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One avenue that cigar makers have to bring new cigars to market is to take an existing blend and modify it somehow – make it stronger or lighter, change the wrapper, put out a limited edition tweak of the blend, and so on. Such is how Savages—one of Caldwell Cigar Co.’s latest releases—came to be.

It starts with one of Robert Caldwell’s debut lines, Long Live the King. Announced in February 2014 as part of the launch of Caldwell Cigar Co., Long Live the King. That cigar used a wrapper and binder from the Dominican Republic, with fillers coming from the Dominican Republic and Nicaragua.

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At this year’s IPCPR Convention & Trade Show, Caldwell rolled out Savages, an extension to the Long Live the King line with a habano wrapper as the only disclosed aspect of the blend. The new line was limited to existing Caldwell accounts and only on the first day of the show, but the limits didn’t prove to be a limitation as the cigar sold out on the first day.

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Savages is available in five sizes: Corona Extra (6 x 46, $11), Corona Larga (8 x 45, $15), Piramide (6 x 50, $14), Super Rothschild (4 3/4 x 52, $12) and Toro (6 x 54, $13), all in 10-count boxes.

Also of note about Savages is that Caldwell tapped Italian artist PixelPancho to create the imagery for the cigar, its a bespectacled Steampunk-inspired man gracing both the box and primary band of the cigar.

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  • Cigar Reviewed: Caldwell Savages Corona Extra
  • Country of Origin: Dominican Republic
  • Factory: Caldwell Cigar Factory
  • Wrapper: Habano
  • Binder: n/a
  • Filler: n/a
  • Length: 6 Inches
  • Ring Gauge: 46
  • Vitola: Corona Gorda
  • MSRP: $11 (Boxes of 10, $110)
  • Release Date: August 2016
  • Number of Cigars Released: n/a
  • Number of Cigars Smoked For Review: 3

It should be no surprise that the Caldwell Savages has an interesting band; that portion of the cigar has been one of the company’s signature flourishes for some time now . The cigar itself is incredibly oily and as such glistens quite well, with a good number of veins creating plenty of angles for the light to explore and be reflected by, and while the tiny pigtail cap is a nice flourish, it’s too small to be really noteworthy. There’s a bit of give to the cigar but for the most part each stick is consistently firm. From the foot I pick up a sweet initial aroma of cantaloupe, peach and nectarine on the first sample, while the second is much more subdued and shows hardly anything of note and the third leads with wheat and a bit of pepper. The cold draw is easy and has a bit of the cantaloupe note though with a bit of the rind mixed in as well, along with some pepper that grazes the surface of the tongue and lips without digging in farther and touches of old wood and dry tobacco.

The first puffs of the Caldwell Savages really have my palate guessing; it’s a peppery orange kind of flavor but both descriptors seem to fall a bit short of what I’m actually tasting, and in one sample has me thinking of a rye old fashioned when retrohaled. The first puffs are very smooth on the palate, with the retrohale providing a bit more oomph and interesting causing a bit of occasional irritation towards the back of my throat. The introduction to the cigar checks in at a subtle medium in terms of body and strength, with the latter being a bit thinner than I would have expected. The pepper tidies itself up fairly quickly and becomes bright and clean in the nose, and if the idea was to refine the Long Live the King blend a bit, Savages certainly seems to be accomplishing that in the first third. There’s a bit of a green grape aromatic that appears in one sample and gives the cigar a crisp, light profile for a few puffs before yielding the floor to the white pepper. One thing that becomes interestingly apparent towards the end of the first third is that the ash doesn’t want to stay together in a nice clump, instead flowering off a bit with some jagged edges.

