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Cigar Review: RyJ Toro

16 Dec 2013

The Altadis-owned Romeo y Julieta brand is strongly associated with its country of origin, the Dominican Republic. That’s where the first non-Cuban Romeo y Julieta line was—and still is—made, featuring Dominican tobaccos around an Indonesian binder.

RyJ ToroIt’s telling of Nicaragua’s rise to dominance as a cigar- and tobacco-producing country that an iconic Dominican brand like Romeo y Julieta would launch a Nicaraguan offshoot line. That’s exactly what Altadis did when, last month, the company announced the new “RyJ by Romeo y Julieta.” RyJ is a Nicaraguan puro with double binders from Estelí and Jalapa, and filler tobaccos from Jalapa, Estelí, and La Mia. The wrapper is Jalapa Corojo grown exclusively for Altadis in Nicaragua.

Altadis, in keeping with the Nicaraguan theme, calls RyJ “Nicaraguan-made,” even though the country of manufacture is listed as Honduras. It bills RyJ as “full-bodied, rich, and spicy,” and offers the blend in three formats that range from $8 to $8.75 per single: Piramide (6.1 x 52), Bully Grande (5 x 54), and Toro (6 x 52).

The latter is a handsome, light brown, somewhat reddish smoke with a dry exterior and two white bands that make it unmistakably different from the other Romeo y Julieta blends. Firm to the touch, the Toro shows a tight cross-section of tobaccos at the foot despite the smooth cold draw. The pre-light notes are earthy and syrupy.

After establishing an even light, a profile emerges that’s dry, woodsy, and a little spicy. Secondary notes of sweetness and cream help to add balance and complexity. The cedary finish seems to linger on the palate for ages, and the resting smoke is sweet. The fullness of the flavor strikes me as medium-bodied, yet there’s nothing medium about the strength, as each puff seems to inject a hearty dose of nicotine.

On the three Toros I sampled—all of which, in the interest of full disclosure, were provided to me by Altadis—I find myself having to pull hard through the cigar’s stiff draw and puff frequently to keep it lit. This, in turn, increases the temperature at the foot, resulting in a hotter, sourer smoke and masking the core flavors. I think my enjoyment of RyJ would be increased significantly if the cigar smoked more effortlessly. Aside from the draw, the other physical properties are excellent, including a straight burn line and a solid ash.

Last year Altadis added to the Romeo y Julieta portfolio with Romeo, a cigar that, in my opinion, trumps RyJ. But my experience with RyJ is very limited at this point. I’m sure we’ll be seeing many more RyJ Toro reviews in the coming weeks, and I look forward to hearing what others have to say (especially about the draw). In my book, this new cigar clocks in at three stogies out of five.

[To read more cigar reviews, please click here.]

Patrick A

photo credit: Stogie Guys

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