Over the past two years, a series of limited edition cigars produced exclusively for Tobacconist Association of America members has garnered a fair share of buzz among cigar smokers in the know. Interestingly, most of the buzz comes via members of the online media or a few retailers who are active on Twitter, as the TAA keeps a fairly low profile and doesn’t produce much in the way of press releases or publicity for anything it does.
From their website, the TAA describes itself as follows:
Our Mission Statement: To provide an open forum of ideas, strategies, and problem solving between retail tobacconist and vendors to the trade. Our Organization’s Objectives: TAA exists to achieve three primary objectives:
- To establish a forum where members can exchange information and share solutions to mutual problems.
- To be represented by experienced tobacconists who promote professionalism in the industry through training and exercising fiscal responsibility. The representatives are full-line tobacco retailers who wholeheartedly comply with applicable state and local laws, are well established in the industry and the community.
- To function as a buying group that takes advantage of industry close outs and passes huge savings to members, and exclusively provides high-quality cigars and pipes manufactured by TAA associate members and under TAA-owned trademarks.
TAA retail members can buy directly from associate members (manufacturers and suppliers) at special offered prices. The support and cooperation of all members is what makes TAA so valuable. Taking advantage of networking opportunities benefits all members. Sharing knowledge and experience is mutually satisfying, and buying from associate members strengthens purchasing lines. All members are encouraged to attend the annual convention, which is not only educational but enjoyable.
As has become customary for the TAA meetings, a variety of cigars were available for purchase exclusively by TAA retailers. The most recent list included:
- Ashton VSG Robusto Especial
- Jaime Garcia Reserva Especial TAA
- La Aroma de Cuba Mi Amor Robusto Limitado
- Oliva Serie V No.4*
- Padrón TAA
- Romeo y Julieta Exclusivo Para TAA by José Seijas
- Tatuaje TAA 2011
*The Oliva Serie V No.4 was offered in a variety of forms before its formal release at the IPCPR 2011
Incidentally, the next TAA meeting is coming up March 25–29, 2012 in Los Cabos, Mexico.
One of the first things that makes the Romeo y Julieta TAA release different than its counterparts is that it’s sold in two-count boxes. The Tatuaje was shipped in boxes of 20, the Ashton VSG came in ten-count boxes, the Jamie Garcia arrived in boxes of 16, and the Oliva Serie V No. 4 was packed in 24-count boxes.
Like the Tatuaje and Jaime Garcia, it is a box-pressed cigar, something that seems to be a bit of a trend in TAA releases.
- Cigars Reviewed: Romeo y Julieta Exclusivo Para TAA by José Seijas
- Country of Origin: Dominican Republic
- Factory: Tabacalera de García
- Wrapper: Ecuadorian Habano Cubano
- Binder: Nicaraguan
- Filler: Dominican Republic
- Size: 6 Inches
- Ring Gauge: 60
- Vitola: Magnum
- MSRP: Coffins of 2, $19.95
- Release Date: 2011
- Number of Cigars Released: n/a
- Number of Cigars Smoked for Review: 2
When you slide the lid off the box, you realize that the two cigars are really packed in their box. Thankfully, the cellophane on one of the cigars is turned up to help pull that first cigar out, but there certainly isn’t much breathing room. The wrapper feels fairly supple and soft, though it’s not perfectly smooth and the cigar has just a bit of give when squeezed. Its pre-light aroma consists of hay and wheat bread, particularly the crust of really good wheat bread. The cold draw of the Romeo y Julieta TAA is easy, with light wood, hay and peanut notes present, though the box pressed 60 ring gauge shape feeling more like a Snickers bar than a cigar.
The first third of the Romeo y Julieta Exclusivo Para TAA by José Seijas starts with an easy, unchallenged draw, leading with a chalky smoke and flavor in the first few puffs. Its ash is very flaky, coming off in small bits and pieces as opposed to one big clump. For my palate, the 6 x 60 is fairly mild, though on the bigger spectrum I think it’s safe to call it medium or medium-minus.
It stays medium-bodied through the second third, though the Romeo y Julieta has picked up a bit of spice. The chalky flavor leaves and is replaced by a tangy, woody note. Its smoke is airy, almost fluffy in the mouth, almost like cotton candy without the sweetness.
The final third evolves a bit further, bringing in more complexity as the spice and wood notes become more prominent, leaving me to think that this is where the cigar should have started at. Heat takes over towards the end and adds a charred, unpleasant taste that really wastes an otherwise good finish.
- Other than the previously mentioned problems with the ash, the cigar performs very well – no touch-ups are needed and the burn line stays sharp.
- While the band is very similar to that of the Romeo y Julieta Reserva Real, Altadis USA says it is a different blend and not part of the Reserva Real line.
- It bears mentioning that the Romeo y Julieta generates plenty of smoke – not really a surprise given its big 6 x 60 vitola, but it was significant enough to be noteworthy.
- I’d be intrigued to see if other boxes were packed as tightly as this one was – you couldn’t shrink the box by more than a millimeter or two and still get the cigars in it.
- None of our five site sponsors are TAA members, although that might change before the end of the year, however the TAA offers a map to find your nearest TAA retailer.
- The TAA actually owns a few different cigar brands that are offered exclusively to TAA shops. Ocaso has been offered in a few different variants including: Dominican, Havana and Honduran. Quesada actually makes Ocaso Dominican. Casa Antero is also made by Quesada and offered solely to TAA shops.
- Final smoking time was two hours.
It was a retailer that sold me on this cigar, and had I not had a good relationship with him I don't think I would have ever picked this up.Take a big ring gauge cigar from a brand I'm not a big fan of and make me buy two of them and you have an equation that doesn't end in a purchase in most cases. However, I wasn't disappointed with them; it's a bit mild for my palate and lacks the complexity of a great cigar, but it was certainly enjoyable. While I don't know that I'd buy another one, I can certainly see why it earned this particular tobacconist's recommendation, and as such it gets a thumbs-up from me.