Caldwell Cigars' Long Live the Queen: A Review
Caldwell Cigars burst onto the scene in 2014, debuting a trio of cigars that would come to define the company's approach to cigar making: exciting, exotic, and novel. These three cigars were the Eastern Standard, The King is Dead, and Long Live the King. As the years passed, Caldwell's portfolio grew, staying true to the path that these three blends established, and even expanding upon the lines themselves with additional variations.
Nearly a decade later, in 2022, Caldwell has released a follow up to Long Live the King in the aptly named Long Live the Queen, featuring an entirely new blend and a drastically different flavor profile. Whereas the King made use of a Dominican Corojo wrapper atop a Dominican binder and fillers from the Dominican, Peru, and Nicaragua, the Queen showcases a Cameroon wrapper, Indonesian Sumatra binder, and fillers from Nicaragua and the Dominican.
Much of Caldwell's portfolio is unified by artwork that's not only quite beautiful, but that breaks the mold compared to many of the more traditional bands commonly seen in a humidor. It's no surprise, then, that the first thing I noticed when I received the three samples I smoked for this review was the absolutely stunning art that graced the main band, something that's allowed to stand out even further thanks to the contrast that it offers against the secondary band and the wrapper leaf. Though the band isn't an indicator of quality, it certainly lets the smoker know that this is indeed a Caldwell cigar.
Long Live the Queen features an entirely new blend and a drastically different flavor profile
Outside of the band, my first impressions leave me excited; the wrapper is expertly applied, with no bumps or dips, and displays a look that's to be expected from a Cameroon but that leans toward Rosado with its warm orange hues. The feel is silky and exceptionally smooth, with only a touch of ruggedness thanks to the smattering of tooth that dots its surface, and it's rather thin, though not delicate or fragile. A broad double cap tops the barrel, and after a few more minutes spent appreciating the presentation and quality of the roll, I start to prepare for smoking.
The smell of the cigar itself is quite light, with hints of sweet hay and barnyard throughout the wrapper, and occasional aromas of leather. The foot offers much of the same, though with an added stonefruit sweetness that I appreciated quite a bit, and a brisk, invigorating bit of pepper.
After a quick straight cut, it's onto the cold draw, and this is where the cigar really starts to open up. The pepper detected at the foot is increased exponentially, with plenty for the palate to appreciate, enough to leave a noticeable tingle across the lips. Notes of leather and earth join the pepper here, coupled with an intriguing herbaceousness that compliments a touch of baking spice on the intake. After a quick toasting, the cigar is ready to light, and a few quick puffs brings the foot to a full cherry. Immediately I'm greeted by a wealth of black pepper and cedar, the herbiness from the cold draw returning in a small way, though only for a short bit before vanishing.
As the cigar progresses, the pepper and cedar meld together very pleasantly, the pepper starting to recede slightly, giving way to a wonderful creaminess that continues well into the finish, joined there by a rich tobacco and earth note that combines for a lovely complexity. The finish itself is rather long, which is great here, as it allows for the full appreciation of these flavors.
Through the duration of the first third, sporadic hints of both breadiness and saltiness arise, as well as a savory vegetal flavor and traces of stonefruit sweetness, all of which keep things feeling lively. On the retrohale, the creamy composure of the smoke is maintained, while the earthy, peppery notes are amplified in intensity, along with the stonefruit flavors and savory vegetal hints. Nearing the end of the first third, the strength and flavor are both on the lower end of medium, and the earthy pepperiness holds strong, while the rich creamy character of the smoke merges with a delightful bit of nuttiness.
Immediately I'm greeted by a wealth of black pepper and cedar, the herbiness from the cold draw returning in a small way
As the second third begins, the vegetal notes return in a small way, as the bready character from before returns while the creamy pepper of the first third diminishes greatly, lightening the flavors and placing the body of the smoke in the mild-medium to mild range. Around midway through, a wonderful richness comes into play, amplifying the creamy notes that had initially died down a bit and joined by nuttiness and cedar, while the finish reintroduces pepper-spice that extends for quite a while.
Retrohales further increase the presence of pepper around a base of bright tobacco notes that gradually transform into an extremely exciting floral flavor that significantly brightens the entire flavor profile. At this point, I had to stop myself from performing constant retrohales for the sake of this review, and that's certainly for the best, as the profile continues to evolve, its base flavors ebbing and flowing in intriguing ways. Nearing the end of the second third, pepper returns to complement flavors of cedar, and the retrohale magnifies that pepper, going hand-in-hand with an extended finish that tingles in the nasal passages while it slowly fades into a lovely leather aroma. The difference between standard puffs and retrohales is impressive, with puffs being more on the mild side, while retrohales are solidly medium bodied.
At the beginning the final third, flavors remain largely unchanged from the second third, though leather becomes more and more prominent in the profile. The peppery leather maintains prominence on the retrohale, along with a bit of creamy cedar that lightens things a bit, all before the creaminess returns in a big way, with a light herbaceousness on the finish which is quite nice.
Vegetal notes return, laden with deep earth and hay while pepper continues to ebb and flow throughout the cigar, coming and going at odd intervals that keep the overall profile intriguing. As this final third progresses, that pepper continues to evolve, shifting not only its degree of presence, but its aromas, though never becoming overbearing. The retrohale magnifies the presence of the pepper, coupling it with a leathery cedar note that lasts through the finish, and as the cigar progresses through the final third, the leather begins to build and take a more upfront position alongside a creamy nuttiness.
Nearing the end of the final third, strength and flavor are both solidly at medium, staying the course with flavors of nutty cedar and cream, with pepper present lightly in the background. Retrohales deliver cedar and pepper, with pepper staying at the forefront even as the finish is laden with leather. Final puffs are even more pepper-forward and are backed by earthy cedar that evolves into a pleasant leatheriness on the finish before the cigar becomes too hot to smoke and I finally place it in the ashtray.
The difference between standard puffs and retrohales is impressive, with puffs being more on the mild side, while retrohales are solidly medium bodied
Long Live the Queen is a great cigar, and one that not only fits well among others produced by Caldwell, but that is a truly excellent followup to Long Live the King. Though its bouquet of flavors are well represented in cigar smoking canon, the particular combination offered by this smoke is nothing short of elegant, and though ample pepper is on offer in nearly every bit of the smoke, it doesn't present as a pepper bomb.
Though it's certainly a unique cigar, this strikes me as one that will be appreciated by enthusiasts of Cubanesque blends, and is sure to appeal to fans of Caldwell's other work. The final strength and body of Long Live the Queen sat at around a medium for me, which is a boon to burgeoning smokers, and a blessing in equal parts to experienced aficionados, making itself easily accessible to much of the cigar smoking public. The average smoking time for me was around an hour and 15 minutes, though I am a rather fast smoker, and this could be vastly different for those who are more inclined to take their time.
Tagged in: Caldwell Cigar Company Cigars Reviews