As I smoked through several Romeo San Andrés Toros for this review, I found myself imaging the moment when the idea for the cigar came together. I envision a small group of Altadis blenders and decision-makers walking leisurely along a tobacco field, looking on as a tour group gets the scoop on farming and tobacco curing. After a pause in conversation, one of them announces that a new Romeo by RyJ blend is needed. Another says, “how about a San Andrés blend?” Someone else says they like the idea, and mentions making it a collaboration with AJ Fernandez. The first guy says he likes the idea of a San Andrés blend, but there are already so many collaborations with AJ out there right now. A discussion of options ensues for a while, but trails off with no clear verdict. One person in the group, who has just been listening quietly the whole time says, “who says a collaboration has to be between only two parties?” Things like “yes”, “good point”, and “I like that” are said. The scene fades as the discussion begins anew. Probably as a track from the Buena Vista Social Club album plays.
That is almost certainly not how it went down. But for the purposes of this review, and my entertainment, we’ll pretend it was. (The real story is less theatrical, involving a blend with no specific goal in mind.) That brings me to one of the interesting things about the Romeo San Andrés- it’s a three-way collaboration between Altadis USA, AJ Fernandez, and Rafael Nodal. That’s a pretty promising team when it comes to cigar creation. And then there’s Mexican San Andrés wrapper. I’m a fan of the tobacco, and this is a first for the Romeo y Julieta brand. The team and the wrapper are all I need to take the cigar for a spin. Let’s see how it burns.
Size: 6 x 54
Source: Samples provided Altadis USA
Wrapper: Mexican San Andrés
Filler: Nicaragua, Dominican Republic
The Pre Light
Inspecting the cigars, I found them to be pretty uniform, with few veins. The medium sized veins I did see were well flattened. I noticed that the cap appeared to be split on several of the sticks, but on closer inspection (later confirmed by the way the cigars smoked), it turned out to just a blunt end of the cap leaf. The wrapper had a pretty dense, leathery, funky barnyard aroma, and the cold draw had rich sweet chocolate, pepper and dried fruit flavor.
The First Third
The Romeo San Andrés got off to a nice start, showing off an enjoyable profile earthy chocolate, molasses, coffee and mild pepper. The burn characteristics were also on point- the cigar burned evenly, produced solid, attractive, light colored ashes, and the draw was perfect. And as a follow up to my pre-light observation, no structural issues with the cap were encountered.
The Second Third
In the second third, big earth, chocolate, caramel and black coffee notes were in the spotlight. Lighter, lingering sweet notes and hints at cinnamon also made appearances. As was the case before, nothing but good news in the burn department.
The Final Third
The intensity of earth and espresso notes continued to increase in the final part of the cigar. Pepper, which had been pretty mild, became more noticeable as well. There were also sweet notes that ranged between toffee and something along the lines of burnt sugar. At the very end, a bittersweet chocolate flavor got a little on the intense side, but it wasn’t completely unpleasant either. And of course, the cigar continued to burn perfectly.
The Romeo San Andrés by RyJ is on the fuller end of the spectrum of cigars under Romeo y Julieta umbrella, and would probably surprise those who smoke a lot of Romeo y Julietas, even offerings like the Reserve or Reserve Maduro. But that’s in keeping with the Romeo by RyJ series. What’s most important is that the boldness comes with a lot of good flavor, which made it tough to not smoke all of the samples before I got around to writing this review. I always recommend people give every cigar I review a try and see if they agree on me, but this one seems certain to be a crowd pleaser. I would definitely be happy to buy and burn them again in the future.