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During the 2019 IPCPR Convention & Trade Show, RoMa Craft Tobac showed off a brand new blend that is wrapped in tobacco from Cameroon. Named Baka in reference to an ethnic group of people that live in the southeastern rain forests of the country of Cameroon, the “annual limited release” features an undisclosed binder and filler blend and will be limited to about 1,000 boxes of each vitola per year. RoMa Craft has been mum on most of the details of what makes up the rest of the blend, although co-owner Skip Martin did tell me that there is some Jamastran ligero from Honduras in the filler.

 

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Although the vast majority of the cigars are scheduled to be available next year, RoMa Craft decided to ship some boxes of two vitolas this year namely the 4 x 52 Bantu and the 4 x 46 Pygmy. The Pygmy is the only vitola to be packaged in boxes of 30 instead of boxes of 24.

While only two vitolas have shipped to retailers so far, the line will eventually include the same seven sizes as the company’s core CroMagnon brand.

  • Baka Pygmy (4 x 46) — $9.25 (Box of 30, $277.50)
  • Baka Bantu (4 x 52) — $9.95 (Box of 24, $238.80)
  • Baka Ota Benga (4 1/2 x 60) — $10.60 (Box of 24, $254.40)
  • Baka Poki (5 x 50) — $10.45 (Box of 24, $250.80)
  • Baka Acephalous (5 x 56) — $11.50 (Box of 24, $276)
  • Baka Jengi (5 3/4 x 46) — $11.40 (Box of 24, $273.60)
  • Baka Hunter Gatherer (6 x 54) — $12.70 (Box of 24, $304.80)

Finally, there will be at least one other vitola produced in the Baka blend: the company gave away samples of a 5 5/8 x 60 Gran Corona vitola that were included in bundles to employees as Christmas presents to employees earlier this month. According to the company, they were test samples for the upcoming release of its El Catador de Los Gran Perfectos 10 Años, a sampler of each of the company’s cigars in a 5 5/8 x 60 perfecto size.

  • Cigar Reviewed: Baka Pygmy
  • Country of Origin: Nicaragua
  • Factory: Fabrica de Tabacos NicaSueño S.A.
  • Wrapper: Cameroon
  • Binder: Undisclosed
  • Filler: Undisclosed
  • Length: 4 Inches
  • Ring Gauge: 46
  • Vitola: Petite Corona
  • MSRP: $9.25 (Box of 30, $277.50)
  • Release Date: November 2019
  • Number of Cigars Released: 1,000 Boxes of 30 (30,000 Total Cigars)
  • Number of Cigars Smoked For Review: 3

With a vitola name like Pygmy, you would expect a small vitola, and the 4 x 46 petite corona does not disappoint in that regard. The wrapper is a dark orangish-reddish-brown color that contrasts almost perfectly with the lighter maroon band and features a number of lighter colored veins running up and down its length, making an effect like a highway. There is a somewhat surprising lack of give when the cigar is squeezed, and it feels both extremely firm and quite heavy in my hand when I pick it up. Aroma from the wrapper is a combination of strong dried tea leaves, earth, leather, espresso beans, orange citrus and generic sweetness, while the cold draw brings flavors of cinnamon, earth, leather, baker’s spices, and tea leaves.

The flavors start fast and heavy as soon as I take the first puff, staring with a tea leaf note pulled almost directly from the cold draw that easily takes the dominant spot, followed by lesser notes of creamy almonds, leather, cinnamon, cocoa nibs and a touch of floral. There is plenty of cayenne pepper and spice present—on the retrohale and on my lips, respectively—while a very interesting maple syrup sweetness is very obvious on the retrohale and seems to be getting stronger as the first third burns down. Both the burn and the draw could not be better so far and the strength makes itself known early, easily hitting a point very close to medium by the end of the first third.

