Romeo's Viejo is, for many customers, one of the top Romeo y Julieta blends there is. Its super-smooth, thick, slightly toothy maduro wrapper - grown in the famed San Andres Valley of Mexico - features an oily sheen and triple cap, while the subtle square-press presentation feels great in the hand and adds to the anticipation. The flavor is dependable and consistent throughout: mellow and smooth from start to finish, highlighted by some richness, hints of caramel and a faint sweet woody note. The aftertaste is very pleasant, while the draw is effortless and pumps out voluminous clouds of smoke. Of the myriad Romeo y Julieta blends, to me this gorgeous little number is hands-down the best.
Every time I’m at some kind of function or party that my wife drags me to, amidst other pleasantries someone always seems to ask the obligatory question of what I do for a living. Once in a while, the questioner is a genuine cigar guy, or a genuine cigar guy’s wife. The rest of the time, their reactions to my reply invariably fall into one of 3 categories:
1) “Wow I didn’t know people smoke cigars anymore. Weren’t they popular 10 years ago and then disappeared?”
2) Disgust, ranging from mockery to scorn. As if I just clubbed two baby seals right then and there.
3) Fella who consumes a cigar once-a-year saying he loves cigars. Usually accompanied by Restless Mouth Syndrome affliction: “Got any Cubans? I smoke cigars all the time. My favorites are Mackonoodle and Caheebos. Have any samples? How about that Monica Lewinsky, eh? Har har har.”
I’ve always thought of Romeo y Julieta as brand you generally stock in your humidor to have handy for the Restless Mouth Syndrome type of fella - highly recognizable brand name, mild in body and, depending on which blend, a reasonable price to boot. But recently a few solid additions to the Romeo lineup have elevated this brand in the minds of cigar nuts, notably Reserve Maduro, Real, and my favorite, Romeo Viejo. Why Viejo? For the most part, Romeo blends tend to be pretty mild. Viejo offers a solid flavor profile with some meat on its bones.
Now, I'm barely fluent in English, but with my little bit of Spanish lingo, Viejo means old. A fitting name, since the tobaccos are extensively aged. But it was also back to the brand’s Cuban roots with the old school packaging: simple but elegant cabinet-style, slide-top wooden boxes and traditional gold rectangle Romeo y Julieta bands of yore.
Cello off and in the hand, this baby is positively drool-inducing. It’s seriously box-pressed with crisp corners and adorned with a lovely, deep, dark candy-bar looking maduro wrapper. This lovely leaf hails from the lush San Andreas Valley of Mexico. Moist with plenty of sweetness on the tongue, I’m mclovin’ the pre-light. Inch one is relatively uneventful but the burn is spot-on and the draw impeccable. The smoke is relatively thin but it releases enjoyably copious quantities with each puff. The initial taste I would characterize as heavy spice through the nose but only a touch on the tongue – the spice quickly mellows into a smooth, cool smoke. The body remains medium and the flavor pleasant yet subtle. Notes of smoked wood and the subdued spicy-sweetness remain noticeable. As the cigar burns down, I keep waiting for a big finale – for the cigar to burst with richness – but ultimately was let down on that front.
In sum: RyJ Viejo burns as straight as an arrow, smokes cool and slow, and is smooth with good flavor. Downside, it’s a touch one-dimensional. My expectations were perhaps too high based on its appearance and promise. But a straightforward, unchanging flavor profile is often just what the doctor ordered. In fact this is an ideal golf cigar – richness but not too heady, nice thick wrapper, burns true, with flavor that’s consistent throughout. So if you're looking for a well-made, smooth maduro for 5 to 6 bucks – Viejo is your huckleberry.
The Romeo y Julieta Bully was one of the first cigars I ever had. It was about 9 or 10 years ago. I was in Mexico and forcing down my 4th or 5th Corona of the morning. (Before you ask, I brought my own cigars. Never buy smokes in Mexico!) I lit up a Bully from the 1875 line, Romeo’s top-selling blend. It was good...mild enough for a new guy like me to enjoy with enough flavor to make me really excited about premium cigars. It paired nicely with an empty-stomach morning of partly flavored water.
Fast forward to the present. 1875 is still Romeo’s top-selling blend, but our relationship has changed. My palate has grown more demanding, wanting fuller-bodied cigars with a deep array of flavor. I’ve tried every Romeo the Dominican Republic has to offer, but haven’t found one that meets both of these requirements. Now there's the Viejo. A dark, oily, box-pressed Romeo y Julieta that captivated me upon first glance.
The Viejo feels great in my hand. It’s heavy and the box-press is slight, contributing to a very comfortable feel. The wrapper is smooth and consistent in color with a little tooth poking through, while the pre-light aroma has a sweet, syrupy quality. The thick maduro wrapper makes me want to take a bite out of the cigar, and I often find myself chomping down on it with each puff. Flavorwise, Viejo is very appealing. The blend is not overly complex, but the Nicaraguan and Honduran long-fillers are nicely balanced, promoting a smooth and steady flavor from start to finish. Ultimately rich and 'bready' in character, I find subtle hints of wood take center stage, with a supporting cast of caramel undertones and a somewhat sweet aftertaste. Adding to the enjoyment are the pillows of smoke that envelop my palate and linger above my head. I consider this cigar to be medium in body, but surprisingly satisfying. I look forward to more after a generous meal and tasty cordial of aged port. I may be a huge fan of boutique cigars due to the diversity each maker offers, but the Romeo y Julieta Viejo gives me new faith in one of the industry’s oldest names. Do not confuse this cigar with the Romeo Reserve Maduro...they’re light-years apart. One smells and tastes like feet, the other soothes the restless beast inside.