Cigar Review: Bespoke Basilica

  • Basilica_straightVitola: C#1 (Toro)
  • 6” x 52 ring gauge 
  • ~$16
  • Purchased at Maxamar

Background

One of the fun things about visiting other cigar shops is discovering cigars that your shop doesn’t carry. As always, when I was in California this fall, I spent a good amount of time at Maxamar Ultimate Cigars in Orange (their online presence is better known as Small Batch Cigars). I looked around for something different and came across the Bespoke Cigars lines, which I had barely heard of…I was intrigued.

“Bespoke” means “made to order.” It is usually something associated with clothing, but I’ve also seen the word applied to cars and furniture…basically, it’s a word that carries the connotation of wealth and luxury, with an item being specifically made for a person who doesn’t have much regard for the price of manufacture.

The story of the company goes something like this, according to Small Batch:

In the summer of 1997, Jeremy Casdagli met master torcedor, Carlos Valdez Mosquera, in La casa de la Amistad, a beautiful art deco villa in the heart of Vedado in Havana. It was here that Carlos had been perfecting his own blends. By applying Carlos’s special blends to Jeremy’s chosen vitolas Bespoke Cigars was born. 

The Bespoke website describes the Basilica line as “medium-full” in body and “well balanced” and “complex.” It is made in the Kelner Boutique Factory in the Dominican Republic, blended by Hendrik Kelner, Jr. It uses Dominican, Nicaraguan and Peruvian fillers; Dominican and Nicaraguan binder leaves; and a Brazilian wrapper.

I bought one of these while I was in California, hoping to smoke it there and see if I wanted to get more for review purposes…but I didn’t get around to it. As a result, my review sample is the first time I’ve smoked the blend. You can get your hands on these at Small Batch Cigar online.

Basilica_footPrelight

The band of the Bespoke Basilica is simple and elegant. It has black printing on white paper, using a photo of an old man in the center (who is this? I couldn’t easily find out), reversed out type, and plenty of gold foil and embossing. 

The wrapper leaf was a peanut butter brown color and excessively oily. It had a few veins popping up along its length and smelled barnyardy and grassy. The wrapper leaf is cut a little short of the foot, but it’s actually really hard to tell because the color of the binder leaf showing is so close to that of the wrapper. The foot of the cigar had a sweeter earthiness with more hay and a slight citrus note.

I clipped the end and tested to find a very good draw with flavors of wood, hay and citrus.

Flavor

I got the Basilica up and burning pretty quickly and it soon was giving up a good mix of hay and earthy notes from the small portion of the filler/binder bunch that didn’t have wrapper leaf on it. Citrus and pepper were secondary notes in this introductory blast. Once the wrapper leaf started burning as well the flavor quickly evened and balanced out. Earth was there, but hay was way back in the mix. Pepper was more forward, along with cedar, while pepper was a more supporting role on the palate and a sharp punctuation on the nose.

The second third was a little more mellow than the first, with the pepper being toned down dramatically, allowing more citrus sweetness and zing to come through. There was a good amount of earth still and a little grassiness still.

The last third was sweet and spicy with a little earth, a little leather, and a little citrus zing still in the mix. 

Construction

Build quality was excellent…nothing to detract from full points.

Basilica_bandValue

This was a very good and complex cigar. I would say it just barely justified the relatively high price tag.

Conclusions

The Bespoke Basilica was a very good cigar that was complex and pleasing every step of the way, a tribute to the skills of Hendrick Kelner, Jr. The mix of Nicaraguan, Dominican and Brazilian tobaccos created a mix of earth and spice, sweet and citrus notes that I thoroughly enjoyed. The price tag is a little high, but I think it’s complex enough to justify it.

By-The-Numbers

Prelight: 2/2
Construction: 2/2
Flavor: 4/5
Value: 1/1
Total: 9/10

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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