Coming into the second third, the dominant flavor of the Pygmy morphs into more of a creamy almond note, although the dried tea leaves are still very obvious as well. Additional flavors of cinnamon, floral, dark chocolate, earth, freshly roasted espresso beans and anise flit in and out, while the cayenne pepper on the retrohale continues to be obvious on the retrohale. The spice levels do seem to be receding—albeit slowly—but the maple syrup sweetness on the retrohale actually seems to be increasing in strength. Construction-wise, the burn is virtually razor sharp—the ash has not fallen for the first time yet—and the draw remains excellent, while the smoke production is quite high for a cigar of this size. The overall strength continues to increase noticeably and passes the medium mark just as the second third comes to an end.  

As the final third of the Baka Pygmy begins, the dominant flavor shifts again, reminding me of powdery cocoa powder, followed closely behind by the formerly dominant flavors of creamy almonds and dried tea leaves as well as additional notes of leather, earth, coffee beans, cinnamon and a very slight citrus. While there is still some spice on my lips as well as some cayenne pepper on the retrohale, the maple syrup sweetness has become stronger than both and remains that way until the end of the cigar. The burn and draw finish the same way they began—excellent on all counts—while the smoke production remains quite high off of the foot. Finally, the overall strength has slowed down a bit, but still manages to come close to the full mark by the time I put the nub down with less than an inch remaining.

Final Notes

  • Cameroon tobacco is wildly considered to be one of the most expensive—if not the most expensive—tobaccos to procure. As such, there are just not that many manufacturers that commit to producing more than a small, limited release using it.
  • Due to how fragile Cameroon wrappers are, the winter season is typically not considered the best time to smoke it.
  • Like the typical RoMa Craft release, there are actually two bands attached to the cigar as you can somewhat see in the final third photograph above: the top maroon main band bearing the Baka logo covers a white secondary band that is stamped with a star in an homage to the Cameroon flag.
  • There is apparently a rumor going around—and repeated on some websites—that the Baka blend has no ligero in it at all. When I asked RoMa Craft Tobac co-owner Skip Martin about it, he told me the rumor is not true and that it includes some Jamastran ligero from Honduras in the filler, but that “I may have said at some point that (the Baka blend) doesn’t have  the typical heavy lagers we use and people misunderstood.”
  • The vast majority of the flavors listed above are exclusively present on the retrohale, so if you are not retrohaling, this cigar is going to have a very different—read: more boring—profile.
  • I just cannot say enough about the construction: I toasted the foot on each of the samples I smoked once and that was the last time my lighter saw any use through the end of the cigar.
  • The cigars smoked for this review were purchased by halfwheel. The cigars used for the collections photo were given to halfwheel by RoMa Craft Tobac.
  • Final smoking time averaged 56 minutes.
  • If you would like to purchase any of the RoMa Craft Tobac Baka Pygmy cigars, site sponsor Corona Cigar Co. has them in stock for the moment.
90 Overall Score

Loving a new RoMa Craft Tobac blend is not exactly a unique experience—I have really enjoyed the vast majority of cigars the company has released, CroMagnon notwithstanding—but the Baka Pygmy has easily jumped to the top of my list. Despite its diminutive size, the Pygmy is both exceedingly complex and extremely well-constrctued; in fact, the dominant flavor in the profile changes three times, from tea leaves in the first third to creamy almonds in the second third and powdery cocoa in the final third, while a combination of distinct maple syrup sweetness and cayenne pepper is very obvious on the retrohale throughout. Put simply, the Baka was worth waiting for and is easily one of the best new blends I have smoked this year.

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Brooks Whittington
About the author

I have been smoking cigars for over eight years. A documentary wedding photographer by trade, I spent seven years as a photojournalist for the Dallas Morning News and the Fort Worth Star Telegram. I started the cigar blog SmokingStogie in 2008 after realizing that there was a need for a cigar blog with better photographs and more in-depth information about each release. SmokingStogie quickly became one of the more influential cigar blogs on the internet, known for reviewing preproduction, prerelease, rare, extremely hard-to-find and expensive cigars. I am a co-founder of halfwheel and now serve as an editor for halfwheel.

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