In the world of cigars, the term “line extension” is rather loosely defined. It can refer to a new vitola (or several vitolas) manufactured to complement the historical production offerings of a brand. It can refer to an “event only” cigar specifically designed to promote a blend or a brand at “brick and mortar” events. It can refer to an “anniversary cigar” produced to commemorate a company milestone. It can refer to a cigar where the filler blend has been “tweaked” to deliver a slightly different smoking experience. And it can refer to a cigar where a new wrapper leaf is substituted for the original.
In the spring of 2014, Robert Caldwell introduced the Caldwell Collection. The collection consisted of three distinctive lines of cigars, each using aged and hard-to-find “Grade A” tobacco grown in the Dominican Republic and rolled at Tabacalera William Ventura. Unique names and eye-catching artwork were used in debuting the collection—The Eastern Standard, The King Is Dead, and Long Live The King. The latter was manufactured with a Dominican Corojo wrapper, a Dominican Corojo binder, and a trio of filler leaves—Dominican Corojo Ligero, Dominican Pelo de Oro Viso, and Nicaraguan Habano Ligero. Cigar Dojo reviewed the Long Live The King “My Style is Jalapeño” vitola (7″ x 40) in 2015 and awarded it a 91% “FLAVOR BOMB” rating.
At the 2016 IPCRP Trade Show in Las Vegas, Caldwell introduced Savages—the first line extension to the Long Live The King blend. The cigars were initially offered only to existing Caldwell accounts on the opening day of the show and sold out within hours.
Caldwell Savages Breakdown
- Wrapper: Habano
- Binder: Undisclosed
- Filler: Undisclosed
- Factory: Tabacalera William Ventura (Dominican Republic)
- Production: Regular Production
- Vitola: 8″ × 45 Corona Larga
- Price: $15.00 (MSRP)
While Robert Caldwell coined whimsical terms when naming the Long Live The King vitolas, he decided to use conventional cigar nomenclature with the Savages. However, Caldwell followed historical company tradition concerning graphics and commissioned an artist to produce a unique image for the band and the box. Pixel Pancho—a Turin, Italy street painter specializing in large murals utilizing earthy tones—produced a steampunk portrait of a 19th-century bespectacled and mustachioed man wearing a mechanized top hat. The Savages line is produced in five sizes—the Corona Extra (6” x 46, $11.00 MSRP), the Corona Larga (8” x 45, $15.00 MSRP), the Piramide (6” x 50, $14.00 MSRP), the Super Rothschild (4¾” x 52, $12.00 MSRP), and the Toro (6” x 54, $13.00 MSRP). Individually wrapped in cellophane, the vitolas are shipped in ten-count wooden boxes with a hinged lid.
The specific details of the tobacco composition have not been disclosed, other than the fact that a “Habano” wrapper was substituted for the Dominican Corojo wrapper found on the Long Live The King cigars. But since the company classified the Savages as a line extension, it is possible that the binder and filler tobaccos are materially similar to the original offering.
The Caldwell Savages Corona Larga is a very elegant looking cigar, its full eight inches of length symmetrically complementing the narrow ring gauge like an symphony conductor’s baton. Its wrapper is quite rough and rustic—with elevated seams, five predominant veins, several lumps, and a haphazardly applied cap, topped with an almost flush pigtail. On the “Shades of Brown” spectrum, the color of the cigar is a mixture of sandy brown and smokey topaz, with contrasting splotches of mocha scattered across the face. A medium amount of oiliness produces a tactile sensation when rolled between the fingers.
Savages is encased with a die cut and embossed primary band printed in the colors of black, ecru, gold, gray, and silver. Pixel Pancho’s steampunk man occupies the centermost portion of the band with the letters “LLTK” printed to the right of the image—referencing the fact that the cigar is a line extension to the Long Live The King blend. A rectangular sub-band identifies the cigar as a Savages blend. Firmly packed from the foot to the cap—bordering on the edge of sun-dried papier-mâché—the wrapper aroma is delicate and sweet, while the open foot smells of dried fruits, hay, natural tobacco, and a touch of manure.
After the cap of the Savages is opened with a double guillotine cut—to ensure the maximum amount of taste from the wrapper, binder, and filler—the initial cold draw is a bit resistive, which is typical of a long cigar. Flavors of chocolate, dried soil, and pepper immediately touch the palate, while a tingle of Tabasco formulates on the lower lip.
After toasting and lighting the cigar with a soft double-flame lighter in the traditional manner (SEE: The Cigar Enthusiast’s Guide to Soft Flame Lighting), the first few draws deliver fairly smooth notes of white pepper, honey, and natural tobacco. These initial flavors are soon enhanced with touches of cedar, milk chocolate, and must. The smoking draw is more open than the cold draw, generating an above average amount of smoke output. Subtle aromas and flavors of drip-brewed coffee, hardwoods, mango, and packed soil appear, while cedar and red pepper are dominant on the almost eye-watering retrohale.
As the Savages enters into its second third, it begins to display the following general characteristics—medium in body, medium in flavor, and mild-to-medium in strength. The primary aromas and flavors present in the first third begin to harmonize toward a single flavor profile, while the initial milk chocolate note transitions towards sea-salted dark chocolate. From time to time, notes of baking spices and flowers flirt in and out of the mix, adding a slight amount of complexity to the cigar. The smoking experience is rather dry, requiring frequent sips of San Pellegrino—my preferred beverage when reviewing cigars.
Room aroma is reminiscent of searing steaks and charred asparagus on a charcoal-fuel Weber grill surrounded by well-fed members of the local cigar club. The burn line is extremely asymmetrical, holding nearly two inches of silver ash at a forty-degree angle. After the initial touch-up, the ash plummets to the floor in a single clump, leaving a powdery residue on the floor. On the retrohale, the cedar and red pepper present in the first third is replaced by a more potent mixture of black pepper and robust spices.
As it burns through its final third, the Caldwell Savages Corona Larga settles down to deliver a two-dimensional profile—natural tobacco and pepper. The draw remains very open, requiring only single puffs to produce bountiful amounts of ceiling-clinging smoke. However, the burn line continues to waver, requiring frequent touch-ups. A dose of minerality appears near the end of the cigar’s life, producing an unpleasant roughness at the top of the throat. With an inch and a half left to burn, the cigar is placed in an ashtray and allowed to naturally extinguish itself.
Would I Smoke This Cigar Again?
The answer to that question is, “Probably not.” While I was impressed with the overall look of the Caldwell Savages Corona Larga, along with its flavor and moderate complexity during the first sixty minutes of the smoking experience, the aromas and flavors stalled significantly during the second half. The end result was an average cigar with a super-premium price tag. Therefore, I will stick to my favorites from the Caldwell Cigar Company stable—the Last Tsar, the Dos Firmas, and the new Hit and Run.
- Smoke Time: 2 hours, 15 minutes
- Pairing Recommendation: coffee and espresso, stout beer, bourbon, and dark-whiskey cocktails
- Purchase Recommendation: try 1 cigar
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- Excellent draw
- Initial smoothness
- Moderate complexity
- Price point
- Lack of transitions
- Frequent touch-ups