At the 2016 IPCPR Trade Show, Altadis U.S.A. introduced a limited edition offering under its Romeo y Julieta line known as the Romeo y Julieta Reserve Rare 11 Years Old. The name of this cigar tells the story of it – namely, these were cigars that were aging for 11 years at Altadis U.S.A.’s Honduran factory, Flor de Copan. Altadis U.S.A. decided the time was right to release these cigars and decided to make it an offshoot of the Romeo y Julieta Reserve line – which is a cigar that is also produced in Honduras at Flor de Copan. Today we take a closer look at the Romeo y Julieta Reserve Rare 11 Years Old – with the additional caveat that these cigars have had about an additional 17 months of aging in the Cigar Coop humidor.
The Romeo y Julieta Reserve Rare 11 Years Old was blended and rolled by Altadis U.S.A.’s Grupo de Maestros team, Altadis’ internal all-star team of its best cigar makers. According to Altadis U.S.A., once the cigars were rolled, they were set aside in a Flor de Copan cedar aging room for a total of 11 years.
Without further ado, let’s break down the Romeo y Julieta Reserve 11 Years Old and see what this cigar brings to the table.
The Romeo y Julieta Reserve 11 Years Old features a different blend than the regular production Romeo y Julieta Reserve. It is a blend that utilizes Honduran tobacco for the wrapper, binder, and a portion of the filler. The remainder of the filler is rounded out with Nicaraguan tobacco. While the cigars were aging at Flor de Copan for 11 years, one can infer the tobaccos have been aging longer. Altadis U.S.A. has not disclosed how long the tobaccos have been aging.
Wrapper: Honduran Habana 2000
Binder: Honduran Criollo ’98
Filler: Honduran, Nicaraguan
Country of Origin: Honduras (Flor de Copan)
The Romeo y Julieta Reserve Rare 11 Years Old is available in one size, a 5 3/4 x 48 Short Churchill. Keeping to the theme of 11, the cigars are packaged 11 per box. There are a total of 1,000 boxes released, thus making 11,000 cigars available. The “11” theme also played into the pricing as each cigar has a suggested retail price of $11.00.
The Habana 2000 wrapper of the Romeo y Julieta Reserve Rare 11 Years Old has a medium brown color with a slight reddish clay hue. This was not only a wrapper with some light oil on the surface, but one with a silky sheen to it. This was a smooth wrapper with some thin visible veins and wrapper seams that were minimal.
There are two bands on the Romeo y Julieta Reserve Rare 11 Years Old. The primary band is the same one that is found on the regular production Romeo y Julieta Reserve line. This band has a gold, brown, and pale yellow color scheme. The center of the band has a brown oval surrounded by gold rivets. On that brown oval is the text “MEDALLAS de ORO” in gold font. This oval sits insider a pale yellow oval that is surrounded by gold rivets and gold trim. Just above the brown oval is the text “ROMEO Y JULIETA” in black font, while just below the oval is the text “1875” – also in black font. The remainder of the band is mostly brown. There are three gold medallions on each side of the concentric ovals. The lower part of the band has a pseudo-secondary band design with the text “RESERVA” in gold font.
The secondary band sits just below the primary band. This is a white band with gold trim. On the band is the text “RARE 11 YEARS OLD” in gold font – with the “11” in a very large font. On each side of the “11” are three gold medallions.
Preparation for the Cigar Experience
I opted to use a straight cut to remove the cap of the Romeo y Julieta Reserve Rare 11 Years Old. Once the cap was removed, I proceeded with the pre-light draw. The dry draw delivered a mix of natural tobacco, leather, and hints of cedar and cocoa. Overall I found this to be an excellent pre-light draw. At this point, I was ready to light up the Romeo y Julieta Reserve Rare 11 Years Old and see what the smoking phase would have in store.
The start of the Romeo y Julieta Reserve Rare 11 Years Old kicked off with notes of black and white pepper. As the flavor profile took shape, the pepper notes subsided and notes of natural tobacco and cocoa surfaced. The cocoa notes quickly emerged as the primary flavor early on. The natural tobacco and pepper settled into the background. Meanwhile, there was an additional layer of black pepper on the retro-hale.
Toward the end of the first third, some cedar notes entered into the background. As the Romeo y Julieta Reserve Rare 11 Years Old moved through the second third, the cocoa notes remained in control with the natural tobacco a close secondary note. The pepper remained grounded in the more distant background, however, the cedar notes gradually increased in intensity.
By the last third, the cedar notes joined the cocoa in the forefront. The natural tobacco notes slightly diminished and the pepper remained in the distant background. This is the way the Romeo y Julieta Reserve Rare 11 Years Old came to a close. The resulting nub was firm to the touch and cool in temperature.
Burn and Draw
Overall, the burn performed quite well. While there was a little bit of jaggedness on the actual burn line, I found the Romeo y Julieta Reserve Rare 11 Years Old had no problem maintaining a straight burn. In most cases, the jaggedness was cosmetic and really didn’t warrant anything in the way of additional touch-ups. The resulting ash was light gray in color. This wasn’t the firmest ash, but it wasn’t loose or flaky either. Meanwhile, the burn rate and burn temperature were both ideal.
When it came to the draw of the Romeo y Julieta Reserve Rare 11 Years Old. I found it to be inconsistent. I smoked four cigars – and two of them had a perfect draw with the right amount of resistance and openness. There was one cigar where the draw was too open for my liking, and there was another cigar where the draw had a little more resistance than I like. In the end, while none of the four had a bad draw, I would have liked to see more consistency.
Strength and Body
When it came to strength, the Romeo y Julieta Reserve Rare 11 Years Old is on the lower end of medium. I also found the body to be in the medium range. I didn’t see much variance in the strength and body throughout the smoking experience. In terms of strength versus body, while both still fell into the “medium” range, I still gave a slight edge to the body.
Except for some of the inconsistencies when it came to the draw, I found the Romeo y Julieta Reserve Rare 11 Years Old cigar to deliver a solid smoking experience. While it’s not a cigar that undergoes a lot of radical flavor transitions, the flavors that are delivered are very much spot on. I also found the strength and body levels of this cigar to be perfect in terms of meshing with the flavor profile delivered. I deem the Romeo y Julieta Reserve Rare 11 Years Old to be a cigar that can be smoked by any cigar enthusiast any time of the day. As for myself, this is not only a cigar that I would smoke again, but if you can still find this cigar, it garners box worthy consideration.
Key Flavors: Cocoa, Natural Tobacco, Cedar, Pepper
Complexity: Low to Medium
Assessment: Box Worthy Consideration
News: Romeo y Julieta Reserve Rare 11 Years Old Launched by Altadis USA at 2016 IPCPR
Brand Reference: Romeo y Julieta
Photo Credits: Cigar Coop