Bite Size Review: Aging Room Quattro F55
Rafael Nodal, a “Marielito” Cuban refugee in 1980, has built some solid offerings with his Boutique Blends Cigars and launched Aging Room Small Batch in 2010. With a focus on blending and making cigars for the connoisseur, Nodal’s Boutique Blends is a self-proclaimed laboratory of cigar alchemy churning out critically acclaimed blends using rare and fine tobaccos.
The cigars are produced in the Dominican Republic, in Honduras and Nicaragua by the Plasencia family and in Nicaragua by AJ Fernandez. In the summer of 2017, Nodal threw his lot in with tobacco behemoth, Altadis, and joined the Altadis team overseeing product quality and innovation while also presiding over his own Boutique Blends.
The F55 was high on my “to smoke” list. Like top-10 high. I’d heard all the wonderful musings about Miami-based Boutique Blends and their “small batch” efforts, but most of all, this cigar is just freakin’ beautiful. Plus, it sounds like a custom Ferrari. It also didn’t hurt that in 2013, the F55 Concerto (Churchill) and Maestro were rated ‘95’ (#2 cigar of 2013) and ‘92’ respectively by Cigar Aficionado. Interestingly, in September 2017, the F55 Maestro could only manage an ‘89’ by the same group. A 3-point drop. Ratings. Meh.
Construction-wise, except for the head/cap, I found the whole cigar to be very spongy. The cap also looked haphazardly constructed. The sumptuous milk-chocolate Sumatra wrapper is a bit toothy and featured only a single vein. Post light, the F55 is a spice bomb followed by a wonderfully diverse flavor palette. One concern is that the draw is becoming more and more loose. The cold draw was easy but it becomes way too loose as if all the filler fell out while I wasn’t looking. It’s possible a V-cut is not the most ideal.
The F55 produces copious amounts of smoke and the transitions are wonderful as the strength ratchets up to med-full after the middle third for the duration. The middle third required one touch up as combustion got a little out of kilter, but the complexity and balance never falter. The F55 holds a 1” grayish-white ash without flinching. Delicious aesthetics, awesome complexity and packed with flavor, this sub-$10 treat’s only chink in its armor is its construction. This is a tasty cigar with a clever mélange of flavors that’ll keep you enthralled. – In Fumo Pax!
- Profile: Med-Full
- Vitola: Maestro [Box Pressed Torpedo]
- Length/ Ring Gauge: 6.0″ / 52
- Purchased: Online retailer
- Origin: Dominican Republic
- Wrapper: Sumatra 2003
- Binder: Dominican Habano
- Filler: Dominican Habano
- Cutter: Colibri V
- Lighter: Colibri Firebird 3-jet
- Price: $9.50
Build: Cap firm, body very spongy
Aromas: Shaft – hay (muted); Foot – Chocolate, caramel, raisins; Cold Draw – Cocoa powder
Flavors: Initial leather, caramel, cream, pepper; espresso finish; heavy spice initially; more floral and nutty in middle third; gets woodier, earthy w/cedar and pecan.
Balance: Very good
Touch ups: One
Weaknesses: Messy cap, spongy, loose draw
Recommend: 1. Go-to 2. 5-packer 3. 3rd stringer 4. Smoke a banana instead