Back in 2017, Royal Agio Cigars announced it would set up its own distribution operation in the United States. At the time of the announcement, the company had one premium cigar line, the Balmoral XO Anejo. As the company was heading into the 2018 IPCPR Trade Show, it wasn’t a surprise that Royal Agio’s go to market strategy would involve a portfolio expansion – and that’s exactly what happened. The company launched two new blends under the Balmoral XO line, a new value-priced line called San Pedro de Macoris, and a collaboration platform known as Balmoral Serie Signaturas. For the first collaboration in the line, it would be a project done between Royal Agio Cigars’ CEO Boris Wintermans and Ernesto Perez-Carrillo Jr. known as Dueto. Today we take a closer look at the Balmoral Serie Signatures Dueto in the Gran Toro size.
At the time the Balmoral Serie Signatures Dueto line was announced, Wintermans commented on why his company opted to produce a collaborative line: “I am honored to have had the opportunity to work alongside Ernesto on this very special collaboration project for Balmoral. I want to push the boundaries of what can be discovered in premium cigar blending, and it is this desire that inspired the creation of the Balmoral Serie Signaturas (Signature Series) and initial conversations with Ernesto. This collaboration platform offers another avenue for us to explore, discover and release completely new and exciting cigar blends. The resulting blend for Dueto behind Ernesto’s blending genius, makes this first release nothing short of exceptional.” The Serie Signatures is also be positioned as a line where other collaborations will follow.
Without further ado, let’s break down the Balmoral Serie Signatures Dueto Gran Toro and see what this cigar brings to the table.
Blend and Origin
While the Balmoral XO and San Pedro de Macoris lines are produced at the company’s San Pedro de Macoris factory in the Dominican Republic, the Balmoral Serie Signatures Dueto is one being produced at Perez-Carrillo’s Tabacalera La Alianza factory in the Dominican Republic.
Royal Agio Cigars’ CEO Boris Wintermans is known for his affinity of using Brazilian tobacco. For the Dueto, no doubt Wintermans’ influence on this project is seen with the inclusion of Brazilian Mata Norte Stalk-Cut tobacco in the blend – something not commonly seen in a Perez-Carrillo Jr. blend. The Mata Norte tobacco has been allocated exclusively for this project. The remainder of the blend features all Nicaraguan tobaccos, including a wrapper from Jalapa.
Wrapper: Nicaraguan (Jalapa)
Binder: Nicaraguan (Estelí)
Filler: Brazilian Mata Norte (Stalk-Cut), Nicaraguan
Country of Origin: Dominican Republic
Factory: Tabacalera La Alianza
The Balmoral Serie Signatures Dueto is available in five sizes. Each is presented in 10-count boxes.
Robusto: 5 x 50
Ovación (Figurado): 5 1⁄2 x 50
Gran Toro: 6 x 52
Gordo: 6 x 60
Churchill: 7 x 49
The Jalapa wrapper of the Balmoral Serie Signatures Dueto Gran Toro had a dark wood color to it with a touch of Colorado red. There was a very light sheen of oil on the surface. This was a smooth wrapper with any visible veins on the thin side. The darker color of the wrapper did a good job of minimizing the visibility of the wrapper seams.
There are two bands on the Balmoral Serie Signatures Dueto. At the top of the primary band Is a white shield with gold trim and font. Inside the shield is a large “B” surrounded by an inner shield border. Above that inner shield is the text “BALMORAL SERIE SIGNATURAS” with the text “BALMORAL in larger font. To the left and right of the shied is a charcoal gray background. The left side of the shield has the text “ERNESTO PEREZ-CARRILLO” in gold font with his signature below it in white font. The right of the shield has the text “BORIS WINTERMANS” in gold font with his signature below in white font. The far right of the band has gold adornments. Below the shield are red and charcoal gray adornments with the text “DUETO” in white font.
