Bite Size Review: Balmoral Añejo XO Oscuro
As I write this, I’m currently winging my way to the west coast on a business trip when it dawns on me Thanksgiving is just a few days away. My first thought was, “where did 2019 go”? Like your life flashing before your eyes when in grave peril, I did a quick inventory of the personal and professional hits and misses of 2019 and then quickly moved on to the upcoming holidays, what they mean and thoughts of gratitude. Aside from the obvious love for family and friends, being a part of the wonderful cigar community has also brought many memorable moments.
Several of those experiences include getting to know and working with the folks at Royal Agio and Balmoral Cigars, who partnered with us on a couple of give-a-ways this year. Considering they’ve been a bit busy adding a number of new cigars to their arsenal, their magnanimity is even more special. They not only launched a number of critically acclaimed cigars including the highly anticipated Serie Signaturas collaborations with EP Carrillo and LFD’s Litto Gomez, but seamlessly released 2 new extensions to their vaunted Añejo XO line featuring a sultry, Oscuro-wrapped beauty and the 4th addition to the line, Nicaragua.
I’d tried the Oscuro shortly after it hit store shelves and lets just say I’ve smoked a number of them since. I’m a self-admitted fan of both EP Carrillo’s Selección Oscuro as well as Erik Espinosa’s 601 Oscuro, but Balmoral’s take on the Oscuro kicks it up a notch employing well-aged tobacco. In fact, according to Jaime Florez-Estrada, EVP of Marketing for Royal Agio Cigars USA, “…all of our tobaccos are aged between 7-10 years on average, for all Añejo XO blends.” Not only does this potentially smooth out any rough edges, it enhances the ability of the smoker to experience, what I would consider, a benchmark of Oscuro complexity.
The fact that Boris Wintermans desired to sprinkle in familiar flavors afforded by Brazilian Mata Fina leaf, is, in my opinion, what makes this Oscuro unique. The milk chocolate hue of our Oscuro appears lighter than a “typical” Oscuro, but this underscores the myth that all Oscuro-fermented cigars are almost black, which they most certainly are not. Remember, “Oscuro” refers more to the fermenting process, and less to the color. Our Rothschild features uniform give, appears seamless and shows a little tooth. Sightly rough to the touch, our Oscuro also has some veins and a really messy cap.
The Oscuro is wonderfully aromatic featuring a zesty mix of leather and chocolate scents filling your olfactory senses. The draw is optimal with a punch, which is perfect for the 55 RG. The opening profile is, in a word, delectable. After an initial blast of black pepper accompanied by notes of caramel corn and candied nuts, this ultra-smooth cigar settles into a leathery profile amidst a swirling mix of salt and marshmallow on the retro and rich, crisp finishes of coffee and pepper. The draw features a savory, woody essence and there’s a light spice on the palate.
Transitions continue with an overall salty insouciance highlighted by notes of coffee, leather, chocolate, pinewood and a light minerality. The complexity is well-balanced and delicious while I would describe the character as lusty. Combustion is good, and while it does self correct, the burn “helmets” for two thirds of the smoke. The Oscuro produces a voluminous amount of smoke, holds a 1”+ ash and likes to go slow, so no hyperventilating on this baby. Not only does this cigar reset the benchmark for Oscuros in terms of sheer flavor and texture, it may very well reset your taste buds for $10 cigars in general. Adding another memorable moment. Happy Thanksgiving! – In Fumo Pax!
Did you Know: The blending of this and other cigars in the Añejo XO line incorporates master blender Francisco Batista’s experience and input, as well as that of other key members of the Royal Agio internal tasting panel.
- Profile: Med-Full
- Vitola: Rothschild Masivo
- Length / Ring Gauge: 5.0″ x 55
- Purchased: *Royal Agio Cigars
- Origin: Dominican Republic
- Wrapper: Sun-Grown, Stalk-Cut Mexican San Andrés
- Binder: Dominican Olor
- Filler: Dominican Olor, Nicaragua (Jalapa), Stalk-Cut Brazilian Mata Norte
- Blade: Xikar Punch
- Fire: Colibri Firebird
- Price: $10.20 [Box $203.86]
- Humidor Age: 9 mo.
- Box: 20
- Other Vitolas: Torpedo Mk52 [6.25″x52], Gran Toro [6’x52], Corona [5 7/8″x42], Petit Robusto FT [4.25″x48], Lancero FT Edición Limitada
* 99 Cigars typically pays for all cigars; however, cigars were provided by Royal Agio Cigars USA in exchange for complimentary advertising.
N O T E S
Smoke Time: 1:18
Construction: Some tooth; uniform give to body; seamless; semi-veiny; milk chocolate appearance; messy cap; slight rough texture; holds 1″+ ash; voluminous smoke production.
- Wrapper – Leather, chocolate
- Foot – Chocolate fudge
- Cold Draw – Leather, raisins
- Initial: Leathery core with initial blast of black pepper, caramel corn and candied nuts notes; salty essence; crisp finish of pepper and coffee; flecks of anise added to finish late; lingering spice on tongue; woody draw; hints of marshmallow on retro;
- Transition: Woody profile w/underlying mix of pinewood, leather, baking spice and a faint minerality; finish is also leathery; lingering saltiness mixed with chocolate.
- Transition: Coffee and wood centric; increase in spice; caramel notes with cedar tang on retro; earthy finish.
Touch ups: N/A
Combustion:Excellent, but is prone to helmeting
Weaknesses: Helmeting could be due to uneven roll
- 5 packer
- Yard ‘gar
- NR [No Recommendation]