In 2014, Caldwell Cigar Company hit the ground running, introducing a trio of cigars that quickly climbed the ranks of sought-after cigars among craft enthusiasts. The three cigars (The King is Dead, Long Live the King, and Eastern Standard) spanned a flavor range of mild to medium, offering classic, or Cubanesque profiles with a modern/artistic flare. This series would become known as The Caldwell Collection—now the backbone of a rapidly expanding lineup.
Perhaps the most burgeoning line in the Caldwell Collection (or Caldwell’s entire lineup, for that matter) is the Eastern Standard, which now forms an unofficial “collection within a collection”—offering the original Dark Ecuadorian Connecticut Hybrid (Eastern Standard), an Ecudorian Aracon Maduro (Eastern Standard Midnight Express), and a more secretive/undisclosed Connecticut blend (Dos Firmas).
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Dos Firmas Breakdown
- Wrapper: Connecticut Shade-Grown
- Binder: Undisclosed
- Filler: Undisclosed
- Factory: Tabacalera William Ventura (Dominican Republic)
- Production: Small Batch (selective retailers)
- Vitola: 4⅞” × 46 “Caldwell Signature 46 × 4 7/8” rothschild
- Price: $9.60 (MSRP)
Dos Firmas, alternately dubbed “Caldwell Signature” is a special blend that is twenty-plus years in the making. Of course, Caldwell Cigar Co. is only in its junior year, therefore the blend is marketed as a special release—a Caldwell presentation of a William Ventura (Master Blender) personal blend. This special collaboration is what Dos Firmas is named for—translating to mean “Two Firms”—the cigars feature both Robert Caldwell (owner of Caldwell Cigar Co. ) and William Ventura’s (owner of Tabacalera William Ventura) signatures on the cigar’s packaging and banding.
As far as the blend is concerned, Caldwell has completely reversed course from the ultra-detailed approach of the original Eastern Standard cigars—where full blending details were listed on the cigar’s packaging, describing information right down to the vintage of each priming. Dos Firmas, on the other hand, lists only the cigar’s wrapper—Connecticut Shade-Grown—not even going so far as to disclose country of origin (although it can be assumed to be Ecuadorian).
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We’ve made it no secret how we feel about the Eastern Standard look, describing the original cigar’s band as among the Top 10 Most Attractive Cigar Bands. The same holds true for Dos Firmas. This incarnation may actually be the best yet, as the altered cream base and brown ink showcase a classic tone to match the distinguished gentleman (Hans Nielsen Lahkso) adorned on the band. This also fits into the age of the blend and its more classically-geared flavor profile.
To accompany the retro-styled blend, Caldwell and William Ventura have rolled the cigars in vitolas aimed for the connoisseur—showcasing all four sizes at under 52 ring gauge and including not only a classic Piramide vitola, but a Culebra as well (pictured above). Each vitola has been named for its size, such as this, the “Caldwell Signature 46 × 4 7/8”.
The Connecticut wrapper is not the exemplar look of silky smooth, golden perfection of the prized Connecticut leaf. Instead, the wrapper has a dusty look, with a very slight green tea shade and a fuzzy feel between the fingers. Construction-wise, it’s not quite as “spot-on” as expected, with somewhat loose seams and a soft spot or two. The wrapper is not consistant, with dark streaks running down the length of the cigar. It feels about medium bunched, with a slightly lighter weight than expected.
On the nose, there are very pleasant notes of honey, banana, and a sweet muskiness; as well as more intense notes on the cigar’s foot. The pre-light draw feels slightly on the loose side, showing notes of wet cedar and barnyard hay.
As you’d expect, there is a healthy blast of creamy flavors to start. A “dull” vanilla flavor follows—dull, comparable to the chalky texture of the vanilla “Lik-a-Stix” “dip stick” from a packet of Fun Dip candy. But perhaps more engaging is the distinct saltiness from the freshly cut, raw tobaccos against the tongue. At this point in the smoking experience, this is best compared to salted butter.
The slightly loose draw produces thin wisps of smoke—less voluminous than ideal, but not disappointing. This is accompanied by a dark and wavy burn line that saunters down the cigar at a fairly brisk pace. The ash itself holds a light and flakey texture, falling in one-inch chunks and colored dark gray, with occasional black layers throughout. All told, it’s a light smoking experience that focuses strictly on flavor: light strength – medium-full flavor – medium-minus body.
The flavors are bright and contemplative, a multitude of sweet and salty complexities with every puff. The dusty flavors, combined with the saltiness from the cigar’s head, make for a brilliant experience best compared to the sensation of licking the powdery coating from a peanut shell.
In the late second-third and onwards, the bright flavors mellow out. The cigar becomes a bit sweeter and less complex, with notes of honey, vanilla, and green tea. In the final third, a touchup or two are required; which keep the smoke from showing hot and/or harsh flavors, replaced with mellow (and less sweet) tea notes.
Would I Smoke This Cigar Again?
Ab-so-lutely! Dos Firmas is equal parts complex and flavorful, with each taking turns leading the dance as the embers burn. Yes, the final segment was not quite up to par, but that’s only when compared to the incredible start of this fine display of tobacco-blending mastery.
My pairing for review was, as per usual, bourbon (W.L. Weller Special Reserve wheated bourbon). This was pleasant, bringing the honey-like aspects front and center, though perhaps not the ideal drink for this particular smoke (see more below…).
This rothschild size (more like a size between rothschild and robusto) performed very well, although its less impressive finale has me looking down the rest of the Dos Firmas lineup. I can’t say there’s a size in this series I’m not anxious to smoke, with the Culebra being the prime objective—because, how does one pass on a finely crafted culebra in good conscious?
- Smoke Time: 1 hour
- Pairing Recommendation: white wine, mild red blend, mojito, gin & tonic, farmhouse ale
- Purchase Recommendation: box split – full box
*This article was updated on 12/9/2016 to include the quotes from Robert Caldwell
- Great taste of raw tobacco on tongue
- Loads of salty, sweet, and creamy nuances
- Great value
- Light smoke output
- Quick burner
- Final 3rd doesn't live up to 1st & 2nd (nearing harsh)