Caldwell Cigar Co. is expanding operations. The cigar company, founded by Robert Caldwell in early 2014, is finishing construction on a new factory in the Dominican Republic that is opening this week and preparing to launch four new cigar lines. Three of the lines, Sevillana Reserva, Gibraltar Extra and Muricas Especial, will be rolled at the new factory, appropriately named the Caldwell Cigar Factory. The fourth line is called Blind Man's Bluff, and is made at Agroindustrias Laepe S.A. in Honduras, the same factory where Camachos are produced. The new cigars will debut at the 2015 International Premium Cigar & Pipe Retailers trade show in July.
"It's been a crazy year so far," Caldwell told Cigar Aficionado. "We're excited about our new brands—and the cigar factory is in its final stages of construction. It will begin production this week."
The core lines in Caldwell's cigar portfolio are currently made at Tabacalera William Ventura, a small cigar factory in Tamboril, Dominican Republic. This week, those brands move to their new home at the Caldwell Cigar Factory, about a mile away from Tabacalera William Ventura. The Ventura family will still play a major role in Caldwell's cigar production process.
"The Venturas will run the production, but we will have boots on the ground overseeing and managing the work that they are doing. We have been working out of a 3,000-square-foot factory, which has really limited us in terms of production, aging and storage. Our new building is over 10,000 square feet. We will be able to [employ] close to 100 rollers, which will allow us to produce millions of cigars a year, as well as stockpile boxes. It will be nice to have a space we can grow into," Caldwell said.
If the names Sevillana Reserva, Gibraltar Extra and Muricas Especial sound familiar, it's because Selvillana, Gibraltar and Muricas once were part of the company's Seleccion Junior Varsity portfolio, a value-priced trio of cigar brands that were discontinued last winter.
"We always marketed Junior Varsity as a secondary [collection] and it took a bit of a backseat to our other products," Caldwell said. "Junior Varsity will be entering into a cocoon and will re-emerge as a premium cigar."
Caldwell says that the three brands will form a new collection known as "Iberian Express." The first brand, Sevillana Reserva, features an Ecuadoran Connecticut wrapper, a binder from the Dominican Republic, and fillers from Nicaragua and the Dominican Republic. Gibraltar Extra is composed of an Ecuadoran wrapper, a binder from the Dominican Republic, and fillers from Nicaragua, the Dominican Republic and the United States. Muricas Especial is draped in a Brazilian wrapper, and features a binder from the Dominican Republic and fillers from Nicaragua and the Dominican Republic. The cigars in the Iberian Express collection are priced $6 to $8.
Before the Caldwell factory is officially up and running, these Iberian Express brands will be produced at an interim factory. "These will launch at the IPCPR trade show," Caldwell said. "For the time being, production is at Intercigar S.A. in Tamboril, Dominican Republic, but we will be moving it to our new factory once we are up and running. Our other new cigar, Blind Man's Bluff, is being manufactured at Laepe."
Blind Man's Bluff features a Ecuadoran Habano wrapper, a Criollo binder from Honduras, and fillers composed of San Vicente viso from the Dominican Republic and Criollo ligero and what Caldwell calls Generoso ligero sol from Honduras.
"We have been missing part of the market by not having a Central American offering," Caldwell said. "Laepe produces the best cigars in Honduras. They are a great partner for us and we are humbled to be working with them. We have had a great relationship with the generous people at Laepe since we began and they have really helped us out by opening their doors to us."
Blind Man's Bluff will be available in three sizes: Robusto, 5 inches by 50 ring gauge; Toro, 6 by 52; and 660, 6 by 60, with each cigar priced at $7.50, $8.50 and $9.50, respectively.
Caldwell Cigar Co. recently received its first rating in the pages of Cigar Aficionado with the Churchill-sized Eastern Standard Cream Crush. The cigar scored 91 points. The rating can be found in the July/August Issue of Cigar Aficionado, on newsstands this week.