Friday, August 16, 2013

Romeo by Romeo Y Julieta

Country: Dominican Republic
Wrapper: Ecuador
Filler / Binder: Dominican Republic
Length: 7”
Ring: 56
Cost: $8.00

Appearance (0-20): Perhaps what’s most interesting about the Romeo is that they don’t follow the standard model for how they have been doing things. The majority of Romeo y Julieta cigars out there have similar banding, etc. This one sports a bolder new design, proclaiming it the “RO-ME-O”. While it retained much of the coloring of a lot of the normal Romeo blends (red, white, gold) – it truly does differentiate itself. The wrapper is also extremely nice, using a dark Ecuadorian wrapper with very few flaws. I like what im seeing.
Score: 19

Construction (0-20): I don’t think I have had any major concerns about the construction of a R&J offering in the past, and it doesn't seem to be one now either. It’s wrapped nice and tight and it seems the prelit draw is dead on. The exterior is slightly spongey but no issues there. After lighting - the draw was burn, the burn was both cool and relatively straight, and the ash held on for more than 2 inches at a time. Zero pitting, canoeing, or issues that required a relight. Absolutely flawless.

Score: 20

Strength (0-20): In comparison to most other R&J cigars, this is indeed more full bodied and is much higher in strength. Medium to full is the correct range for both, as it teeters between the two quite well, though I would place it closer to full.
Score: 18

Flavor (0-20): The Romeo is rich and delicious from the first puff, dropping a combination of leather and peppery spice. A lot of more subtle flavors begin to creep in (earthiness and slight sweetness leading the pack), that eventually transform this into something more complex. There are also notes of a bitter dark chocolate that pop through. And those flavors then continue through the rest of the smoke. While it balances it well, I’d say the final third was a little underwhelming as the flavors remain stagnant.
Score: 17

Value (0-20): While this wouldn't be a “go to” cigar for me, it’s absolutely worth its price.
Score: 18

Additional Notes: Paired with water at Cigars International.

Overall (0-100):  Let’s begin with speaking to the elephant in the room – Cigar Aficionado did indeed rate this as the #3 cigar of 2012. How? I have no clue. Then again looking at their listing, there’s a few I would have open debate about. However, I do think this would fall in the top 25 overall. It’s a bold new look for the R&J blend and a bold new taste too. Where milder tastes normally prevail, this is a full bodied stick with absolutely fantastic construction. Oddly enough the only real rub to it is that the complexity that is there in the beginning fades and it becomes somewhat boring in the home stretch. Still, it’s a damn good stick with flavors that will keep your interest (leather, pepper, chocolate, etc) even if it isn't melded perfectly. I give it the old thumbs up - this is worth trying, especially if you are someone who doesn't typically like their lines.
Score: 92

Thursday, August 8, 2013

L’Atelier Surrogates Bone Crusher

Country: Nicaragua
Wrapper: Nicaragua
Filler / Binder: Nicaragua
Length: 5.25”
Ring: 54
Cost: $7.50

Appearance (0-20): The Surrogates line (from L'Atelier) comes forward with a simple design to their bands, and the Bone Crusher is no exception. The two bands are both set in a matte black with a simple white design (one says “Surrogates” and the other “Bone Crusher" with a white bone in the center). Cigar oils along the outside gave this stick a slight sheen, with a lot of nice rich colors to the Connecticut Broadleaf wrapper. There are a few more minor imperfections that are easy to spot, but nothing so adverse that I would be afraid to smoke it.
Score: 17

Construction (0-20): Glancing at the bottom reveals a nice, tight wrap job. No excess debris in the initial cut. The prelight draw was a little tight, but upon lighting it loosened up to nearly a perfect airflow. Burning cool throughout, it was a hair off with its lines but kept a decent ash (1.5 inches per). The ash itself was a hair flakey, but overall, solid.   
Score: 18

Strength (0-20): Listed as full, I’d say it does very well to stick near that mark. It begins with a heavy smack, teeters toward medium, but tends to sit in the full range overall.
Score: 19

Flavor (0-20): The initial blast from this brings a huge amount of pepper that is quickly melded with a slight sweetness and a slightly bitter coffee. Those same flavors mingle together with a bit of wood as you progress, with the pepper slowly fading. But be ready for another shot of smokey pain, as the pepper comes back (harder than before) and takes over for a bit in the middle. The nicety is that when you think you’ve hit your limit on the spice, it drops and is replaced with some creamy and chocolaty notes that help to stabilize your palate. The last bit adds just a hair of leather and smoothed out nicely while fading to cream.
Score: 18

Value (0-20): $7.50 is a reasonable price for a stick like this. While it isnt an outright bargain, the Bone Crusher won’t disappoint.
Score: 18

Additional Notes: Paired with water on my broskie’s deck.

Overall (0-100):  To this point I have been impressed with the L’Atelier offerings. The Surrogates line is especially fun. This is the type of cigar that has the capacity to knock you straight on your ass with its power, but also has a nice complexity to back it up. Look for coffee, leather, wood, pepper, pepper, pepper pepper pepper (yes I meant to type that over and over), some cream, and a little chocolate too. The pricepoint is right for what you’re getting, it’s well-constructed, and they didn’t go nuts on the branding. You’ve got my seal of approval on this one (which isn’t worth much, but hey, you’ve still got it). Pick one of these up for sure.

Score: 90