Romeo y Julieta No 2 (Cuba)

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Name: Romeo y Julieta No 2 (Cuba)
Rating:  ★★★
Origin: Cuba
Cigar info: The Romeo y Julieta No 2 are machine made petit coronas with a ring gauge of 42.  Romeo y Julieta are perhaps one of the world’s most well-known Cuban cigar brands, with a “house” flavour commonly associated with wood and cedar. 
Draw: Good
Burn: Below average. The cigar had an uneven burn and it needed frequent puffing to stay alight. 
Construction: Average
Strength: Medium
Flavours: The Romeo y Julieta No 2 offers a lovely spectrum of flavours that are only let down by the below average burn of the cigar, which gives it harsh burning bonfire undertones that grind against the palate. Find wood, cloves, spice, campfire notes, burnt orange peel, lime, cracked pepper, curry powder  and a subtle toasted wood sappiness with wood vanillas. Towards the nub the cigar becomes harsher and more full flavoured with the spritz of lemon fresh dishwashing liquid and soap, entangled with denser tobacco and more flavours from the wrapper. 
Format: Petit Corona
Match with: Try this cigar with some dry wors or other peppery cured meats, or a spicy pot still Irish whiskey. 
Bottom line: Don’t bother. The No 2 in the range seems to be a hit and miss with consistency. The stick I last smoked had very impressive flavours,  but its construction and burn really let it down – the burn was uneven and the cigar needed a lot of frequent puffing to keep it alight. This resulted in a smoke that was marred by harshness and pronounced tar and bonfire flavours, though between those moments there was some really lovely spicy Cuban kick and complex flavours. That said, you could get that spicy Cuban kick of tobacco flavour in many other Cuban – or fuller flavoured Nicaraguan or Dominican – cigars, and not have to fret over the burn issues and inconsistent I have experienced with this cigar.  

Romeo y Julieta Habana Reserve (Nicaragua)

Name:  Romeo y Julieta Habana Reserve
Rating:  ★★★
Origin: Nicaragua  
Cigar details: The Romeo y Julieta Habana Reserve line is comprised on Nicaraguan and Honduran long fillers encased in a dark Nicaraguan wrapper. They are hand made in the Flor de Copan factory in Honduras.
Draw: Excellent
Burn: Excellent
Construction: Excellent
Strength: Medium, gradually becoming fuller as the cigar is smoked
Flavours: The first few puffs are hugely disappointing – burning paper and bonfire burn the back palate with rigid embers, though notes of cedar, wood, citrus and pepper come through the smoky haze of harshness.Without warning, the harshness mellows about two centimeters or so into the stick. The bonfire taste mellows, to the point where it fades completely. Magic happens. The cigar becomes extremely integrated and smooth, with pronounced citrus, cocoa, ground coffee, mild creaminess, hints of honey, cedar, edamame, dried parsley and a sweet peppery heart – capsicum, crisp fresh peppers and bull horn chilies, not cracked pepper. The tobacco smoke is moderately dense, but no means overbearing. It is very puff-able. This is the sweet spot, and the cigar smokes impeccably from a few centimeters to around the half way point.  Just this part of the cigar would easily score into the 90’s – superb. The sharp contrast from the harsh beginning makes this part of the cigar especially pleasant, because the taste buds seem so relieved to finally sit back and enjoy the party.At half way, the harshness returns. Bonfire embers burn the back palate, and sit in the upper throat with the nagging taste of burning paper.

Two thirds into the cigar, the bonfire harshness recedes and the cigar now becomes much more noticeably fuller – find hazelnuts, coal fire, wood, dark cocoa and perfumed soap infused in the dense tobacco smoke. The cigar quickly becomes hot to draw, however, and the revival is short lived.

