Last year, Royal Agio Cigars decided to end a U.S. distribution partnership with Drew Estate that began in 2014, a move that was part of a company makeover that also included introducing five new lines of cigars during this year’s IPCPR Convention & Trade Show.

One of those new releases was the Balmoral Añejo XO Connecticut, an extension to the company’s best-known line in America, the Añejo XO. While that original blend is wrapped in a Brazilian sun grown Arapiraca leaf, this new incarnation incorporates a Connecticut shade-grown wrapper covering an Ecuadorian Sumatra binder and filler tobaccos hailing from Brazil, the Dominican Republic and Pennsylvania.

“It has taken us several years to find just the right super-premium tobaccos to merit inclusion into these spectacular new Añejo XO blends,” said Boris Wintermans, ceo of Royal Agio Cigars, in a press release. “For me, it’s always about having the commitment and patience to ensure we find and work with only the best available tobaccos that will ultimately deliver an enjoyable, one-of-a-kind experience for cigar lovers. It is this unwavering, curious approach to blending all Añejo XO cigars that provides us with the opportunity to discover the best there is to be found.”

The Balmoral Añejo XO Connecticut is being rolled at the Royal Agio Cigars factory in San Pedro de Macoris, Dominican Republic and started shipping to retailers in August in five different vitolas, all of which are packaged in boxes of 20:

  • Balmoral Añejo XO Connecticut Torpedo Mk52 (6 1/4 x 52) — $11.25 (Boxes of 20, $225)
  • Balmoral Añejo XO Connecticut Gran Toro (6 x 52) — $10.50 (Boxes of 20, $210)
  • Balmoral Añejo XO Connecticut Rothschild Masivo (5 x 55) — $9.75 (Boxes of 20, $195)
  • Balmoral Añejo XO Connecticut Corona (5 7/8 x 42) — $9 (Boxes of 20, $180)
  • Balmoral Añejo XO Connecticut Petit Robusto FT (4 1/4 x 48) — $8.50 (Boxes of 20, $170)

  • Cigar Reviewed: Balmoral Añejo XO Connecticut Rothschild Masivo
  • Country of Origin: Dominican Republic
  • Factory: Royal Agio Cigars Factory
  • Wrapper: U.S.A. (Connecticut)
  • Binder: Ecuador (Sumatra)
  • Filler: Brazil, Dominican Republic & U.S.A. (Pennsylvania)
  • Length: 5 Inches
  • Ring Gauge: 55
  • Vitola: Robusto Extra
  • MSRP: $9.75 (Boxes of 20, $195)
  • Release Date: August 10, 2018
  • Number of Cigars Released: Regular Production
  • Number of Cigars Smoked For Review: 3

There is no denying that the Balmoral Añejo XO Connecticut Rothschild Masivo is attractive, with a pale golden brown wrapper that is smooth to the touch and features a small amount of oil. The cigar has two bands—a main band and a foot band—and a great amount of give when squeezed. Aroma from the wrapper is a combination of barnyard, peanut shells, almond paste, earth, hay and white pepper while the cold draw brings flavors of peanut butter, cedar, cinnamon, leather and slight vanilla sweetness.

Immediately after lighting the foot, the Balmoral Añejo XO Connecticut blasts me with a distinct flavor of creamy almonds interspersed with other notes of gritty earth, bitter espresso beans, cocoa nibs, oak, cinnamon and hay. There is a touch of vanilla bean sweetness on the retrohale, which combines nicely with some white pepper and spice on my tongue, both of which don’t seem to be getting any stronger anytime soon. Construction-wise, the draw is excellent after a simple straight cut, and although the burn is far from perfect, it is good enough to avoid needing correcting. The strength has issues reaching a point halfway between mild and medium by the time the first third ends, and the overall smoke production is both dense and copious off of the foot.

The creamy almond note increases noticeably by the start of the second third of the Balmoral Rothschild Masivo, followed by flavors of sawdust, slight lemongrass, coffee grounds, earth and leather. While there seems to be a little more pepper on the retrohale compared to the first third, the vanilla sweetness from the first third has morphed into a much stronger caramel note. Thankfully, the burn has evened up nicely and the draw continues to impress, but the smoke production has slowed down quite a bit. The overall strength is still increasing slowly, but only reaches a point close to the medium mark by the end of the second third.

Although the creamy almond note is still very much dominant in the profile, a charred oak flavor seems to be gaining strength in the final third of the Balmoral Añejo XO Connecticut. In addition, there are secondary notes of dark chocolate, cinnamon, leather, bitter espresso, floral and earth that flit in and out, although none are particularly aggressive. The caramel sweetness on the retrohale is sticking around—no pun intended—and there seems to be a bit more white pepper compared to the two thirds as well. Both the burn and the draw continue to impress, while the smoke production has increased slightly, albeit not even close reaching the amount in the first third. Unsurprisingly, the strength does not increase noticeably and ends up well short of the medium mark by the time I put the nub down with a bit more than an inch to go.

Final Notes:

  • I really love the color scheme of this release: the combination of royal blue, white and gold screams classy without being stuffy, and all of them work well with the color of the wrapper.

  • I was also impressed with the tab that is present on the band that makes it easier to take said band off, something I wish more companies would do include.
  • The history of the Royal Agio Cigars company is fascinating: it was founded in 1904 by Jacques Wintermans and is now one of the large cigar companies in Europe, producing almost 750 million cigars a year in more than 100 countries. That being said, most are little cigars or cigarillos.
  • During this year’s IPCPR Convention & Trade Show, Royal Agio Cigars also debuted the Añejo XO Oscuro, which is covered in a Mexican San Andrés wrapper and shipped to retailers in July in the same five vitolas as the Añejo XO Connecticut.
  • The cigars smoked for this review were sent by Royal Agio Cigars, which advertises on halfwheel.
  • Final smoking times for all three samples averaged one hour and 48 minutes.
  • If you would like to purchase any of the Balmoral Añejo XO Connecticut cigars, site sponsors, Famous Smoke Shop, JR Cigar, Serious Cigars and Thompson Cigar all have them in stock.
88 Overall Score

First and foremost, the Balmoral Añejo XO Connecticut is not a blend that is going to knock your socks off with its overt strength anytime soon. While the profile is light, nuanced and flavorful; it's not complex. Overall construction was well above average and it ended up being a well balanced, easy smoking blend that was a nice treat to enjoy in the morning, but if you are looking for flavor transitions, you will not find them here.

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Brooks Whittington

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.