process is something that was exclusively mine and the refinement of the cigar to make a finished product was much more William Ventura. You know, some of the tobaccos that I wanted to use, he would recommend modifying this percentage, or using seco here instead of something else. I’ve learned a lot working with the Venturas in this process.

 

The King is Dead

 

Country:  Dominican Republic
Wrapper:  Dominican Republic
Binder:  Dominican Republic
Filler:  Dominican Republic
Price:  $7.00 - $12.00

Available in 4 Sizes:

Broken Sword (5 X 40)
Premier (5 X 50)
The Last Payday (6X52)  [pictured]
Supreme (7 X 52)

Q&A

Robert Caldwell
President Caldwell Cigars

A lot of things have been said about where the names for The King is Dead and Long Live the King come from but we’d like to hear from you what the names actually mean. Or at least what you’re going to tell us the names mean…

Well, the original idea I had was that sometimes you smoke a cigar and it’s better because of the cigar you smoked right before it, if that makes any sense. You smoke this cigar then when you smoke the second cigar, your palate is in a way that it smokes better and it tastes better. So the original concept that I had was to make two cigars that were very complementary. One is meant to be smoked first, and the next one you smoke right after. So The King Is Dead followed by Long Live the King was the concept; we wanted to have something that was so damn good that you would want to jump to the next one right afterwards.
But, there are some hidden messages in there too…

Like the king ’s throne cut in half ?

Yeah, it’s funny, some people have been able to put it together but we’ll leave it at that .

So what about the actual cigar?

It’s a badass cigar. It’s a sweet cigar. It tastes like milk chocolate. It’s a really good cigar and we’re having our most success with sizes you wouldn’t think. Like our top seller is in the torpedo which is not common. I like it a lot. None of the cigars have like a clean finish, you know? They all have a long finish. They all linger on your palate.

You’re using this “Negrito” tobacco in this blend but not many people know anything about it. Can you give a lit tle background on it?

The history that I was given on Negrito is that it was very popular in the DR back in the ‘50s. However, there are some issues with the leaf; when I first smoked it, it didn’t burn well. I remember smoking pure Negrito back when I was at Wynwood and it was a great cigar but you literally had to have a lighter to it the whole time you were smoking. Like literally torch it to smoke it, but the flavor was very good. And then when you blended it, it didn’t blend. It tasted sour and it just didn’t work. But for some reason I couldn’t get the Negrito tobacco out of my head. 

So when we started making cigars for the Caldwell Collection, the first thing I HAD to do was work with Negrito and at this point the crop had rested long enough and the tobacco was more malleable and we could put it with other tobaccos and it blended better. So The King Is Dead turned out to be Dominican puro utilizing Negrito as the wrapper and also it’s got Negrito as par t of the filler component .

The story of Negrito is the same as like an authentic corojo. It has gotten hybridized to hell and it’s not a true leaf anymore, but Leo Reyes still grows the true Negrito. And it’s an interesting leaf because it’s got to me a flavor component that you just can’t find. It’s got like a milk chocolate and you have like dark chocolate, and a little bit of sour, some sweet, some richness, coffee notes. Collectively it will give you like a dark chocolate kind of flavor, but Negrito, it smokes very different. It’s just a very, very special tobacco. It even looks different; it’s kind of a grayish. You’ve seen the cigars up close, I’m sure, but it’s kind of a weird color. It’s like a grayish brown. It’s not really a brown brown.

It seems like you went to great lengths to find tobacco that tasted different than any other in the marketplace.

Yeah, guys smoke The King is Dead all the time and they’re like ‘I’ve never tasted this before’ and that was the goal. In the whole collection, that was kind of the goal. We don’t want you to smoke our stuff and say ‘Oh this taste like a Pepin’ or ‘This tastes like a Davidoff.’ We want it to be mor e unique.

 

Eastern Standard

 

Country:  Dominican Republic
Wrapper:  Ecuador
Binder:  Dominican Republic
Filler:  Dominican Republic & Nicaraguan
Price:  $9.00 - $11.00

Available in 3 Sizes:

Euro Express (5 1/2 X44)
Cream Crush (7 X 48)
Corretto (5X50)  [pictured]

Q&A

Robert Caldwell
President Caldwell Cigars

What’s the idea behind the ridiculous story on the packaging?

So the story on our packaging is just to demystify the industry and a lot of the bullshit that’s out there. I have respect for the brands that have the history, however, a lot of companies that are coming out or have just come out are paying homage to a history that they don’t have. So it’s kind of just to cut right through the bullshit.

Who is the dude on the branding?

So the artist who created him is called Evoca1. He does all of our packaging on the Caldwell stuff. I give him names and he creates concepts. So I gave him Eastern Standard and then he gave me like you know, a 65-year-old Russian Oligarch gangster-looking guy.

How did you and Evoca1 begin working together?

Back when I was at Wynwood he walked into the factory and asked if he could paint a [cigar rolling] table. He painted the rabbit table. Then I gave him a wall outside and he did a mural. Now he’s flown all over the world to paint murals in huge cities, major campaigns and he was announced as I think the no. 2 street artist in the world this year.

Now about the cigar itself, what’s your favorite thing about the blend on the Eastern Standard?

To me the most relevant thing has got be the wrapper. This cigar is not a puro, it’s a multi country blend, but the whole concept with Eastern Standard was to pro-vide something that was Connecticutish, but not too Connecticut. So it’s gonna give you like a Connecticut flavor, but it’s got a lot of balls and a lot of body to it, and a lot of depth.

What kind of smoker were you targeting when you created this blend?

The goal of Eastern Standard was something like; I’m not a mild guy, I’m a medium guy, but I like creamy, I like smooth, so you smoke Eastern and it’s gonna be rich, nutty.

Say you’re at an event and a consumer who’s never had Eastern Standard asks you about it. How do you explain it?

The conversation revolves around the fact that it’s mild to medium, so it’s gonna be smooth and creamy. But it’s really, really rich because something that I find is amiss on a lot of Connecticuts is that they’re really rich in terms of cream or smoothness, but they don’t have depth. And Eastern Standard is a deep cigar, like when you smoke it, it’s like a [smacks his lips], it does that to your palate. It’s a great beginner’s cigar, but it is a very complex cigar and it’s got a really deep, rich profile to it.

You occasionally add new sizes to the line. What’s your idea when choosing what sizes you’re going to offer in a particular brand?

My goal with that brand, counter to popular belief, I want to have like nine facings because if it’s gonna be a true connoisseur cigar, if I went to a line of cigars and I liked it but it didn’t have a corona or a lancero, I would not smoke it regardless of how much I liked it...or I might just be an occasional smoker. I smoke four lanceros a day because that’s my size, so I have to consider there are consumers out there who work like I do. I think if you’re building a long-term brand concept that’s luxurious, you need to have enough facings to meet the demand.