Cigar Review: Anastasia by Caldwell Cigars

  • Ana_straightVitola: Kartel (Robusto)
  • 5” x 49 ring gauge 
  • MSRP ~$13.50
  • Purchased at Maxamar

Background

Caldwell Cigars unveiled the Anastasia blend as part of its 2016 expansion. It was a follow-up to The Last Tsar, a previous blend that used Nicolas II, the last Tsar of Russia, on the band and box. This one features Nicolas II’s daughter, Princess Anastasia…long rumored to have escaped the bloody overthrow of the Russian government by the Bolsheviks, ushering in an era that saw more oppression and brutality than the Tsars that preceded them.

Anastasia also represents a partnership with a third cigar factory. The original Caldwell lines (Collection and Iberian Express) were done in the Dominican factory of William Ventura. Blind Man’s Bluff was made at Camacho’s Honduran factory. This blend is made in Ernesto Perez-Carrillo’s Tabacalera La Alianza in the Dominican Republic.

I consulted several websites—retail, news and reviews—to find out some blend information for the Anastasia, but couldn’t find anything published anywhere. At this point, it’s all described as “undisclosed.” A detail of note for this review: I was told that this particular Anastasia, with the gold ribbon on the foot, was some sort of limited edition that uses a different type of wrapper leaf than the standard release. From looking at images available online, only one size of the Anastasia regular release has the gold ribbon…and it isn’t this size. So there may be some validity to this being something special or “one-off.”

I bought this at Maxamar in Orange, California, when I was out there in October. Anastasia is generally not available online.

Ana_bandback1Prelight

The artwork on the band of the Anastasia depicts the Russian princess in a work that is probably the least interesting piece of work put onto a Caldwell cigar so far. I say that because it looks very much like a dozen other cigar bands with ladies depicted on them. It’s well-done, but not unique in design and unusual in execution like their other bands have been. The rest of the band has gold trim around burgundy background, with the Caldwell logo and “1918” with a club and sword all rendered in gold. The secondary band is an olive green with gold trim and type reading “Anastasia.”

The wrapper leaf under the bands was almost dark enough to be a dark chocolate brown. It felt a little dry and papery at first, but pressing a little harder, I could feel the oils come through. It had a rich and ripe earthiness to it, along with a touch of leather. The foot was earthy and leathery as well. Based on the aromas I was getting, along with the knowledge of who is making this cigar, I have to guess that the wrapper is Ecuador Sumatra…though it would have to be the darkest example of that varietal I’ve ever seen.

The cold draw was very good and it exhibited notes of cedar and grass, along with less flavors of earth and minerals.

Ana_bandback2Flavor

Starting off, the Anastasia had a good amount of chewy semi-sweet nuttiness, followed up by a cedar and red pepper flavor and an earthy finish. The retrohalehad the red pepper spice, but also some baking spice, adding a very interesting layer to the experience. As the first third burned through the nuttiness gave way to a little more dark fruit sweetness and the pepper ramped up to a nice palate burn.

The second third saw the blend come together more harmoniously with sweeter fruit notes, earth and pepper melding with mineral and cedar flavors very nicely.

The pepper grew even more in the last third, taking over the prime spot, but the sweetness provided a very pleasing balance while the cedar and mineral flavors were more of an accent on the finish.

Ana_angleConstruction

Great draw, very even burn line, solid ash.

Value

Very good cigar at a slightly elevated price…but not out of bounds for other higher-end Caldwell blends, so it’s worth it.

Conclusions

The first time I had a regular Anastasia, I thought it was perhaps the “least unique” cigar in the Caldwell line while still being very nice overall. Whether this is a special limited version of just the same blend with more age on it, this time I was really taken aback by the Anastasia and thoroughly enjoyed it from end-to-end, feeling that it definitely had a great place in the lineup. Very good cigar and definitely one to get your hands on if you ever see this Robusto with the gold ribbon on the foot. (P.S. After writing this I learned more information on the “gold ribbon” cigars. Turns out they were not supposed to be released “into the wild” but because of a “sorting and identification error” they were. This version does have a different wrapper than the original release without the ribbon on the foot…and it is likely that this wrapper will become a permanent fixture on the blend at some point.)

By-The-Numbers

Prelight: 2/2
Construction: 2/2
Flavor: 4.5/5
Value: 1/1
Total: 9.5/10

David Jones

David has been smoking premium cigars since 2001. He is co-founder and editor-in-chief of Leaf Enthusiast. He is a full-time retail tobacconist, working for Burns Tobacconist in Chattanooga, where he has also organized the Chattanooga Tweet-Up for the last four years. He is also an independent graphic designer and typesetter. Twitter: @dmjones1009

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