All Out Kings by Caldwell Cigar | Cigar Reviews by the Katman

Wrapper: Connecticut Habano
Binder: Indonesian Sumatra
Filler: Nicaraguan (Jalapa and Estelí viso), Dominican seco, Connecticut ligero
Size: 5 x 52 Robusto
Strength: Medium/Full
Price: $13.80 MSRP

Today we take a look at All Out Kings by Caldwell Cigar.
This was a gift from a good friend.

BACKGROUND:
From Cigar Aficionado:
“Three cigar makers have come together to blend a new cigar called All Out Kings. The cigar is a collaborative effort between Willy Herrera and Jonathan Drew of Drew Estate and Robert Caldwell of Caldwell Cigar Co.

All Out Kings made its debut at the International Premium Cigar & Pipe Retailers trade show last year and shipped to a few retailers immediately following the show. The cigar was slated for a more formal, nationwide launch in November, but was postponed at the request of Drew Estate master blender Willy Herrera, who decided the cigars needed more time to rest. The full rollout of All Out Kings started last month.

“[All Out Kings] has started shipping out,” Willy Herrera told Cigar Aficionado. “I delayed the release of the cigar because I felt it wasn’t ready. The stalk-cut Connecticut Habano wrapper is very thick and oily and required a bit more time in aging rooms to ensure that it smoked and tasted right.”

“All Out Kings was blended at Drew Estate by me, Caldwell and J.D. and will continue to be manufactured at Drew Estate,”All Out Kings is draped in a dark, stalk-cut Connecticut Habano wrapper and contains an Indonesian Su”matra binder and fillers consisting of Jalapa and Estelí viso from Nicaragua, broadleaf Dominican seco and Connecticut ligero.

“It comes in four sizes: Smash, at 5 inches by 52 ring ($13.80); Give Me Your Lunch Money, 5 3/4 by 46 ($12.80); Foreverlast, 6 1/2 by 54 ($14.80); and The 4th Pose, 6 by 54 ($15.80). Though All Out Kings was originally planned to be produced at Fábrica de Tabacos Joya de Nicaragua S.A., the cigars were ultimately made at La Gran Fabrica Drew Estate, also in Nicaragua.
All Out Kings comes packaged in 20-count boxes. The cigar bands and box artwork are emblazoned with an image of three fists grasping a crown, a reference to the three cigarmakers working together on the blend.

“This is an exciting project for us,” Caldwell told Cigar Aficionado at the 2016 IPCPR trade show. “[All Out Kings] rounds out our portfolio with a Nicaraguan-made cigar.”
Caldwell’s other brands are made in the Dominican Republic and Honduras. All Out Kings is being distributed by Caldwell Cigar Co., and the cigars are arriving on store shelves now.”

DESCRIPTION:
This is a nice solid stick with a very oily wrapper whose color is that of dark espresso. Seams are nicely hidden. A lot of veins that cover the presentation. The beautifully contoured triple cap was done by a roller with pride about his/her work.
I feel a plug near the cap and expect I will be using my PerfecDraw cigar poker to get started.

AROMAS AND COLD DRAW POINTS:
From the shaft, I can smell heavy chocolate, a bus load of assorted nuts, red pepper, sourdough bread, sweet tomato, cedar, malt, berries, and floral notes.

From the clipped cap and the foot, I can smell a strong dose of nuts and cocoa, burnt oak, berries, cedar, malt, bread, black coffee, and red pepper.

The cold draw presents flavors of fresh baked bread, red pepper, pie crust, chocolate, coffee, malt, cedar, boysenberry, and tomato.

FIRST THIRD:
I dispatched the plug near the cap but discovered a huge plug about ¾ down the shaft that needed a couple stabs with my PerfecDraw cigar poker. Now you can drive a tanker through the open hole.
The All Out Kings is a smoke bomb.

A nice variety of flavors start this soccer match: Creaminess, red pepper doing the Hokey Pokey, chocolate, espresso, caramel, malt, mixed nuts, and fruity sweetness.

Strength kicks off at medium/full. BTW- I’ve had this stick a couple months. And from all accounts reported to me by this cigar, it is rip roarin’ ready to go. The blast of pepper makes my toupee slip and singes my mustache.

