The Bespoke Basilica A is a cigar made by a company called Bespoke Cigars. Bespoke Cigars is a company based in Estonia founded by a Jeremy Casdagli. For the most part, Bespoke Cigars is a brand that has established a foothold in Eastern Europe, Scandinavia, Russia, and Saudi Arabia. About a year ago, Bespoke Cigars entered the U.S. market and is now distributed by Biggs Mansion in Chicago. Bespoke has several cigar lines, one of which is the Basilica line. Recently I’ve had an opportunity to smoke one of the cigars under that line – the Bespoke Basilica A. Overall this could be one of the best kept secrets in the U.S. market as this is one outstanding cigar.
The Basilica line originally came about when Bespoke Cigars was working on a project specifically for the Middle Eastern Market. The name Basilica refers to a large cannon built in the 13th Century for the Ottomans to be used during the siege of the city of Constantinople. As for the line, there are two cigars – the Basilica C and Basilica A. They are two distinct blends and each is available in a single size. Both cigars are made at the KBF (Kelner Boutique Factory) in the Dominican Republic owned by Hendrik Kelner Jr, the son of legendary Davidoff Master Blender Hendrik Kelner. The Basilica C is designed to be a milder cigar offering while the Basilica A is a fuller offering.
Without further ado, let’s take a closer look at the Bespoke Basilica A and see what this cigar brings to the table.
The blend to the Bespoke Basilica A features a Dominican wrapper from the Cotui region of the Dominican Republic. The Dominican Bonao leaf used on the binder is from Fuente Opus X fame. The filler consists of tobaccos from four countries.
Wrapper: Dominican Cotui
Binder: Dominican Bonao (11 Year Aged)
Filler: Peruvian Pelo D’Oro, Pennsylvania, Nicaraguan Condega Viso, Dominican San Vincente Seco
Country of Origin: Dominican Republic (KBF)
The blend for the Bespoke Basilica A is available in one size – a 6 x 52 Canonazo (Toro). The cigars are packaged in both 10 and 20 count boxes.
The Dominican Cotui wrapper of the Bespoke Basilica A has a medium brown color to it with a slight colorado tint. Upon closer examination there is some darker marbling that can be seen on the surface. The wrapper itself had a light coating of oil on it. Overall, this was somewhat of a bumpy wrapper. While there were some visible veins, the wrapper seams were well hidden. The footer of the cigar has about 1/5 of an inch of exposed binder / footer.
There are two bands on the Bespoke Basilica A. The primary is black in color with a gold stripe near the top and bottom. The center of the band has a gold Colossus of Rhodes image. The Colossus of Rhodes was a symbol adopted by Casdagil’s family back in the 1800s. It was used as a trading symbol by the family, who was based in Cairo and traded Egyptian cotton.
The secondary band is white in color. On the band is a black and white pencil sketch of an older gentlemen on a oval background. The oval background is trimmed in gold. The left and right side of the band has a white background with gold trim. On that white background are gold adornments.
Preparation for the Cigar Experience
Prior to lighting up the Bespoke Basilica A, I went with my usual choice of a straight cut to remove the cap. Once the cap was clipped, I moved on to the pre-light draw. The cold draw yielded a mix of natural tobacco. There was also a slight vanilla note as well as a very subtle cedar spice. Overall I considered the pre-light draw of the Bespoke Basilica A to be outstanding. At this point, I was ready to light up the Bespoke Basilica A and see what the smoking phase would have in store.
The start to the Bespoke Basilica A delivery a mix of wood, cedar, and black pepper notes. Shortly after the Basilica A reached the Cotui wrapper, notes of natural tobacco surfaced in the forefront. At the same a vanilla note surfaced in the background. There was cedar and black pepper in the background. The black pepper had a slight lingering effect on the after-draw. Meanwhile the retro-hale produced a mix of cedar and black pepper.
As the Bespoke Basilica A moved through the first third, the vanilla notes moved in and out of the forefront with the natural tobacco. By the second third the vanilla notes were firmly grounded with the natural tobacco notes. Meanwhile the cedar and pepper notes remained in the background.
Later in the second third, some hazelnut notes surfaced in the forefront. These hazelnut notes quickly joined the natural tobacco in the forefront and pushed the vanilla notes into the background. I found the cedar notes got slightly more prominent. While the pepper was still a distant secondary note on the tongue, I found it was much more prominent on the retro-hale. This is the way the cigar experience came to a close. The resulting nub was cool in temperature and firm to the touch.
Burn and Draw
While the Bespoke Basilica A maintained a straight burn path, this was a cigar that required frequent touch-ups to keep it on that path. The touch-ups did the trick, but there were more touch-ups than I preferred. This also was a wrapper that blistered easily, so the touch-ups did require some tlc when applying them. Meanwhile the resulting ash was a salt and pepper color. The resulting ash was not overly firm, but it was not loose either. I did find some light flaking on the cigar from time to time. As for the burn rate and burn temperature – both were ideal.
As for the draw of the Basilica A, it performed quite well. It wasn’t a draw that was too loose, nor was it to tight. The cigar did produce an ample amount of smoke along the way.
Strength and Body
This was definitely a bolder cigar than I would expect from one marketed in the European market, but at the same time, this was not an overpowering cigar.
From a strength perspective, I found the Bespoke Basilica A to be a solid medium. As for the flavors, I found them to be medium to full-bodied. During the smoking experience, both the strength and body increased, but in the end I still found the Basilica A remained a medium strength, medium to full-bodied smoke. In terms of strength versus body, I found the body had the edge throughout the smoking experience.
Overall I found the Bespoke Basilica A to be an outstanding cigar. In fact, it probably ranks as one of the best cigars I have had from KBF. It delivered plenty of flavor and had a nice amount of complexity. I found the flavor combinations produced by this cigar were also quite different than anything I’ve had on the market. The only negative was that this cigar did require frequent touch-ups along the way. However, the Bespoke Basilica A is a case where the positives far outweighed the negative. This is a cigar I would recommend to an experienced cigar enthusiast, but it is also one I wouldn’t discourage from a novice from trying. As for myself, this is a cigar I would smoke again – and given this is available in 10 count boxes, I would say this is a box worthy cigar.
Body: Medium to Full
Assessment: 4.0-Box Worthy
Price: 159 (Swedish Krone) – ~19.00 (U.S. Dollar)
Source: Cigars Provided by Manufacturer
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I really want to try these, I see Seth reviewed one as well. Anything KBF makes is usually super high quality, I wonder when/where they will be available?
Charlie, Biggs Mansion is also a retailer. You should be able to get them there.
Hi Charlie . Many thanks for your interest . Yes you can order them for Biggs mansion in Chicago . +1(312)809-2444 . Rhoda or any of the Biggs team will be happy to help you out . Ps the old gentleman on the second label is my great grandfather Emmanuel Casdagli . You can also read more about bespoke cigars at : http://www.bespokecigar.com …. Enjoy
I’ve smoked other cigars blended by Jeremy Casdagli )Bespoke), they have all been excellent! It does not surprise me that he has a cigar consider “one of the best kept secrets in the USA”, I can’t wait to smoke them.
Many thanks for your kind endorsement mike . Just finished a big 3 day smoke fest in Minsk , Belarus . I lifted a glass or 3 to our great past trips to DR . These blends started with your persistence that “anything Cuba can do hendrik Kelner jnr can challenge ” and your were correct on all counts . Thanks Bellaterra