Format:  Toro
Match with: Romeo y Julieta Habana Reserve is a medium to full cigar with lots of varying temperaments. Try it with something that can douse those occasional harsh embers, but which will compliment the impeccable “sweet spot” – a Corona with lemon and similar style crisp lager is recommended.
Bottom line: Seriously consider buying it.  Romeo y Julieta Habana Reserve took me on a roller coaster ride of ups and downs – a harsh start was followed by a sensationally smooth and flavourful experience which lasted until the cigar’s half way point, at which some harshness re-emerged until the cigar regained some full flavoured magic only to stumble again towards the nub of the cigar and become a tad too hot to handle. The cigar’s “sweet spot” and subsequent stint of full flavoured magic is, in my opinion, well worth buying this cigar and the long filler tobacco leaf tells quite an entertaining story of ups and downs.*Thank you to cigarscity.com for the stick! 

Perdomo Double Aged 12 year Connecticut (Nicaragua)

Name: Perdomo Double Aged 12 year Connecticut
Score: 79/100
Origin: Nicaragua
Cigar details: This cigar is made from tobacco that has been aged for 12 years, first bale aged for 10 years and then in white oak bourbon barrels for a further two years.
Draw: Excellent
Burn: Excellent, though it did burn quite evenly and it needed some touching up.
Construction: Excellent
Consistency: Excellent
Flavours: Very smooth, soft notes of vanilla and coffee soaked brown sugar underpin a mild dark chocolate infused tobacco smoke that fades into a woody finish that showcases the Connecticut wrapper. Bourbon flavours have certainly infused into the cigar. The flavours of wood are prominent, but they are softened by mild hues of caramel and the faint flicker of brown sugar as the sweet flavours of the Jalapa tobacco counterbalances the richer heavier tobaccos (such as from Esteli). With each draw the wood notes in the cigar evolve, from woody splinters into more nuanced and delicate wood spices as buttered burnt toast lingers on the finish, accompanying the woody notes. Half way through, and the strength of the tobacco smoke intensifies with more pronounced burnt hay/bonfire and soft notes of bitter dried herbs. A harshness then develops, which is too much for the sweet components of the cigar to counteract – that bonfire note remains on the palate, producing a mismatch with and almost spoiling the enjoyment of paired spirits. The first half of this cigar was sublime but unfortunately after the half-way point it became harsh and unenjoyable, ruined in my view by the taste of burning paper/bonfire. What a monumental change of enjoyment I experienced smoking this cigar, at first I could not get enough of it but after two thirds I had no desire to continue smoking it.
Format: Robusto
Match with:

The first half of this cigar was divine with some spirits, while the second half went off the rails and did not produce the same caliber of carefully balanced smoke that made it worthy of a pairing with a fine spirit. This will sound cliché, but the first half of this cigar paired beautifully with a bourbon – Eagle Rare 17 year old was my bourbon of choice with this cigar, a combination which released a lovely buttery note with seeded raisins and sweetened coffee. It also pairs nicely with whiskies that showcase delicately cultivated oak notes from careful aging, and I found it was delicious with Glenlivet 18 year old and Glen Grant 16 year old. A number of rums also brought a welcome shimmer of sweetness to the party, but the oak notes underlying them really brought to life the cigar’s wood infused heart – try it with Pusser’s 15 year old or Havana Club 7 year old.

 

Macanudo Estate Reserve Robusto (Dominican Republic)

Name: Macanudo Estate Reserve
Batch: 0290/1800 – 2014
Rating: ★★★★★
Origin: Dominican Republic
Cigar details: This cigar is handmade from Jamaican binder and filler tobacco and wrapped with a US Connecticut shade wrapper. The tobacco has been aged for at least 8-10 years.
Draw: Flawless
Burn: Flawless, with an even burn that did not extinguish even when the cigar was left alone.
Construction: Excellent
Consistency: Excellent
Flavours: This is an ultra-smooth cigar that errs to the milder side of a medium strength smoke. It can easily underwhelm an experienced smoker, but its subtle flavours are sublime for those who enjoy an elegant cigar with lots of nuances and complexity – find a foundation of cocoa, cappuccino, ground coffee, crushed nuts, vanilla and soft cream beneath the silken cedar infused tobacco smoke as it prickles the palate with hints of pepper.
Format: Robusto
Match with:

This is a very smooth cigar that can easily be dominated by some whiskies and spirits. The last thing you want with a cigar of this age and style is to lose its flavours to a tsunami of malt and oak. Try it with Glenmorangie Companta, Appleton Estate 21 year old rum, Glen Grant 10 year old or any Chivas Regal. This cigar also matches nicely with a mild espresso (try a Honduran single origin) or an iced coffee.

