Wrapper: Dominican-grown habano (Cibao Valley)
Binder: Dominican-grown habano (Cibao Valley)
Filler: Dominican-grown habano (Cibao Valley)
Vitola: Robusto (5” x 48)
Manufacturer: Boutique Blends
Factory: Tabacalera La Palma
Distributor: Altadis, USA
Blender: Rafael Nodal, et. al.
Smoke time: 1 hour, 15 minutes
We all have Facebook friends, those whom we’ve never met yet share intimate details of our personal lives with… Well, I have one Facebook friend that I really look forward to meeting someday in person, Rafael Nodal.
No, not the tennis player… The Rafael I’m referring to is one of the principals of Boutique Blends Cigar Company and one of the blenders of the new, let me see if I can get this right, Romeo by Romeo y Julieta Aging Room F25… Whew, that’s a mouthful. And, what’s with the “F25?” More on that in a moment…
I first “met” Rafael back in 2009. At the time, I was doing some work for a cigar company located in Miami and Rafael and Boutique Cigars had just released the first of their Aging Room lines, the M356. Even back then I was a cigar geek and sought Rafael out in order to learn as much as I could about his new cigars. I’m sure he must have entertained the thought of me being a stalker as I inundated him with question after question about Aging Room cigars, his other ventures such as Swag and Oliveros and many, many more. Let me tell you, he’s a trooper. He answered every single question and taught me more than I could have asked.
[Author’s note: Rafael is also a world class pianist and composer. Below you can hear him play his composition, “Renacer.”]
There are a lot of cigar makers that have wonderfully entertaining, often intriguing backstories, but I prefer Rafael’s. You see, Rafael came to the United States from Cuba as a teen during the Mariel Boat Lift of the 1980’s. Once here, he worked his way up in healthcare, earning his degree and landing a job in healthcare finance. He met his partner, Hank Bischoff, and his wife while working for a mental health facility and the three of them eventually took over Oliveros Cigars.
Building on the Oliveros company, Rafael and his partners came out with Swag Puro Dominicano, which is a story for another day, and the first Aging Room cigars, the M356. Both blends received great reviews and scored in the 90’s in Cigar Aficionado’s ratings. Since then, Boutique Blends has released several more cigars in the Aging Room line, all of which have met with acclaim.
[Author’s notes: The naming of most Aging Room cigars includes a letter/number combination, such as M356 or F25. These “codes” refer to the day of the week (M = Monday or F = Friday) and the day of the year (356th day of the year or 25th day of the year) that the cigar blends were created on. The fun part is trying to figure out exactly what date the blends were created on… Cigar math… Ready? Go!]
Now, to the cigar at hand…
For simplicity sake, and to spare my wrists further carpal tunnel swelling, I’ll refer to this one as the Aging Room F25.
At first glance, the Aging Room F25 commands you to take a second glance.
The packaging of this cigar is striking. From the high-gloss box with the gilded art cover to the gleaming bands on the cigars inside, you can tell that no expense was spared on this project. A small booklet included in the box describes the cigars and seems to be a very thoughtful touch.
The cigar itself, once the foot band, main band and protective paper sleeve are removed you are greeted by a deep brown, glossy and rather toothy wrapper covering what looks like (judging from the foot) a diverse filler bunch.
All of the tobacco used in this blend is from two farms located in the Cibao River Valley in the Dominican Republic. La Canela is the farm where most of the tobaccos used in Aging Room cigars grows under the watchful eye of black tobacco master, Jochy Blanco.
Physically, the cigar is perfect. Solid from head to foot with minimal veins showing on the wrapper and a perfectly mounted, slightly flattened head. The foot of the cigar gives off a faint chocolate aroma while the wrapper smells of fresh cut grass and well-fermented tobacco.
Cutting the cap of the Aging Room F25 was effortless using my Xikar Xi1 cutter and the initial cold draw was full and easy. Toasting the foot lightly brought out a nutty aroma with a bit of spice.
Bear in mind that this is a fuller bodied smoke, and the first few puffs of the Aging Room F25 were intense with a bold pepper note. This did tame significantly by the time I was ½ inch into the cigar but remained noticeable throughout the first half of the cigar. Once lit, the Aging Room F25 Copla produced a ton of very rich, very full-bodied smoke with little to no effort required on the draw.
Throughout the cigar the peppery notes remained, building and fading as I progressed. There are some sweet notes to the aroma and a predominant coffee character along with a characteristic I’ve found in other Aging Room cigars that I can’t quite put words to… A good characteristic; a nice tone.
The construction of the Aging Room F25 was spot on lighting easily and requiring no attention while resting. The cigar produces a somewhat flaky, bright white ash and held a burn line you could slice bread on. In fact, the cigar burned so well throughout I took a few extra photos… Picture perfect!
With Nicaraguan cigars and tobacco being the current rage, it’s nice to see a cigar maker that eschews trends and produces an outstanding cigar, and a puro at that, from the Dominican Republic, a cigar producer with an unfortunate reputation for making “mild” cigars.
By carefully blending well grown, properly processed tobaccos Rafael and the team at Boutique Blend Cigars have managed to create a full bodied, very flavorful, highly aromatic and quite complex cigar that I’m certain will follow its predecessors to the top of every cigar magazine’s “top” list.
Bottom line… The Romeo by Romeo y Julieta Aging Room F25 is an outstanding cigar that still comes in with a reasonable price and a wonderful story. Be sure to treat this cigar with the respect it deserves and enjoy after a good meal, and preferably with a good drink.
Marty Klausmeier, CRT
Tobacconist – SmokesOnMain