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At the start of 2014, word of a new line of very limited edition cigars came out, a collection that was said to be found by Robert Caldwell during his travels through the traditional cigar producing parts of the world, including the Dominican Republic, where the first release in the Impromptu line originates.

The Impromptu Pepper Creme Soda was described as offering both sweetness and pepper and came packaged in 10-count paper bundles with the Impromptu logo of a parachuting bundle of cigars. While the factory that produced the cigars wasn’t revealed, Caldwell along with partners Tony Bellato and Jaclyn Sears did release a good bit about the blend and production numbers.

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Remember, now, that Caldwell didn’t blend the cigars nor does he take credit for them, other than saying that he discovered them during his travels and brought them to U.S. consumers. On a tag attached to each bundle, Caldwell explains a bit about the project, writing that:

Impromptu is a concept that came out of a few of my favorite things—traveling, smoking cigars, discovering and sharing.
Over the last several months I have been traveling all over the world, spending a lot of time in the Caribbean and Central America in many tobacco fields and factories. Along the way I stumbled upon certain cigars that really left an impression on me. My friends suggest we share them with our friends and customers.
These are very special cigars made with rare tobaccos hat have been aged to a point seldom enjoyed by most of us. I cannot take credit with making these beauties, nor for bringing them to you—just for discovering them.
Special Thanks to Jaclyn Sears, Tony Bellatto and all of the people around the world who labor to make us enjoy life one puff at a time.

Additionally, he told halfwheel that the cigars are a 2006 vintage and were only being released in a 5 x 50 robusto vitola, with a total of 2,500 cigars produced.

Here’s what I said about the Impromptu Pepper Creme Soda when I reviewed it back in February 2014:

I can certainly see why Robert Caldwell and the Impromptu team felt the Pepper Creme Soda was worth bringing to the American market, though I have to wonder if it would have been that much better a few years ago. Time seems to have taken a bit of the better notes away from the blend, but it has fortunately left just enough to make this a cigar worth trying out. While the problems with the wrapper were a distraction, they weren’t a problem, and I’d like to think they could have been avoided with a bit more time in the humidor. If nothing less, the Pepper Creme Soda has certainly piqued my interest in what else Caldwell has come across in his travels and will be releasing under the Impromptu banner.

  • Cigar Reviewed: Impromptu Pepper Creme Soda
  • Country of Origin: Dominican Republic
  • Factory: n/a
  • Wrapper: Ecuadorian Brazilian-seed Arapiraca
  • Binder: Dominicana Piloto
  • Filler: Dominican Piloto, Dominican Cuban Seed HVA & Dominican Habano
  • Size: 5 Inches
  • Ring Gauge: 50
  • Vitola: Robusto
  • MSRP: $10 (Packs of 10, $100)
  • Date Released: January 2014
  • Number of Cigars Released: 250 Packs of 10 Cigars (2,500 Total Cigars)
  • Number of Cigars Smoked for Redux: 1

The unbanded cigar is an attractive caramel or toffee brown shade with a bit of sheen and some very small veins. It’s not a particularly noticeable cigar, which is compounded by its lack of an identifying band, but on its own it still remains a very good looking and well-rolled stick. The pre-light aroma is still neutral but offers more a bit of pepper on top of the generic bread and cardboard note with a bit of banana tucked away as well. The cold draw is on the firm side and is equally neutral, with a bit of vanilla ice cream standing out.

While the first puffs offer some subtle notes of pepper on top of a very mellow yet developing creaminess, though almost immediately upon lighting I am once again greeted by the less than ear-pleasing sound of the very thin wrapper cracking as it expands from the heat, a problem I had with the cigar when I originally reviewed it. The sweet and dry cream soda note starts to emerge shortly thereafter, bringing together the three key notes of the cigar that give it its name. The cigar produces copious amounts of smoke and the ash hangs on for well over an inch, to the point where I become nervous that it will land in my lap or laptop and as such I tap it off into the ashtray. Much like it did originally, the Impromptu Pepper Creme Soda quickly hones in on its sweet spot and settles in comfortably, offering subtle notes of pepper and cream soda, though with the creaminess moving much more into the background through the first half. Retrohales surprise the nose with the amount of sharp white pepper they offer at every step so far.

Impromptu Pepper Creme Soda

While the thought of a creme soda may conjure up the idea of an overt sweetness, the Impromptu Pepper Creme Soda tends to stay away from that, though there are moments where it does seem to want to entertain the notion. There is a base level simple syrup note that makes occasional appearances, much like one you would expect to find in a clear or lighter-colored soda. While flavor is at a medium level, strength remains fairly mild with a minimal amount of nicotine and no overbearing pepper notes to dominate the palate. Retrohales continue to be peppery but on the lighter side, challenging but still manageable. Fortunately there haven’t been any further issues with the wrapper cracking or producing audbile sounds, and damage was kept to a bare minimum. The smoke warms up a bit entering the final third, bringing along with it some light molasses and mixed nuts, while the creaminess fights to stick around and hold onto what little sweetness is left. The aged tobacco continues to show its smoothness all the way until the end, picking up touches of terroir in the final puffs and bringing the cigar to another stop on the flavor journey.

87 Overall Score

Nine months of rest have had no ill effects on the Impromptu Pepper Creme Soda, and in some ways have helped it evolve a bit to show more of its earthy origins and develop a touch more complexity. The wrapper issues early on remain a mystery to me as I had thought that the extra time in the humidor would have remedied them; while not the case it had much less of an effect than it did on first encounter so I have to chalk that up as a bit of a win. That, and the fact that there are only 2,500 of these cigars made are its two biggest drawbacks, with its age still leaving me wondering just how this would have tasted closer to its production date. If you happen to come across some of these, your palate will thank you for giving them a try.

Original Score (February 2014)
86
Redux Score (November 2014)
87

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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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