The secondary band is located near the footer. Most of the band is covered with more red and gray adornments. On that background is a red circular badge with gold adornments. On the badge going around the circumference is the text “BLENDED BY ERNESTO PEREZ CARRILLO” in gold font. The lower part of the secondary band has a white background with the name of the vitola in gold font. In this case, the text was “GRAN TORO”.
A straight cut commenced the smoking experience of the Balmoral Serie Signatures Dueto Gran Toro. After the cap was successfully removed, it was on to the pre-light draw experience. The cold draw delivered a mix of chocolate, fruit, and a combination of cedar and floral. Overall this was an excellent pre-light draw experience. At this point, it was time to remove the footer band, light up the Balmoral Serie Signatures Dueto Gran Toro and enter the smoking phase.
The Balmoral Serie Signatures Dueto Gran Toro started out with a combination of wood, mixed fruit, white pepper, and creamy chocolate. Early on the creamy chocolate, wood and fruit notes moved into the forefront. As the cigar burned through the first third, the fruit notes subsided into the background with the white pepper. Meanwhile the retro-hale produced additional pepper notes, but these were more of the black pepper varietal.
Toward the end of the first third, the creamy chocolate and wood notes remained in the forefront – varying in degrees of intensity. There was an occasional time the fruit sweetness also surfaced in the forefront. This continued into the second third. By the midway point, the fruit settled into the background completely. It was during this stage where a mineral note joined the fruit and white pepper in the background.
Toward the end of the second third, the mineral notes began to increase in intensity while the fruit sweetness continued to diminish. The last third saw the creamy chocolate notes also recede joining the mineral, fruit, and pepper notes in the background. The wood notes remained grounded in the forefront and were now joined by some earth notes. This continued until the cigar experience came to a close. The resulting nub was slightly soft to the touch and cool in temperature.
The Balmoral Serie Signatures Dueto Gran Toro maintained a relatively straight burn path and had a relatively straight burn line. The cigar had an even combustion and didn’t warrant any excessive touch-ups. The resulting ash was skewed toward the firmer side. This was an ash light gray in color with some darker spots mixed in. Meanwhile, the burn rate and burn temperature were ideal.
The draw to the Balmoral Serie Signatures Dueto Gran Toro was a low maintenance one to derive flavor from. This was a draw that I would describe on the open side. While it wasn’t a loose draw, it had less resistance than what I prefer. At the same time, I didn’t find the draw had any adverse effects on the combustion rate of this cigar.
Strength and Body
When it came to strength levels, the Dueto Gran Toro is a cigar that started out medium and stayed in this range for the duration of the cigar experience. There wasn’t much variance in the intensity levels of the strength throughout the smoking experience.
The body of the Dueto Gran Toro was a different story. This was a cigar that started out medium to full-bodied – and by the second third moved into full-bodied territory. The weight of the flavors with this cigar were definitely felt when the retro-hale is factored in.
In terms of strength versus body, the body had the edge throughout the smoking experience.
If you are seeking out a cigar that can deliver a full-bodied experience without a big nicotine kick, the Balmoral Serie Signatures Dueto Gran Toro is going to be the cigar for you. The flavors produced by this cigar are also quite good. These flavors also balance each other nicely throughout the smoking experience. Perhaps the best bonus is that this wasn’t a cookie cutter flavor profile. It’s a unique cigar – and something that is definitely out of the box for what Balmoral and Tabacalera La Alianza has produced in the past. This is a cigar I would recommend a seasoned cigar enthusiast. It’s certainly a great cigar for the novice to “graduate” to something full-bodied. As for myself, this is a cigar I would smoke again and procure multiples of for my humidor.
Key Flavors: Creamy Chocolate, Wood, Fruit, Mineral, Pepper, Earth
Complexity: Medium to High
Body: Medium to Full (1st Third), Full (Remainder)
Finish: Very Good
Value: Buy Multiples
News: Royal Agio Cigars and Ernesto Perez-Carrillo Team Up for Dueto
Source: Royal Agio Cigars
Brand Reference: Royal Agio Cigars
Photo Credit: Cigar Coop