Bespoke Basilica C#1 | Cigar Review

Wrapper: Brazilian Cubra
Binder: Nicaraguan (Condega), Dominican H192 (Double Binder)
Filler: Dominican Havana Vuelta Seco, Dominican Havana Vuelta Abajo Viso, Peruvian Pelo D’Oro Viso, Nicaraguan Jalapa Viso
Size: 6 x 52 “Toro”
Body: Medium/Full
Price: $19.00

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Today we take a look at the Bespoke Basilica C#1.
Thanks to Jeremy Casdagli for the samples.
I recently reviewed the Grand Café, and the Cotton Tail, and was completely blown away by both giving them an extraordinary 98 and 100 scores respectively.

BACKGROUND:
If you want to learn about this company, you need to go to either their web site or to Cigar Journal where there is a lot of information.
The company is based in Estonia. Its biggest sales are in Eastern Europe, Russia, and Scandinavia.
Distributed by Biggs Mansion out of Chicago.
Bespoke has several lines and I have in my possession the Grand Café ($14.00), Cotton Tail ($16.00) and the Basilica C#1 ($19.00).

From Jeremy about the line:
From KBF factory:
Traditional Line: Cotton Tail, Grand Cafe, Robusto, Super Belicoso
Basilica Line: Basilica A, Basilica C # 1, and being introduced this summer : Basilica C # 2, Basilica C # 3
Mareva Line: Gran Mareva, Gran Mareva Gold & Mareva Especial
Cabinet Line: – coming this autumn – The Rosetta : a beautiful coned cigar – 4inches ending with 46 gauge – using an 11 year old Bonao opus X binder
From Costa Rica – using Peruvian, Nicaraguan and Ecuador Connecticut wrapper
Daughters of the Wind Line: Pyramide, Dahman, Salomone.

From the Bespoke Cigars web site:
“Mild, full bodied cigar with citrus notes. The filler is embraced with 2 binder leaves. One of these binders delivering the citrus flavours to the palate. The cigar is designed to give an initial mellow introduction by having the filler extend beyond the 2 binders. These citrus notes will stay throughout the smoke with some nutty & sweet flavours developing through the smoke. This is a beautiful and well balanced cigar with a complex blend.

“This cigar is blended especially for Bespoke cigars by Hendrik Kelner Jr of the famous Kelner family of Master blenders at the KBF factory, Santiago, Dominican Republic.”

“The Basilica Line:
“The idea:
“The initial idea behind this line came from a series of tasting sessions with my Middle East clients. Bespoke Cigars was initially seeking to create something specifically for this market. We had established that sweetness within tobacco was well received but that also citrus notes & aromas were endemic to the Middle Eastern region. We knew also that the Canonazo format would allow the cigar to deliver complexity without being too long a smoke.

“Hendrik Kelner Jnr produced over 15 different Canonazos for us to taste. We eventually settled on 2 that we hope you will enjoy as much as we did.”

“The name:
“The Basilica was the name given to the Huge Cannon built in the 13th Century for the Ottomans to be used for the siege of Constantinople. It was built in Turkey, towed by over 600 men, and placed outside the walls of the famous City.

“The gunpowder used to hurl the 272kg cannon ball over 1.6 km was manufactured in Egypt. The Greeks being besieged called the cannon “The Basilica.” So with an Egyptian heritage and a Greek name – the association with my family history was obvious to me. The design of the foot of the cigar also invokes exploding cannon. I designed the foot this way to lead the smoker gently into the full flavours emitted by the rich binder leaves of both cigars. The Basilicas are characterized as a full bodied, well balanced smoke with medium strength.”

From Cigar Journal:
“Jeremy Casdagli, founder and co-owner of Bespoke Cigars, has been crafting his own blends of long filler cigars for 20 years. Since 2014, his production has been concentrated at the Kelner Boutique Factory (KBF) in the Dominican Republic, which is headed by Hendrik Kelner, Jr. (of Davidoff fame). Within months, Bespoke Cigars developed a reputation in Europe and the Middle East for complex, uniquely sized cigars. Since November 2015, his full line has been available in a retail and distribution partnership with Biggs Mansion in Chicago. “Being based in Tallinn, it was natural to develop first in the Nordics,” Casdagli explains, “but, while looking for another possible sales platform for my cigars, I kept an eye out for buildings reminiscent of my family’s ancestral home, Villa Casdagli, in Cairo. “When a friend encouraged me to visit his club, the Biggs Lounge in Chicago, I thought, ah, America!” he says with a laugh.”

