The Anastasia line from Caldwell Cigar Co. dates back to 2016. That first iteration, and all subsequent iterations, had undisclosed blends and featured Princess Anastasia on the primary band. The difference lies in the factories of production and the secondary band colors. Today I am reviewing the newest edition of Anastasia, which sports a yellow secondary band. Unlike the first edition, this 2022 Anastasia comes from an undisclosed factory in an undisclosed country (however, there has been some speculation on the factory and company).
The first Anastasia (green secondary band) was a miss for me back when I smoked it. I then skipped the second edition (blue secondary band), not realizing the blend was different. I ended up acquiring a blue banded Anastasia a few weeks ago and absolutely loved it. This made me feel inclined to seek out the 2022 edition, and for some reason I decided that it would be a good idea to do a vitola battle with a line that has 4 cigars well into the $20 MSRP range…
Country of Origin: Undisclosed
Factory: Dominican Republic
Vitola: 7 ½ x 38 Igor (Lancero); 5 ⅝ x 46 Caspia (Corona Gorda); 5 x 50 Kartel (Robusto); 6 x 54 Opera (Toro Extra)
Price: $30.00 MSRP, $22.00 MSRP, $24.00 MSRP, $26.00 MSRP
Release Date: June 2022
Company Website: www.caldwellcigars.com
Honestly, this is a tough group of cigars to make predictions on having literally no information on the blend, factory, or country. Therefore I am making assumptions based on Robert Caldwell’s palate because I assume that he would be critical of the profile of a near super-premium priced cigar bearing his name. From that I can say that I am anticipating each cigar to be medium-full in flavor and body with basically no strength. I look for complex, nuanced, creamy, sweet, nutty, soft primary flavors with some balancing subtle pepper and spice. As for the individual vitolas, I am sure they’re all going to be fairly similar. The Igor and Caspia will probably have a bit more intensity, but I am sure that will be negligible really. I am most curious about the Caspia and Opera as those are where I expect to catch the most uniqueness in the smoking experience, as the Caspia will have a bit more intensity without losing complexity; and the Opera will have a bit more complexity without losing too much intensity.
I am a sucker for Caldwell’s artwork and this is no different. I like the secondary band color choice with the classic Anastasia primary band and against this wrapper leaf.
Igor - This Lancero has a rough looking wrapper. It’s splotchy and has some very prominent, lumpy veins. The cigar feels leathery and firm. It smells a bit like sweet cereal, spices, and earth. The cold draw doesn’t have much to offer, maybe just a bit of cardboard and earth.
Caspia - This Corona Gorda has an almost rosado looking wrapper with some rustic veins and seams. It’s a bit spongy in a couple spots. The cigar smells raisiny and leathery with some grains and spices. The cold draw is like a cinnamon sugar pastry with raisins.
Kartel - This Robusto has a brown paper bag colored wrapper that is similar to that in texture. It’s pretty clean with a couple prominent veins. The cigar is pretty dense and firm. It smells like cedar, raisins, and earth. The cold draw is cinnamon brown sugar bread.
Opera - This cigar has a pretty clean, oily, medium brown wrapper. The cigar is mostly firm, but has a couple spongy areas. It’s also lighter than you’d think. It smells like cedar, tobacco, and a hint of potpourri. The cold draw is cherry and honey cold medicine which is interesting. It’s a bit more pleasant than cold medicine, fortunately.
Igor - First light brings medium bodied smoke with medium-full flavors of nuts, oily charred oak, some earth, and some leather. The retrohale has some raisin or plum, leather, wood, and baking spices. I just got a touch of musty, mushroomy earth I get from some Dominican tobaccos. Halfway into this third the flavor shifted towards a darker, heavier feeling profile with some cacao, caramel, damp earth, and coffee. The retrohale hasn’t changed much. The first third closes out much of the same and maintains great performance throughout.
Caspia - First light is full in both body and flavor with a lot of bright, sugary sweetness first, followed by some slightly tannic wood, toast, and baking spices. A couple puffs in the profile is much the same except the tannins dropping out. The retrohale is dark fruits and leather. There’s one spot of wrapper that needs a little assistance to catch up. The first third closes out with no real changes.
Kartel - First light brings full bodied, medium-full flavored smoke. There’s some meatiness, oak, a bit of cardboard, and some earthy spices. There’s a touch of some kind of dark sweetness. There’s a definite mustiness I am getting from the smoke. The retrohale echoes the meaty oakiness and spices. About ¾ of an inch in the profile has become creamy and nutty with some musty earthiness. The retrohale still has plenty of oak and some spices. Nearing the end of the first third there is a bit more baking spice and leather working their way into the draw. The performance has been perfect.
