The Romeo y Julieta Wide Churchills Gran Reserva Cosecha 2009 has finally begun arriving at retailers.

It’s been more than two-and-a-half years since the cigar first appeared at the Festival del Habano Festival XVII and nearly four years since the last Gran Reserva shipped to retailers. As the name implies, this is a special release of the Romeo y Julieta Wide Churchills, a 5 1/8 x 55 parejo with the factory name Montesco.

Canada is one of the first markets, if not the only at the moment, to receive the cigar. Roger Lanteigne of Havana House, the Cuban cigar distributor for the country, told halfwheel certain stores in the country began receiving the cigars “within the last 7-10 days.”

Canada is the only market where halfwheel has been able to confirm distribution.

Up until 2014, Habanos S.A. had largely kept on schedule with its Reserva and Gran Reserva releases, with cigars arriving later in the year for which they were announced. Gran Reservas were released in years with odd numbers, Reservas in years with even numbers.

That changed with the H. Upmann Reserva No.2, announced in 2014 and released in late 2015. Last year came and went without any release in the series, though the presumption by most was that the Romeo y Julieta would be released next, whenever that might be.

Reserva and Gran Reserva are Habanos S.A.’s flagship releases with the latter being the more prestigious. A Gran Reserva is limited to Habanos S.A.’s global brands, i.e. the most popular labels, including: Cohiba, H. Upmann, Hoyo de Monterrey, Montecristo, Partagás, Romeo y Julieta and technically, José L. Piedra.

From there, a current production release is selected, though the tobacco used all comes from the Vuelta Abajo region of Pínar del Río and the tobacco is all aged for at least five years. The name at the end of the cigar, in this case 2009, references the harvest that was used.

The cigars are then given a special gold on black secondary band with the letters and R and packaged in boxes of 15. Production is limited to 5,000 numbered boxes, though that’s not without controversy. Multiple large distributors told halfwheel they received far less than their normal Reserva/Gran Reserva allotment with the H. Upmann No.2 Reserva.

Despite delayed releases, it hasn’t stopped Habanos S.A. from announcing more cigars. The 2016 Reserva was the Hoyo de Monterrey Epicure No.2 Reserva Cosecha 2012 and this year’s Gran Reserva is the H. Upmann Sir Winston Cosceha 2011. Neither cigar has been released.

A representative for 5th Avenue, the German distributor, told halfwheel that the company does not have the Romeo y Julieta Gran Reserva and has no timetable on when it is supposed to arrive, as did a spokesperson for Intertabak AG, which distributes Habanos S.A. products in Switzerland.

Emails sent to other distributors and Habanos S.A. were not returned.

Update (Oct. 29, 2017) — Pricing at the La Casa del Habano in Montreal has been confirmed at CAD $170 per cigar ($178.50 with sales tax), or CAD $2,550 for a box of 15 cigars. With the current exchange rate, that works out to approximately USD $132.55 per cigar, or $1,988.25 per box.

Charlie Minato contributed to this story.

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Patrick Lagreid

I strive to capture the essence of a cigar and the people behind them in my work – every cigar you light up is the culmination of the work of countless people and often represents generations of struggle and stories. For me, it’s about so much more than the cigar – it’s about the story behind it, the experience of enjoying the work of artisans and the way that a good cigar can bring people together. In addition to my work with halfwheel, I’m the public address announcer for the Colorado Rockies and Arizona Diamondbacks during spring training, as well as for the Salt River Rafters of the Arizona Fall League, the WNBA's Phoenix Mercury and the Arizona Rattlers of the Indoor Football League. I also work in a number of roles for, plus I'm a voice over artist. I previously covered the Phoenix and national cigar scene for, and was an editor for Cigar Snob magazine.