Bite Size Review: Balmoral Serie Signaturas Dueto
When it was announced there would be a collaboration between Balmoral and E.P. Carrillo, I’m not going to lie, we were excited. I imagined the result of some mad scientist transformation of crossing the Balmoral Añejo XO with Carrillo’s Selección Oscuro. The resulting effort is aptly named, Dueto. Royal Agio Cigars, who owns the Balmoral lines, recently took over US distribution of its cigars from Drew Estate and has been hard at it launching extensions of the Añejo XO line at this year’s IPCPR show: the Connecticut and the Oscuro. The addition of the Serie Signaturas collaborations, commencing with Carrillo, is a sign that Balmoral is serious about being a big player in the US market.
Both Carrillo and 4th generation Royal Agio heir, Boris Wintermans, contributed to the blending honors for this collaboration with much of the tobacco sourced from Nicaragua. The cigars are produced at Carrillo’s La Alianza factory in the Dominican Republic. A unique aspect of the blend is the use of the bold Brazilian Mata Norte leaf, a tobacco that is not used widely in premium cigars. Most blenders using Brazilian tobacco often prize the more medium, flavorful Mata Fina or Arapiraca. The Dueto was also launched at this year’s IPCPR show.
These guys are not easy to find. Once they launched, we even resorted to inside tactics to get our grubby hands on some to no avail. In the entire state of Texas, only one Houston area cigar shop received any – almost 200 miles away. While not our first choice, all we could find online was the gordo out of a Miami B&M. Our hard-earned fat boy was handsome; oily, on the veiny side and cloaked in a delicious marbled, milk chocolate-colored wrapper. Very aromatic, the Dueto oozed molasses, caramel and baked bread.
The initial tasting proved promising highlighted by a smooth, complex mélange of light spice, cream, caramel, oats, muted black pepper and a savory woody finish. Transitions featured earthier and coffee profiles with well-balanced intonations of oak, chocolate, anise and black pepper. Unfortunately, there was a bitter aftertaste during the second transition, but it did subside. The Dueto finished well picking up in complexity after the previous lackluster transition. While complexity weaved between transitions, the balance never got off kilter. Combustion was a struggle initially, but worked itself out with a mostly even char and boasting a strong, tight ash. We only gave our Dueto 2 weeks humi time prior to the review and I think the bitterness we experienced could have been avoided with additional aging. On a side note, the Dueto would pair nicely with Angel’s Envy Bourbon. The Dueto is a well-rounded package overall, but the price point is a tad high. Since Dueto comes in boxes of only 10, we’re recommending it boxworthy – In Fumo Pax!
Did you Know: Adding hearty coffee and nut flavors to the blend, Brazilian Mata Norte tobacco, grown in the arid north of the Reconcavo, is full-bodied and strong and is typically cured in the open air.
- Profile: Medium
Length/ Ring Gauge: 6.0″ x 60
Wrapper: Jalapa, Nicaragua
Binder: Esteli, Nicaragua
Filler: Nicaraguan, Brazilian Mata Norte
Cutter: Colibri V
Lighter: Colibri Firebird
Humidor Age: 2 weeks
Other Vitolas: Robusto [5″x50], Ovacion [5.5″x50], Gran Toro [6″x52], Churchill [7″x49]
Smoke Time: 1 hour, 40 minutes.
Build: Oily; veiny; lumpy; milk chocolate-colored wrapper; firm throughout except one soft spot under main band; visible seams; tight, 1″ ash.
- Wrapper – Molasses, caramel, chocolate
- Foot – Caramel, baked bread
- Cold Draw – Chocolate, grassy
- Initial: Spicy with muted palette of light cream and notes of caramel; savory woody finish with hints of charred brisket; hints of leather; becomes woodier with oats on draw and addition of black pepper on retro.
- Transition: More earth and coffee intonations; finish remains smoky and woody; light sweetness on draw; less complex; smooth with light hints of anise on retro; finish becomes temporarily bitter or “green”; becomes more oaky in profile with uptick in spice.
- Transition: Lots of coffee, earth and wood; finishes very zesty with notes of oak, coffee, black pepper and cocoa; finish becomes dry.
Balance: Very Good
Touch ups: None
Combustion: Very good
Weaknesses: Bitter aftertaste during second transition
Recommend: 1. Boxworthy
- Go-to (boxworthy)
- 3rd stringer (keep 1 on hand)
- Smoke a banana instead