ROMEO by Romeo y Julieta Robusto

Altadis’ new, bolder take on the Romeo y Julieta line has landed, and since I was the one that leaked a picture of the band and posted a pre-press release post about ROMEO by Romeo y Julieta, it seems only fitting that follow it up with a proper review. I covered a lot of the details in the aforementioned post, but here for a quick refresher is the official ROMEO press release:

Introducing Romeo by Romeo y Julieta
A Romeo y Julieta cigar unlike any to come before!

Ever since 1875, cigar aficionados have been passionate about Romeo y Julieta. Now Altadis USA is pleased to announce the upcoming launch of the latest act in this enduring love story – ROMEO by Romeo y Julieta. As one of the premium cigar world’s best-known and most highly trusted brands, Romeo y Julieta has always been revered for its consistently excellent, mild smokes. Now, Romeo brings new excitement to the contemporary aficionado with this line of modern, fuller-bodied cigars. The new cigar will be available at retail tobacconists in May.

Robust, full-bodied and rich in complex flavor nuances, Romeo is meticulously crafted at the famed Tabacalera de Garcia in the Dominican Republic by the skilled hands of the factory’s most accomplished artisans, each with decades of expertise, chosen specifically to create this uncommon cigar. The new cigar will be available in four sizes: Churchill, Piramide, Robusto and Toro. We’ve made an early introduction of the new Romeo cigar at the TAA meeting and plan to start presenting the brand during the week of April 23. Romeo by Romeo y Julieta – a spectacular smokedestined to set a new trend in luxury cigars.

I’ve gotta hand it to Altadis, there’s no shortage of slick and thorough promotional information, covering everything down to the features of the tobacco fields. In short order, I’ve learned that the wrapper was grown in the cloud-covered volcanic soil of Ecuador, the binder in the mountains of the Dominican Republic, and the filler in the rich soil of low-lying fields along Dominican riverbeds. Heck, I think I know more now about the ROMEO now than I ever did about any the girls I dated in college.

But the most important factor in my decision on whether or not to pony up for a box of 20, is how does it smoke? Let’s find out.

Cigar Stats:
Size: 5 x 54
Wrapper: “Select” Dark Ecuadoran Habano
Binder: Dominican Olor
Filler: Dominican Piloto and Olor
Smoking Time: 1 1/2 hours
Beverage: Water
Source: Purchased by reviewer
Price: MSRP $6.99

The Pre-Smoke
It’s not possible to miss that band, huh? I don’t care for the design myself, but it certainly is bold, eye-catching and modern, which seems to be in line with the cigar’s marketing. To be sure, nobody’s going to pick up a ROMEO expecting to smoke an 1875 or a Reserva Real.

Band aside, the ROMEO is a good looking smoke. The wrapper is dark, oily and toothy with medium-to-fine veins and nary a surface imperfection that I could find. And at a 54-ring gauge it’s beefy, but just inside my tolerance for girthy smokes.

The cigar feels heavy for its size, and is very firmly packed. (Though I did find the hint of a soft spot in one.) I didn’t pick up much of an aroma on the wrapper, a little light compost, and an interesting sweet floral note. The cold draw was good, and tasted of chocolate and molasses.

The Burn
There’s not much to say with regard to the burn, the ROMEO did its job almost immaculately every time. Perfect draw, even burn lines, light compact ash, the works. The only time I had any trouble was when I tried to rush the initial toasting, but when I did it right the first time it was smooth sailing.

The Flavor
The ROMEO had a rich, smokey and meaty beginning, and quickly developed a pronounced leather. The leather ran the show for a while, but faded and was replace by earth and pepper well before the beginning of the second third. I also picked up light touches of vanilla sweetness, and dark chocolate.

Meaty, savory, pepper and dark chocolate took over by the second third, and basically carried the profile through until the end of the cigar. There weren’t any major flavor changes going forward, but along the way slightly bitter earth, hints of vanilla and smokey wood notes made appearances.

The Price
The price seems reasonable, but the competition is heating up in this range.

The Verdict
The ROMEO by Romeo y Julieta is exactly what the press release says it is. It’s a bold, new, fuller-bodied, meticulously-crafted smoke. It’s also a decent, reasonably cigar, and I’m hard-pressed to find a flaw with it. The problem is, I’m far more enamored with the construction than the flavor profile. A great ash and a perfect burn line only get you so far. I could see myself smoking these on occasion, but I don’t think I’d seek them out. It’s definitely not one that’s going to replace any of my boutique favorites.

Liked It: It was OK.
Buy It Again: Maybe
Recommend It: It’s worth a shot.

The Giveaway
Once again, Altadis generously sent me a special 3-count box of review samples. But instead of smoking them, I wound up buying my own at a local ROMEO event. And since my humidor space is at a premium, I’m giving it away to one lucky commenter. All you have to do to win it is be 18, and leave a comment telling me why you think Jerry “The Stache” Cruz is Stogie Review’s weakest link. I’ll pick a winner next week.

Tower of Burn
Here for your viewing pleasure is my trademark Tower of Burn.