Yes, there is a cigar called Funfetti, and yes, it’s a serious release.
Given Robert Caldwell’s seeming love of quirky names for cigars, it might very well be no surprise that this store exclusive for JR Cigar is coming from him. It might also not be a surprise that this is an offshoot of another one of Caldwell’s more interestingly named cigars, Yellow Cake, an event only release announced in October 2014.
For this cigar, Caldwell created a 5 x 50 robusto that he said is designed to be a more balanced version of the 4 x 44 Yellow Cake, something he achieved through making changes to the blend. Gone is the Dominican corojo wrapper, replaced with a Sumatra capa that sits on top of a Nicaraguan binder and fillers. Caldwell told halfwheel that “I didn’t like Yellow Cake; I like Funfetti.”
He went onto say that the concept behind Funfetti was “to make a full size Yellow Cake concept that was more well rounded and better balanced,” adding that it would have enough produced so that more people could try it, as opposed to the event-only Yellow Cake. While not a huge run by some standards, 20,000 Funfetti cigars were produced, all unbanded and split into 2,000 packs of 10 priced at $49.95 each.
As for Yellow Cake it’s going away in the near future, so if you want to compare the two cigars side-by-side, you’d better find a Caldwell Cigar Co. event soon. Caldwell says there are enough to last through the winter but it will be replaced with another event-only concept in the spring.
- Cigar Reviewed: Caldwell Funfetti
- Country of Origin: Dominican Republic
- Factory: Tabacalera William Ventura
- Wrapper: Indonesian Sumatra
- Binder: Nicaragua
- Filler: Nicaragua
- Length: 5 Inches
- Ring Gauge: 50
- Vitola: Robusto
- MSRP: $6 (Bundles of 10, $60)
- Release Date: December 2015
- Number of Cigars Released: 2,000 Bundles of 10 Cigars (20,000 Total Cigars)
- Number of Cigars Smoked For Review: 3
On the first sample I pull out of the bag, there’s a small piece of tobacco sticking out of the foot of the Caldwell Funfetti. Thankfully it’s just a small scrap, but it doesn’t make for the best first impression. Sumatra isn’t known for being the best looking wrapper in the tobacco world, and while it’s not an ugly leaf by any means, there are some thin, prominent veins and color variations on the top leaf of this cigar. It’s fairly firm and doesn’t like to be squeezed, as the first cigar gives off a slight cracking sound that stops me from going any further. The cap leaves a bit to be desired, coming to a slanted peak on the first cigar while the others are all cut a big jaggedly, but otherwise the roll quality seems fine. The foot yields a light and slightly sweet first aroma, a touch of butter, popcorn and Champagne come to mind, but further sniffs don’t show any of the fruit or sugar associated with bubbly. The cold draw is a touch firm but very enjoyable, offering a bit of coffee bean and dry wood.
If you’re familiar with what sumatra tobacco tastes and smells like, the first puffs of the Caldwell Funfetti will be instantly recognizable; it’s a distinct combination of coffee, sweetness and earth that isn’t found in many other tobacco varietals. On the first cigar, pepper is noticeably missing from the first puffs, as none shows up on the palate or in the nose via a retrohale, yet it’s fairly abundant on the other samples. I’m also getting a bit of ever-so-slightly sour cream in the mix as well—more so on the first sample than the others—almost like what you might get from a sour cream cheesecake, just adding a touch of distinct flavor to the equation. Before the burn line reaches an inch in length, the aroma has added this incredible sweet campfire character, almost a bit distant as if happening a few doors down and being carried over by a gentle breeze. So far the burn line is fairly even though a bit wavy, with tons of milky white smoke off the foot and a tidy bit of white ash in its wake. Out of the sour milk flavor comes a bit of plain marshmallow, while the aroma has evolved quite well, showing a bit of creme brûlée with its slightly charred sweet signature. A bit of pepper closes out the first third as the first clump of ash crashes to the ground.
While the first few puffs of the Caldwell Funfetti vary in their use of pepper, the second third is far from that, showing much more white pepper in the nose and a bit of black pepper on the palate, though both appear in both places. It’s a marked and enjoyable progression that has cost the cigar a bit of sweetness and almost all of the sourness, but scores points for showing the ability to pivot and evolve the flavor. Even with the increase in pepper, nicotine strength isn’t much of a factor through the midway point, but begins to become one shortly thereafter. The ash also begins to flower for the first time, as the wrapper and binder peel away from the core a bit. The draw remains just a bit firm while smoke production is abundant, with a dry combination of pepper and wood tingling the lips and tip of the tongue while just a bit of heavier pepper hits more towards the back of the throat as the texture of the smoke begins to build in thickness.
As the texture of the smoke increases, so too does the strength, as I can feel a definite nicotine hit from the cigar beginning to take effect, and as such my rate of puffing on the cigar slows down a bit. With a small bit of ash knocked off and the final third ready to begin, there’s another shift in the Caldwell Funfetti as a sweet and very creamy texture comes into the smoke, coating the palate before pepper returns with a bit of vengeance and what seems like a goal to be the closing note of the cigar. Each puff seems to want to dabble in each of the flavors presented so far, which while offering complexity, occasionally feels a bit disjointed and overly combined, much like your plate at the end of dinner. As a result, the balance begins to waver a bit, never getting completely out of whack but certainly much shakier than it had been in the first two thirds. A bit of heat begins to come into the flavor in the final two inches, but also a touch of mint, an interesting addition that leaves a distinct and enjoyable mark on the palate. A bit of a combustion issue comes in during the final inch, but otherwise the cigar easily smokes down to a small nub, with a sweet, pretzel dough aroma and one last blast of pepper for the eyes closing things out.
- Funfetti is a line of Pillsbury cake products and a registered trademark of the J.M. Smucker Company Corporation. The product line has existed for more than 25 years.
- There was a point in between the second half of the second third and the first half of the first third in each sample where I began to feel a bit “cigar drunk” because of the nicotine, and that was regardless of when I smoked the cigar or if it was my first or second cigar of the day.
- In the debate about what kind of marketing is good for the premium cigar industry and ensures that cigars aren’t misconstrued as being intended for kids, I don’t think the Caldwell Funfetti will ever get used as evidence to support that point.
- Caldwell would have to be in the running for most non-traditional cigar names in recent memory, even more so if the Lost&Found series is factored in the voting.
- With regards to the cigar that Funfetti is an offshoot of, yellowcake is a type of concentrated uranium powder that came to public knowledge when Saddam Hussein was said to be buying it from the African nation of Niger. The documents that purported that claim were proved to be forgeries.
- The intro to JR Cigars’ video review of the Caldwell Funfetti seems very fitting.
- Final smoking time was one hour and 20 minutes on average.
- The cigars for this review were purchased by halfwheel.
- Site sponsor JR Cigar (800-572-4427) is the only place to get the Caldwell Funfetti. Be sure to tell them you heard about it on halfwheel.
Given that this was positioned as a more balanced version of Yellow Cake, I found myself being a bit more scrutinizing of the cigar’s balance, and after three samples, I can say that it certainly achieved its goal and then some. While it stays balanced for the bulk of the cigar, it also manages to show a number of flavor evolutions and changes, mixing in pepper, sweetness and creaminess in a relatively small format and short time frame that keeps the palate on its proverbial toes and compelled to stay in lockstep with what the cigar has to offer. While a name like Funfetti might suggest sugary sweetness and light flavors, the opposite is more the reality: good amounts of pepper carry the cigar while providing a good amount of room for other flavors to come and go. A very respectable blend from Caldwell in an era when standing out in a sea of excellent cigars can be a challenge.