Romeo San Andres
Produced by: Tabacalera A.J. Fernandez Cigars de Nicaragua S.A. factory for the Romeo y Julieta brand
Released: March 2018
Wrapper: Mexican San Andres
Filler: Nicaraguan and Dominican
Vitolas available: Robusto (5 x 50), Toro (6 x 54), Piramides (6 1/8 x 52), Short Magnum (5 1/2 x 60)
Vitola reviewed: Toro
Time to smoke: 90 minutes
Reviewed by: William C. Nelson
About the cigar
Cigar giant Altadis USA partnered with blending masters Rafael Nodal and A.J. Fernandez to develop this dark, complex premium offering. The Romeo San Andres is, as much as anything, a showpiece for Mexico’s increasingly popular San Andres wrapper leaf—hard to find on a cigar until a few years ago. This wrapper’s dark complexion is achieved only through years of painstaking fermentation. San Andres leaf is widely associated with maduro coloration, but the Romeo San Andres is not the darkest that maduro leaf can offer, and many people describing this cigar never mention the word maduro at all.
The black-and-white band and box both feature gold highlights and project a bold look that actually serves to pre-set the palate, even before you’ve removed the cigar from its cellophane wrap. Packaging design is no casual matter.
This wrapper leaf fairly shines with oil, and abundant tooth is evident to the touch. Construction is solid and dense. There is just a bit of springiness but not a lot. The cigar encompasses a heavy load of leaf. Sometimes I wonder how a wrapper leaf can withstand such a condensed fill without splitting. But then, it takes a tough leaf to survive years in a fermenting pile, and San Andres wrapper brings the needed genetics: thick, leathery, stout. Even so, it is a fine leaf with few visible veins and seams that you have to hunt for with a flashlight.
The fragrance of the cigar before it is lit seems auspicious: mild yet redolent of fermented earth, like garden soil right after a rain. The double cap manfully takes a large-gauge punch cut, which produces a perfect draw. The cold draw is delicious and hastens one’s light-up.
I do not like to brutalize my cigars with strong lighters. A little game I play with myself—it also amounts to a small test for the cigar—is to see if I can adequately toast the foot and achieve a nice, even light, all with a single four-inch wood match. No problem in this case; immediately I was off to the races.
Right away I noticed that this is a smoky cigar. Thick, white billows pour freely from both head and foot. Another thing I noticed is that this cigar is not as heavy on the palate as its dark overcoat would lead you to believe. Too many people are put off by dark wrappers for fear that the cigar will prove too strong for them. In fact, many dark wrappers impart a chocolaty sweetness, and in that department, the Romeo San Andres is prototypical. Fear not even the retrohale, for its pepper is light, reminding one of a gourmet chili-chocolate bar. The aftertaste is lingering and delightful.
This Toro, maybe my favorite vitola, took me 90 minutes to smoke to a warm nub, and I am a pretty fast smoker. The burn was sharp, even and well-behaved throughout, bespeaking impeccable construction. The ash was granite-colored and gorgeous, and it held tenaciously until I bumped it off at about 2 inches (out of an abundance of caution; I was wearing expensive trousers). I rate both body and nicotine as medium. Primary flavors are chocolate, earth and black coffee.
Despite its imposing appearance, novices need not shy away from the Romeo San Andres. Here is a product that can ease even lightweight smokers into the echelons of maduro fans. You’re not smoking a jet-black stick, but you’re more than two-thirds there.
The chewy, velvety nuances of this cigar recommend it to the humidor of anyone who wishes to keep some dark smokes on hand for the occasional after-dinner treat—something you can break out and share with pride when guests are in the house. Moreover, the Romeo San Andres shows every sign of becoming a real treasure after a few additional years of box aging. My advice: stock up.
For more info, visit romeoyjulietacigars.com.
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