ROMEO by Romeo y Julieta Gran Bully Special Edition

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Originally introduced in 2012, the ROMEO by Romeo y Julieta blend was an addition to Altadis U.S.A.’s existing Romeo y Julieta brand featuring a different wrapper and a stronger blend compared to the normal Romeo y Julieta line. While there were initially four sizes when it launched, the line has grown to six different regular production vitolas with ring gauges ranging from 44 on the small end to 60 on the large end.

During the 2013 IPCPR show in Las Vegas, Altadis U.S.A. announced it would be producing a limited edition 6 x 60 cigar in the ROMEO by Romeo y Julieta line. Named the Gran Bully, the 6 x 60 cigar is sold in boxes of 10 and has a total production of 60,000 cigars. 

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We had the details of the release back in November of last year:

After delays with packaging, Altadis USA has begun shipping the ROMEO by Romeo y Julieta Gran Bully special edition to retailers.

The cigar was shown off at this year’s IPCPR Convention and Trade Show and at the time was expected to begin shipping in September. In a situation that has become more common in the cigar industry as of late, that date was pushed back to late October with shipping finally beginning on November 13.

The ROMEO by Romeo y Julieta Gran Bully is a 6 x 60 special edition of what has become one of the brand’s showcase blends. This new vitola gets a slightly tweaked blend to add some strength, as well as extra time in the aging room to let the flavors marry before being packed into 10-count boxes. Pricing is about $112.50 per box or $11.25 per cigar, with production capped at 6,000 individually numbered boxes of ten, for a total run of 60,000 cigars. 

With the addition of the ROMEO by Romeo y Julieta Gran Bully Special Edition Special Edition, there are now seven different vitolas in the ROMEO by Romeo y Julieta line. They are:

  • ROMEO by Romeo y Julieta Bocados (5 x 44) — Regular Production
  • ROMEO by Romeo y Julieta Bocados Gorditos (4 x 60) — Regular Production
  • ROMEO by Romeo y Julieta Robusto (5 x 54) — Regular Production
  • ROMEO by Romeo y Julieta Toro (6 x 54) — Regular Production
  • ROMEO by Romeo y Julieta Piramdes (6 1/8 x 52) — Regular Production
  • ROMEO by Romeo y Julieta Churchill (7 x 50) — Regular Production
  • ROMEO by Romeo y Julieta Gran Bully Special Edition (6 x 60) — 6,000 Boxes of 10 (60,000 Total Cigars)

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ROMEO by Romeo y Julieta Gran Bully Special Edition 1

  •  Cigar Reviewed: ROMEO by Romeo y Julieta Gran Bully Special Edition
  • Country of Origin: Dominican Republic
  • Factory: Tabacalera de García
  • Wrapper: Ecuadorian Habano
  • Binder: Dominican Republic (Olor)
  • Filler: Dominican Republic (Piloto and Olor)
  • Size: 6 Inches
  • Ring Gauge: 60
  • Vitola: Gordo
  • Est. Price: $11.25 each (Boxes of 10, $112.50)
  • Date Released: November 13, 2013
  • Number of Cigars Released: 6,000 Boxes of 10 (60,000 Total Cigars)
  • Number of Cigars Smoked for Review:

The combination of the large ring gauge and heavy weight make the ROMEO by Romeo y Julieta Gran Bully Special Edition a physically imposing cigar. The wrapper is a nondescript medium brown, smooth to the touch and sans any oil at all. It is a bit hard when squeezed, but not so hard that I think it will be a problem draw wise. Aroma from the wrapper is a combination of light wood, leather and chocolate, while the cold draw brings flavors of cedar, cinnamon and slight black pepper.

It takes a while to get it lit, but once it is, the ROMEO by Romeo y Julieta Gran Bully Special Edition burns like a champ, putting out a copious and continuous amount of dense, white smoke. The dominant flavor from the start is a lightly sweet cedar note, interspersed with earth, dark chocolate, leather and generic tobacco. I am noticing a combination of black pepper and very slight cinnamon on the retrohale that comes and goes, but there is no spice to the profile at all. Construction-wise, the draw is a bit looser than I like, although still easily within normal limits, and the burn gives me no problems whatsoever. The overall strength is fairly light so far, and ends the first third well below the medium mark.