I’m getting an early sense of complexity that I expect from a $14 cigar. The long finish begins its journey.

I am pleasantly surprised by the well-rounded, balanced behavior of this stick so early on.

I’m sure you’ve smoked one or read reviews of this cigar before you finally get to read Johnny Come Lately’s version. This is a blend that everyone seems to like. Total uniformity. God help me if I don’t like it. Angry farmers with pitchforks will be at my door by night fall.

A slide show of transitions begins. Slowly at first. I’m only half an inch into All Out Kings.
The char line is nothing to brag about. Needs a fix right now.

Creaminess enters. Enveloping the early complexity in its warm teat of love.

Tangerine approaches from my 6 startling me at how precise the flavor is. It is accurate and intense.
The berries change direction and are more in line with sweet kiwi and strawberry.
The espresso flavor shines.

I reviewed The Last Tsar recently and was disappointed at the inconsistency of what could have been a great cigar. Fingers crossed that this early stage of being impressed by AOK does not fade.

The cigar is jam packed and jelly tight. So it becomes a slow roll of a smoke allowing me to enjoy every inch; which at this price is $2.76 per mini-parsec.
Malts exhibit a broad range of influences.

Caldwell Cigar is an odd bird of a company. Sometimes they just nail it and other times…well, not so much. The more expensive Last Tsar let me down but it appears that the AOK is on a straight trajectory of what a good cigar should be.

Complexity, transitions, and finish are working as a team in sync. This is what the Last Tsar didn’t possess.
Still, I can’t get over the $14 price tag. Let’s say I love this cigar more than all my ex-wives…would I spend $14 for 90 minutes of blissful entertainment? Hell no.

SECOND THIRD:
Smoke time is 25 minutes. For such a packed stick, I expected the time frame to stretch a little more.

The improvement of the blend as it sprints towards its demise is stunning. Subtlety, nuance, finish, transitions, and complexity are on target. This makes me happy.

The red pepper transforms to potent black pepper allowing me to breathe for the first time this morning.

There is nothing wishy washy about this blend…it goes right for the pleasure zone and stays there. Even for those without pin point accuracy palates, it doesn’t matter. The fact that this is propping up to be a great cigar is all that you should care about.

I should add that the blend really needs a couple months of humidor time. I smoked one too early and that saddens me. But it gave me the opportunity to judge the time frame before I could review it. So that first stick gave its life for a good cause.

Strength remains at medium/full.
The All Out Kings has developed into a killer blend. I can’t think of a single criticism. A near perfect blend.
I gave the Kama Sumatra by Cigar Federation a crazy 99 rating. Is the AOK as good? I’m only halfway there so we shall see.

Smoke time at the halfway point is 50 minutes. Apparently, the cigar is now stretching its legs and I must have hit a more solidly packed point in the cigar. This is good as who wants to spend $14 on an hour long smoke?

Here they are: Creaminess, malts, coffee, tangerine, black pepper, roasted nuts, fruit, cedar, chocolate, caramel, and sourdough bread.

Not a huge list but deadly accurate. Transitions create a roiling passing of one baton to the other in its hurdling momentum to supreme complexity.

The long finish should last all day as long as I don’t eat or drink anything. I can do that.

It is not a flavor bomb. A true example of the whole equaling the sum of its parts.
The All Out Kings is totally different than the Kama Sumatra but it carves out its own niche towards the outcome of masterful blending techniques.

Malt picks up some head steam and coats the flavor list with a tweak and a nod.

This blend makes me realize what cheap crap I have in my humidor. Oh lord…lol.

A side note…I just saw that Amazon has a sale on butt plugs.

I’m now spending more time between puffs due to the luxuriously long finish. I’m sitting here smacking my lips like a thirsty dog. And loving every moment.

Damn. The Joe Bonamassa Live at the Greek DVD is over. Time to switch music.
Some Allman Brothers would be nice. So be it.

I am finding myself speechless as I try to come up with the right adjectives and nouns for this description. It is so damn fine, mama.