DESCRIPTION:
The wrapper on the Bespoke Basilica C#1 is more rustic than the other two blends I’ve reviewed.
The wrapper is an oily, mottled, cinnamon penny brown color. Seams are tight but a couple very large veins in one stick that look like they want to pop.
Lots of spider veins. Absolutely flawless triple or quadruple caps. Can’t tell.
Both sticks are very smooth to the touch.
And both have a shaggy foot.

AROMAS AND COLD DRAW NOTES:
From the shaft, I smell sweet cinnamon, lemon citrus, roasted nuts, cedar, caramel, coffee, and milk chocolate.
From the clipped cap and the foot, I smell dark cocoa, lemon citrus, strong red pepper, sweetness, nuts, herbal and baking spices, cinnamon, and cedar.
The cold draw presents flavors of strong lemon citrus, strong red pepper, a vegetal note, creaminess, vanilla taffy, cedar, and baking spices.

FIRST THIRD:
A blast of red pepper. A big dose of lemon citrus followed by a sweet cedar flavor. It finds its nuttiness right away. The creaminess is delicious.
The Bespoke Basilica C#1 gets right down to it like I expect an expensive cigar to do…unlike the Davidoff Nicaragua I reviewed yesterday. That was a travesty.
Strength is medium body.
There is a Ruth’s Chris steakhouse meatiness to it. Expertly charbroiled element.

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That same Cubanesque flavor runs through the Bespoke Basilica C#1 just like the other blends. I swear there must be Cuban tobacco in this cigar. But, obviously, it can’t. Or can it? Hmmmm…LOL

With only an inch burned, the cigar is very complex. Very nice balance and a long finish.
Lovely reader, Brock, complained that he couldn’t get the time of day from Biggs Mansion in order to snag some of these cigars. I contacted Jeremy and he said he would take care of it. This is Jeremy’s email:
“Dear Phil
“I have alerted my brand ambassador in California about this – and I am so sorry about the experience in Biggs. But if you want to pass me on this readers details I can reply to him personally. I will also call Biggs – if I could get the readers name I will make sure they call him back.

“The good news is that Berkeley humidor in New Jersey is starting to stock Bespoke also – so we are starting to get representation on the East Coast – Florida will also be up and running in the summer. I will also be planning road trip in USA towards the end of the year.”

So, Brock, if you email me I will put you in touch with Jeremy. Or anyone else interested in buying Bespoke cigars.
The Bespoke Basilica C#1 is a great cigar and I’m only nearing the end of the first third. But it doesn’t have the WOW factor that either the Cotton Tail or Grand Café had.
I’ve had all three blends for a couple of months now. So it is not an issue of humidor time. This is definitely New Breed blending at its best.

SECOND THIRD:
Smoke time is 45 minutes.
The flavor profile opens its petals and blossoms like a spring rose.

Here they are: Lemon citrus, red pepper, nutty, cinnamon, toasty, meaty, creamy, caramel, vanilla taffy, coffee, cedar, and baking spices.
The Bespoke Basilica C#1 has really kicked into high gear.

I do wish this had happened from the very first moment after lighting up but not every cigar is perfect as I deemed the Cotton Tail to be and the Grand Café to nearly be.
Strength is medium/full. On its way to full body shortly.
This is a good sized cigar but it is so delightful that it seems time is in the fast lane.

5third

Bespoke has officially become my desert island cigar brand. A few hundred boxes of each blend on a warm, humid South Pacific Isle and I would be happy.
Damn. The Bespoke Basilica C#1 is kicking ass and taking names now.

Other blends seem so shallow to me now. I don’t know what sort of pact that Jeremy made with Beezelbub, but it was a good one.
My boxers keep rolling up and down inside my sweat pants. Not to mention, my toupee is spinning at 7500 rpm.

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The Bespoke Basilica C#1 is a cross between the Cotton Tail and the Grand Café.
Look at how many lines Jeremy has. He could keep me reviewing for weeks.

The nuances and subtleties are more than this palate can distinguish. I’m stumped.
A couple points will be taken off the final rating due to the Bespoke Basilica C#1 getting a late start but still…it will have a score that it should be proud of.

When Jeremy told me that he thought one of his blends got a 93 in an online cigar magazine was too low, I had to laugh. Now I know what he means.

I’ve reached the halfway point.
Smoke time is one hour 10 minutes.
Strength remains at medium/full.

7half

Man, $19.00 for a cigar is a wallet heart attack. My age is making the new price arenas hard to swallow. Remember, I’ve been buying premium cigars since 1968.

