It didn’t take long for Robert Caldwell’s name to get pop back up in the cigar business following his split with Christian Eiroa and their Wynwood Cigars venture. Just about five months since the news came out of his departure from the Miami-based operation, he attached his name to a new line of limited production cigars called Impromptu, though he is quick to point out that he didn’t blend them; he simply discovered them during his travels.
Official word of the Impromptu line came out in early February via this press release, and Caldwell, along with partners Tony Bellatto and Jaclyn Sears, is wasting no time getting a number of cigars to market.
The Impromptu line is debuting with four very limited release cigars, the One Night Stand, Back Door Bambi, Lost Reserve and the Pepper Creme Soda, also known as the Supreme Creme. Each is limited in its production, and Caldwell is being fairly secretive about where the cigars are coming from. He doesn’t take credit for the blends or production; simply for finding the cigars and bringing them to consumers in the United States. Details about where to get the cigars are also being kept under wraps until each line officially is released.
The first release in the Impromptu line is the Pepper Creme Soda, a cigar from the Dominican Republic that is described as delivering notes of both sweetness and pepper, a sort of yin and yang that comes together to deliver an enjoyable overall flavor profile.
The bundles look like this:
Caldwell explains a bit more about the project:
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.
Bellatto’s note says:
These cigars are a limited production of very well aged cigars that Caldwell found while traveling through the Dominican Republic. I found them fascinating and we decided to share them with you. There is a very small quantity of them so enjoy them while they’re around.
Beyond that, little is offered about the specifics of the cigar, other than that they are a 2006 vintage in a 5 x 50 vitola and that 2,500 cigars were made. A note about the blend is included, though it is fairly vague and says just “HVA/Piloto Cubano/Habano/Arapiraca.”
Cigar Reviewed: Impromptu Pepper Creme Soda
Country of Origin: Dominican Republic
Wrapper: Ecuadoran Brazilian-seed Arapiraca
Binder: Dominicana Piloto
Filler: Dominican Piloto, Dominican Cuban Seed HVA, Dominican Habano
Size: 5 Inches
Ring Gauge: 50
MSRP: $10.00 (Boxes of 10, $100.00)
Release Date : January 2014
Number of Cigars Released: 250 Bundles of 10 Cigars (2,500 Total Cigars)
Number of Cigars Smoked For Review: 1
If you didn’t have the chance to see the paper-wrapped bundles with the twine ribbon and two hang tags and only saw the unbanded cigar, you might be at a bit of a loss. Without being demeaning, it is about as average looking of a cigar as you might expect to find: a very appealing light brown color, a few veins, a triple cap with a bit of a ridge on the head, visible seams, and no real toothiness or sheen on the wrapper. Given its very common robusto shape and no garish imperfections or decorative accoutrements, it doesn’t do anything to catch the eye. The pre-light aroma is neutral but present with notes of cake donut, a touch of cardboard, and a slight bit of dry wood with no pepper or spice. The cold draw is just the slightest bit firm and offers little in the way of flavor save for a small amount of generic sweetness.
The first puffs of the Impromptu Supreme Creme deliver on the spice and sweetness note, though the depth of the flavor is just a bit lacking to really have it stand out and grab you. There is just a touch of pepper and a bit of dry cream soda sweetness that starts to creep out, with a bit more marshmallow sweetness found in the aroma. There was an audible crack in the wrapper before the cigar had even burned a quarter of an inch, and in fact two splits in the wrapper: one starting at the burn line and another about an inch and a half up the cigar. Given that this was smoked on a relatively mild day in Phoenix, I have a hard time attributing it to the environment, and the cigars had been resting in a humidor for a day or two prior to being lit up. However, I’m inclined to believe that a few more days in the humidor would have benefited the integrity of the wrapper, even just slightly. The first clump of ash falls off just after the first picture was taken, and as the cigar transitions into the second third, the primary crack in the wrapper continues to get worse despite otherwise outstanding performance from a straight burn line and sufficient amounts of smoke.
There hasn’t been much in the way of flavor shifts entering the second third, rather the cigar seemed to find a comfortable spot almost immediately after being lit and has settled into it with just a touch of pepper, more of the cream soda note, the graham cracker sweetness that was promised on the packaging and a bit of dry wood in the aroma. Through the midpoint, for my palate it rates as a medium or medium minus in terms of strength and intensity, and there isn’t much in the way of nicotine to be found. At the midway point, the cigar appears to have pulled back a bit in terms of flavor, moving towards a non-descript mild-plus level of strength and flavor, with a few lingering remnants of the wood taste left on the palate and almost all of the sweetness gone from the equation. A retrohale at the midpoint still shows an impressive amount of upfront pepper, with even the smallest amount of smoke leaving the nostrils warm and tingly.
While the cigar continues to burn beautifully and the wrapper issues didn’t cause any undue harm to the experience, I continue to be at a loss to find any significant flavor changes in the warm, plentiful smoke. To say it is a neutral, nondescript flavor is about as specific as I can be, as the trace amounts of pepper and wood barely stand out. Fortunately, there is nothing to complain about with the flavor—no bitterness or harshness, but the age certainly seems to have left very little to be identified. The retrohale remains the most engaging part of the cigar, at least from an intensity standpoint, as the pepper makes it hard to fully enjoy. A touch of marshmallow and cream returns in the final few puffs, with the backing notes of wood, nuts and pepper intensifying just a bit, a combination that carries the Impromptu Supreme Creme to an enjoyable conclusion.
- While the packaging will draw comparisons to other projects currently on the market, notably MUWAT and Kentucky Fire Cured, I still like it. The simple presentation that is designed to resemble a gift works for me, and the two tags offer just enough of a glimpse into the background of these cigars.
- I also really like what appears to be the ink stamped graphics, primarily the bundle of cigars being dropped via parachute out of a plane.
- I’d certainly be interested in trying another one and pairing it with a creme soda.
- I counted at least three instances where I could hear the wrapper crack as I was smoking it or as it was resting—and that was before the midway point. There was at least one more instance in the second half as well.
- If I could smoke this one over, I would have let it rest for at least another week in the humidor. I’m not sure how much it would have helped, but I would like to think it would have given the wrapper a bit more of a chance of staying together.
- That said, the cigar didn’t unravel or seem to suffer a tremendous amount of ill effects from wrapper cracking and splitting.
- If you’re wondering who Jaclyn Sears is, her LinkedIn profile lists her as being in Marketing/Graphic Design with CLE Cigars, which partially explains her connection to Caldwell. She also has an Instagram account and a lesser used Twitter account.
- Select retailers have begun receiving these as of mid-January, with a few more shipments going out this month.
- The official launch party for Impromptu will be over Valentine’s Day weekend at Tony Bellatto’s Havana House stores in Ohio.
- Final smoking time was one hour and 45 minutes on average.
- The cigars for this review were provided to halfwheel by a representative of La Barba/Impromptu Cigars.
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.