I am distressed at the current state of affairs. Why is the cigar industry edging their customers out of the market place with their ridiculous price points? If you scout the daily cigar deals that abound online, one can find great $7-$9 cigars for a third of that price point. OK. Maybe they aren’t as spectacular as the AOK. But my recommendation is that everyone should try the All Out Kings at least once. Or spend $3500 for a box and save them for special occasions.

The second half has seen the char line issue disappear leaving me with perfect burn lines. Nice.

LAST THIRD:
Smoke time is one hour 15 minutes.

And the beat goes on. There is no looking back with this blend. It improves consistently with each puff. A grand spectacular experience. One that requires intense action of savoring every moment. Not a herf cigar. One for relaxing moments alone on your patio or man cave. I wouldn’t want a single distraction. Maybe some music. What am I saying…of course some music.

My buddy, John, did me a real solid by sending me a couple sticks. Thank you my friend.
Whoa. Like a light switch, we are now in full strength country. And with it comes a big dose of nicotine.
The All Out Kings is a perfect blend for my tastes. If I had ordered this blend like I would tick off the items I want on a sushi menu, it couldn’t be better.

The strength is now so potent that I feel like I’m swimming in a sea of swarming simbas.

The All Out Kings matches the quality of the Kama Sumatra beautifully. It is a tie…sort of.
These two cigars are the best I’ve smoked in 2017.
So what do you do in moments like this? Crank up the friggin music!

I poured a full cup of black coffee and let it get cold without taking a sip. I’ll be right back.

That’s kind of amazing. I usually drink from a bottle of water or sip coffee while I write but I became so involved in this blend, I didn’t need a pick me up to freshen my palate the entire time.
It is impossible for you not to worship at the altar of All Out Kings.
The Caldwell folks outdid themselves and should be proud. This is a big leap from the other blends they produce.

The coffee goes down well exhibiting that said element in the flavor blend.
The flavor profile has been dead nuts consistent. It found what it needed and stayed with them. Again, not a flavor bomb.
Transitions are moving at light speed.

The black pepper is outrageously strong…but doesn’t interfere with the flavor profile.

Not a lick of harshness, heat or bitterness to finish out this wonderful experience. I will need a walker to get up and move around due to the nicotine poisoning.

I still think $14 is crazy. But I would pay it for another crack at this spectacular cigar.
I’m now going to take some time for myself and finish the All Out Kings’ last ¾” without typing a single word.

Final smoke time is one hour 40 minutes.

RATING: 100

Before I begin with my after review story, I’d like to address a question that reader, Jason, posed in my Camacho Powerband review. These questions forced me to think which is something I’m not accustomed to but here goes anyway…
“Like, what do you mean when you list off 15 flavors, then follow that up saying complexity is nonexistent? To me that seems contradictory, which makes me wonder if I even understand the term (in terms of cigar tasting and specifically, YOU tasting cigars). What do you mean when you say something is or isn’t a flavor bomb? What transitions are you referring to when you say they’re slowing down? These terms make sense to me in a general sense, but I’m not sure I understand how you mean them sometimes. I ask this because I want to taste cigars the way you do, and I think you’re a wealth of knowledge.

“Another question, you often say you review cigars before you eat anything first thing in the morning as to keep your palate clean, but how do you clean your palate from morning grody mouth? I can’t smoke anything for a couple hours after brushing my teeth as the toothpaste flavor lingers forever.”

1. Morning Mouth: I hear ya. The first thing I do prior to lighting up is to swirl some hydrogen peroxide in my mouth. It rids your mouth of the offending bacteria that may affect your palate…and has no aftertaste or lingering effects. You can brush your teeth after your morning cigar.

2. According to the dictionary: Complexity is “The state or quality of being intricate or complicated.” I’m sure Aristotle couldn’t have said it better. Complexity is complicated because it is a personal sensory experience. It is the morphing of flavors until they become indistinguishable from each other. It is the successful outcome of a blender achieving his goal of presenting a total finished product unencumbered by distractions of inconsistency, poor construction, and unpredictability. It is the perfect storm of tobacco v. palate that sends you into a blissful series of moments with dreams of being whipped by 16 naked Nubian women. Transitions of flavors and subtleties fly by at light speed. It is in the realm of being on top of a mountain with mushrooms coloring the view. Complexity is becoming one with the cigar blend and giving in to bliss. (Too Zen?)

