Cigar Review: Casdagli Cigars Mareva Spalato No. 2 Is Worth the Price of Admission

The Casdagli Cigars Mareva Spalato No. 2 is the regular production follow-up release to the original limited production Mareva Spalato. The Mareva Spalato No. 2 was blended by Master Blender Hendrik Kelner Jr. and originally rolled in the Kelner Boutique Factory in November 2019 and the tobaccos used are all aged at least three years. The No. 2 was originally slated for a July 2020 release at the PCA Trade Show, but due to COVID-19 and the cancellation of the show, it was released in December 2020. Like its predecessor, the Mareva Spalato No. 2 belongs to the Club Mareva Line of Casdagli Cigars. All five vitolas of the Club Mareva Line are created in collaboration with the Cigar Club Mareva in Split, Croatia – the home of the Cigar Smoking World Championship (CSWC). Each Club Mareva Line blend is personally selected by Marko Bilić, founder and President of Cigar Club Mareva and CSWC.

It is no secret that Casdagli Cigars is my favorite brand and the original Mareva Spalato my favorite cigar I’ve ever smoked. If I was going to review the original Mareva Spalato, I would be hard-pressed to not give it an astronomical rating around 10. For me, it is as perfect of a cigar experience as one could have. So when I found out that Casdagli was releasing the Mareva Spalato No. 2, I knew I was going to buy a box. For this review I smoked two Mareva Spalato No. 2s that were purchased in December 2020 and have been resting in my humidor since.

OVERVIEW

VITOLA:   Pyramide
SIZE:   5-1/2″ x 50 (at the foot)

ORIGIN:   Dominican Republic
FACTORY:   Kelner Boutique Factory

WRAPPER:   Ecuadorian Corjo
BINDER:   Dominican 
FILLER:   Dominican and Nicaraguan

STRENGTH:   Medium-Plus

SOURCE:   
Casdagli Press Release

ENVIRONMENT

WHERE:   
In my garage.

WHEN:   
March 26

DRINKS:   
Be Bright Coffee Honduran Pacayal

WEATHER:   
46° and 77% humidity

WHAT’S ON:   
The sound of wind whipping through my neighborhood

PRODUCTION

RELEASE TYPE  Regular Release

ORIGINALLY RELEASE DATE  December 2020

TOTAL PRODUCTION
Typical Box Size:     Boxes of 15
Production Totals:  10,000 produced annually 

VITOLA BREAKDOWN
o  No. 2  5-1/2″ x 50

BAND DESIGN

Casdagli Cigars decided to go a bit different with this band when compared to the original Spalato. The No. 2 band is black and designed to match the box, which replicates the famous black marble from the Island of Brac emperor Diocletian used to decorate his palace in Split in 305 AD. The band keeps the logo, which pays homage to the wallpaper that was once found in Villa Casdagli in Egypt, and looks very much like the other bands in the Club Mareva line.

PRE-LIGHT OBSERVATIONS

CONSTRUCTION
The Spalato No. 2 follows the original in its Pyramide shape. The pointy head flares out to a 50 ring gauge at the foot. The cap is expertly applied while the body of the cigar shows few visible seams. I can see only one vein, but it is very noticeable, especially under the band. The Ecuadorian Corojo wrapper is a beautiful, almost caramel, brown. The wrapper is smooth as silk and has a nice oily look.

AROMA
The aroma of the cigar reminds me of the first time I walked into a humidor. My sense of smell was overwhelmed by notes of cedar and tobacco. Those same aromas are strong with the Spalato No. 2.

COLD DRAW
The same notes of tobacco and cedar are there, but are hard to pick out. In fact, they’re so subtle that I feel like I might have imagined it. Regardless, the draw itself has the right amount of resistance.

SMOKING EXPERIENCE

LIGHT & DRAW
Cut:  Le Petit Villa Casdagli by Les Fines Lames
Fire:  Xikar Tactical 1
In all honesty, it has taken a bit of practice to get the hang of the Le Petit cigar knife. Now that I’m used to using it, I don’t have any problems with the cut no matter the vitola. The first few draws of the Spalato No. 2 were perfect. It had just the right amount of resistance. The lighting process was a snap and the Spalato No. 2 burned even from the start.

SMOKE
The Mareva Spalato No. 2 produces a good amount of smoke. The smoke filling my mouth is creamy and has a great mouthfeel.

FIRST THIRD
>> Cedar, Black Pepper, Dried Fruit

The first few puffs produce notes of wood and black pepper on the retrohale. There is a mustyness to the wood note that lingers on my palate. It isn’t mushroom, per se, but then again, maybe it is. A dried fruit note begins to come through that adds a richness to the cigar. Each draw fills my mouth with a rich and creamy smoke that is as enjoyable as it is necessary. In my experience, the creamier the smoke, the easier it is to pick out what flavors I’m tasting. A dry smoke tends to not linger on my palate for very long, leaving little time to find the flavor.

The Spalato No. 2 is complex, yet subtle. It doesn’t bash you over the head with flavors or harsh edges. Instead, it is smooth, creamy, and well balanced. A buttery note turns into sweet cream on my palate. Not having been able to smoke for two days, due to a mild head cold, has allowed my palate to pick up some of what I missed before. The black pepper on the retrohale is the perfect juxtaposition to the subtle notes of cream, butter, and cedar. The burn line looks as though it was cut with a straight razor. The ash looks like a stack of nickels and is compact, save for one errant strand of ash. The Spalato No. 2 isn’t bombarding my palate with the pepper. Personally, I like that; it is understated and a more refined cigar flavor.

