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Staff Reviews

Romeo y Julieta Reserve Toro Staff Review

Tom O. O's picture

Tom O.

Today, I’m smoking a classic Cuban-legacy brand you’re likely aware of – Romeo y Julieta. I’ve decided to pick up a Romeo y Julieta Reserve, a blend handmade in Honduras from premium Nicaraguan and Honduran binder and filler tobaccos tucked under an oily Nicaraguan wrapper leaf. I’m smoking a 6-inch Toro with a thick 56 ring gauge diameter. It’s just one of many cigars adorned with the famous Romeo y Julieta band.

Romeo y Julieta cigars are made in four countries today: Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Nicaragua, and Honduras. Cuban Romeos were the first and date back to the late 1800s when brand founders Inocencio Alvarez and Manin Garcia named their brand for Shakespeare’s iconic 16th century tragedy, Romeo and Juliet. Dominican, Nicaraguan, and Honduran Romeo y Julieta cigars came much later and were created as a result of the Cuban Trade Embargo in 1960. All non-Cuban Romeos are owned and distributed by Altadis U.S.A. – the same company that manufactures the Montecristo brand for the U.S. market.

While many cigar smoking novices buy into the “forbidden” mystique Cuban brands possess, seasoned connoisseurs know that non-Cuban cigars are just as good if not better and are often far more consistent. A close inspection of the Romeo y Julieta Reserve Toro I’m indulging in reveals several attractive qualities.

The cigar’s reddish-brown Nicaraguan wrapper catches the eye with its oily sheen. It’s a beautiful specimen and its lack of any noticeable or thick veins makes it all the more appealing. Although a 56 ring gauge is a bit chunky for my taste, the thick shape guarantees a cool and easy draw provided the cigar is well constructed. The Toro shows off excellent balance and density as I gently squeeze it from end to end.

I pick up aromas of leather, black pepper, and hickory as I take in a direct whiff of the foot of the cigar. A robust profile of spices and coffee beans greets the palate after I slice the cap off and give the cigar a couple twists in my mouth. A few cold draws are the best way to prep your palate before you fire up. Plus, drawing on an unlit cigar is a great way to get acquainted with the raw taste of premium tobacco. Often, you can tell a good cigar from a bad one by its cold taste.

Once lit, Romeo y Julieta Reserve serves up a hearty, medium to full-bodied profile of cedar and cinnamon with stout, earthy texture. Its spices tingle the lips directly from the wrapper leaf. The fat shape is a touch uncomfortable but it’s consistent construction results in a razor-sharp burn and a clean gray ash that stays intact nicely. The Reserve blend is stronger than past Romeo y Julieta cigars I’ve smoked.

More flavors emerge after half of the cigar is gone. Hints of snickerdoodle cookies and almonds contribute a welcome sweetness. The cigar is less burly and more refined than in its initial stages. When I tap the ash off, a quick touch-up with my torch is needed to correct some unevenness in the burn, but it’s nothing out of the ordinary. The cigar returns to a profile of leather, pepper, and wood toward the end. The sweetness recedes, but the cigar’s toasty finish leaves a nice impression. It’s got some kick but it isn’t too strong.

Romeo y Julieta Reserve is fair game for fans of milder and more full-bodied cigars who prefer to smoke after a meal. It’s just intense enough that I wouldn’t smoke it on an empty stomach. It’s a reliable, even-keeled blend from an affordable and widely distributed brand. Add a few to your humidor today or maximize your savings by grabbing a box. You can proudly pass ‘em out to your pals the next time you’re watching a game in your man cave!

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