This story begins on the 15th of december 2014, I was working at Mellgrens Fine Tobacco and we were preparing for the event we where hosting that evening in our cigar lounge. We where going to host Jeremy Casdagli owner of Bespoke Cigars, a new cigar brand to the Swedish Market. I was still young to the cigar world, barely 1 year in to smoking cigars on a regular basis and only 3 months in to working at the shop. But I understood this was a big deal, we were 18 attendees in total including me and my colleague. Jeremy and the Swedish importer of the brand Martin Brix Nelson from Kind Cigars, started to hand out the cigar for the evening, it was Jeremy’s personal favourite from his line up, the Grand Café, a Lancero.
I remember smoking it and thinking “this is definitely something else” familiar notes, yet very different. Jeremy explained in his proper English (as he was a Englishman after all) his history in the cigar business and his family history all very interesting. And why he named the cigar Grand Café, because when he entered the Belarusian market in 2012, the first place to carry his cigars was the Grand Café in Minsk. As Europe in general was very familiar with the smaller slimmer vitolas of the Cuban selection, the Lancero was the vitola to go with for them.
At the time I didn’t talk much to Jeremy as I was quite shy as a newcomer to all of this, but I admired his brand and knowledge in history which always have been a love of my own. During the years to come, we had many more events with him presenting his new cigars, we carried most of his selection from the Traditional Line, Club Mareva and The Daughters of the Wind.
But as you can see in the brochure up above Bespoke didn’t have a massive selection but it was made to utter perfection, the attention to detail and construction was top of the line. But the prices of the cigars weren’t awfully high, all though it was on the level of most cuban cigars, so for a brand competing on the new market it was harder to convince a cigar aficionado to try this new brand out. But the few that did, where astonished and returned to buy more, which was always nice to see, especially because they trusted in my judgment of the brand. The cigars where made by two factories. Traditional Line and Club Mareva in KBF (Kelner Boutique Factory) in Dominican Republic and the Daughters of the Wind Line in Tabacos de Costa Rica in Costa Rica.
The Daughters of the Wind line, was a strange one, it didn’t really feel like the other lines in the portfolio. And we had a really hard time to get people to buy these cigars, they where to mild for peoples liking and with a price higher than the other lines, it just didn’t move. Which was sad, but it ultimately showed when the line was removed a few years later and replaced with a new and improved blend and line up. All though I miss that I didn’t buy some of the old one to store and review later in my career. A fun fact about the old Pyramide, after they where removed from the market it was available for a bit in Belarus under the name Bespoke Insomnia Pyramide. Sadly they lost their market share in Belarus after some political problems, so the stock that was left got released to the other markets. And I must say 5 years after they where released they evolved to something else, much better to when they where launched and we had them in stock.
The Traditional Line has a mixed place in my hearth, I remember when I first came in contact with the brand in 2014, I absolutely fell in love with the Cotton Tail, it was smooth and mild. But over the years, it has changed sadly not for the better in my honest opinion. I’ve tried it on several occasions but it just don’t hit my palette as it used to, but the revers is for the Grand Café and the Maduro variant I used not to like them at all and now they are just lovely. It’s interesting how our palettes changes over the years and over getting to know new tastes. I would be so bold to say that if you are new to Casdagli you should definitely try one of vitolas from the Traditional Line first, before you get in to the other lines, just to get a better grip of where the brand came from. The only vitola I feel Bespoke/Casdagli never really has gotten a grip of is the Robusto size. They are amazing at developing blends for all the other more special vitolas, but the Robusto never really hit the spot.
The Basilica Line, a truly special assortment of cigars, like no others I would say. Originally made for the Middle Eastern market, to match well with a cup of tea. I remember so well when the Basilica C #1 was released, we sat in the lounge during an event and as we lit up the cigars, the people in the lounge just looked at each other, non of us had felt hints of citrus in a cigar before. Yet it was so creamy and well balanced, like no other. Here’s an interesting thing about this like, even though these cigars shares the same name of Basilica, they are nothing a like. The “A” is smooth and creamy, C #1 Maduro is like a mix of cacao and orange peal (from what I can remember, haven’t reviewed it yet. But I smoked it when it was launched many years ago). C #2 and C #3 has it’s similarities with the C #1 but with different levels of taste experiences.