As the first third continues, there is an almost sweet note that comes through; not quite milk chocolate and not quite dark chocolate. It quickly fades and a very particular spice note appears. Again I am reminded of walking into a humidor for the first time as the spice tickles my tongue. The ash falls as I return the cigar to its rest. I have always found Casdagli Cigars to be elegant and luxurious and so far, the Spalato No. 2 certainly falls within these parameters. It is a cigar for a Bond villain, or even for James Bond himself. A nice musky note begins to come through at the end of the first third.

SECOND THIRD
>> Wood, Red Pepper, Milk Chocolate

The second third becomes fuller and richer compared to the first. The Spalato No. 2 settles into a nice medium plus strength. Wood and spice are the dominant flavors, but they have more depth to them than the previous third. Milk chocolate begins to dance about my palate, weaving in and out with the wood. It is a spectacular flavor combination. The retrohale now has the bite of red pepper. The spice gently tickles my throat. There is a hint of citrus that is so slight I think that I’m imagining it. The wood and pepper have been constant and are the backbone of flavor for the Spalato No 2. The retrohale still tickles my nose with pepper and charred wood. I am enjoying this cigar immensely. It is complex without being overbearing in its flavor progression. The ash holds strong and the burn line continues to pose no issues.

I would expect nothing less from a Casdagli or from the Kelner Boutique Factory. The milk chocolate fades in favor of an herbal tea note. The underlying flavors have been subtle and nuanced to this point, but held up by the rich woody note and pepper on the retrohale. The milk chocolate returns with a deeper richness than before. The ash holds strong and isn’t the slightest bit flakey. Black streaks adorn the ash with a singular vertical black streak from the one vein. The smoke begins to lose some of its smoothness as it nears the end of this middle third.

FINAL THIRD
>> Wood, Pepper, Herbal, Citrus

Chocolate covered cherries begin the final third. There’s a richness to it that has only ramped up since the middle third. As the ash falls, the burn line gets a bit wonky but immediately corrects on its own. The pepper on the retrohale becomes stronger but not anywhere near unpleasant. What was a smooth and creamy smoke has become sharp and a bit less refined. The wood note that has been constant turns into charred wood/campfire and the chocolate covered cherries have become a rich espresso note.

There’s a bit of an acidic note but nothing that takes away from the flavors. I find myself sipping my coffee a bit more in this third as that seems to help round out the edges. The pepper on the retrohale continues to be fantastic. It is less nuanced than before but has yet to become off-putting, though it is beginning to become stronger. The buttery note arrives for the second time and lingers on my palate. It is followed by an almost dry toast flavor. The flavors become more concentrated as the cigar tapers, but it has yet to produce anything that would overpower other flavors. The burn is a bit uneven at this point but not detrimental to the experience. The ash is as solid and beautiful as ever. The construction on this cigar is flawless. The hint of citrus from the middle third returns and brings an herbal note with it. Tea with lemon. This is amazing! The smoke output has been consistent. More dry in the final third than in the previous two thirds. Dark chocolate and salted nuts begin to drown out the herbal notes.

As I marvel at the complexity of this final third, the pepper and wood that have been a constant throughout the cigar return in force. The pair of wood and pepper have served as a solid backbone of the Spalato No. 2 that the other flavors piggyback onto. The smoke vacillates between rich/creamy and dry/woody throughout this last third, bringing the best from the first two thirds of the cigar. Baking spices start to peak through, mingling well the pepper and wood notes. The final third is less subtle than the previous two thirds, bit no less complex as the nuttiness becomes full-blown cashews. A slight citrus note becomes apparent as I debate on whether or not I want to nub the Spalato No. 2 or be dignified and let it die. Greed wins. I don’t want the Spalato to die.

RATING & FINAL THOUGHTS

FLAVOR PROGRESSION
The Spalato No. 2 starts off subtle and nuanced, almost too nuanced, but quickly builds into a tasty treat. The balance of flavors is, at times, nothing short of spectacular. The Spalato No. 2 builds its flavor profile on the back of wood and pepper notes from the very first puff. The subtle tasting notes and hints of flavor found throughout the cigar make for a complex and elegant cigar that must be experienced to fully appreciate.

BURN EXPERIENCE
There was never a time where the Spalato No. 2 needed to be touched up or relit. The burn line was razor sharp throughout both cigars I smoked for this review, except for two times where I knocked the ash off to remove the band. Even then, the Spalato No. 2 quickly self-corrected back to a sharp burn line.

RATING BREAKDOWN
0.78 / 0.80 … Craft & Aesthetic
0.50 / 0.50 … Pre-Light Characteristics
0.50 / 0.50 … Lighting Process
7.14 / 7.70 … Smoking Experience
0.48 / 0.50 … Personal Enjoyment

COMPLIMENTS & CRITIQUES

A STRONG FOLLOW-UP.

The Mareva Spalato No. 2 had, in my mind, a lot to live up to. The original limited edition Mareva Spalato is still the best cigar I have ever smoked. While the Spalato No. 2 is just as well-constructed and masterfully blended as the original, the No. 2 has more rough edges than its predecessor. The Ecudorian Corojo wrapper gives the No. 2 a lighter smoking experience that doesn’t quite hit my palate the same way as the Domincan Cotui wrapper of the original Mareva Spalato. However, the Mareva Spalato No. 2 still delivers a rich and complex smoking experience that is as elegant as any Casdagli cigar in the Mareva line. 

SIMPLY STOGIES RATING:  9.40 / 10.0

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