Romeo Y Julieta Tacos Edición Limitada 2018 Cigars: An Old-Fashioned Smoke Built For The Long Haul
by Ken Gargett
There is likely not a politician [or watch brand – ed.] on the planet who could not learn a thing or two about spin from the marvelous people in the Champagne district. They are masters at it.
Fabulous people, incredible hospitality, brilliant wines, but their ultimate achievement might be how they handle the media. They’ll swear blind that they’ll respond fully and openly to each and every query, but after you’ve spent time with them it dawns that they’ve usually given nothing away, and more than likely you’ve answered more of their questions than they of yours.
It is an art.
The closest thing I’ve seen to it would be the cigar industry in Cuba. I remember a press conference in Havana that began by the journalists present being told that this was a new era: one of transparency and openness. The host then invited us to ask any question we liked; nothing was off limits.
A hand went up through the thin haze of smoke.
“Could you please tell us how many cigars you will be producing this year?”
A gentleman leaped to his feet and took the microphone, telling us he would be more than happy to answer.
“More than last year, but not as many as next year.” And he sat back down with a look on his face suggesting he was delighted to have done a good job.
This is one of the reasons that there are so many myths and urban legends about cigars and why it can be so hard to find the definitive story behind the swirling fables.
I have long tried to find the full facts and story behind the Limited Edition series (“Edición Limitada”), but everyone I ask has a different version. Of all the many different “special releases,” the Limited Editions have long been my favorites, although there have been a few duds along the road.
I raise this as the last of the 2018 Limited Editions has just crossed my path: the Romeo y Julieta Tacos Edición Limitada 2018.
The Cuban Limited Edition series
The concept of the Limited Edition series, which kicked off in 2000, was for a top producer to make a limited cigar not in current production for that house. The early releases, up to 2007, used (tobacco leaf) wrappers aged for two years, giving a much darker color to the cigar. Since 2007 the binder and filler, in addition to the wrapper, are all aged for two years.
The 2000 LEs included Hoyo de Monterrey Particulares, Montecristo Robustos, Partagás Pirámides, and Romeo y Julieta Exhibición No. 2. The 2001 releases included Cohiba Piramides, Hoyo de Monterrey Particulares, Montecristo Double Coronas, Partagás Serie D No. 3, and Romeo y Julieta Robustos.
Since then, there have been three to five releases every year – these days usually just three – with the exception of 2015, which saw only two cigars released. Again, why? Was a third one not up to scratch?
The 2002 is the other exception with no LE cigars released, but plenty of theories as to why. Mine is that Havana had not the least idea just how successful this program would be: the makers were caught unawares, just not ready, and did not have the material to continue.
So the LEs took a break for the year but returned in force in 2003 with some of the finest cigars the program has seen such as the legendary Cohiba Double Coronas. Others included Hoyo de Monterrey Piramide, Partagás Serie D No. 2, and the Romeo y Julieta Hermosos No. 1. The fifth release of that year, the Montecristo C, is definitely the runt of the litter.
It is also worth mentioning that in the early days of this program, these were the great bargains in the world of cigars. Again purely my theory, but I suspect that Havana had not the slightest idea where to pitch these releases and was not keen to have an embarrassing array of unsold LE boxes hibernating on the shelves. So they went low.
I still have a $130 price tag on one of my boxes, the 2003 Hoyo LE Pyramides, from the early days of the program. Things have changed, and LEs are now some of Havana’s most expensive cigars. A box of 25 of these? They’ll vary, but assume at least $625 (and in Australia anywhere between AUD$1,150 and AUD$1,600).
Each LE cigar is double-banded, one of which (other than with the 2000s) identifies the year, while the other is a standard band from that producer. The other two LEs from 2018 aside from the Romeo y Julieta Tacos are the Bolívar Soberanos and H. Upmann Propios.
Recent years have seen overwhelmingly positive reviews for most of the Limited Editions, although to be fair the Tacos has had a very mixed response. Some of the cigar forums have loved them, others have been much more critical.
Romeo y Julieta Tacos Edición Limitada: my thoughts
Interestingly, looking at photos, some examples show the typical very dark wrappers common to the LE series, while others are much lighter. Whether that has impacted in any way might be an interesting question. The cigar made its debut in Madrid in September of 2018 and is working its way throughout the markets.
The dimensions constitute a length of 158 mm (6 ¼ inches old scale) with a ring gauge of 49 mm, making it the longest but not fattest of the 2018 Limited Editions. This specific size dates back to the discontinued Tacos from the 1970s.
My thoughts are that is it a very fine cigar, though I think that its true glories are yet to be revealed. An old-fashioned smoke, built for the long haul. At the moment, all the components are in place, but it is a long way from wowing. The flavors are slightly woody, a touch of spice, but not really revealing any fruit or richness or even sweetness at this stage.
Well-constructed, but I would say put them away for at least a couple of years. A reasonable level of strength here, but no evolution as one smoked it. No evident complexity as yet. At the moment, a score of around 89, which is a perfectly acceptable score for a young cigar, and certainly not the disaster some would have us believe, but it hardly screams “must have.”
I think time will work wonders here.
One criticism I would level is that I saw no real Romeo y Julieta “DNA,” nor did I see any of those bold, rich notes, the chocolate and plum pudding, that is so often found in good LEs. For me, it should be showing at least a little of one or the other.
So, do you buy these?
There will be collectors keen to ensure that they have them represented in their humidor. Others, with patience, will find a place. But anyone wanting instant gratification should look elsewhere. They are very hard to justify in terms of value.
I certainly enjoyed the one I tried and would happily smoke them any time, but I’m not sure I’d be rushing out to load up. For those who have to allocate their cigar budgets, there is better value in a standard Partagás Lusitania or numerous others.