ACID Toast (Nicaragua)

Acid toast

Score: 91/100

Draw: Excellent.

Burn: Excellent.

Construction: Excellent, no complaints.

Consistency: Good.

Flavours: On drawing a rich and sweet honey hits the tongue and glows amidst smooth but dense tobacco smoke with hints of cinnamon and wood spice, then a sugary honey brightly shines on the lips with nutmeg and wet bark until it fades softly. This is a flavoursome mild to medium bodied cigar that is infused with sweet honey notes. I think it will please beginners and the cigar aficionado alike.

Origin: Nicaragua

Format: Toro

Matched with: The sweet infused honey in this cigar, and the smooth tobacco smoke carrying wood spice, matches beautifully with old sherry matured whisky with mild peat – the older the whisky the better, because as a peated whisky ages the peat notes soften and the oak notes become more pronounced. Peat can easily overpower this cigar, so stick with something nice and old or a lightly peated sherry/bourbon matured whisky with a clean flavour profile. Try it with Sheep Dip Old Hebridean 1990, Bunnahabhain 25 year old or even Johnnie Walker Black Label, Label 5 Gold Heritage, Black Grouse or Benriach 17 year old.  It also fairs nicely with non-peated whisky of course but nothing too sweet, try it with a medium-dry Oloroso sherry matured whisky if peat ain’t your thing!

Montecristo No 2 (Cuba)

Monti 2

Score: 94/100

Draw: Excellent.

Burn: Excellent.

Construction: Excellent, no complaints.

Consistency: Good, I’ve smoked 5 of these cigars and have enjoyed every one.

Flavours: On first puff there was a sudden realisation that this was a classic cigar – rich wood, cocoa and spice interlaced the smooth, almost creamy, tobacco smoke. Mid-way through the cigar, however, a slight harshness emerged that detracted from the experience a little.  I didn’t hear any angel’s singing as I puffed away, so I think the hype surrounding this cigar is overrated. It is very good, just not what all the hype might suggest in my view.

Origin: Cuba

Format: Torpedo

Matched with: I think this accentuates and matches very well with some mildly or medium smoky or spicy whiskies on the market, consider Label 5 Gold Heritage, Glenrothes 2001, 1998 or 1995 vintage, Cutty Sark 12 year old or even Johnnie Walker Black Label. Normandin Mercier Extra is also a cognac that I think would match the spice and cocoa notes, along with other old cognacs that project lots of menthol or eucalyptus rancio notes such as DEAU Louis Memory.

 

Romeo y Julieta No 1 (Cuba)

Romeo y Julieta No 1

 

Score: 90/100

Draw: Excellent.

Burn: Excellent.

Construction: Excellent, no complaints.

Consistency: Good, I’ve smoked 7 of these cigars and have enjoyed every one.

Flavours: In my opinion, the Romeo y Julieta No 1 is underrated by many given that is is so widely available in the market. I found it had a smooth smoke that offered notes of leather, wood and a hint of tang with a floral, almost earthy, hue.

Origin: Cuba

Format: Cremas 

Matched with: The Romey y Julieta matched well with whisky and cognac that had a sweet entry that refreshed the palate, but then dried into the finish with nutty or woody notes to accentuate and compliment – rather than clash with – the leathery and woody notes from the Romeo No 1. Try it with Mackmyra Special 07, Hennessy Paradis, DEAU Louis Memory, Glengoyne Teapot Dram and Aberlour a’Bunadh, or, a whisky matured or finished in oloroso sherry casks or wine casks.