3. Transitions are the center, or heart, of a good blend. Instead of tasting varied flavors along the way that are thin that come and go at all the wrong moments, transitions are optimal in the sense that they create a baseline for the start of complexity. Transitions usually occur very quickly with a cause and effect that makes it hard to disseminate a specific flavor because flavors morph more quickly than you can reasonably keep up with. Whether it is your palate or your brain; or both in tandem…it is an onslaught of pure pleasure that is more elusive than why Justin Bieber has a career. You can have a linear list of flavors but without interesting transitions, there is no complexity.

4. For the longest time, I overused the term “flavor bomb.” Specific descriptive terms were beyond the pale for me. I could describe it as the blender picking the right blend in the right size with the right age and blessed with pure luck. You know when a cigar becomes a flavor bomb because it is the culmination of inadequate adjectives available to describe nirvana and enlightenment courtesy of a blender who sends a salvo of elation your way. Everything is in play and the blender has conveyed his intent. Instead of linear singular flavors your Parietal Lobe, which dissects taste and body awareness, kicks into high gear so that you may enjoy a “whole” experience…a convergence of flavors humping each other until you are weak at the knees.

5. If you want all this translated to English, send me a $5 bill and the password is Swordfish.

And now for something completely different:
Curved Air was playing some giant gig somewhere in Great Britain.
We played a song that I got thrown my only bass solo and then drummer, Stewart Copeland, did a solo. I believe it was the first encore number.

We all stood back to give our drummer some alone time in the spotlight. Stew always soloed through every song, like Keith Moon. But the rest of The Who could count time signatures and this did not cause a problem.
But not our band. This drove the violinist and guitarist nuts. With all their training and talent, they couldn’t find fucking “1” when they traded solos in the middle of the song because Copeland had turned his wild man act into a turbine engine. So I’d stand there 3 feet away from them hammering out quarter notes with my bass blasting so they could find their way back to 1 while trading riffs. This was so embarrassing.

Stew got fired 2-5 times a month, and then the chick singer; Stew’s squeeze Sonja, would quit. They were an item and if he got fired, she would always quit. They stayed married for almost 20 years and then Stew found a much younger girl than Sonja. I guess you don’t have to play rock n roll for this scenario to be common.

Anyway, at about the 10 minute mark, Darryl, our leader, gave Stew the knock it off sign by giving the slit throat maneuver.

With a 60 second mad man flourish, he stopped. His hands went straight up in the air…held them there for about 10 seconds…And then they came down with such thunder, he knocked himself off his drum stool…falling backwards, off the riser and on to the floor behind the stage…about 8 feet.

Fortunately for him, that’s where the roadies stored his drum cases, so he fell through them tumbling his way to the concrete floor. I unplugged and rushed to see if he was OK. The music stopped and the crowd hushed.

The roadies came a’ runnin’. Stewart is a big guy, about 6’-3. And lanky. He struggled like a crazy man to get out from under.

The roadies helped him to his feet and revealed that all the skin on the underside of his arms was gone. Ripped clean from the fall. His eyes were as big as saucers. Everyone was asking if he was OK? He couldn’t speak, just nodded to the affirm.

Blood was everywhere, and even evil Darryl suggested they call it a night. Stew croaked a loud “NO!”
He came from around the stage and back on to the riser and raised his arms in victory. The crowd went absolutely nuts in their cheering and applause.

An audience member was a nurse and came up to offer her help. Her offer was accepted and she ran to her car and grabbed her first aid bag.

She had his arms wrapped in gauze and bandaged in no time.

Stew settled into his drum stool, nodded to Darryl, and then we heard Darryl yell, “1-2-3 and 4”
And we were off and running once more.

During Darryl’s extended violin solo, we all ran off stage. The roadies grabbed my hash pipe and filled it. Someone lit it in perfect sequence with us coming off stage and it was handed to Stew who took about 5 huge puffs. A few minutes later, he said the pain in his arms found some relief.

Even with all his consistent braggadocio and egotism, Stew never pulled a stunt like that again.
But he did continue to get fired every week.

