At the 2017 IPCPR we learned Royal Agio Cigars was ending their US distribution agreement with Drew Estate and would be directly managing the US sales, distribution, and marketing from the company’s Bradenton, FL location. This year the company introduced two extensions to their prestigious Balmoral brand, with the addition of a Connecticut and an Oscuro blend. It is the latter, the Oscuro, that is the subject of today’s review.
- Wrapper – Sun Grown, Stalk Cut Mexican San Andrés
- Binder – Dominican Olor
- Filler – Dominican Olor, Nicaraguan Jalapa, Stalk Cut Brazilian Mata Norte
There are few things about this blend that should be noted.
First is the term “stalk cut”. That is a special process that requires a longer time to cure the leaves in the barn. The process takes longer because the whole plant stalk is cut instead of the normal process of priming the leafs off the stalk. We actually learned about this process at this years Drew Estate Florida Barn Smoker as Jonathan Drew explained the process. Once the stalk is cut, it is speared down the middle and hung in the barn upside down to begin the curing process. The leafs actually live off the cut stalk. As the leafs slowly wilt they continue to absorb the nutrients from the stalk. The process results in the leaf taking on more of an earthy quality.
Second is the term Mata Norte. Now you may be familiar with the term “Mata Fina” which means “thin farm” .and basically describes a scant growing area in Bahia, Brazil where the plants are grown. In contrast, Mata Norte, roughly translates into “north forest” and describes the arid basin region of Reconcavo in Bahia, Brazil. This leaf tends to offer nuttiness and coffee notes when used a filler in the blend and is known to be a leaf with stronger, higher nicotine content.
The Añejo XO Oscuro like the others in the Balmoral Añejo XO line is available in 5 vitolas and they come packaged in 20-count boxes.
- Torpedo Mk52 (6 1/4 x 52) MSRP $11.25
- Gran Toro (6 x 52) MSRP $10.50
- Rothschild Masivo (5 x 55) MSRP $9.75
- Corona (5 7/8 x 42) MSRP $9.00
- Petitie Robsuto (4 1/4 x 48) MSRP $8.50
The Añejo XO Oscuro is produced at the Royal Agio boutique cigar factory in San Pedro de Macorís, Dominican Republic.
For this review, I sampled the Rothschild Masivo, which I received from the company at this years IPCPR for the purpose of reviewing on Stogie Press.
Looking over the Añejo XO Oscuro you quickly are attracted to the dark brown – almost black – wrapper that has some excellent marbling running through it and a fine oily sheen. There are a few bumps and veins running the length of the barrel along with a light tooth. The barrel itself is extremely solid from head to foot. It is finished with a well applied double cap.
There are two bands that adorn this specimen. The primary band uses a grey, black, gold, and copper motif. A script gold letter “B” is centered in the middle of a black shield and the script word “Oscuro” is emblazoned in gold on a black background bordered with two bright copper stripes. The footer band declares this as an Añejo XO brand and states the particular vitola – Rothschild Masivo.
Running the cigar across the nose i picked up little aroma along the barrel but there was an intriguing baking spice aroma off the foot.
I chose to slice the cap with my double blade cutter, slicing across the cap border and took a few good cold draws. The draw was tighter than I would like and there was a very light, but growing pepper note along with wood and something else I can’t figure out, but it was enticing. I rolled it about some more – but just could not put my finger on the elusive flavor note.
Cigar Review Notes
- Initial puffs offered a touch of pepper and earth
- Draw is tight and smoke volume is medium at best
- A medium grey ash evolves resting on a thick char line
- Citrus notes enter as the draw begins to open
- Sweet floral aroma fills the air around me
- The draw is open but the smoke volume maintains at medium
- Slight off burn develops after inch plus of burn
- Light spice begins to enter as it burns into the second third
- Aroma shifts to a sweet roasted nut
- Smoke is delectably smooth at this point
- Sweetness grows with a nuance of cocoa
- Sea salt entering near the end of the second third
- Extremely long ash that finally falls, revealing a slightly off centered and flat burn cone
- Touch of almond enters with a hint of earth and a natural sweetness overtone near the final
- Finishes with some nut, spice, and earth
- Medium strength
- Total Smoking Time was 1 hour and 25 minutes
Overall, the Balmoral Añejo XO Oscuro Rothschild Masivo was full of enticing flavor with terrific transitions throughout the burn in both flavor and aroma. The ash was amazingly long but the burn did have a few off spots along the journey, though did not require any touch-ups. The draw was tight for the early stage of the burn and the smoke volume was medium at best. I feel if the volume was able to have opened up a bit more, the burn would have been more pristine and even more flavor may have been experienced. All in all, I would buy one of these if I spotted in on a humidor shelf.
We rate the Balmoral Añejo XO Oscuro Rothschild Masivo a 91
(-1) Tight Draw, (-1) Off Burn, (-1) Off Centered Burn Cone, (-1) Medium Grey Ash, (-1) Medium Smoke Volume, (-1) Buy One Again
Bonus (+1) Extreme Long Ash