Review: Eastern Standard Maduro Midnight Express (Caldwell Cigar Company)

With IPCPR 2016 in the rear view mirror and the August 8th regulation date coming up, the billions of new cigars created by the industry that were possibly showcased are beginning to hit shelves at retail shops across this nation. (No, billions of cigar were not created and released this year. Yes, I am being a d#&$.) One of the new releases at the show that actually had a soft launch earlier in March was the Eastern Standard Maduro Midnight Express. This new line features four vitolas and is finished with a lower priming wrapper that was used on The Last Tsar. The blend is not disclosed, a new practice for Caldwell Cigar Company, and I am interested in seeing how the cigar smokes. Is it like Eastern Standard? How does this Connecticut Arapiraca wrapper smoke at a lower priming? We shall see!

Cigar: Eastern Standard Midnight Express Toro Gordo

Country of Origin: Dominican Republic

Factory: Tabacalera William Ventura

Wrapper: Connecticut Arapiraca Maduro

Binder: Not Disclosed

Filler: Not Disclosed

Length: 6"

Ring Gauge: 50

Vitola: Toro 

The cigar has a chocolate brown wrapper that sports some small to medium sized veins. It is not the most attractive of wrappers, but there is more to a cigar than the appearance. Overall, I would classify the cigar as a Colorado Maduro and you can tell it is a lower priming version of the wrapper on The Last Tsar, there are a lot of similarities. The cigar is firm throughout, silky in texture and it has a solid cap with a small pigtail nearly attached to the wrapper. There is an aroma of manure and rich earth on the foot with a woody and tobacco aroma on the wrapper. It has a damp barnyard quality overall. 

The first third open up by showing some solid black pepper notes and it has tobacco and nutty qualities present as well. There are some leather and mineral notes popping up here and there also, and on the finish I am getting this creamy and coffee profile. There is a subtle richness on the finish that comes from the wrapper and it is a solid flavor profile. I would say that the cigar is smoking at a level just above medium, and that goes for body, strength and flavors. The construction has been solid thus far and the lower priming wrapper really burns a lot better than it does on The Last Tsar. The ash has a nice dark charcoal coloring and there is a good amount of smoke produced with each cold draw. 

When I get into the second third, I find that the flavor profile grows in intensity. There is a nice bit of black pepper present and it is paired with some strong tobacco and wood notes. I am getting some damp barnyard qualities and it is a departure from the flavors present in the first third. In terms of transitioning, there is a major switch but a loss in terms of complexity. I would say that the cigar is smoking at a level between medium-full and full for strength and body, and the flavors are there as well. The construction has remained top notch in this third though and it is producing an even burn line with that dark charcoal ash on the end that is still holding firmly. The draw is still cool and a good bit of smoke is being produced with each draw. 

As I get into the final third of the cigar, I find that the flavor profile remains in line with what it was in the second third. I am getting black pepper, wood and strong tobacco notes. There is an ashy flavor present as well, and it has touches of minerals and barnyard on the finish. The elegant flavors from the first third never made a return and it is a shame. I would say that the cigar finishes on a level between medium-full and full, and that goes for the body, flavors and strength. The construction is solid in the final third and the cigar itself smokes well down to the nub. An even burn line is delivered all the way to the end and the final draw is cool with a thick amount of smoke being produced. 

Let's begin by recognizing that the Eastern Standard Maduro Midnight Express is not a maduro offering of the Eastern Standard line. It is a completely new blend that just happens to share the name, Eastern Standard. So, with that being said, you can't go into this cigar thinking that it will be a "maduro offering," of the Eastern Standard. It is something completely different. From sample to sample I saw variation in the strength and body level, and while some smoked at a solid full level, some smoked at a medium to medium-full level. The cigar in my opinion produced a nice flavor profile in the first third but really went downhill in the second and final third. There was a lack of complexity and transitioning from the halfway point on, and it just lacked the depth that I want in a great cigar. It's a shame because I loved the first third in all the samples I smoked, but after that the cigar did not deliver what I wanted. I guess you can say it was consistent though. The wrapper performs better than it did on The Last Tsar, and I'm not surprised given that it is a lower priming leaf. I have found with all Caldwell releases that there is typically one, maybe two vitola in a line that I enjoy. After that, could care less about the other offerings. That is possibly the case with this line, I just haven't gotten around to the other vitola offerings to see what I think of them. Either way, I give the Toro Gordo an 83. 

Overall Rating: 83 AKA "If I Had Them"

Views: 400

Comment by Sam C. on August 4, 2016 at 10:21am
Great review, Seth. I'll still try one and see what I think, but I'm sad it didn't live up to the expectations set by the Eastern Standard, which is easily the best Caldwell smoke I've had. I didn't realize it wasn't a Maduro version of the Eastern Standard, and I think that's actually too bad. I love the Eastern Standard, and I think a Maduro wrapper wouldn't go amiss on it. Sometimes that doesn't work or requires a blend tweak, but this new version sounds like a letdown.
Comment by Charlie on August 4, 2016 at 6:34pm

Glad to hear the wrapper burns better on this one compared to the Arapriaca on the Tsar because that one burned like shit.

Great review as always!


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