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The reemergence of a clean pepper note that has hints of both red chili pepper flakes and standard black pepper signals the start of the second third, and it’s a note that returns with distinction similar to a violin soloist coming back into a symphony. Retrohales are particularly potent here; they aren’t overwhelming but rather fully encompassing of your nostrils for a few seconds. The surrounding flavors of the Savages mellow out quite a bit at the midway point and into the transition to the final third are have a citrus-sweet wood taste, as a flavor between orange syrup and dried dehydrated mango sits on top of cedar for a very pleasing combination, and while there is still a decent amount of pepper to be detected the cigar is far from being pepper-laden. The first sample begins to show some significant combustion problems, enough that several relights are needed to get into the final third and prompting me to drybox the other two samples, which seems to help. The second sample quickly shifts to a new high point of complexity about an inch shy of the secondary band as baking spices introduce themselves and add some needed warmth to the profile, while also picking up a slightly creamy undertone.

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The dryboxing of the second and third samples pay massive dividends at the start of the final third; to put it bluntly, the first cigar was unsmokeable due to frequent relights and the accompanying frustration while the other two were much more cooperative. I have to admit that I am extremely happy with what the properly combusting version of the Savages is offering, as a bit of sweet chocolate comes along as well to add even more complexity, and while the flavor sharpens up a bit and becomes a bit of an irritant, the core flavors are good enough to tolerate it and reach for a glass of water more frequently. Pepper remains a good part of the cigar and varies from sample to sample, with the cigar finishing on a dry lumber note that leaves a lingering tingle on the tongue despite a bit of decreased smoke production.

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Final Notes

  • The final third of the first sample was basically unsmokeable due to burn issues, leading me to drybox the other two samples. As little as eight hours helped the second sample, while the third got a little over a day’s worth.
  • That said, each sample had some sort of burn issue, particularly in the final third.
  • If you decide to give this cigar a try, I recommend getting at least two in case of the burn issues and possible dampness of the tobacco. Being able to smoke three of these showed just how good it could get by being a bit dryer.
  • Editor’s Note: The cigars were purchased about six weeks ago and went through our normal storage process.
  • If you’d like to check out more of PixelPancho’s work, which I’d recommend doing, here is his Instagram, Flickr, Facebook, Twitter and Behance accounts. There’s plenty more of his work to find online, in particular this interview from March 2016 with Cultural Weekly.
  • While I could have just pulled on the pigtail to remove the cap, I used my cigar scissors on every sample. I’ve never been a huge fan of pulling on a cigar’s pigtail.
  • Brooks Whittington reviewed the Long Live the King Harem, a store exclusive for Small Batch Cigars released in April 2016.
  • Final smoking time was just under two hours on average.
  • The cigars for this review were purchased by halfwheel.
  • Site sponsor Atlantic Cigar, Corona Cigar Co. and JR Cigar all carry the Caldwell Savages line.
86 Overall Score

As you might know about halfwheel’s review process, the individual reviewer doesn’t know what the score will be when the review is submitted, something that holds true here. What I can tell you is that the score the Caldwell Savages gets is a few points lower than what it is capable of, and the finger of blame is pointed squarely at the cigar being overly damp. The first cigar was by far the worst, the second had the highest peaks of flavor and the third had the best burn, and getting to a final numeric valuation of this cigar from those three distinctly different samples isn’t a great representation of what this cigar offers. Despite the score, you really should give this cigar a try, and as mentioned above I’d recommend picking up a couple to make sure you get one at an optimal state. One thing I can say about the Caldwell Savages: I’m already looking forward to the redux review as I think it will really show what this cigar has to offer.

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Patrick Lagreid
About the author

I strive to capture the essence of a cigar and the people behind them in my work – every cigar you light up is the culmination of the work of countless people and often represents generations of struggle and stories. For me, it’s about so much more than the cigar – it’s about the story behind it, the experience of enjoying the work of artisans and the way that a good cigar can bring people together. In addition to my work with halfwheel, I’m the public address announcer for the Colorado Rockies and Arizona Diamondbacks during spring training, as well as for the Salt River Rafters of the Arizona Fall League, the WNBA's Phoenix Mercury and the Arizona Rattlers of the Indoor Football League. I also work in a number of roles for MLB.com, plus I'm a voice over artist. I previously covered the Phoenix and national cigar scene for Examiner.com, and was an editor for Cigar Snob magazine.

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