Caldwell Eastern Standard Midnight Express | Cigar Reviews by the Katman

Wrapper: Connecticut Arapiraca Maduro
Binder: Dominican Habano
Filler: Dominican Criollo 98, Dominican Corojo Ligero, Nicaraguan Habano Seco
Size: 5 X 50 Robusto
Strength: Medium
Price: $11.20


BACKGROUND:
Factory: Tabacalera William Ventura
Regular production
Released in 2016. I might be the last guy to review this cigar and maybe you’ve been smoking this cigar for years…but I am reviewing a Midnight Express with 2-1/2 years of humidor time. I’m anxious to see if the hibernation time opens up a new experience for the smoker…or plummets to its death.

I’ve not smoked one, so this is a complete crap shoot. Prices have not changed in the 5 years since its release. This is a good sign that the cigar is popular. But I gotta put my two cents in.
The reviews I took a gander at all reviewed this stick just a couple months after its release so this should (I hope) provide a new vantage point.

SIZES AND PRICING:
Corona 5.75 x 46 $10.60
Robusto 5 x 50 $10.80
Piramide 6 x 50 $13.90
Toro 6 x 52 $13.20
Lancero 7.5 x 42 $11.00

APPEARANCE:
A light cigar. Doesn’t feel like it is heavily packed. The wrapper is a coppery/gingerbread/milk chocolate ménage à trois of color. Big honkin’ veins are squatting on the entire shaft of the cigar. Exposed seams but tight, nonetheless. The triple cap is nicely done. But the tiny pigtail has shrunken with age and flattened out. Happens to the best of us.

SMELL THE GLOVE:
Floral notes and milk chocolate lead the charge. There is a hoppy lagerness to it. The malt is pungent. A nice café au lait is present…which brings with it a nice natural sweetness. There is also a sugary glazed doughnut aroma. Don’t believe I’ve picked up that aroma in a cigar before. A lovely vanilla cream wafts in and out. Cedar holding up the back of the line with its own shovel.

The cold draw is easy. The cigar has no need for my PerfecDraw as it is confirmed that the stick is light in the loafers. Almost too airy. Anyway, I taste barnyard, chocolate, licorice, and malt. A touch of salted mixed nuts hangs in the background.

FIRST THIRD:
The salted mixed nuts are highly prevalent at the start. But so is a nice touch of balance and complexity. A scoche of black pepper rests at the back of my throat. A rich dark cocoa is catching my palate by the short hairs and won’t let go.

I don’t want to jinx it, but it seems that the blend has matured in its nearly 3 years of humidor time. The well-rounded flavor profile is deep in the bowels of the tobacco.

Immediately, I have burn issues that must be attended to. Another sign of so-so construction and the filler being short sheeted.

The 2016 prices, which hold even today, were on the high side for a boutique blend. This gave me the impetus to see if it was the Lone Ranger or Deputy Dawg.

The strength is a very pleasant medium. But it tastes like it is going to jump the shark to medium/full at any moment. My cigar sits in the ashtray while I type, and plumes of smoke arise like a campfire. Like a cigarette.
Obviously, it is a quick smoke.

Generally speaking, the ratings for this cigar were exceptional back in 2016.

The spiciness ramps up destroying the airplay the nuanced flavors are receiving.
The aroma of the cigar causes quite the stink in my little office. It just smells skanky.

The vanilla creaminess shows itself. This helps the overall profile considerably.

Finally, at an inch in, some substantial complexity kicks in. I take a deep breath and swoon as I’m pulling for this stick to shine.

The skanky smell disappears as my cat vomits up some hairballs. He is a Maine Coon and they look like lions. With hair to spare. We have an entire closet filled with cleaning supplies for just this occasion.

The strength hunkers down into a straight ahead medium and flies right.
With all this humidor time, I was hoping the cigar would really excel. A lot of cigars I smoke find themselves in the same predicament. They seem to have a shelf life of a year or so and that’s it. Of course, blends like the OpusX, Padron, and Cubans do very well with extended age. The Midnight Express is not one of those cigars.

The black pepper rises to the occasion once again blotting out the sun. I’ve got a schizophrenic blend.

And then it goes away just like that. The moment it does, the complexity is redux. Mild and nuanced flavors of banana(?), chocolate, nuttiness, creaminess, and dried fruit push their way to the forefront. If the cigar continues to battle the consistency, well…it means waiting another year to review it would have seen the blend on my mantle in an urn.
The cigar goes out. Underfilled.

SECOND THIRD:
Often, when a good cigar is on the market for years, the manufacturer takes shortcuts on the leaf stats. I don’t want to mention cigar blends that are included in this club because I have no real proof. Don’t you agree that an old favorite bought a few years later tastes different than you remember? Could be the tobacco is not as good as the original release…or it could be as simple as your palate has evolved.

If I was blind reviewing this cigar, I’d be telling you this is a mere $7 knockaround stick. With no real redeeming qualities other than its something to stick in your mouth…my impression is no big deal going on here.

This is now just a simple cigar. Certainly not worth $11.00+ depending on its size.
I so wanted to follow in the steps of all the esteemed reviewers who gave this cigar a big thumbs up. Quite possibly, this cigar peaked a long time ago.

The low level of complexity keeps me on the job. I’m hoping it reaches for Sputnik heights later in the journey.
Sips of water do nothing to improve the flavors.

This is where writing my review turns into a long, arduous event. A great blend would have shot out of the gate at puff #1.

