Cigar Review: The T by Caldwell, Booth & AJ Fernandez

  • TheT_straightVitola: Short Churchill
  • 5.5” x 48 ring gauge
  • $12.99
  • Purchased at Burns Tobacconist

Background

A year ago Matt Booth stunned some in the cigar world by stepping away from the business, breaking ties with Camacho (and Davidoff), the company that had produced his blends. I said it before, I’ll say it here: I didn’t think he’d come back. I know Matt and have spent time with him on numerous occasions, both at and away from cigar events. He’s a genuinely nice man, and passionate about what he loves…but I never got the impression that he was a “cigar guy” so much as a “jewelry guy” who happened to like cigars.

So when he announced his “return” to the biz, teaming up with Robert Caldwell and the Caldwell Cigar Company, I was the one who was surprised. When I tasted the first blend to be produced in the collaboration, I was less-so…Hit & Run was basically a really good Caldwell blend with Booth’s branding. That made we wonder even more, though, what “The Truth” would be like. This was announced as a collaboration among Booth, Caldwell and A.J. Fernandez. It would be the second time that a Caldwell cigar was made in Nicaragua, after the the All Out Kings project with Drew Estate, and the 5th factory they company has used in total (William Ventura in the Dominican Republic for the majority, Drew Estate in Nicaragua, Camacho factory in Honduras for Blind Man’s Bluff, and E.P. Carrillo’s factory in the D.R. for Anastasia).

In October, while I was in California, I got to try a pre-release sample of the cigar. By that time it was officially being renamed “The T” since there was a legal conflict with using “truth” as a cigar name. The blend is a Nicaraguan puro, made in the AJ Fernandez factory in Estelí, Nicaragua.

The final stick shipped in mid-November in a total of 5 vitolas. We got some Lonsdales and Robustos in early December for a Caldwell event we were having at Burns, but the other sizes were delayed. I smoked those sizes, then got my hands on the Short Churchill, which is what I finally decided to review. I’ve smoked this blend 4 or 5 times before this review sample, which I purchased at Burns Tobacconist.

TheT_band1Prelight

The T boxes are cream with black key art and mostly black typography, except for “The T.” which appears in white. There is some red trim, as well. The exception is the 10-count Short Churchill box which is a dark green instead of cream color, with “The T” in red, and the type and trim lines in cream or yellow. The main band is expansive with a light lavender background, white and red trim lines, black keys and “The T.” in gold foil. The secondary band is the dark green color with gold foil for the initials of the collaborators: MB, AJF, and RC.

The wrapper leaf was a dark brown color, making we think right away it was probably a Maduro leaf. The oiliness under my fingers and ripe aroma of earth and wood didn’t really do much to change my mind on that. All I could find out what “Nicaragua puro”…didn’t say “Nicaraguan Maduro” or “Nicaraguan Oscuro.” The foot of the cigar had a fairly normal Nicaraguan aroma of rich earth with a slight sweetness of ripe fruit.

The cold draw was excellent and produced flavors of wet earth, leather and citrus.

Flavor

The early flavors from The T were of cedar, earth, anise, and semi-sweet dark chocolate. Notes of pepper spice and cinnamon came through on the palate during the finish. The retrohale had a very spicy characteristic with additional notes of wood and nuts. As the first third burned through I got more cinnamon and dried fruit, along with slightly stronger chocolate notes.

The second third introduced some dark roast coffee and char notes, overlaying the dark chocolate, cedar and earth. The pepper spice dissipated to a great degree, but there was still a good cinnamon note on the finish and some heat on the nose.

Winding down in the last third, I got more espresso bean and cocoa powder notes, with just the slightest amount of sweetness and that ever-present cinnamon finishing note.

TheT_band2Construction

I had a very good draw, solid ash and even-enough burn line.

Value

The price tag on these is a little high for an AJF cigar, but right in line for a Caldwell. I felt like it was worth the extra money…but just barely.

Conclusions

The T is definitely recognizable as an AJ Fernandez blend, but with enough twist and complexity to be considered higher-end and the product of other minds in the blending process. This really is an excellent cigar with an interesting flavor profile from beginning to end, different from anything else in the Caldwell catalog and different enough from other AJF cigars to stand on its own. In my opinion, this should have been the first release for the new Matt Booth collaborative efforts. If you like Nicaraguan cigars, smoke this…you’ll like it.

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

You may also like...