ROMEO by Romeo y Julieta Gran Bully Special Edition 2

Coming into the second third of the ROMEO Gran Bully, and while the main flavors in the profile have remained the same for the most part, the sweetness that I noticed in the first third has shifted from sweet cedar to more of a maple note, although it is still not all that strong. Other notes are almost unchanged: cedar, chocolate, leather and tobacco. When it is around, the black pepper on the retrohale is a bit stronger, but it is still inconsistent. Strength-wise, the Gran Bully has increased into the medium range, but really does not seem to be going anywhere further very fast. The burn is fine, but the draw remains a bit more open than I would like.

ROMEO by Romeo y Julieta Gran Bully Special Edition 3

The final third of the Gran Bully offers very little change from the second third: the same mild maple sweetness, the same basic flavors of earth, leather, cedar and tobacco in the profile, and the pretty much the same amount of black pepper on the retrohale. The one change I am noticing is more smoke production, which is a feat considering there was quite a bit to begin with. The burn is still decent, although nothing spectacular, while the draw continues to be a bit looser than optimal for me. The strength ends the cigar slightly above medium, which is less than I expected considering the marketing on this blend.

ROMEO by Romeo y Julieta Gran Bully Special Edition 4 

Final Notes: 

  • There seem to be some discrepancies on if the name ROMEO is supposed to be all in caps or not. The official Altadis Romeo y Julieta website has the name both ways, which does not help any.
  • I have to say, I absolute hate the combination of the horrible logo of the ROMEO and the ultra shiny secondary band. While the logo on the main band is bad enough, the secondary band is so distracting, I refused to look at it except when I was taking photographs. 
    ROMEO.JPG 
  • It should be noted that while the logo on the ROMEO is the same for the regular production and the Special Edition, the main band itself is different. The regular edition has a white logo on a red background, surrounded by gold foil, while the Gran Bully is smaller, has a red logo on a white background surrounded by less gold foil.
  • As I have been doing for the last month or so, I v-cut both of these samples, and I am glad I did, as I ended up with a draw that was on the loose side but still decent, and I am am afraid that it would have been much too open if I had straight cut it.
  • This vitola supposedly has a bit more strength than the other vitolas in the line, but after smoking both a Torpedo and a Robusto to compare, I just don’t see it. 
  • Having said that, it should also be mentioned that the Torpedo vitola had significantly more sweetness and flavor overall than either the Gran Bully or the Robusto.
  • In January, Altadis USA announced a two to three percent increase in price on most of their products on order placed after November 17, 2013.
  • Just last week, we published a story that Altadis USA will be producing an exclusive TAA H. Upmann Limited Edition at the upcoming  Tobacconists Association of America meeting at the end of March.
  • The final smoking time for both of my samples averaged just over two hours.
  • The cigars smoked for this review were purchased by halfwheel.
  • Site sponsor Superior Cigars has the Gran Bully Special Edition in stock as of this moment, as well as other vitolas in the ROMEO by Romeo y Julieta line.
81 Overall Score

I have smoked some of the different sizes of the regular ROMEO by Romeo y Julietas before, and while I did not find them offensive by any means, the profile always left me wanting more. The ROMEO by Romeo y Julieta Gran Bully Special Edition has a bit more body than the other vitolas I have tried in the line, but the flavors are essentially the same boring stuff for the entire smoke: tobacco, chocolate, cedar, earth and a little black pepper. In fact, after comparing the Special Edition to the Torpedo side-by-side, the profile of the 6 x 60 seems almost muted in comparison. In the end, while the ROMEO by Romeo y Julieta has never been a blend I would turn to often, the regular vitolas are better than the latest offering, and offer a significantly better price point as well.

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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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