Royal Agio cigars, is a name which American cigar smokers are familiar with from their Balmoral brand of cigars. Specifically, the Balmoral Añejo XO, which, for the past 3 years, Drew Estate handled the U.S. Market distribution. That relation ended this year when Royal Agio announced they were going handle distribution on their own and expand their portfolio of premium cigars. At this years IPCPR, the company kept to their word and showcased 3 line extensions to the Balmoral brand:
- Balmoral Añejo XO Connecticut
- Balmoral Añejo XO Oscuro
- Balmoral Serie Signaturas Dueto
It is the latter which I will focus on for today’s review. The Balmoral Serie Signaturas Dueto represents the company’s first collaboration with another cigar maker and thereby the name Dueto. For this collaboration, Boris Wintermans, CEO of Royal Agio selected Ernesto Perez-Carrillo Jr.’s Tabacalera La Alianza S.A. factory to work on the project.
Boris noted in the company’s press release on the Balmoral Serie Signaturas Dueto:
“I am honored to have had the opportunity to work alongside Ernesto on this very special collaboration project for Balmoral. I want to push the boundaries of what can be discovered in premium cigar blending, and it is this desire that inspired the creation of the Balmoral Serie Signaturas (Signature Series) and initial conversations with Ernesto.
This collaboration platform offers another avenue for us to explore, discover and release completely new and exciting cigar blends. The resulting blend for DUETO, behind Ernesto’s blending genius, makes this first release nothing short of exceptional.”
The duo selected a blend, for the Balmoral Serie Signaturas Dueto, comprised of:
- Wrapper: Nicaragua (Jalapa)
- Binder: Nicaragua (Estelí)
- Filler: Brazil & Nicaragua
Shipping was slated for September of this year and the company slated 5 vitolas for the offering each packaged in 10-count boxes.
- Robusto (5 x 50) – MSRP $9.75
- Ovación (5 1/2 x 50) – MSRP $10.25
- Gran Toro (6 x 50) – MSRP $10.50
- Gordo (6 x 60) – MSRP $12.50
- Churchill (7 x 49) – MSRP $11.50
For this review I sampled the Balmoral Serie Signaturas Dueto Gran Toro which I received from Royal Agio cigars at the IPCPR for the purpose of reviewing on Stogie Press. Having enjoyed the original Balmoral Añejo XO and also the craft of Ernesto Perez-Carrillo Jr.’s I was looking forward to taking the Dueto on a journey in quite solitude in the Stogie Press lounge.
The Balmoral Serie Signaturas Dueto Balmoral Dueto has a dark tan wrapper with a light oily sheen to it. There are a few noticeable veins running along the wrapper and it is finished with a well applied triple cap.
There are two bands that bedeck this cigar. The primary band uses the gold Balmoral logo on a cream background that identifies it as the Serie Signaturas. Below the logo, is an ornate red and black design which declares in white print it the word “DUETO”. The primary band also gives credit to Ernesto Perez-Carrillo above the word DUETO. Looking at the band it gives you the impression that it is two bands, when really it is just one, designed to look that way. There is however a secondary footer band that covers a good portion of the 1st third of the cigar which carries a similar ornate design and is used to identify the vitola at the bottom and also to note that it is “Blended by Ernesto Perez-Carrillo”. There is no question that Ernesto had something to do with this cigar.
As I ran the barrel along my nose I did not pick up any distinguishable aroma, but the foot exuded a nice dose of cayenne pepper. Oh Boy, I thought to myself, what am I in for here?
It was time to slice the cap which I did with a straight cut, from my Palio double blade cutter. The cold draw continued the pepper sensation with an added earth component all through a fairly open draw. The more I rolled it about, the more I could sense the pepper.
After getting my palate primed for the pepper, which I was about to feel, it was time to warm it up and experience what pleasures it may have to offer. But first I need to music to relax with. I selected the classic Deep Purple – Live In Japan, which certainly did the trick.
This is a most excellent double album with some kick ass tunes that will last as long as the DUETO.
Cigar Review Notes
- Like the slashing notes of Ritchie Blackmore’s guitar, Cayenne Pepper hit my right off the start
- The pepper receded leaving my nasal passage open to experience the underlying spice notes that filled the palate
- A nutmeg aroma began wafting off the foot, filing the air, like the sounds of Jon Lord’s keyboard melody
- The draw is open and the cigar is delivering oodles of smoke like the drum sounds of Ian Paice
- A solid white ash develops resting on a thin to medium char line
- After an inch of burn, the smoke is as smooth as Rogers Glover’s bass
- Coffee cream notes join the mix as the spice lays in background
- Ash fell after a long run, but not as long as “Space Truckin'”
- A slightly off centered burn cone is revealed
- Aroma shifts to sweet syrup
- Spice increases into second third
- Ash become more medium grey in color
- Entering the second half the barrel gets squishy to the touch
- The wrapper seam loosened
- A citrus tang fills out the profile near the end of the second
- Finishes with a dry fruit note
- Mild to Medium Strength
- Total Smoking Time was 1 hour and 10 minutes (just shy of the complete Live in Japan Album)
Overall, we rate the Balmoral Serie Signaturas Dueto Gran Toro a 89. The cigar started with a good dose of pepper especially on the retro-hale which opened it up to enjoy the developing flavors and shifting aromas. The burn had an open draw which allowed it burn a bit faster than I would like. I was not pleased with the barrel getting squishy in the second half and was especially concerned with the seam opening later in the burn. At a price point of $10.50, I would expect the cigar not to have the opening seam and squish in the barrel.
Point Deductions: (-1) Open draw; (-1) Off centered burn cone; (-1) Barrel gets squishy between fingers; (-2) Seam Opens (-2) should be lower in price