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In February 2014, the trio of Robert Caldwell, Tony Bellatto and Jaclyn Sears announced the launch of an ongoing line of cigars called Impromptu. This collection of small batch cigars were described as finds that Caldwell made during his travels, with him repeating often that he wasn’t taking credit for blending the cigars, just for finding them and bringing them to a broader audience.

Impromptu launched with four cigars, Pepper Creme Soda, Backdoor Bambi, One Night Stand and Lost Reserve, all of which were released to small groups of retailers.

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Attached to the Pepper Creme Soda was a note from Caldwell that explains the project a bit more:

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.

Recently, Bellatto shared news of the fifth cigar to join the group, a cigar bearing the much less suggestive name of Stout.

After tasting all of these amazing notes combined, I realized they all are flavors found in almost every stout beer. When I came across these cigars with Caldwell in the D.R., I knew they were going to be a hit. Specifically because of my love for craft beer, wine and spirits. The cigars compliment all three very well, especially a nice Imperial Stout.

While the final packaging was still in production, each pack will be accompanied by the following artwork and hangtag:

Impromptu Stout Hangtag

The cigars are expected to ship next month in five-packs.

Impromptu Stout 1

  • Cigar Reviewed: Impromptu Stout
  • Country of Origin: Dominican Republic
  • Factory: Tabacalera William Ventura
  • Wrapper: Connecticut Broadleaf
  • Binder: Sumatra
  • Filler: Dominican Republic, Honduras & Nicaragua
  • Size: 5 3/4 Inches
  • Ring Gauge: 42
  • Vitola: Corona
  • MSRP: $11.50 (Packs of 5, $57.50)
  • Release Date: June 2014
  • Number of Cigars Released: 1,000 Packs of 5 Cigars (5,000 Total Cigars)
  • Number of Cigars Smoked For Review: 2

This is one of the darker Connecticut broadleaf wrappers I can remember seeing, and while not as black as most stout beers, it does an admirable job living up to the idea that comes to mind when I think of the color of a stout beer. The wrapper leaf has some decent texture and an almost waxy feel to it at points, with a few prominent veins and a little bit of tooth. There is a little bit of give to it but it feels like it has a solid core with there only being so far the cigar can be squeezed before it shows its dense center. The cap features a flattened pigtail, while the foot is covered to varying degrees, one cigar well clipped and tucked, while the other appears not be clipped at all. There isn’t much offered on the pre-light aroma, with a very faint note that reminds me a bit of a wood telephone pole the only discernible thing. Air flow on the cold draw is near spot on with just the slightest amount of resistance, while the flavors are once again subtle but show a touch more pepper, with one sample coming across with a subtle saucy tang as well.

There’s a tangy, peppery bite on the front of the tongue with the first few puffs, but the cigar opens up quickly and shows a much fuller flavor profile, and yes, picks up a roasted note that will be familiar to regular drinkers of stout beers, with a coffee bean note showing more in the aroma of the cigar. There is certainly ligero in the retrohale with a good showing made by the time the burn line has reached a third of an inch, though it doesn’t seem to transfer over to the palate with nearly the same strength. If anything the cigar leans to the smooth side, with the age seeming to have really settled down any rough points, and gives it a bit of the creamy texture that stouts can be known for. The burn rate is slow and the smoke thick and creamy, diminishing to the thinnest of wisps after periods or rest before ramping back up to substantial levels with a few puffs. The Stout never goes out, but gets about as cool as possible without needing a relight to continue. The ash holds on admirably for well over an inch, and while it is too dark to give the impression of being the head on a typical stout, you could sort of make a comparison between the two.

