Review: Caldwell The ‘T’
Ok, let’s get the bad vibes out of the way. My first outing with a Caldwell stogey was not one I care to remember. The Hit & Run by the Caldwell-Booth team should have been called the ‘hit or miss’. Okay, good vibes now. Caldwell redeemed himself with the King is Dead – great cigar. Now, we’re gonna try this collaboration thing again, only we’re going to have Room 101’s Matt Booth AND AJ Fernandez jump in. Wow. Caldwell’s other collaborations also include the likes of Ernesto Perez-Carrillo (Anastasia) and Drew Estate (All Out Kings). I think we can agree that Robert Caldwell likes to do things differently. I’m totally cool with that as he has set the tone for taking a wrecking ball to the stodgy cigar ethos. Fun, consistency, high quality and attitude. Nothing wrong with that. As Caldwell likes to say, “if you’re not running with us, run from us.”
So, you have 3 boutique icons sitting around a table deciding on the cigar’s blend and of course, a name. Originally christened “The Truth”, the trio ran into trademark/copyright issues with Tatuaje as their La Verite is French for “truth”. So, it was decided to simply call it the “T” since no one can trademark or copyright a letter of the alphabet. Yet. Thankfully, their focus was on the cigar, not the name. The cigar would become a Nicaraguan puro, although Caldwell’s website states the wrapper is Mexican San Andrés (I’ve tried to get clarification). The cigars are produced at AJ Fernandez’s Estelí, Nicaragua facility.
Our demi-pressed toro has a wonderful matte, fudge brownie-colored wrapper with some lumps, lots of tooth and minimal veins. Sporting a nice cap, our ‘T’ was very firm throughout and while somewhat invisible, had raised seams. The draw is very good accompanied by some earthiness and nutty overtones. There is aromatic brown sugar, cinnamon and baked bread from the wrapper and foot. All other aspects aside, I did wonder if I would run into combustion issues as I had twice before with the Hit & Run and King is Dead.
The first impression is a savory blast of red pepper, spice and mesquite – okay, it’s more of a delightful throat punch. A zesty charred meat finish follows. Not what I was expecting at all, which, in an odd way, made it more enjoyable! It settles down with a profile of baking spices, cream, leather and wood. Complexity is simply off the charts. The finish is woody but adds some cocoa over time and there is an addition of caramel intonations on the retro and toasted nuts on the draw. The T is smooth, moderately rich, and extremely well-balanced. Transitions feature profiles dominated by earth and wood, but incorporate hints and notes of cacao, leather, caramel and sweet cedar for a nice balancing act. Unfortunately, towards the end of the second transition, flavors and complexity devolve into a one-dimensional profile of school bus exhaust, napalm and redwood. It’s temporary, and like the initial profile, equally surprising.
And we’re back…the wonderful flavor palette returns in short order. The T produces a strong, 1”+ light gray ash and produces lots of smoke. Combustion and char are perfect up until just passed halfway, when it begins to “helmet” (a minor form of ‘canoeing’). This requires a touch-up as it will not correct itself. This reoccurred in the final transition as well. I suspect the change in flavor palette might have coincided with the helmeting issue, which would explain the loss of flavor and complexity. I thoroughly enjoyed most of the T’s surprises and this blend is simply delicious. What could have been a sensational experience is sullied by some annoying (to me, anyway) albeit minor combustion issues. Nonetheless, this is a full-bodied cigar chock full of flavor and revelations. There’s a lot to experience with the T, so I would not characterize it as an everyday smoke, but one you should smoke as you kick back in your favorite lounge or backyard chair, reflecting or looking out into the world…the Truth is out there. – In Fumo Pax!
“I simply became tired of having to focus on the name of a product, when the focus should be on the product itself. I am extremely proud to be working on this project with Robert and A.J.”
–Matt Booth [Cigar Aficionado, 2017]
- Profile: Full
- Vitola: Toro
- Length / Ring Gauge: 6.0″ x 52
- Purchased: B&M
- Wrapper: Nicaraguan
- Binder: Nicaraguan
- Filler: Nicaraguan
- Cutter: Colibri ‘V’
- Lighter: Colibri Firebird
- Price: $11.12
- Humidor Age: 7 mo.
- Box: 20
- Other Vitolas: Lonsdale [6.5″x44], Short Churchill [5.5″x48], Robusto [5″x52], Toro Grande [6.5″x56]
Smoke Time: 1:30
Draw: Very Good
Build: Demi press; fudge brownie wrapper; lots of tooth; raised seams; minimal veins; nice cap; matte finish; hard body; strong 1″+ light gray ash.
- Wrapper – Brown sugar; whiff of cinnamon
- Foot – Baked bread; chocolate
- Cold Draw – earthy and nutty
- Initial: Red pepper, spice, mesquite; charred meat on finish; Settles into profile of leather, baking spice, cream and wood; long finish is woody with cocoa; caramel notes on retro; nutty draw; whiff of allspice.
- Transition: Oaky notes on draw; woody foundation; earth and cacao finish; leather and caramel notes on retro.
- Transition: Profile of wood and earth; caramel and cacao notes on retro; savory earthy finish with notes of cedar.
Touch ups: 2
Combustion: Superb through first half
Weaknesses: Poor combustion in second half; occasional flavor “drop out”
Recommendation: 2. 5-packer
- Go-to (boxworthy)
- 3rd stringer (keep 1 on hand)
- Smoke a banana instead