While the Casdagli Basilica A cigar has existed for roughly five years, the brand was recently refreshed in 2019, as Bespoke Cigars rebranded under the Casdagli family name. Basilica A is joined by multiple blend variations in the overall Basilica collection, including the Basilica C No. 1, Basilica C No. 1 Maduro, Basilica C No. 2, and Basilica C No. 3. Differing from conventional brand structuring, each Basilica cigar boasts, not only a unique size, but blend makeup as well. The Basilica collection is described by Casdagli Cigars:
Relaunched in 2015 these complex, full bodied vitolas are blended for Bespoke Cigars by Hendrick Kelner Junior. The Basilica “A” series blend includes the highly coveted Bonao leaf. […] The Basilica was the name given to the Huge Cannon built in the 15th Century for the Ottomans to be used for the siege of Constantinople. The “flared” foot of the Basilica Line cigars invokes an exploding cannon. The foot is designed this way so as to lead the smoker gently into the full flavors emitted by the rich binder leaves […].
Basilica A Breakdown
- Wrapper: Dominican Cotuí
- Binder: Dominican Bonao
- Filler: Dominican Republic | Nicaragua | Pennsylvania Broadleaf | Peruvian Pelo de Oro
- Factory: Kelner Boutique Factory (Dominican Republic)
- Production: Regular Production
- Vitola: 6″ × 52 (Toro)
- Price: $16.00 (MSRP)
As with all Basilica cigars, the Casdagli Basilica A is rolled in the Dominican Republic in partnership with Hendrik Kelner Jr. and his Kelner Boutique Factory, located in the country’s Santiago region. Basilica A differentiates itself through a signature binder—an 11-year-aged Bonao leaf that Casdagli describes as being best known for its use in Arturo Fuente’s OpusX cigar. The remaining blend is sourced from four countries in total, including a special Dominican Cotuí wrapper that is “cultivated on a Kelner family plantation ensuring that the KBF factory has the very best pick of the harvest.”
Aside from the company’s name change in 2019, the Basilica’s appearance is the most noticeable change. The primary band is now larger and more detailed, including heavier embossings, etc. In addition, the sub-band has been moved from its original placement above the primary band, now having a more conventional structure beneath the updated band. The Main band features a portrait of Emanuel Casdagli, the great-great-grandfather of brand owner, Jeremy Casdagli, reminding me of La Palina Cigars. The secondary band features the familiar (to smokers of the former Bespoke Cigars brand) Colossus of Rhodes design.
The cigar itself is a hefty mama. The quarter-inch of the foot that’s sans wrapper—a longtime signature of the Basilica line—adds to the impression that this toro is just bursting at the seams with tobacco. The nearly chestnut-hued wrapper has plenty of oil and is free of blemishes, with minimal, thin veins. The double cap is a little large and sloppily applied, in my opinion.
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The aroma from the cover leaf gives some mild earthiness and plenty of sweet molasses hints. The foot is mostly sweet, with a burnt sugar note that gets me excited. The cold draw is bananas. Not in the Gwen Stefani B-A-N-A-N-A-S kind of way, but like bananas foster, banana cereal, or banana pudding; this is joined by a musty damp earthy flavor that is brightened by a bubblegum note.
The cigar’s initial draws are fun, waiting for the kick from the wrapper and binder to come into play. It’s got a great spice to begin—more than expected. There’s a sweet liqueur note with the introduction of the binder/wrapper behind the capsaicin tingle from the pepper (making it more of a chile than a peppercorn). Using a punch cut, the draw is spot on, with plentiful smoke production. Right away, I feel a decent amount of body from the smoke, with a lingering finish that feels like a coating on the tongue. A drying astringency that is reminiscent of sweet green tea provides structure. Burning fairly quickly for a cigar this size, the first third is gone in 25 minutes, displaying a heavy medium-plus body and flavor, with strength coming along, reaching for medium.
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I am enjoying the interplay of spicy and sweet, as spice skates around the edges of the tongue, with the sugar cookie sweetness playing confidently across the middle of the rink, spinning and twisting. The toro is described as having citrus by the company’s description, although I don’t quite get that; it seems to me to be more on the side of bright pepper. The cigar appears to be extremely well balanced. It’s no surprise that this is more of a refined, flavor-forward blend, coming from Kelner, who’s father is the Master Blender for Davidoff. The burn is perfect, leaving gorgeous stacks of ash that build over an inch before falling off unexpectedly. Heading towards the end of the second third, there is a pleasing dark raspberry jam flavor, bringing out the bright pepper through the retrohale once more. While not at all a powerhouse-style cigar, the balance here tends to put flavor in front, with body being a bit more middling, and strength being fairly mild.
Anise-tinged biscochito cookie is the highlight for the beginning of the final third. The thing I’m really digging here is the richness, boasting deep butter and toasted grain. At this point, the body leans toward full, being chock-full of nuts, with a dense creamy/savory component that could be mushroom risotto (which would be a first for me). In the final inch, the nub starts to get a little soft and the smoke warms. A couple of touch-ups are required in one sample, while another was razor sharp throughout, requiring zero maintenance. The sweetness from the first half is gone, but it doesn’t lack for it. The blend has moved gracefully throughout its journey, with every step seeming deliberate and necessary.
Would I Smoke This Cigar Again?
This is a killer blend. It’s got all the flavor you’d expect from a Kelner experience, with a substantial body that puts it above his other offerings, in my opinion. Basilica A smokes like a luxury cigar while not quite being priced as such.
- Flavor: Medium-plus
- Strength: Medium
- Body: Medium-plus
- Sweet tea
- Deep red fruit jam
- Spicy sugar cookie
- Toasted grains and nuts
- Smoke Time: 2 hours
- Pairing Recommendation: Delaforce 20 Years Old Tawny Port | Samuel Smith’s Nut Brown Ale | Hazelnut Italian cream soda
- Purchase Recommendation: Box worthy
- Exotic blend
- Tons of flavor
- Fun progression from start to finish
- Just a little on the expensive side
- One sample needed a couple touch-ups
- Ash falls off unexpectedly