For the fourth consecutive year, RoMa Craft Tobac has released a limited edition cigar—err, cigars—under the simple name CRAFT.
It’s an obvious play on the company’s name, but also represents something larger: showing off the skills of the Fábrica de Tabacos NicaSueño S.A. factory in Estelí, Nicaragua that the brand calls home. While the CRAFT releases aren’t the same blend, they aren’t the same shape—let alone size—they have had all used more than one wrapper to create different designs on the surface area of the cigar. In some cases—the 2020 release for example—RoMa Craft Tobac has actually made a variety of different designs sold in a single box. In that regard, the CRAFT 2021 is a bit more pedestrian, though each box of 10 cigars contains five each of two different cigars.
Each cigar is a 5 5/8 x 60 double perfecto that has multiple wrappers, an interesting cap and an unfinished foot. Internally, the cigars are similar to the company’s Neanderthal line, using a dark Indonesian besuki binder over a mixture of Dominican and Nicaraguan tobaccos in the filler. There is one major change from the Neanderthal blend, and that is that the CRAFT 2021 does not use the Pennsylvania double ligero tobacco in the fillers, which should make these less potent nicotine-wise.
As far as the wrappers, both use Connecticut broadleaf as the main wrapper though the accents are either Ecuadorian Connecticut or candela.
- CRAFT 2013 La Campaña de Panamá Soberana (5 x 46/60) — November 2013 — 1,000 Boxes of 10 Cigars (10,000 Total Cigars)
- CRAFT 2018 (5 x 46/60) — March 2018 — 2,000 Boxes of 10 Cigars (20,000 Total Cigars)
- CRAFT 2019 (6 1/2 x 44) — May 2019 — 250 Boxes of 12 Cigars (3,000 Total Cigars)
- CRAFT 2020 (5 3/4 x 46) — June 2020 — 1,500 Boxes of 10 Cigars (15,000 Total Cigars)
- CRAFT 2021 (5 5/8 x 60) — July 2021 — 2,000 Boxes of 10 Cigars (20,000 Total Cigars)
I would argue that the largest change for the 2021 release compared to the earlier CRAFT cigars has nothing to do with the cigar itself, rather, how it’s being sold. RoMa Craft Tobac has limited previous CRAFT releases to a small number of stores—in 2020 it was just 10 stores—whereas the 2021 cigar was offered to the majority of the company’s accounts, meaning it should have been easier to get ahold of these cigars.
- Cigar Reviewed: CRAFT 2021
- Country of Origin: Nicaragua
- Factory: Fábrica de Tabacos NicaSueño S.A.
- Wrapper: U.S.A. (Connecticut Broadleaf) & Ecuador (Connecticut)
- Binder: Indonesia (Besuki)
- Filler: Dominican Republic & Nicaragua
- Length: 5 5/8 Inches
- Ring Gauge: 60
- Vitola: Double Perfecto
- MSRP: $18 (Box of 10, $180)
- Release Date: July 26, 2021
- Number of Cigars Released: 2,000 Boxes of 10 Cigars (20,000 Total Cigars)
- Number of Cigars Smoked For Review: 3
The first thing I notice about the CRAFT 2021 is something that Brooks Whittington pointed out to me: the cigars in the box we purchased are not all the same lengths. That’s not that odd, but there’s almost 1/4 of an inch of variance between the shortest and longest cigars, making it immediately apparent. For what it’s worth, most of the cigars are the same length, there are just a few noticeable outliers. If I had to guess, this is something that is exacerbated by the unique cap designs, but in the case of the cigars that are noticeably off, the length of the bodies of the cigars isn’t the same. It was noticeable enough that while he was photographing the box, he asked me if the cigars were supposed to be the same length. As for the design, it reminds me a lot of the CroMagnon Narwhal—or at least the Narwhal that I smoked—though they aren’t either the same size. The Narwhal was larger and the overall appearance is a bit different because CRAFT 2021 uses a brushed foot. For this review, I opted to smoke three of the cigars with Ecuadorian Connecticut accents for the sake of consistency. The aroma from the wrapper is medium-plus but difficult-to-find distinct flavors. It has scents of parchment paper, some paste and leather. The foot is medium-full and a lot sweeter thanks to aromas of hot cocoa, nuttiness and caramel. The cold draw is an interesting mixture of meatiness and sweetness with some white pepper cutting through. While the meatiness is more of a singular flavor, the sweetness seems derived form flavors of oatmeal cookie, floral flavors and sourdough bread.
