Inside Casdagli Cigars: PART II

Welcome to Part II of our inside look into Casdagli Cigars, purveyors of super premium cigars with a foundation in “delivering luxury, elegance and tradition.” In our first segment, Inside Casdagli Cigars: Part I, we took a trip through time exploring the rich Casdagli legacy that would eventually branch off and evolve into Casdagli Cigars. In this second installment, we’ll focus on more of the tasty stuff: the cigars. Since we explored Casdagli’s Cuban beginnings in Part I, we’ll now focus on the delicious line-ups from Casdagli’s current collaborations with the Kelner family and Costa Rica’s, IGM.

The Casdagli Portfolio

Traditional

Casdagli’s medium-bodied Traditional Line is the flagship of the portfolio and one of four lines blended by Hendrik Kelner, Jr in the Dominican Republic. Casdagli moved away from Cuban tobacco in 2012 and followed Hendrik Kelner Jr after trying a Kelner blend that checked all the boxes and gave Casdagli the Cubanesque aromas, flavor palette and feel he’d been striving for. Jeremy explains, “in fact the blend was finalised during my first ever blind tasting, something that I had not previously experienced during my previous 15 years dealing with the Cuban tobacco, much to Hendrik’s amusement.” Jeremy Casdagli characterizes this line of cigars, the Lancero in particular, as the epitome of his company’s tag line, “Delivering luxury, elegance and tradition”, but also highlights the tradition that harkens back to the heady days and lavish lifestyle at Villa Casdagli in early 19th century Cairo.

The Traditional line is available in 4 vitolas which include the aforementioned Lancero (Grand Cafe), Jeremy Casdagli’s personal favorite by the way, in a natural and a maduro, a Robusto, and two original sizes Jeremy created for his Cuban cigars, the Cotton Tail and the 60 RG Super Belicoso which share the same blend. The non-Lancero sizes share a Dominican Cotui wrapper, Dominican binder and the same filler leaves, but Casdagli added Peruvian filler to both the Cotton Tail and Super Belicoso.

From L to R: Robusto [4.9″x50], Cotton Tail [5″x64-52], Super Belicoso [5.7″x60], Grand Cafe [7.5″x39]

Basilica

The documented success and profound legacy of Emmanuel Casdagli, Jeremy Casdagli’s great-great-grandfather, can be immediately felt through even a casual scan of the family’s history. This success was a result of their ethos, work ethic and manifested in a profuse lifestyle. The Basilica line, whose bands feature a headshot of Emmanuel Casdagli, is an homage to his legacy. Villa Casdagli was considered by some a “palace” as it was built in an area of Cairo reserved for the affluent and those of royal blood. The name “basilica” refers to “royal house” in Greek, so the line is also a nod to the great house built by his great-great-grandfather in the mid 1800’s.

The line was originally introduced to cater to Casdagli’s Saudi clients who desired a cigar to pair with their favorite teas and citrus-based Arabic fare. Jeremy Casdagli adds, “a total of 8 blends were tasted in Beirut with my Saudi distributor before the Basilica C #1 was decided upon. We added the letter ‘C’ after Basilica to indicate ‘citrus’ notes.” The full-bodied cigars of the Basilica line feature a “flared” or “shaggy” foot which allows the smoker to sample, in this case, the bold flavors of the binder tobaccos prior to the full blend. The line comes in 3 vitolas but also features 5 different blends, 3 in the Toro size: ‘A’, ‘C’ natural and ‘C’ maduro. The line up also includes the 7.5″ Lancero and a stocky Petit Robusto.

From L to R: ‘A’ [Toro 6″x52], C #1 [Toro 6″x52], C #2 [Lancero 7.5″x39], C #3 [Petit Robusto 4″x52], C #1 Maduro [Toro 6×52]

Cabinet Selection

There was a time when adorning cigars with flashy bands and various dress methods and packaging them in elaborate boxes was not the goal. In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, cigars, especially Cubans, usually without bands of any kind, were purchased in bundles of 25-50 (it is rumored never less than 15) in plain wooden boxes. The bundles were simply nestled together with a silk ribbon. Customers would then take the boxes and insert them into slots in their custom-made, ornate cabinets. Hence the “cabinet selections” were born.

The whole Project was decided upon during my first roadtrip with my Swedish distrbuter Martin Nelson Brix of Kind Cigars. He wanted a line of cigars to cater for many of his clients that were also coffee lovers. Like me he loves tradition and so the Cabinet selection was born.

Jeremy Casdagli

The full-bodied Cabinet Selection is offered in 3 sizes adorned with a simple gold band depicting the Casdagli standard, a nod to the days when cigars were packaged “naked”. The trio are purposely blended and rolled in small sizes as a perfect companion to a cup of coffee. The line names are all derived from some of the most recognized and favorite coffees in the world. All cigars are shod with the same Dominican Cotui wrapper, but differ in binder and filler composition. The Rosetta is the only Domincan puro.