The Cabinet Selection was made originally for the Nordic Market in mind, as we don’t get many months of warmth so people that smoke outdoors, tend to go for cigars in smaller sizes so not to freeze their fingers of. First we got the Rosetta, specially made as a house cigar for Kind Cigars, the Swedish importer of the brand. They where sold out almost every time they got in, as it was the perfect Fika (Swedish coffee break) cigar, it was blended with coffee in mind. Short enough to last during a coffee break, and together with that little sweet cookie you need on your fika break. As they saw the success with the cigar, they added two new sizes the Romano and the Ristretto. Personally I prefer the Romano over the other two, all though they are very similar in taste and smoke time.
The Club Mareva Line, this is an interesting one. So in 2010, Marko Bilić owner of the Club Mareva Cigar Lounge in Split Croatia started the Cigar Smoking World Championship. When the competition began the goal was to smoke a Montecristo No. 4 (Mareva size) for as long as possible with only two matches to light it up. And in 2014 Bespoke decided to go in celebrate the event and the club with a special cigar called Gran Mareva. The blend was made together with Marko, Jeremy and Henrik Kelner Jr. The boxes where made to look like the walls of the club.
After the success of the release for the CSWC Grand Finale 2014 in Split, Jeremy decided to do a special release for the upcoming three years. So we got the Gran Mareva Gold in 2015, Mareva Especial in 2016 and finally Mareva Spalato Limited Edition 2017, their first limited release of 650 boxes with 15 cigars in each box. This was also a very special cigar for me, not only that I bought a box No. 006/650, but also it got rated with 97 points by me as it was truly something super unique. And yes I bought a box before I tried it, because just look at that box it’s beautiful.
I might have been a driving force behind why this cigar got a follow up, as in 2021 we got the Spalato No. 2 a regular variation of the original blend. Of course not as good, yet super delicious. The new one came in similar designed boxes.
As the CSWC grew bigger and bigger each year, with competitions spreading to more and more countries, the Lebanese cigar importer Handrolled, with the owners Woody Ghsoubi and Najat Abdo helped to spread the event to the Middle East. After hosting the event and being close friends with Marko, they decided to open a Club Mareva in Beirut, Lebanon. Originally scheduled to open in 2019, but with political problems in the country and then the pandemic hit the launch sadly was postponed to December 2020. But for their opening, Casdagli made a Limited Edition for them as well and it was called Club Mareva Beirut The Origins Exclusive Lebanon Toro released in 250 boxes with 10 cigars in each box. Of course I bought myself box 247/250 from Club Mareva Beirut as it’s only sold there.
The new Daughters of the Wind Line was released in 2018 after being off the market for many years. This time made in a different factory called IGM in Costa Rica with a new blend. Their best blend yet in my honest opinion, I’ve given high scores to most of them. In 2018 I was given a test blend of the Lancero from Jeremy, which I brought with me on my holiday to Portugal (my second home). One evening I decide, I’m going to go out, sit on a fire hydrant and look out over the Atlantic ocean and the sunset. I lit it up and was blown away, I’ve never smoked a cigar that good before or even after that. I gave it 99 points, it was that special! The only problem I was met with was that Jeremy had only made a very few of these cigars, as they where puros of this new tobacco they had got in, we called it “Caramelo” as it tasted like salted caramel. I got the rundown that it would be extremely expensive to produce this cigar as a regular production, so I got the sad response that it wont happen. But after nagging the living hell out of Jeremy and anybody at Casdagli to please make this cigar come to reality. After getting high praise from everybody that got that test blend, they decided a variation of this cigar was made, but that “Caramelo” tobacco was only used as one part of the filler of the Lancero. The cigar was still beautiful, but it didn’t hold that sweet sweet salted caramel like that test blend did.