From the left: Darryl Way, Mick Jacques, Stewart Copeland, Sonja Kristina, Me.

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13 replies

  1. Thanks. You know, there’s not a day that goes by that I don’t wish I had a bunch of naked Nubian woman lounging around my apartment. Maybe someday. And great review today.

  2. Haha man, this stick has little to do with Caldwell. Herrera blends it then hands over to Drew & Caldwell for review, that’s simple.

    Sir, are you going to review other vitola? I could send you some

  3. I had the torpedo and it was pretty awful. I might have to revisit this soon.

    • Wow. I’m not a big fan of Caldwell as their products aren’t consistent…and they tend to be expensive.
      But this stick blew me away…now I did let it sit naked in my humidor for a over two months. I tried one a couple weeks after I received it and it was terrible. Tasted like hay.
      Patience is a virtue that myself and others like me don’t seem to possess when it comes to being a good boy and allowing a cigar to rest properly. Same thing happened with the 100 rated Southern Draw Rose of Sharon. Not so hot right off the bat…but it panned out beautifully with some decent rest time.

  4. I haven’t been super impressed with Caldwell or DE cigars, really. There are exceptions, of course. Haven’t tried this one, but if it’s a great cigar, credit where it’s due. One thing I wish cigar makers would seriously consider. When the per stick crosses that $10 threshold, and it shouldn’t too often IMO, it would be great to see them offered in 10 count boxes, or 12/13 ct half boxes. By all means, sell the full 20/25s. But an option for folks who can’t shell out 3 bills at a time for a box would be great.

    Habanos does this for a fair number of their cigars, and I appreciate it.

    • I agree completely about 10 count boxes. But you know what…I’ve noticed an uptick in manufacturers doing that exact thing.
      A few months ago, I discovered a seller online called http://www.cigarpage.com. They have 3 minute Scorcher deals. I have made out like a bandit because they specialize in 10 count bundles for about 30-50 cents on the dollar. I’ve made a killing on some great cigars that average $3 a pop for $8-$10 sticks. Unfortunately, nothing I haven’t reviewed but it keeps me in personal stash.
      I’ve given up on Cbid. It is the same ol’ crap with them all the time. It used to be that if you checked Quickies, you would see boutique brands and that was encouraging. Now it’s back to 5 Vegas and Rocky Patel. They only sell crap they want to rid their stockpiles of.

  5. Wow.. 100!!

    So these are more impressive than the 55 ‘baby shark’ ??

    • It’s not a competition. I reviewed the 77 Shark back in 2013 but was not giving numerical rating of cigars at that time. I checked the review and it would have scored very highly. All cigars have the potential for being perfect or near perfect for my palate. Getting a 100 does not mean it’s the best cigar I’ve ever smoked. All it says about the blend is it meets my criteria for providing everything my lizard brain desires and needs in a good cigar.

      • No, I agree! this isn’t a competition!

        Still, the numerical figures are a good gauge of the level of excitement, and well… joy that a stick brings to you.

        And these numbers get me excited too ha!!

  6. “Enveloping the early complexity in it’s warm teat of love”
    Holy cow! An invigorating zap of rare word art pleasures my rapidly devolving brain machine.
    I am grateful.

  7. As usual, great review. I’m enjoying one of these in the toro vitola right now. My first step after lighting up and taking a few draws is always to see if the Katman has done a review, and to read it and then concentrate on trying to pick up anything you did.

    Nope, my palate is nowhere near there, but I’ve only been smoking under 8 months. I pick up tons of roasted nuts on this. I definitely taste some smooth transitions, but I can’t tell what they are to. All I know is that they are delicious.

    Too bad you had build issues in yours. I bought a box of these about 3 months ago and am just now trying the first one. So far, at about 90 minutes in (and a bit past halfway, I smoke very slowly), this one is showing zero build problems. Razor-sharp burn line, packed very tight but with a perfect draw…rock solid. I’ve re-lit once, I think, and that’s just because it sat for several minutes.

  8. It’s pretty funny, the reviews written on other interweb blogs in March (2017) seem less than impressed with this cigar. Yet, the reviews written in May and on-wards love it. Just goes to show how important rest time is for certain blends. Keep up the great work Katman

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