Thursday, March 20, 2014

Cigar Review: Romeo y Julieta Churchill (POU MAR-13)


There are three brands on the worldwide market that do incredibly well. Some would argue there are more than that, but in reality there are three that do very well in Europe, Asia, Australia and the Americas. Those three are Cohiba, Montecristo and Romeo y Julieta. Now the Cohiba brand is the youngest of those three, but it has risen to the status that it is at because of its limited nature for several years. During those years it grabbed every smokers attention because only a very few could smoke it, so when it was finally released it exploded. The other two, Montecristo and Romeo y Julieta, are two brands that have been around for a longer period of time, and have risen in status because of the flavor profile produced and story behind them. Interestingly enough, I never have been the largest supporter of two of the three brands, but today I will be focusing on one, the Romeo y Julieta.

The Romeo y Julieta brand was established in 1875 and as the name says, is based off of Shakespeare's story Romeo and Juliet. The brand quickly became popular, winning many medals and awards at tastings, hence the band and the medallions on it, and became even more successful at the beginning of the 20th century. The company was purchased by a wealthy individual during the early years of the 20th century, and during his time of ownership he would promote his brand on his travels. It began to capture the hearts of wealthy individuals and quickly became a favorite of the famous Sir Winston Churchill. He loved the brand so much that the flagship vitola was named in his honor. Today I am smoking that flagship vitola, a vitola we all know, and that is the Romeo y Julieta Churchill.

The RyJ Churchill is your classic modern Churchill and is classified as a Julieta No. 2. It measures 178 mm in length (7") and has a ring gauge of 47. All the tobacco in the cigar comes from the Vuelta Abajo region in Pinar del Rio and the cigars are made in Habana. The factory changes more often than not, but I imagine it goes back in forth between H. Upmann  and La Corona. The cigar features a beautiful triple and has a wrapper that is slightly oily and smooth in texture. There are some minor veins here and there but overall the cigars construction is wonderful with no signs of imperfections present.There is an aroma of tobacco, sweet cedar, spices and leather present on the wrapper, and on the foot I'm getting some spice notes along with bits of rich earth and stone fruit qualities. Cold draw has a nice slight give to it but there is some tightness with that. With the draw I'm getting those flavors of spices tobacco and rich earth, and is a classic RyJ Churchill.

The first third opens up by showing some definite pepper and spice notes and I am picking up some rich earth qualities with that. There are some stone fruit notes present as well and it is a classic RyJ that is rich and complex. It shows some wood and hay notes with that and this is a cigar that I would classify as a medium full body cigar with a strength level in the same category. To me, it is a prime example of a young Romeo y Julieta, and while I know many who love it, I am not always the largest fan of the flavors being produced. I would not say it is overly strong, but for a Habanos it has some kick to it. They classify the brand as being solid medium, but this cigar is definitely more than that. The construction is perfect with the cigar and it is showing a beautiful burn line with a fairly light charcoal ash that is holding on firmly. There is a beautiful draw to the cigar and this smoke is very enjoyable for the first third and being a year old.

When I get into the second third I begin to pick up a lot more spice and pepper notes and I am getting some herbal and grassy notes with that. It is fairly strong overall, but it is balanced by some sweet cherry notes as well. In my opinion, the cigar has really reached a new level in this third and almost changed the cigar completely from where it was initially. There has been some definite transitioning in this third and it is a great Churchill. There has been a lot of depth and complexity thus far, and it is a very nice Churchill. The cigar is smoking at a definite medium full to full level in terms of strength and there is a nice bit of body present with that. These are definitely stronger cigars when young and great evening smokes. I would not smoke this in the morning, probably not even the afternoon, but I would smoke this after dinner to finish the day. The construction is simply incredible in this third, and the cigar has been perfect thus far in that sense. It it showing a terrific charcoal ash and the burn line has been nearly razor sharp as well.

As I enter the final third I find that the cigar continues to deliver those profiles of the second third and it is a cigar that is filling and complex. I would say that the strength of the cigar is above medium full in this third but not quite full, more medium-full full. The body is still probably at medium full level and Habanos may classify it as a medium, but I think it is higher than that. I'm not surprised with my disagreement though a, I typically don't agree with their basic breakdown on the body profile. It all comes to personal opinions, but I either believe they are too soft or too strong. The flavor profile continues to show those strong oak and tobacco notes, and it is accompanied by some leather and stone fruit flavors. There is an emergence of some coffee notes as well, and the cigar finishes very well. When I think of the brand I think of dark cherries and this cigar delivers just that. The final draw to the cigar is a little warm, but the cigar is still producing a solid burn line that is nearly razor sharp with a charcoal ash.

This is a terrific Churchill and most likely a classic when it comes to the vitola. I think the H. Upmann Sir Winston is superior, but there is some prestige that comes with this particular cigar because it is in the RyJ brand. I think this is a cigar that smokes well young, but if you give it three years it will be incredible and anything beyond that and the cigar will be in a whole new class. Looking at popularity, there is no doubt that this is the best selling vitola in the Romeo y Julieta portfolio, and probably the second most popular Churchill for Habanos. (If the Wide Churchill is more popular than this, I would be pretty disappointed.) This is a brand that is very well-known for the stone fruit flavors that are produced in each vitola, and this cigar definitely delivered that characteristic. It has some strength to it, and there is a nice bit of oak, leather and coffee beans with those sweet and rich flavors. I would have to say that I'm giving this cigar a solid 89 to 91 right now, but in three years it will be at that 93 level. After that and the cigar is 96 plus and will be smoking like a dream.

Young Rating: 89-91

With Age Rating: 93-96