Over the years I’ve gotten to know Jeremy more and more through events that we hosted at the shop, meeting at Intertabac tobacco fair in Dortmund, Germany, sitting together at the same table at Cigar Journal Cigar Trophy Awards and having a good time at CSWC Grand Final in Split, Croatia back in 2018. He truly is a gentleman with incredible stories and knowledge that you could just listen to for ages.
As you’ve seen I have had many great memories with Bespoke/Casdagli Cigars over the years and I’ve been very lucky to have managed to try 28 different cigars in their portfolio over the years. But it’s not just Jeremy Casdagli I’ve been lucky to get to know, over the years there has been a person that has helped out a lot with many of my strange questions about the brand and that has been the Director Helen Sahk, and my dear friend Vlada Stojanov the Brand Ambassador and Distributor in the US has been a great pal and friend especially during the pandemic, there’s been many a Zoom calls we’ve both been in and also he’s a fellow tasting panellist with me in Cigar Journal Magazine. All though I haven’t had the pleasure to meet Jeremy’s wife and Marketing Manager Triine Casdagli, I’m sure we have most certainly have had some interaction over social media over the years. The whole team at Casdagli has been super, and that’s not only shown through mear service but the actions as well. They gave me a belated 25th birtday gift, something that truely hit me in the feels. I’m so happy to call you all my friends.
There are still a few cigars I haven’t mentioned during this post, but it doesn’t mean they are bad, I just thought they didn’t fit in to the narrative of the story, but if you want to check out all my reviews of Casdaglis click here.
Casdagli don’t only make cigars, they also have a very nice selection of accessories, coffee and apparel so go visit their website www.casdaglicigars.com
I know there are more cigars in the pipeline and I’ll review them when they come out of course, but until then check out my other reviews, buy their cigars and remember “Casdagli Cigars Delivering Luxury, Elegance and Tradition”.
Cigars that I’ve had from the brand:
- Casdagli Traditional Line Robusto
- Casdagli Traditional Line Cotton Tail
- Casdagli Traditional Line Super Belicoso
- Casdagli Traditional Line Grand Café
- Casdagli Traditional Line Grand Café Maduro
- Casdagli Basilica Line “A”
- Casdagli Basilica Line C# 1
- Casdagli Basilica Line C# 1 Maduro (Not done a review on)
- Casdagli Basilica Line C# 2
- Casdagli Basilica Line C# 3
- Casdagli Cabinet Selection Rosetta
- Casdagli Cabinet Selection Rosetta Maduro
- Casdagli Cabinet Selection Romano
- Casdagli Cabinet Selection Ristretto
- Casdagli Club Mareva Line Gran Mareva
- Casdagli Club Mareva Line Gran Mareva Gold
- Casdagli Club Mareva Line Mareva Especial
- Casdagli Club Mareva Line Mareva Spalato Limited Edition
- Casdagli Club Mareva Line Mareva Spalato No. 2
- Casdagli Club Mareva Line Beirut The Origins Exclusive Lebanon Toro
- Casdagli Daughters of the Wind (Old) Salomon (Not done a review on)
- Casdagli Daughters of the Wind (Old) Dahman (Not done a review on)
- Casdagli Daughters of the Wind (Old) Pyramide (Not done a review on)
- Casdagli Daughters of the Wind (Old) Insomnia
- Casdagli Daughters of the Wind Sabino
- Casdagli Daughters of the Wind Calico
- Casdagli Daughters of the Wind Dahman
- Casdagli Daughters of the Wind Rabicano
- Casdagli Daughters of the Wind Cremello
- Casdagli Daughters of the Wind Pony Express
- Casdagli Daughters of the Wind Enigma
See you in the next “My Journey With:“.
/ Cigar Reviewer André Dias
P.S. Clarification I’m just telling my story with the brand, my own opinions and experiences, we don’t have any deals between us, I’m not paid by them and I don’t have any contracts with them. I’m just a consumer and fan of the brand. As you’ll see with my other “My Journey With:” posts that will come in the future.