Impromptu Stout 2

The departure of the first clump of ash brings on the second third of the Impromptu Stout, with a sweet milk note coming through on the aroma and consistent smoothness with just the faintest tingle of ligero on the palate. Roasted earth and soil grab the lead for a few puffs and evoke notes of almost gruff Nicaraguan tobacco before dialing back just a little. There are faint touches of cedar and alder that creep out at times, both of which have just the slightest component of sweetness that helps dial back the intensity of the earth flavors admirably. Just past the midpoint and as a seeming segue to the final third, flavors start to pop off the cigar, with a black coffee bite leading the way, pepper from the ligero waking up and a roasted earth note rounding out the offerings. The strength has yet to step below medium, mostly living between medium-plus and full, with mouthfuls of dense smoke that are a real treat.

Impromptu Stout 3

The coffee bean and roasted earth notes come together in the final third to offer the fullest flavor yet, with the aged yet still present ligero adding just a bit of kick to top it off. Both seem amplified by the heat, but when the cigar is allowed to cool to just shy of the point of extinguising, there’s a note of meaty brisket that jumps into the background for a little more complexity. The cigar stays the course until the final puffs, with the roasted note edging up in strength but being buffered by the sweet cream note, with the palate getting almost all the attention as the aroma has tapered off substantially from the balance set in the first third. The final inches become affected by the heat, with the roasted earth increasing in harshness and signalling the conclusion of the cigar.

Impromptu Stout 4

Final Notes

  • For having “100% ligero filler,” I didn’t get nearly the pepper hits that I would have expected, or that I’ve gotten from other cigars bearing similar billing. The age has certainly mellowed these out but without completely erasing the pepper from the equation.
  • That said, I can only imagine how much oomph these sticks had in the first year following production.
  • Like the Impromptu Pepper Creme Soda, these are marked with a vintage date of 2006.
  • For a slightly shorter than average corona, the Impromptu Stout seemed to take for ever to burn through. This isn’t a bad thing, mind you, but shows that size is just a portion of what goes into determining how long it will take to smoke a cigar. The leaves are the key factor; I would venture to guess I could find toros and even a few Churchills that would finish faster than this cigar.
  • By far, the most frustrating part of the Impromptu Stout is trying to get the burn line ramped back up and smoke production flowing after letting the cigar rest for a minute or two. The slightly tight draw feels even tighter at these points, and gets almost frustrating.
  • As you can see, the feet had quite different finishes:

Impromptu Stout Feet

  • The artwork for Stout was designed by Johnathon Perkins, “as an ode to my boys at Treasure Hunter Wines,” according to Bellatto on the hangtag that accompanies the cigars.
  • As of earlier this week, the packaging for the Impromptu was still yet to arrive, and as such is why there aren’t any pictures of it.
  • I am certainly a fan of stout beers, so my interest was even more piqued than usual for this cigar.
  • The most famous stout beer is Guinness, followed by Murphy’s and Beamish.
  • As you might know, there are several varieties of stouts, including oatmeal stout, imperial stout, porter, dry or Irish stout, Baltic porter, milk stout, oatmeal stout, chocolate stout, coffee stout and oyster stout.
  • My personal favorite stout—at least at the moment—is Great Divide’s Yeti and its many variations. Left Hand’s Milk Stout is also a solid option.
  • The idea of cigars pairing cigars with beer is nothing new. In November 2013, Ted’s Cigars released a cigar seasoned with Samuel Adams Utopias.
  • Final smoking time was one hour and 40 minutes on average.
  • The cigars for this review were provided by Tony Bellatto of Impromptu.

 

87 Overall Score

With aged cigars such as this, there is always the chance that time will have done more harm than good, but such is not the case with the Impromptu Stout. There is no shortage of flavor, with strength respectable through the cigar. The overall flavors appears to have benefited the most from the time, as I can only imagine what this would have tasted like with younger, more powerful ligero at its core. While the roasted and at times charred notes will be a turn off for some, it works for me though I don't think my palate would appreciate multiples of these in a row. Much like I remarked with the Pepper Creme Soda, this is a very enjoyable cigar that is worth trying and keeps me intrigued to see what else turns up under the Impromptu banner as a result of Robert Caldwell's travels.

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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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