My first box was, I think, Arturo Fuentes that I bought at a local B & M in Long Beach. The 20 count box was $19.00. The same price as this Bespoke cigar.

I loved to sit in the college green between classes and light one up. Women, naturally, wouldn’t come near me. Of course, I didn’t have my fro yet. That was still 4 years away.
Back in 1983, we did a special video to be played at the Hollywood Palladium on Halloween night. It was a giveaway for two tickets to Transylvania sponsored by Tiger Beat Magazine, Rocshire Records, and Life Magazine.

Butch Patrick and I were in NYC doing the Today Show so the video took our places. I hired Grandpa (Al Lewis) to be master of ceremonies. The video had to be one take. I sat there in my finest Alexander Haig suit and tie smoking a fine cigar and pissing and moaning about what a dud Butch was when he comes up from behind and lets me have it with 2 real lemon meringue pies.
This is the only photo I could find:
BUTCHPIE (2)

BTW- That was nonsense in the middle of the review. Another review site, which I respect, has as their byline “No nonsense cigar reviews.” I guess that’s a dig at me. For I am the Katman…the King of Nonsense.

The Bespoke Basilica C#1 is cruising. Each puff makes my palate explode.
As usual, the construction is immaculate.
I can’t wait to smoke, and review, the other blends.

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LAST THIRD:
Smoke time is one hour 30 minutes.
Jeremy seems to have the knack for picking the right size and shape for each blend.
While there is a thread running amongst all three blends, they are unique in their own way.
This whole time, the cigar has only needed one minor touch up.
The last third is uber powerful in the flavor department. Just like the Cotton Tail, it is so good it makes me smile and laugh out loud. How can a cigar be this good?

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Forget your Padrons or Davidoffs or other ridiculously priced brands. I’ll take a Bespoke blend over any $50 Padron or Davidoff.

Jeremy is working on making this line more accessible.

If you want to get hold of Jeremy to make buying his cigars a bit easier, here is his email address: jeremy@bespokecigar.com. Mind you, he lives in Estonia. So be patient with his reply.

In my late 30’s, I gave up project managing because I just couldn’t take the politics and back stabbing any longer. I went to work for a longtime friend who was from Estonia. The friend is almost 20 years my senior but was the kindest boss I’d worked for. I was a structural draftsman for him. No idea how calming it is to sit at your board and just draw (with a pencil) and do trig and geometry. From that point forward, I became a lover of math. The only Estonian I ever knew until Jeremy.

Now the hard part. I must deduct some points because the Bespoke Basilica C#1 didn’t really kick in til the second third. Even so, it is a brilliant blend.
Final smoke time is one hour 50 minutes.

RATING: 94

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3 replies

  1. Dear Phil . Many thanks again for your very kind review . Also I do enjoy your anecdotes , after all whilst you smoke and enjoy a cigar it is the stories that float through your mind or share between friends that make the moment special . So keep up the good work and 2 new blends are making there way to you from Tallinn. PS I am not Estonian but am fortunate enough to be married to one 🙂 and have 2 “Eesti ” children
    PPS I am very pleased that you pick up strong Cuban notes … No there are no Cuban leaves but I was making 100% cuban bespoke cigars for 15 years . Once my torcedores retired I threw down the gauntlet to HK Jnr to get as close as possible to my original blend … I have to say he nailed it 3 years ago and now we have gone beyond but keeping those Cuban notes … So well picked up. Likewise a very famous Russian cigar club that is Cuban obsessed were , and still are , convinced the grand cafe is Cuban ….

    • The difference between Jeremy and certain other manufacturers and online stores, he sends a simple email and says thank you.
      That’s all I require. I never ask for free cigars because I gave them a great review. Just the courtesy of the person raking in all the dough to acknowledge my influence.
      When I reviewed a certain cigar, the online store sold around 60 five packs in 24 hours. Did I get a thank you? No.
      Or when I heavily promote a new boutique brand more than any other reviewer because I believe in them, I get a lot of thank you’s at the start.
      Once the manufacturer becomes a big shot, they don’t need me anymore and they blow me off. I have a long list of those folks.
      I’m so glad I am not in the cigar business. Being an outsider is tough on getting samples but it is much preferable to being in that rat bastard business.
      Jeremy does huge business in Russia, Europe and Scandinavia but finds the time to deal with customer relations. A mensch for sure.

  2. It’s too bad most of us poor schlubs can only enjoy this cigar vicariously through Katmans wonderfully descriptive narrative. One day our ship will come in! Until that day arrives thanks for everything all of you dedicated cigar makers, and the Katman, so graciously bestow upon us mere mortals.