But I keep getting hints of its once greatness. And then they disappear.

I have some current blends to review but I hate putting them on the rack in Dr. Torquemada’s dungeon…and not providing a fair and accurate portrayal of the blend.

As I near the halfway point, consistency begins to take hold. The blah factors aren’t showing up as frequently. Fingers crossed that the second half takes me somewhere nice…like a vacation at the Gaza Strip.

The Vice President was in Milwaukee yesterday. Charlotte was returning mid afternoon at the airport, from Phoenix, and I was shitting myself over whether I could approach General Mitchell Airport. She landed early and I took off. There were cop cars right next to the entrance of the freeways, but not blocking them. On the short ride home, half an hour later, all those entry points were blocked completely. We saw several Secret Service unmarked cars prowling around.

The burn should be ashamed of itself. Constant fixers are needed. And if I leave the cigar in the ashtray a minute longer, it goes out. This is not the profile of highly rated cigar.

And now it shines. This stick needs extended psychoanalysis.

Oh my…”Never Been to Spain” by Three Dog Night. Great song. My band, in the early 70’s, did a lot of their tunes. Of course, 4 of the 5 members sang beautiful harmonies. I didn’t need a microphone as I pretty much sounded like a frog belching when I sang. We could change up between Three Dog Night to C,S,N,&Y to The Beatles.
Live music has been decimated due to the pandemic. A lot of unhappy musicians struggling.

The halfway point sees the cigar’s potential rise to the occasion. I hope it lasts. Otherwise, this is going to be the most redundant review I’ve written.

All the critical things I’ve said about this cigar float away as the blend is now strutting its stuff. Maybe if you buy some new Midnight Express’s, a few months is the time to dig in and not let them marinate for an extended time. Even Cigar Aficionado gave it a 90.

Strength is on the verge of medium/full. My vision is intact.

“The Best of My Love” by The Eagles is playing. Once again, in the early 70’s, I auditioned for a piano bar gig. This was the first song he threw in front of me. At that point, I was looking for the exit. I knew so many musicians that didn’t care what they played as long as they got paid at the end of the gig. I saw no purpose in playing set lists made up of the Top 40 was for me. I did that in the 1960’s. That was enough.

The ME is moving at a slow pace. A nice balance is at play, but it certainly has no WOW factor. And the char line is a pain in the ass.
Here is the small assortment of current flavors: espresso, malt, creaminess, chocolate, nuts, and cedar. I’m sure this blend was meant to stand on its leaf stats due to the mixture of exotic leaves. But now, it is simply a one trick pony. Too bad.

LAST THIRD:
Transitions are missing in action. The finish is mostly the depth of the differing tobaccos.
The balance is uneven. The natural savory v. sweet element is nowhere to be seen.

The black pepper returns. Of course.

The gentle mix of small flavor points has been disrupted because the spiciness wipes out any chance of enjoyment.

I have some good catalog blends I should review that are ready. It’s what most guys smoke…so what’s the harm? The catalog brands are my most read archival reviews.

And I’m tired of spending my oil change dough on expensive boutique blends. The catalog brands are now in the $10 range which used to be exclusively the boutique’s territory.

I did score some Viaje Skull and Bones Frank Castle sticks this week. I dropped $65 on a fiver. OK. My Commonwealth readers are shaking their heads as they pay 3 times as much on cigars as we do in the U.S. But then they get free health insurance.

The stick just won’t stay lit. Not because they are wet; but rather…there just isn’t enough tobacco to keep the campfire burning.
With all these construction issues, I am flummoxed at the high ratings this cigar got when it came out. Did my cigars shrink or wither away while sleeping?

The stick is strictly linear. It goes nowhere fast. The entire time on this Robusto will be around 45 minutes.

I will review another stick tomorrow and I promise it won’t be a bad acid trip.

I am going to finish this cigar. But its quality wavering isn’t going to change. The blend just didn’t hold up after a couple years in quarantine.
Working once again has pointed out just how much arthritis I have. I spoke to a woman in her 60’s that’s worked retail her whole life. She has had two knee replacements…I get that.

If I had Johnny Piette’s money, I could stay home. But then, at my age, I gotta keep moving…or slide down that slope of old age.

The entire flavor profile has been rescinded. Jesus H.
Time to stop yammering and hang it up. As I haven’t smoked a Midnight Express with a few months only on it, I am neutral on whether I can recommend this cigar. Dealer’s choice.

RATING: 80



Categories: CIGAR REVIEWS

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4 replies

  1. Hey Phil,

    How do you date those cigars you leave in the Humi for years? I’ve been dating boxes and just writing the date on the Celo for onesies and twosies. By the way, when I type the letter “K” on my browser, your website comes up automatically.

    Keep up the good work.

  2. Whenever I type the letter “k” into my Google Chrome it actually just asks me “did you mean Jewish Cigar Porn?” and I laugh and hit enter and here I am. Thanks for another informative and inspirational review Katman.

    • Eric,
      Halfway through reading your comment, Charlotte recoiled as I unexpectedly laughed out loud.
      I don’t know if it was inspiration…just my honest opinion… and not under the scrutiny of advertisers…the ones I got, get me…so God bless them. And even the ones that wouldn’t mind a chunk of my audience’s attention, can’t have their customer base see that they endorse me. The way I talk. I have bold people as advertisers.
      I’m doing a limited edition review on Thursday. Probably too early, but people have the need to know…
      Your servant,
      Phil

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