Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Cigar Review: RoMa Craft Intemperance EC XVIII

Virtue (Short Robusto), 4.5" x 52 ring gauge / 
$6, Hava Cigar (online store)
Who knew? When Skip Martin blended the cigar he wanted to smoke and released it through the web as the CroMagnon, who knew it would be the start of an entirely new cigar company? I'm sure Skip had his hopes, but I don't recall him ever saying much on the subject until late last year when words like Acquitaine and Intemperance started appearing on his Twitter feed, then I got to try an early Acquitaine when we were both on the same trip to the Dominican. Earlier this year, it all culminated in the formation of RoMa Craft, a new company Skip formed with Michael Rosales of Adrian's Cigars. The first release was the Intemperance.

Keith already looked at both of these (EC and BA), but I decided to take a look at them as well, using a different size...in my case, both reviews are going to be based on the Short Robusto vitola. The naming of this cigar is interesting and peculiar...Intemperance is a reference to the Prohibition era Temperance Movement which sought to stamp out alcohol use (not just abuse). The new Prohibition Movement is to get rid of smoking, which is why we need to "initiate our own modern Intemperance movement." EC is short for Ecuadorian Connecticut, the type of wrapper (and the only leaf we get to find out info about as Skip is protecting his blend data now days...hmm, need to talk to the other member of Team Stogie Fresh about that). XVIII is in reference to the 18th Amendment which established Prohibition. I bought a five-pack when these first became available and this is my fifth one...although all have been different vitolas.

There is no fault to be found with the wrapper on the Intemperance EC. It is a beautiful shade wrapper with an oily touch, no large veins and superb wrap job that ends about 1/8 of an inch above the foot, leaving an unfinished end, allowing you to taste the filler and binder blend without actually tasting how the wrapper affects it. The wrapper has a sweet hay aroma, while a little more earthiness can be detected on the foot. As I was looking over the stick in preparation for this review, I noticed there was a hairline crack straight across the cap. It was done in such a way that I could actually draw through it without even cutting, although I am sure it wouldn't draw all that well once lit up. I decided to do a V-cut to completely exorcise the break...hopefully taking it off without causing any further damage. It mostly worked, although how well it would hold up would be impossible to tell at this point. The prelight draw was very good, featuring clean, sweet hay notes, with just a touch of earth...it pretty much struck me like a typical mild to medium smoke at this point.

The day was calm...fairly unusual this spring...so I decided to light this up with a soft flame lighter. The shaggy foot allowed it to come to life very quickly with minimal fuss, and I got immediate flavors of earth and citrus on the palate, along with some pepper spice through the nose. As the wrapper started to burn, I noticed a mellow hay flavor add into the mix, but it truly did add to it, not really diminish the other flavors I was getting. By the end of the first third, it was apparent that this was not just a "mild cigar" as it appeared before lighting, but fit very well into the "new breed" Connecticut category, with a solidly medium body and plenty of pepper spice on the palate and the nose to go along with lots of earth and black coffee notes. The milder hay and creamy notes were really only an undercurrent with this cigar.

Construction was proving to be fantastic. I held onto pretty much the entire first third before tapping off, the draw was great despite the minor cracking still apparent on the head, and the burn line had needed no encouragement whatsoever to remain even.  The flavor continued to be quite earthy with some sweetness to balance it out and that nice dark roast coffee note running throughout.

The end of the Intemperance EC XVIII still maintained a healthy dose of pepper spice along with the other flavors I mentioned before. The lack of change in flavors was a bit of a let down, but the flavors that were there were consistently excellent, so that tempered the disappointment a bit. Unlike many Connecticut wrapped cigars, I can't recommend this for newer smokers; by the end the body was creeping past the dead medium spot and there was more nicotine strength than most new breed Connys. For experienced smokers, though, this is likely to be a treat. The price is excellent, too, especially for what is currently a limited production cigar. By the time this posts, there may not be much left in the way of available sticks in this blend, but that should change in the next few months as RoMa Craft starts working on rolling these out to select B&Ms nationwide. Just as a reminder, they will be at the Chattanooga Tweet-Up in August and should have plenty to sell then.

Body: 6/10
Strength: 7/10
Complexity: 7/10

AFP Scale
Prelight: 2/2
Construction: 2/2
Flavor: 4/5
Value: 1/1
Total: 9/10

3 comments:

  1. Great Article, I can't wait to try Skips new products I have heard great things.

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  2. Neat idea ending the wrapper before the end of the stick...would be curious to try it for that reason alone...to see what the flavour nuances are between the wrapped and unwrapped portion of the cigar. Have many other manufacturers tried this before? What are your thoughts on this technique?

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    Replies
    1. The use of a shaggy foot is relatively common...not something you'll see every company doing, but definitely not unique. One of Gurkha's "fan favorites" is the Shaggy, Tatuaje used the technique on last year's Wolfman monster series release, and Viaje went to extremes with 2010's Summer Blend Brushfoot, which featured about 2.5 inches of shaggy filler leaf sticking out (the 2011 version did not have as much).

      It is an interesting way to experience the blend without the wrapper influence and if you are careful, you can do it yourself with a very sharp knife or razor blade. If the filler blend is something you want to call attention to, it is a great idea. I would expect that some blends only work "right" when the wrapper is in play, which is a reason it will never be more than a neat trick used by a few manufacturers on a small subset of cigars. (And I'm sure there's extra work involved...extra work = more expense.)

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