In a video posted on May 3, Boutique Blend Cigars President Rafael Nodal mentioned the company’s third limited edition release, the Aging Room M21 ƒƒortissimo, more commonly spelled as Aging Room M21 Fortissimo. The cigar was shown off at the 2013 IPCPR trade show in July, following the previous years’ releases of the Aging Room Small Batch M356 and the Aging Room Quattro F55. It measures 5 1/2 x 47 and uses a seven-year-old Dominican habano wrapper grown in La Canela over fillers from the Dominican Republic. There were only 30,000 Fortissimos released with MSRP set at $12.90 per cigar or $129 per box of 10.

Rafael Nodal expounded on the release in an interview with Cigar Advisor:

This cigar is something I have been working on for a long, long time…Part of the Aging Room family, M21 is the blend, is the date that we come out with the blend. Its a Monday the 21st day of last year. Probably the strongest cigar ever to have come out of a Dominican Factory…

When you smoke this cigar, you are going to get a lot of body, but also a lot of aroma, because the tobacco has been aged for so long that we were really able to capture what were looking for, a real flavor of the Habano Dominican grown tobacco…ƒƒortissimo is a musical term that means “strong”, and thats what you get when you try the M21 Fortissimo.

Here are what the boxes of the Aging Room M21 Fortissimo look like:

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Aging Room M21 Fortissimo 1

  • Cigar Reviewed: Aging Room M21 ƒƒortissimo
  • Country of Origin: Dominican Republic
  • Factory: Tabacalera Palma
  • Wrapper: Dominican Republic Habano
  • Binder: Dominican Republic
  • Filler: Dominican Republic
  • Size: 5 1/2 Inches
  • Ring Gauge: 47
  • Vitola: Perfecto
  • MSRP: $12.90 (Boxes of 10, $129.00)
  • Date Released: July 2013
  • Number of Cigars Released: 3,000 Boxes of 10 Cigars (30,000 Total Cigars)
  • Number of Cigars Smoked For Review: 2

The Aging Room M21 Fortissimo is an interesting specimen, a perfecto with a spiral pigtail and a medium slightly reddish brown wrapper that is so smooth it is almost slick to the touch. Aroma coming off the wrapper is a combination of sweet nuts, cedar, leather and chocolate. When squeezed, the cigar shows an ideal amount of resistance.

The Fortissimo starts out the first third with flavors of strong cedar, leather, creamy nuts and a slight grass note that comes and goes. There is a noticeable bitterness underneath the other flavors that disappears as soon as the burn is past the nipple. In addition, the draw is extremely tight until that point in the cigar as well, but opens up nicely after that. After the nipple, there is a great amount of white pepper on the retrohale that combines extremely well with some slight graham cracker sweetness that seems to be getting stronger as the first third progresses. Smoke production is above average and both the burn and draw are excellent after the nipple. Strength-wise, the cigar ends the first third well below the medium mark, but it is getting stronger.

Aging Room M21 Fortissimo 2

There is a major increase in the graham cracker sweetness as I move into the second third of the M21, along with more creamy nuts, cedar, leather and a small amount of cinnamon. The bitterness from the first third is long gone, and the white pepper on the retrohale has increase slightly, although it is still not close to overwhelming. The strength hovers around the medium mark, and the draw has excellent resistance while the burn is razor sharp.

Aging Room M21 Fortissimo 3

Coming into the final third of the Fortissimo, and there is yet another increase in the white pepper on the retrohale, while the graham cracker sweetness has morphed into more of a slightly sweet floral note. Other flavors of espresso, milk chocolate, cedar, cinnamon and creamy nuts flit in and out, with the nuttiness becoming dominant at the end of the smoke. Surprisingly, the strength ends about where it began in the second third, perhaps a bit above the medium mark, but no more than that. The construction remains fabulous in every regard, and the nub stays cool until I put it down with less than an inch left.

Aging Room M21 Fortissimo 4

Final Notes:

  • Fortissimo is a musical term which translates to very loud and is usually used as a direction, i.e. a very loud passage or tone. As on the box, you will often see the name of the cigar spelled with the ƒƒ fortissimo music notation replacing the F.
  • Interestingly, while Fortissimo is one of the names of the cigar and is printed on the box, the actual band on the cigar only says M21.
  • As mentioned above, M21 refers to the day of the week (Monday) and the day of the year (the 21st day of January) when this blend was finalized. This naming scheme is nothing new, and has been used for both of the other limited editions in the Aging Room series as well.
  • The Dominican Habano wrapper the Fortissimo uses is old, but exactly how old seems to be up for debate. In the interview with Cigar Advisor, Rafael Nodal says it is eight years old, but in the first video they released back in May, he says seven years.
  • I really love the Perfecto vitola in general, and the ring gauge of the Aging Room M21 specifically, and the smaller size seems very well suited to the medium bodied/full flavored blend that it utilizes. Having said that, both samples I smoked were noticeably bitter until after the nipple, making me question if it would be a better smoking experience overall without the nipple on the foot.
  • On cigars where there is a large enough pigtail present, I just pull the pigtail off of the cap instead of cutting, and I am rewarded with a perfect draw almost every time, and this was the case with the Fortissimo as well. Other cigars I have done this to include the Liga Privada Flying Pig and Feral Flying Pig just to name a couple.
  • The draw was a bit tight for the first 10 puffs until I burned past the nipple, then opened up nicely, while the burn on both samples was excellent.
  • The ash is almost as white as I have ever seen, but it is extremely flaky, and does not hold on for more then a half inch at a time, which is the reason there is no nipple of ash in the first third photograph. Do not smoke this over a computer, or you will regret it.
  • While the actual release cigars come in 10-count boxes, there were individual coffins given out as samples at the IPCPR show. The cigars for this review come from these samples.
    Aging Room M21 Fortissimo Coffin
  • The final smoking time for both samples that I smoke averaged one hour and 45 minutes.
  • If you are looking to purchase and of the Aging Room M21 Fortissimo, site sponsors Atlantic CigarCigar King and Superior Cigars all have them in stock.
90 Overall Score

I had heard quite a few good things about this blend before I smoked it, and it did not disappoint. Complex, flavorful and extremely well-constructed, it was a joy to smoke in almost every regard. In fact, the only thing that threw me off was the assertion that it was a strong blend, as I pegged each on of my samples as hitting barely above the medium mark. In the end, that is a minor quibble, and the rest of the profile and construction more than made up for it. A cigar I can easily recommend, if you are a fan of medium bodied, full-flavored smokes.

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.