Bite Size Review: Caldwell The King is Dead
The second review in a Caldwell doubleheader, I felt the King is Dead redeemed its maker’s reputation after a disappointing outing with the Hit & Run. Everything about this Dominican puro was better and ya know what? It got better the more I smoked! Deep, rich flavors accompanied by some ligero spiciness and a beautiful presentation make this cigar a candidate for the top 20 of anyone’s “to smoke” list. Even Cigar Aficionado agrees, bestowing a hearty 93 rating in 2016 (“Last Payday” torpedo). Robert Caldwell proclaims the use of only the finest and most exotic tobaccos in his cigars and given his use of an avant-garde “negrito” varietal wrapper and filler comprised of HVA 20/20, a Cuban hybrid developed and grown by Leo Reyes, I’d say its certainly a first for this writer. And it’s delicious!
The luscious, latte-colored wrapper is veiny with semi-visible seams and a pigtail cap. The initial third offers a rich tapestry of cream, pepper, leather and toasted almonds. Latte and coffee finish things off pretty much throughout. The complexity is wonderful. She gets woodier as she smokes and just when you think she’s gonna run out of juice, she caresses you with an uptick in spice followed by notes of chocolate and a brief return of cream. Noticeable oats on the retro are lovely. I did notice a musty aftertaste at times, but it didn’t diminish the enjoyment. The ash is somewhat flaky and combustion, perfect during the initial two thirds, became a bit more uneven requiring a touch up. Flavor, balance and complexity waned in the final round which was disappointing only because I didn’t want that wonderful flavor palette to disappear. A slight uptick in strength in the middle round was nice. A full buck fifty cheaper than the Hit & Run, the King is Dead is logarithmically tastier and “funner.” The King is Dead comes in 6 vitolas in boxes of 24. Interestingly, the toro vitola is not mentioned on Caldwell’s website. Altruistic business model. Whimsical branding. Fine cigar! – In Fumo Pax!
- Profile: Medium
- Vitola: Toro Negrito
- Length/ Ring Gauge: 6.0″ / 54
- Purchased: Local B&M
- Origin: Dominican Republic
- Wrapper: Dominican Negrito
- Binder: Dominican Corojo
- Filler: Dominican HVA 20/20, Ligero and Viso
- Cutter: Colibri V
- Lighter: Colibri Firebird 3-jet
- Price: $10.55
Build: Good uniform firmness
Aromas: Shaft – Chocolate, tea, hay; Foot – floral, tea, raisins; Cold Draw – Cocoa powder
Flavors: Initial Cream, pepper, leather and toasted almonds; latte finish; light spice and gets woodier; chocolate, cedar in final third.
Complexity: Very good
Balance: Very good
Touch ups: One
Combustion: Very good, but in final third burns very unevenly
Weaknesses: Musty aftertaste at times; loses balance and complexity in final third
Recommend: 1. Go-to 2. 5-packer 3. 3rd stringer 4. Smoke a banana instead