In 2016, Caldwell Cigar Company unveiled a limited production line known as Anastasia. Most of the details of this project are shrouded in mystery except where the cigar is made. Anastasia is a cigar that comes from Tabacalera La Alianza, the Dominican factory owned by Ernesto Perez-Carrillo Jr. From a theme standpoint, the line builds on the story of Caldwell’s The Last Tsar line. The Last Tsar is a line that pays homage to Emperor (Tsar) Nicholas II, who was the final monarch of Russia. In 1917, he was forced to abdicate his throne during the Russian Revolution. Anastasia pays homage to the Grand Duchess Anastasia, the daughter of Tsar Nicholas II. One year after being removed from power, Nicholas II and his family (including Anastasia) were executed by the Bolsheviks. While both The Last Tsar and Anastasia share a common story, that is where the similarities stop. While The Last Tsar is undoubtedly Caldwell Cigar’s boldest cigar, Anastasia is definitely the company’s mildest offering. Today we take a closer look at the Caldwell Anastasia in the Opera (Toro) size. Overall, this is a cigar that many misunderstand because it is mild, but it is one that delivers an excellent cigar experience.
Anastasia was the first Caldwell Cigar to come out of Tabacalera La Alianza. Since launching in 2014, Caldwell has been working with several different factories. Much of the company’s production (including The Last Tsar) comes out of Tabacalera William Ventura. In 2015, the company added the Camacho factory in Honduras to handle production of its Blind Man’s Bluff offering. This past year, Caldwell added a fourth factory with La Gran Fabrica Drew Estate in Estelí, Nicaragua handling production for its All Out Kings line.
Without further ado, let’s take a closer look at the Caldwell Anastasia Opera and see what this cigar brings to the table.
Over the past year, Caldwell Cigar Company has been more tight-lipped as far as what tobaccos comprise their blends. Caldwell Anastasia is no exception as none of the tobaccos have been disclosed.
Wrapper: Not Disclosed
Binder: Not Disclosed
Filler: Not Disclosed
Country of Origin: Dominican Republic (Tabacalera La Alianza)
The Caldwell Anastasia is available in four sizes. The Opera (Toro) size is the only vitola in the line to have a ring gauge greater than 49. Each of the four sizes is packaged in 20-count boxes. While production numbers have not been disclosed, the company has said it has limited distribution to 35 retailers in the U.S. market.
Caspia: 5 3/4 x 43
Kartel: 5 x 49
Opera: 6 x 52
Mercure: 7 x 47
The wrapper to the Caldwell Anastasia Opera has a light brown wrapper that is slightly darker than a traditional Ecuadorian Connecticut Shade cigar. Depending on how the light hits it, the cigar may give off some degree of a Colorado red tint. There was a light coating of oil on the Anastasia Opera. The wrapper had some visible veins and visible wrapper seams. A couple of the visible veins had a slight toothy effect. Overall, I considered this to be a somewhat bumpy wrapper.
There are two bands on the Caldwell Anastasia. The primary band features a portrait of the Grand Duchess Anastasia surrounded by a gold frame. The sides of the band have a red background with gold font. In landscape mode on the left of the band is the Caldwell Cigar Company bicycle logo with the text “CALDWELL” above it. A keystone gold frame surrounds that logo and text. On the right side of the band are two gold swords. To the left of the gold swords is the text “1918” in landscape mode. Like the left side, a gold keystone-shaped frame surrounds the logo and text on the right side.
The secondary band sits just below the primary one. It is olive green with gold pinstripes near the top and bottom. In between the pinstripes is the text “ANASTASIA” in gold font. To the left of the text are two gold swords while to the right of the text is the Caldwell Cigar Company bicycle logo.
Preparation for the Cigar Experience
The start to the Caldwell Anastasia Opera experience began with placing a straight cut to remove the cap. After clipping the cap, I moved on to the pre-light draw stage. The dry draw delivered a mix of cream, wood, and a slight cedar note. Overall, this wasn’t the most exciting pre-light draw experience, but the pre-light draw is not factored into the score and assessment rating, so there was no loss of points here. At this point, I was ready to light up the Caldwell Anastasia Opera and commence smoking.
The start to the Caldwell Anastasia Opera delivered a mix of cream and wood notes. There was also a natural tobacco note present in the background. The cream and wood notes alternated in intensity early on. Meanwhile, on the retro-hale, I picked up a mix of black pepper and cedar.
Midway through the first third of the Caldwell Anastasia Opera, the wood notes dissipated. This was replaced by a coffee bean note in the forefront and a cedar note in the background. The combination of coffee bean and cream were the primary notes while the natural tobacco and cedar were complementary notes. As the Anastasia Opera’s flavor profile evolved, the flavors seemed to mesh better.
At the start of the second third, the coffee bean and cream notes were primary. The cedar notes began to increase in intensity. Just past the midway point, the cedar joined the coffee bean in the forefront with the cream notes joining the natural tobacco in the background.
The last third didn’t see any major changes in the flavor profile. The one noticeable change was I now also detected some black pepper on the tongue. This is the way the smoking phase of the Caldwell Anastasia Opera came to a close. The resulting nub was cool in temperature, but soft to the touch.
Burn and Draw
From a burn standpoint, the Caldwell Anastasia Opera had no problem maintaining a straight path. The burn line remained relatively straight as well. This was a cigar that did not require an excessive amount of touch-ups. The resulting ash had a darker gray color to it. The ash itself was on the firmer side. The burn rate and burn temperature were ideal.
The draw to the Caldwell Anastasia Opera also performed quite well. It was not too loose, nor too tight. This was a low maintenance cigar to derive flavor from.
Strength and Body
As mentioned above, I consider the Caldwell Anastasia Opera to be one of the mildest cigars offered by Caldwell Cigar Company. In fact, it is one of the mildest cigars I have had this year. This is a cigar that started off mild in strength and body. Throughout the smoking experience, there is a gradual build up in strength and body. By the second half, the strength and body were now in the mild to medium range. While the strength and body continued to build up, the cigar never crossed into medium territory for either attribute.
In terms of strength versus body, I found both attributes balanced each other nicely – with neither of them overshadowing the other.
As mentioned, this is going to be a milder cigar in terms of strength and body. Many of the nuances of this cigar are on the subtle side. As a result, if you want to pick up the complexities this cigar has to offer, I’d recommend enjoying this cigar without distraction. I will admit, the beginning of the Caldwell Anastasia Opera was a little flat, but it was the midway point through the first third when the flavors really opened up. The flavors were also well-balanced – delivering the right amounts of sweetness (from the cedar), spice (from the cedar and pepper), and bitterness (from the coffee bean). One other note on the mildness – this may well be the mildest cigar that has come out of Perez-Carrillo’s Tabacalera La Alianza.
Even though this is a milder cigar, I still would recommend this to a more seasoned cigar enthusiast. I certainly wouldn’t discourage a novice from trying, but it’s better enjoyed by those who have developed their palate. As for myself, this is a cigar I would smoke again, and it’s one worthy of picking up a five pack.
Key Flavors: Cream, Natural Tobacco, Coffee Bean, Cedar, Black Pepper
Complexity: Medium to High
Strength: Mild (1st Half), Mild to Medium (2nd Half)
Body: Mild (1st Half), Mild to Medium (2nd Half)
Assessment: 3.0-The Fiver
News: Caldwell Cigar Company Anastasia Officially Launched at 2016 IPCPR
Brand Reference: Caldwell Cigar Co
Photo Credits: Cigar Coop