Sometimes I have very deliberate ideas about what cigars to revisit for these redux reviews, other times I just don’t feel like reviewing a cigar for three hours. So when I opened up my redux box and saw a blue-banded robusto that I hadn’t thought about in some time, I figured now was the moment to review the Romeo y Julieta Reserva Real Nicaragua Robusto for a second time.

This cigar was originally scheduled to ship in March 2020, but then a global pandemic shut down many parts of the modern world right around then, ultimately delaying this cigar’s release until mid-May of that year. It’s one of a number of recent Altadis U.S.A. releases that are made by AJ Fernandez and also a member of a micro-trend where the company gave AJ Fernandez the chance to make Nicaraguan versions of some of its most popular cigars. Another example would be the Montecristo Nicaragua Series, for instance.

The Romeo y Julieta Reserva Real Nicaragua, a follow-up to the company’s extremely popular Reserva Real line, uses Nicaraguan tobaccos grown by Abdel Fernández and is made at his main factory, Tabacalera AJ Fernandez Cigars de Nicaragua S.A.

Four sizes were offered at launch.

  • Romeo y Julieta Reserva Real Nicaragua Robusto (5 x 50)
  • Romeo y Julieta Reserva Real Nicaragua Toro (6 x 54)
  • Romeo y Julieta Reserva Real Nicaragua Magnum (6 x 60)
  • Romeo y Julieta Reserva Real Nicaragua Churchill (7 x 50)

Here’s what I said when I reviewed the cigar in June 2020:

While this is not the best cigar Altadis U.S.A. sells, it likely will prove incredibly useful for both the brand and a lot of its retail customers. For starters, it’s going to be a lot easier to sell readers of this website and their contemporaries on “it’s a new Romeo made by AJ Fernandez” than “it’s a new Romeo.” Likely the more valuable pathway for both Altadis U.S.A. and retailers is encouraging the typical Reserva Real smoker—and there are likely tens of thousands—to try something stronger. It’s not a tad bit stronger, it’s a notch or two stronger, but not strong enough to get most of those people nicotine sick. For me, the Trinidad Espiritu—if it’s burning properly—is a much better AJ Fernandez-made Nicaraguan puro that Altadis U.S.A. sells for about a dollar more.

  • Cigar Reviewed: Romeo y Julieta Reserva Real Nicaragua Robusto
  • Country of Origin: Nicaragua
  • Factory: Tabacalera AJ Fernandez Cigars de Nicaragua S.A.
  • Wrapper: Nicaragua
  • Binder: Nicaragua
  • Filler: Nicaragua
  • Length: 5 Inches
  • Ring Gauge: 50
  • Vitola: Robusto
  • MSRP: $8.77 (Box of 25, $219.25)
  • Release Date: May 15, 2020
  • Number of Cigars Released: Regular Production
  • Number of Cigars Smoked For Redux: 1

While the cellophane is not an entirely accurate way to judge a cigar’s age, it’s pretty clear based off of a lack of clarity that this particular cigar is not covered with brand new cellophane. Once I’ve removed the cigar from its protective cover, I notice that the wrapper has a great sheen, a good bit of oils and a relatively small number of veins, though most are fairly prominent. The aroma from the wrapper has a lot of acidity—it smells a bit like sweat—and some barnyard and leather sensations. Like the wrapper, the foot’s aroma is medium-plus with an aroma of a cedar and tobacco combination that reminds me of walking through a cigar factory’s rolling room. There’s some acidity and some minor amounts of citrus rinds. The cold draw is medium-full with oatmeal and sweet cedar over some touches of floral flavors along with some sharpness, though it’s very smooth.

The Romeo y Julieta Reserva Real Nicaragua Robusto starts with a great hearty cedar note followed by some creaminess and a minor bit of something that reminds me of plastic. One thing that is a bit odd is that the flavors are very short on the first puff. That changes after the third puff and the cigar now has crisp cedar, leather and oatmeal as the main flavors. There’s some white pepper, creaminess and, as the cigar progresses, some herbal flavors and something that reminds me of an opened bottle of water that has sat out for a while. The finish has a butter-like creaminess, cedar, herbal flavors and something that reminds me of the smell of mulch, though the latter is pretty mild. Retrohales have oatmeal, leather and some yellow mustard, while the finish has some more of that bottled water flavor, cedar and leather. Flavor is medium-full, body is medium-plus and strength is medium. Right before the halfway point, I notice that the cigar is developing a pretty uneven burn, so I correct that, while I also find that the draw is opening up.

Fortunately, the open draw seems to close back down shortly after crossing the halfway point. Flavor-wise, the herbal flavors that were building at the end of the first half begin to dissipate and I find flavors of toasted cedar—reminiscent of lit cedar spills—and some oatmeal on top of earthiness and more of that stale bottled water flavor. The finish has sawdust, leather, some white pepper and sourness. Retrohales of the Romeo y Julieta Reserva Real Nicaragua Robusto deliver toastiness, burnt bread and leather, finishing drier with some added flavors of straw. At times, I can see some minor signs of tunneling but the draw never loosens back up again. Oatmeal remains in the final third though the cedar flavor is all but gone, replaced by some generic creaminess and earthiness. Retorhales are far more interesting the main flavor with peppermint over cedar and some floral flavors. They finish with lots of cedar on top of acidity, creaminess and a bit of straw. Flavor finishes just south of full while body is medium-full and strength is medium-plus. The final smoking time is one hour and 40 minutes.

87 Overall Score

After more than two years in the humidor, the Romeo y Julieta Reserva Real Nicaragua Robusto shows no signs of that mineral flavor that I found dominated the second half of the cigar when I first smoked it. What’s left is a rather diverse profile that can shine at some moments while also getting monotonous at others. It would be a lot easier to recommend this cigar if it weren’t for the construction issues, most notably the loosening of the draw right around the halfway mark which almost caused the cigar to go out. Even with that flaw, I think the cigar has gotten better after two years, though I’d still take that Trinidad Espiritu for about a dollar more.

Original Score (June 2020)
Redux Score (August 2022)

Charlie Minato

I am an editor and co-founder of Media, LLC. I previously co-founded and published TheCigarFeed, one of the two predecessors of halfwheel. I handle the editing of our written content, the majority of the technical aspects of the site and work with the rest of our staff on content management, business development and more. I’ve lived in most corners of the country and now entering my second stint in Dallas, Texas. I enjoy boxing, headphones, the Le Mans 24-hour, wearing sweatshirts year-round and gyros. echte liebe.