Whenever the foot of a cigar is a bit different, I take extra time to make sure it’s evenly lit. That’s not really needed here and the CRAFT 2021 starts burning pretty quickly. The first puff tastes of dry nuttiness, creaminess, a sugar sweetness, earthiness and some toasted paprika. Black tea and earthiness fight out for the top spot in the profile, though most of the flavors of the CRAFT 2021 are pretty integrated meaning it’s hard for anyone to stand out that much. Other flavors include waffle cone, creaminess, peanut butter and pepper. The latter seems like red pepper in two cigars and black pepper in the third cigar. It finishes with peanut butter, creaminess, some more of that oatmeal cookie and a mild, but sharp, grapefruit flavor that is easy to pick out. Retrohales have a funky earth flavor and oatmeal cookies. Unlike a lot of cigars, where retrohaling can add unique flavors to the profile, this just intensifies the flavors I was tasting in the mouth. The finish is toastier and sees a more robust sourdough flavor. In addition, there’s some saltiness and sawdust sensations. Flavor is medium-full, body is medium-full and strength is medium-plus. Smoke production can be great and the burn line is even, but the draw is tough for me to figure out. I would recommend cutting a bit more than normal to loosen things up, but I still can’t get the draw to a place where each puff delivers a consistent amount of smoke.
Flavor-wise, it’s tough to tell where the first third ends and the second third begins. It seems to happen well past the halfway mark of the body and even then, the changes are subtle. Earthiness is the leading flavor, separating itself a bit more from the rest of the flavors, though the sourdough flavors also increase. Underneath those are creaminess, saltiness, herbal flavors and starchiness. The pepper is now distinctly a black pepper sensation on all three cigars. It finishes with earthiness, sunflower seed shells, creaminess and a pepper array that seems to combine black pepper and red pepper. Retrohales have earthiness over grapefruit, saltiness and oatmeal. What’s odd is that the flavors were all present in the first third, but they aren’t working as well together now and I’m not entirely sure why. The finish of the retrohale is also not as appetizing as before because it’s a lot drier. It doesn’t seem to be the sawdust flavor, but once the smoke leaves my nose everything just gets drier and the only new flavor beyond that is some leather, which doesn’t do much to counterbalance it. Flavor is full, body is medium-full and strength is medium-plus, though building. Construction is pretty similar to the first third, though I do think the draw is a bit better now than before. One cigar needs a touch-up to help with the inconsistent smoke production, but like most RoMa Craft cigars, the CRAFT 2021 is burning pretty well.
While it was tough to figure out the difference between the first and second third, it’s not tough to figure out when the final third begins. The profile continues to be led by earthiness, though it’s now mixed with tortilla chips. Behind those two flavors are grains and some burnt coffee. Notably missing is the pepper, the first time I can recall taking puffs and not picking up any pepper. The finish has an increased amount of creaminess along with the tortilla chip flavor, earthiness and a sharp sugar underneath. Retrohales have an earthiness that is similar to earlier parts of the cigar along with creaminess and floral flavors. They finish with a grittier version of the earthiness thanks to an uptick in black pepper. There’s an increased amount of creaminess as well but it’s difficult to tell given the uptick in pepper. Flavor is full, body is medium-full and strength is barely medium-full. Like before, construction is fine though the smoke production can be inconsistent, sometimes necessitating a couple of double puffs.
- In addition to showing off the rolling skills of NicaSueño, the CRAFT releases have typically shown off the craftsmanship of the box factory RoMa Craft uses. The box that holds the cigars slides out of an outer box. It’s a tight enough fit that it requires two hands to do it. The boxes are heavy and as robust as any wooden box I can think of.
- I haven’t smoked the candela-accented version, so I’m not sure how different they are.
- While it seems like it would cause things to unravel, I would recommend cutting the cigar a bit deeper than the wrappers would suggest. I found that if I cut right in the strip of the lighter tobacco I got a much better draw and it surprisingly didn’t lead to any unraveling. If I cut above it, which is probably closer to where I’d typically cut a torpedo, the draw was tighter than I’d like.
- I’d say this cigar is closer to medium-plus than medium-full in strength. It’s certainly not the strength level of a CroMagnon, let alone a Neanderthal.
- Cigars for this review were purchased by halfwheel.
- Final smoking times varied between two and a half hours and three hours; the difference being the deeper cut led to quicker smoking times.
- Site sponsor Cigar Hustler is selling a sampler that includes four CRAFT 2021 cigars.
One of these days I am going to find a CRAFT release that I think tastes as good as the rest of the cigars in the RoMa Craft Tobac portfolio but today is not that day. I don’t know if it’s the blends, or the sizes, or the multi-wrapper designs, or just a convergence of a number of things, but the CRAFT-branded cigars have always performed for me worse than the regular cigars that RoMa Craft Tobac makes. In this case, the cigar seemed a bit like the antithesis of how I would describe RoMa Craft. What I love about RoMa Craft Tobac is that the cigars are easy to appreciate: the flavors are typically pretty bold and sensibly layered, while the construction is usually something I don't have to think about. And while I think the cigars are pretty to look at and I'd gladly smoke more CRAFT 2021 cigars, the feeling when smoking them isn't as pleasurable as what happens when I smoke a CroMagnon.