May 4, 2012

Cigar Review: Romeo by Romeo y Julieta Toro


Romeo
I am going to begin by saying that I just noticed that this is the first cigar bearing the name Romeo y Julieta that I have reviewed. I have never been a fan of most Romeo y Julietas, Cuban or non-Cuban, and here I am today reviewing the first. It is a brand that I have had few encounters with, and while some were good, some were bad. Obviously the brand gets its name from the "pair of star-crossed lovers," Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare, and the brand was introduced in 1875. The brand became very popular at the turn of the century, and was loved by the infamous Sir Winston Churchill. Hell, the brand was his preferred brand so they named a vitola after the damn guy because he loved them so much. Since then the line has been in high demand on the worldwide market, and just recently was it announced that there would a new player in the brand that was bigger and bolder than its past brethren. On a completely side note the first time I saw this band I thought of the modern, not so much anymore, version of Romeo + Juliet, when Romeo's cousin Benvolio yells "Ro-Me-O!" on "Verona Beach."

Romeo by Romeo y Julieta is the newest release by Altadis to the U.S. market, and the release is a cigar that is meant to grab the attention of the ever growing and popular demand of smokers. People are looking for more full bodied cigars, and with that being asked for, smokers typically would not gravitate towards the traditional Romeo y Julieta cigars. What differs this cigar from past Romeos is the fact that it is draped with an Ecuadorian Habano-seed wrapper, and I have been told it is the same wrapper on the VegaFina Sumum, different vintage. The cigar is packed with Dominican fillers, and like the fillers it has a Dominican binder. The binder is actually Dominican Olor, and the filler is a blend of Dominican Piloto and Olor tobacco. The cigars are made at the well known and active factory, Tabacalera de Garcia, and the factory is located in the Dominican Republic. The most notable change to this Romeo y Julieta is the band, and it features the name Romeo in big bold lettering on the band. The Maduro version to this cigar will be released next year and will be called Julieta. No I am just messing with you. I thought it would be entertaining to get the false spreading cigar gossiping mungerers all riled up. For this review I was sent the Toro vitola, and the cigar measures 6" with a 54 ring gauge. The cigar has a very oily wrapper that is smooth to touch with veins present throughout. It is a very firm cigar, and has a nice Natural Colorado coloring to it, really that of redwood.
Ecuadorian Habano-seed Wrapper
Holding the wrapper and foot to my nose I begin by picking up some aromas of leather, damp wood, earth and some honey. The aroma is very light, but that could have been me at the time. After attempting to get a better aroma I eventually lit up the cigar and was greeted by some great flavors. From the get go the cigar shows tons of spicy notes, and there are also those wood and leather notes from the aroma as well. It begins by smoking at a medium full body level, and the cigar is really in the range that I prefer. As I get further into the first third I begin to get more notes of coffee and cocoa, and it really is opening up as a smoke. The burn line is razor sharp, and it is leaving a beautiful light gray ash, practically white, that can not be compared with. As I said earlier, the strength is at that medium full level and smoking wonderfully.

When I enter the second third of the cigar it begins to open up a little bit more and there is this new and pleasant meaty flavor profile. It is still showing those lovely coffee and cocoa flavors, slightly softer, and also those spicy notes with earth and wood. I would say the spice notes are really along that pepper flavor profile, and it is a nice addition to those dry earth, wood and leather notes. The strength of the cigar is really remaining at that medium full body level, and it is really showing those great signs of having some strength but also remaining balanced as well. The flavors are enjoyable and complex, and I am digging this third. The construction is still perfect, and the ash is strong and holding on to the cigar very well. This really isn't your fathers Romeo, and this is right up there along the lines of the Partagas 1845.

I am in the final third of the cigar now, and as to be expected the spice flavor profile has increased from the beginning. It was in the second third that I began to pick up some black pepper notes, and those continue into this third along with some cayenne notes. The spices are really paired with those wood and leather notes, and they are the balancing force to the coffee, cocoa and rich earth notes present in the cigar as well. The cigar finishes at that medium full body level, like it has remained throughout the whole cigar, and it has kept that perfect burn line and solid white ash throughout. I got probably 60% of the way through the cigar before I dropped the ash. The cigar really finishes wonderfully, leaving a nice flavor profile on the palate and smoking cool all the way to the nub. This was a very enjoyable cigar, and like that was not your everyday Romeo. After smoking this the first thing that came to mind is that even these large cigar companies like Altadis pay attention to what the market is asking for in a cigar, and they deliver it.
Beautiful Wrapper
This was definitely no Romeo y Julieta I have had in the past, and I really enjoyed this blend. I felt that it was much more complex and flavorful than past releases, and also stronger. I should state that I am talking about non-Cuban Romeos. The cigar was definitely constructed perfectly, and you could tell that with the razor sharp burn line and the solid light gray ash that held on to the cigar for some time. While I think this cigar would be too much for the smoker who prefers the traditional Romeo y Julietas, it would definitely be loved by those who want a little more from their cigar. I think Altadis has really released two new great cigars, and they are two for two in my book right now. With many cigar smokers looking for more complex, flavorful and stronger cigars, a lot of manufacturers are steering their production down that road, and this cigar is a perfect example of that. I give this smoke 91 points. It had nice flavors, great strength and was constructed wonderfully.
Romeo Toro
*Cigars for this assessment were provided to me by Altadis for review.