Opera - First light brings about loads of medium-full bodied smoke with full flavors of toast, charred meatiness, a bit of tangy fruits, spices, and some earth. About a half inch in and the retrohale has some pepper, but a lot of creamy berry fruitiness and some earth. The draw has settled down on the charred meatiness and a fair amount of the toast. Nearing the end of the first third the cigar has settled into the medium range in terms of flavor and is delivering some sweet berries and earth with a lot of creamy bread on the finish. The retrohale has remained pretty consistent. The performance has been flawless.
Igor - The second third quickly sees a lot of cream joining the profile, both in texture and flavor. Moving along the profile has cream, oak, some subtle dark fruit, and some baking spices. Nearing halfway I got a blast of cane sugar. Nearing the end of the second third the flavors are transitioning again to some pastry breadiness, baking spices, some brown sugar, and more oak. The retrohale has a lot of toasty, bready type notes and plenty of baking spices. The performance has remained flawless.
Caspia - The second third quickly sees the addition of a slight pepper sneaking in on the finish. About a half inch into the second third the retrohale has seen some big changes. There’s a bright floral component, some citrus, and cocoa powder. Hitting halfway the draw has shifted to dark fruit, earth, dark chocolate, and some coffee. The performance has been great through this third so far. The second comes to an end with nothing to report.
Kartel - This third maintained much of the same profile until near halfway where it seems to be adding a fruity component to the cream, nuts, baking spices, and musty earth. The leather has subsided. The retrohale has been very consistent still. Hitting the secondary band there’s not too much to report on. The performance has remained flawless.
Opera - The second third is continuing right along with so much cream. There’s still some berries and bread, but the cream is at the forefront of the draw. The retrohale is starting to bring in some wood and dark coffee. The draw is super good, but the retrohale really adds some great balance and dimension. The second third comes to an end with the draw starting to show some black pepper, citrus, earth, and dry baking spices. The retrohale has dropped the berry, but is mostly the same. The performance has remained flawless.
Igor - The final third has transitioned yet again. This time the draw has a fair amount of coffee, along with some toast and earth. The retrohale has some vegetal earth, citrus rind, and slight black pepper. Into the primary band there is some caramel reappearing. Coming to an end at an hour and 23 minutes there are no real changes to the profile and the cigar performed perfectly.
Caspia - Into the final third the chocolate is becoming more prominent. Baking spices, oak, and citrus are also present on the draw. Into the primary band there is a good bit of pepper becoming prominent. I have to do a small wrapper touch up. Nearing the end the draw has turned to a creamy, fruity earth and pepper. These flavors held till the end of the 1 hour and 26 minute smoke time and there were no performance issues.
Kartel - The cigar spontaneously went out just into this third. It relit without issue and without any harshness or bitterness. The profile is subtle leather, some general fruitiness, spices, and some of that musty earth. Nearing the primary band it started to tunnel and act like it wanted to go out again. It also took on some tannic bitterness. The bitterness didn’t last long before the profile went to a more earthy and black pepper profile with some spices. Coming to an end at an hour and 48 minutes the profile was pretty much just some vegetal earthiness and a bit of spice. The performance was fine to the end.
Opera - The final third is beginning to echo the first light flavors of toast, charred meatiness, spice, and earth. Taking the primary band off resulted in a small wrapper tear. Into the primary band there is some dark fruit coming in on both the draw and retrohale. Nearing the end the profile has become primarily pepper and earth. There is a little bit of dry wood and spice. Coming to an end at about 1 hour and 30 minutes the profile remained the same. The performance was flawless throughout the experience.
Igor: This Lancero was quite good. There were far more transitions and depth of flavor than I anticipated, which was a nice surprise. The profile was rich and flavorful, but always subtle and nuanced and it performed flawlessly. I’m not a Lancero guy, but this one gets the nod from me.
Caspia - I thought this vitola was quite interesting and well done. It actually started out a bit unexpected for me and I think that is why that third was rated the lowest. However, the whole cigar had plenty of flavor with good complexity and nuance. It also performed quite well with the exception of a couple small touch ups.
Kartel: Overall I was not impressed with this vitola. I'm not a fan of the musty or vegetal earth that present through a lot of this and I felt this vitola lacked the depth and complexity of the others. This was also the only one with some pretty concerning performance issues.
Opera: This cigar was absolutely fantastic through the first two thirds. It had all sorts of elegance with softer, more nuanced flavors that were nicely balanced by a slightly more robust retrohale. The final third was a total transition, and while good, it couldn’t match what the first two thirds were presenting.
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