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Staff Reviews

Romeo y Julieta Vintage Staff Review

Shane K. K's picture

Shane K.

Romeo y Julieta Vintage is an old-school Cuban-legacy cigar and a staple in the renowned Romeo y Julieta portfolio, and I’m smoking it in a 5-by-50 Robusto called the No. III. You’ll find Romeo y Julieta cigars in nearly every cigar store around the world. Cuban Romeo y Julieta cigars have been produced since the 1870s but haven’t been legally sold in the U.S. since the Cuban trade embargo took effect in 1962. Cuban cigars, of course, are still fair game in Canada, Mexico, Europe, and anywhere outside of America.

The Romeos you’ll find in cigar stores in the States are made in the Dominican Republic, Nicaragua, or Honduras. The non-Cuban brands are owned and operated by Altadis USA, parent company of the non-Cuban Montecristo, H. Upmann, and Trinidad brands, among others. Romeo y Julieta Vintage is handmade in the Dominican Republic. Vintage debuted in 1993 just as demand for premium cigars began to explode during the Cigar Boom of the 1990s. Romeo y Julieta Vintage may not seem so old compared to Cuban Romeos, but thirty years for any cigar is evidence of serious staying power.

Romeo y Julieta Vintage cigars are sheathed in basic-looking bands and boxes. The packaging hasn’t been updated in decades, but that makes it easy for old-time Romeo smokers to find the brand on store shelves. There are plenty of newer and trendier Romeos to smoke these days like Romeo 1875 Nicaragua and Romeo y Julieta Reserve. Older blends like Romeo y Julieta Vintage and Romeo y Julieta 1875 boast some of the most impressive sales stats as pillars of this iconic collection. Let’s find out what endears aficionados to these cornerstone Romeo gems.

Romeo y Julieta Vintage is drawn from a blond Connecticut-seed wrapper grown in Ecuador and a mellow blend of Dominican long-filler tobaccos tucked inside a binder from Mexico. When I crack the lid on a fresh box of Robustos, an even row of light-tan cigars displays faint veins with a mostly seamless complexion. Aromas of cedar, hay, and sweet tobacco steep the air under my nose after the cellophane is off the cigar.

Notes of nuts, white pepper, and cinnamon characterize the cold draw after I slice the cap and spin the cigar around in my mouth. The easy pull is a sign the Robusto’s been assembled well, and its density is consistency from head to foot when I gently squeeze the cigar between my finger and thumb. Romeo y Julieta No. III ignites evenly and without issue when I toast the foot with my Xikar HP3 Triple Torch Lighter.  

During the first ten minutes, Vintage No. III displays mild notes of cashew, cinnamon, and baking spices. The texture is slightly dry while hints of balsa wood do battle with the cigar’s sweeter tendencies. Muted spices linger intermittently. The draw is effortless, and a momentarily crooked burn has corrected itself. Romeo y Julieta Vintage has potential to settle into a truly smooth profile like so many other celebrated Connecticut-wrapped cigars, but for some reason it stops short.

Chalky notes of minerals and grass create a disturbance in the second half of the Robusto. A subtle sequence of cedar and caramel reinforces a sweet foundation, but it isn’t enough to overcome the cigar’s dry and woody nuances. The finish is floral with hints of pepper, but for $10 to $15 per cigar, the competition is tough and Romeo y Julieta Vintage should be more refined. Perhaps a few months of rest will benefit this classic Cuban-legacy blend. I will likely wait at least that long before I fire up another one.


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