From L to R: Rosetta [Pyramide 4″x46], Romano [Petit Corona 5″x40], Ristretto [Petit Robusto 4″x50],

Club Mareva

The Club Mareva line is a unique quartet of cigars to commemorate the partnership between Casdagli Cigars and Club Mareva, home of the Cigar Smoking World Championship (CSWC). Located in the town of Split, Croatia, Club Mareva hosts cigar lovers from around the world and was founded by Marko Bilić who is recognized as one of the cigar world’s most prominent ambassadors. Launched in 2014, each cigar blend (created by Hendrik Kelner Jr) in the Club Mareva line is personally selected by Bilić. For more perspective, Jeremy adds, “Marco has a very particular palate, his preference being for mild-medium strength, full flavour and aromatic blends that can be enjoyed throughout the day. The Mediterranean lifestyle one could say.”

With the exception of a lone Pyramide, Mareva Spalato Ltd. Ed., the cigars follow a mostly Corona RG and size, a highly heralded vitola conducive to maximizing the essence and flavors of each blend. All four cigars share a Dominican binder, but differ in their filler components, whereas wrappers vary from Dominican Cotui and Brazilian Cubra to Ecuadorian Corojo. You can expect medium, medium-full and full profiles from Club Mareva Cigars.

From L to R: Gran Mareva [Petit Corona 5.5″x42], Club Mareva Gold [Petit Corona 5.5″x42], Mareva Especial [Corona Grande 6″x42], Mareva Spalato Ltd. Ed. [Pyramide 6″x49]

Daughters Of The Wind

The Daughters of the Wind (DoTW) line is inspired by both an ancient Arabic poem, of the same name, celebrating the beauty of Bedouin horses and the fascinating history of Casdagli ancestors’ breeding of champion Arabians horses. Unlike the other 4 lines in the Casdagli “stable” of cigars, the DoTW line is a product of Casdagli’s partnership with the González family and their boutique factory, Inversiones González Martínez, or IGM, a collaboration that began in 2013.

This line has been truly great fun putting together. Here I am offered some truly exotic tobaccos and I become much more active in the blending process. Here I like to think of myself as an amateur chef being offered simply some of the best ingredients to work with … I can´t go too far wrong.

Jeremy Casdagli

Re-launched in late 2018, the DoTW line-up includes five vitolas, three of which are rolled with a tapered cap. All carry the same blend topped with an Ecuadorian Habano skin. The trade dress and banding was changed when the company changed from Bespoke Cigars to Casdagli shortly after the “Bespoke” trademark dust up with Alec Bradley Cigars’ Alan Rubin. We had the opportunity to review the Dahman in early 2019 and heaped praise on the big cigar’s (7.1″x56) level of complexity, balance and flavor palette.

From L to R: Dahman [Toro 7.1″x56], Sabino [Perfecto 6.2″x60-58], Rabicano [Salomone 7.8″x57-50], Calico [Pyramide 6.1″x52], Cremello [Lancero 7.5″x39]

Expert Pairings By Vlada Stojanov

For those who enjoy a good drink with a cigar, we all have our favorites. Port. Whisky/ey. Cognac. Bourbon. Scotch. Dr. Pepper. Sadly, I fully admit to sometimes getting my pairings dead wrong, ending up with a pour that by itself is delicious, but one that may compete with the cigar’s strength, texture or flavor instead of complementing it.

Fortunately, we’ve coaxed Casdagli’s own Vlada Stojanov into helping us out with some pearls of wisdom for our next pairing. Vlada Stojanov is Casdagli Cigars’ Brand Ambassador and Distributor in the US. By chance, Vlada is also an international sommelier who has taken the time to provide his expertise on pairings for a couple of cigars in Casdagli’s portfolio, the Traditional and Basilica.

TRADITIONAL LINE: Grand Cafe [Lancero]

  • Notes: Citrus, vanilla, cream, roasted nuts, baking spices. Medium to full flavor, medium bodied.
  • Wrapper: Brazilian Cubra
  • Binder: Dominican Kelner Private Reserve binder
  • Filler: Dominican Sao Vicente, Nicaraguan Condega Viso, Pennylvanian Broadleaf.
  • Ratings: 98 from the Katman, 92 from Blind Man’s Puff (see more reviews at www.casdaglicigars.com)

Highlights: The Traditional Line is blended by Hendrik Kelner Jr based on the taste profile of Jeremy’s original Cuban production. This is a cubanesque blend, most reminiscent of an Hoyo de Monterrey as the original blends were based on 1950s Hoyo blends with slight tweaks. It is a fantastic cigar for a novice smoker and especially for an aficionado, offering richness, complexity and class without ever being overpowering. Starts off light to medium in the first half inch and becomes medium shortly after. Bourbon & Rye: light to medium & medium bodied, with vanilla/caramel/spice or citrus dominant notes:

Bourbon & Rye: light to medium & medium bodied, with vanilla/caramel/spice or citrus dominant notes:

Angel’s Envy
Baker’s
Basil Hayden’s
Blanton’s
Bulleit
Buffalo Trace
Booker’s
Makers – both bottlings
Woodford – both bottlings
Wild Turkey – all bottlings
Larceny
Basil Hayden’s Rye
Knob Creek
Whistle Pig
Templeton
Redbreast 12
Suntori Toki
Quiet Irish
Kavalan



Bolded sprits are highly recommended
SCOTCH: Light to medium scotch with little to no peat

Not recommended with Islay Scotch
as it will overwhelm the Grand Cafe


Macallan – 12, everything else
Balvenie – entire range
Glenfiddich 12, 15 and 18
Glenlivet 12, 15
Johnny Walker Black
Glenmorangie Quinta Ruban
Crown Royal – all bottlings (except flavored)
Dalwhinnie 15 year

Spirits, Cordials, Cognacs, Rums and Beers

Spirits & Cordials
All Cognacs, Hennessy XO
All rums, Diplomatico & Zacapa
Tequila – Reposados and Anejos
Vodkas
Grand Marnier


BEERS:
Pilsners, lagers, lighter IPAs.


BASILICA: C#1 [Toro]

  • Notes: Citrus, vanilla, dark chocolate, earth, pepper. Full flavor, medium-full bodied.
  • Wrapper: Brazilian Cubra
  • Binder (double): Nicaraguan Condega Viso, Kelner Private Reserve
  • Filler: Dominican (Sao Vicente), Dominican HVA, Nicaraguan (Jalapa), Peruvian Pelo de Oro
  • Ratings: 91 Cigar Journal, 94 from the Katman (see more reviews at www.casdaglicigars.com)

Highlights: The double binder combines Nicaraguan Condega with the Kelner Private Reserve hybrid. In addition, the cigar contains a total of 7 different tobaccos, the fillers are all between 2 and 5 years of age. It features a much darker and spice forward profile compared to the Basilica A due to the addition of an extra Nicaraguan leaf, plus the Dominican HVA. Again, it contains the coveted Peruvian Pelo de Oro which adds sweetness, fullness and complexity to the overall blend.

Bourbon, Rye & Irish: Pair with bourbons and whisk(e)ys that are medium, medium to full and full.
The flavor profile you would want to look for is on the sweeter side, meant to act as a contrasting
pairing to the profile of the Basilica C#1 which has a darker profile (earth/dark chocolate, pepper), the
vanilla notes found in most bourbons will act as a mirroring pairing to the vanilla found in the C#1.


Basil Hayden’s
Bulleit, Bulleit 10
Bookers
Buffalo Trace
Jack Daniels – all bottlings
Jefferson’s – all bottlings
Knob Creek
Woodford

Larceny
Three Chord, Three Chord 12
Woodford – both bottlings

RYE & Whisk(e)y

Bulleit Straight Rye
Knob Creek Rye

Crown Royal, Rye, Reserve
Whistle Pig – both bottlings
Woodford Reserve

Jameson, Jameson 18
Redbreast – all bottlings
Teeling Single Batch, Single Grain
Suntori Toki
Brenne French Single Malt
Bolded spirits are highly recommended

Scotch pairings: Medium bodied scotches with little to medium peat, with pronounced citrus notes or
candied fruit pair very well, sherry cask dominant scotches (Macallan range for example) work well
too.

Macallan – entire range
Balvenie – entire range
Glenfiddich 12, 15 and 18
Glenlivet 12, 15
Dalmore Cigar Malt
Glenmorangie Quinta Ruban
Auchentoshan Three Wood
JW – all bottlings
Oban – all bottlings
ISLAY
All the bottlings will work, however the Lagavulin 16
tends to be a bit softer due to lower peatiness and longer aging

Spirits & Cordials
All Cognacs, Hennessy XO
All rums, Diplomatico & Zacapa

Tequila – Reposados and Anejos
Vodkas, Grand Marnier

Beers: Everything. Stouts, IPAs, Pales, Red Ales, Triples.

Be sure to check back soon as we’ll be reviewing the Grand Cafe (Lancero) from Casdaglis’ Traditional line. And don’t forget to check out Part III of our series, Inside Casdagli Cigars, the centerpiece of which is our hour-long virtual interview with Jeremy as he joins us from his cushy Bespoke Cigar Lounge while puffing on one of his favorite Lanceros under the watchful eye of his great-great-grandfather’s portrait.

We’ll also explore Casdagli’s HQ nestled in the handsome D’Boiss Club Bespoke located in Oldtown Tallinn, Estonia’s largest city and capital. Speaking of lounges, we’ll feature details of the gorgeous Bespoke Cigar Lounge by Casdagli and Jeremy Casdagli will take us on an exclusive virtual tour of D’Boiss Club Bespoke culminating with an inside look at this warm, inviting space to enjoy a cigar. We’ll conclude our coverage with a closer look at Casdagli’s luxurious accessories to complete your “Bespoke” experience. – In Fumo Pax!

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