This weekend I finally got a chance to get my hands on one of my most anticipated cigars in the past few years, the Drew Estate / Caldwell All Out Kings. I take a minute to reflect on my thoughts of the cigar while pairing it with one of Great Divide’s Oak Aged Chocolate Yeti Imperial Stouts.
The Good Stuff:
The All Out Kings is a collaboration by two of the biggest names in the cigar business, Caldwell and Drew Estate. Making it’s debut at this year’s IPCPR show in Vegas, the All Out Kings has been pushed back quite a few times before finally hitting retail shops this week. This highly anticipated effort is created by the hands of master blendernWilly Herrera from Drew Estate and Robert Caldwell the owner of Caldwell Cigar Company at the La Gran Fabrica Drew Estate factory in Esteli, Nicaragua while the distribution is handled by Caldwell Cigar Company. The blend features a Connecticut Habano Stalk Cut wrapper similar to what we find on Drew Estate’s famous Liga Privada T52 blend with a Indonesian Sumatran binder and Nicaraguan viso from Jalapa and Esteli, Dominican Republic Corojo 97 Seco, and Connecticut Broadleaf Ligero fillers. The blend comes in 4 sizes: Smash (5 x 52), Give me your Lunch Money ( 5 3/4 x 46), Foreverlast (6 1/2 x 54), and the 4th Pose (5 x 54). The cigars come packaged in boxes of 20 and run between $12.80 and $16.80 a cigar. I picked up a handful of these over at Smoke Inn.
Size: 5 3/4 x 46
Wrapper: Stalk Cut Connecticut Habano
Binder: Indonesian Sumatran
Filler: Nicaraguan/Dominican/Connecticut Broadleaf
Pairing: Great Divide Chocolate Oak Aged Yeti (Imperial Stout 9.5% ABV)
The wrapper on the All out Kings looks identical to that of the T52. The dominant colors are that of scattered dark brown, and orange with lots of lighter brown splotches. The texture of the wrapper is extremely toothy and feels like oily sandpaper as I handle the cigar. The wrapper feels extremely thick, hard, and dense while the cigar is packed pretty tightly. The wrapper is laid seamlessly over itself while the cigar showcases a few larger veins throughout it’s slender body which leads up to a round, double-wrapper cap. The cigar is polished off with similar artwork found on many of the Caldwell releases with a few different hands holding a crown. I can only assume this symbolizes the connection between Drew Estate and Caldwell Cigars.
The wrapper gives off a very tart, musky, spicy aroma while the foot of the cigar is much more spicy with some pepper, leather, and cocoa aromas. The cap cut clean and easily using my Palio double bladed cutter. The cold draw resembles the pre-light aromas with a very peppery, musky mixture of flavors. The cigar lit up with ease using my Dupont single flame torch.
The All Out Kings starts out with a nice cayenne pepper bunch which quickly dissipates leaving me with a whole ton of dark chocolate, cherry, oak, spice, musk, and leather. The draw is absolutely perfect. Each tiny puff kicks out a massive cloud of very thick, white smoke which hangs around for a good amount of time before fading away while the cigar pours out stationary smoke as the oils burn off the wrapper while it rests in my ashtray. The burn line is dead even, and razor thin leaving behind a perfectly compacted trail of white ash which held on for an inch before giving way.
The further I get into the All Out Kings the more pronounced that dark chocolate flavor gets. It’s not due to the pairing either as I picked the same thing up while smoking the cigar with water on separate occasions. The beer does help zero in out it though. The backing flavors are still very heavy on the musk and spice with a nice sweetness, a little tart, oak, and cherry. The retrohale brings out a ton of sharp pepper and I don’t find myself doing it too often. I close out the second third with a small nicotine kick, and a ton of enjoyment.
In the final third of the All Out Kings this really interesting flavor came out that I can only really describe as a musky cologne. It’s subtle, yet marries up wonderfully with the bold dark chocolate, musk, spice, sweetness, leather, cherry, and tartness that the cigar has to offer. It took me about an hour and forty five minutes to take this cigar down to the nub and I enjoyed every second of it. I closed out with absolutely no harshness, no extended heat, and a pretty decent nicotine kick. The burn was flawless. I never once had to reach for my torch to touch up or relight the cigar.
I have liked pretty much everything Willy has had a hand in blending. I’m a huge fan of Drew Estate, and a huge fan of Caldwell cigars. In the past, I’ve seen so many promising collaborations fall apart, but in the case of the All Out Kings these brands absolutely murdered it. The cigar is complex, the flavors absolutely line up with my desired profile, its very full and bold, yet balanced and the strength of the cigar never overpowers the flavors while the burning experience was flawless. Outside of the steep price, I can’t think about anything I don’t like about this cigar. And while we are on price, I really don’t even mind that. When it comes to Caldwell’s use of rare, and vintage tobaccos I’ve grown to expect those prices, and rarely do the cigars not deliver. So this is box-worthy in my opinion for sure and will easily become a staple of my regular rotation.
Great Divide Brewing Company out of Denver, Colorado makes some phenomenal beers, and amongst my favorite is the Yeti series of Imperial Stouts. The Chocolate Oak Aged Yeti is just that, a 9.5% ABV Chocolate Oak Aged variant of the beer. The Chocolate Oak Aged Yeti starts with a great roastiness, malt, cocoa, vanilla, and barley with a very heavy mouthfeel before finishing sweet with more cocoa and roasted malt, a nice splash of pepper and spice, nutmeg, and oak with a neat little cinnamon aftertaste. As it warms the cocoa really takes over the flavor profile. With so many similar flavors it was easy to see why I chose this beer to pair with the All Out Kings. I think this cigar can easily hold it’s own with some off the biggest, powerful beers. I’d love to pair it with some Prairie Bomb!, A Xocoveza, or even a nice, bold, Tawny Port.