Originally slated for release in 2002 the Reserve Maduro series was postponed due a shortage of Connecticut broadleaf. Altadis uses the same leaf on its Onyx reserve and the machine-made Backwoods. It is somewhat amusing to me to think that a Romeo y Julieta project could be sidelined by a bunch of mangy Backwoods… but bidness is bidness.
The Reserve Maduro is a completely different blend from the natural (1875) version, which is all Dominican with an Indonesian TBN wrapper. Fairly often a maduro line of a given brand will have the same blend as the natural line, just with a maduro wrapper. Not in this case. What we got here is a “Blackened” Connecticut broadleaf wrapper surrounding a Nicaraguan binder and a Dominican, Nicaraguan, and Peruvian filler. The wrapper is described on one site as being “triple-fermented,” a phrase I’ve heard before that I suspect is largely window dressing. Maduro wrappers are normally fermented multiple times, so maybe there’s something I don’t understand here.
This fellow measures 50 x 6. Not the prettiest sight in the humidor, but Connecticut broadleaf is not known for its gentility. Prelight it smells like a chicken coop. Snipping off the cap and whiffing the head gives me a premonition of a very rich smoke to come — rich earth in addition to the unfortunate coopiness.
This is an unusual cigar. The barnyard factors high in its flavor profile, along with a sweet char typical of maduros. It’s medium in body, certainly not the powerhouse I was expecting. This is good — despite the imposing appearance of this stick the interesting flavors are fairly subtle. There’s an earthy richness which proves my initial pre-light impression correct. It’s a smelly smoke, with an excremental element that might turn some people off. I can see this being a “love it or hate it” cigar.
The Onyx reserve tastes nothing like this, so if it is in fact the same wrapper, I’d guess that the Peruvian filler is somehow involved in this odd flavor profile. When my father was stationed in Turkey he saw skeins of tobacco stretched out on the ground upon which camels would relieve themselves from time to time. He told me this is why Camel cigarettes taste the way they do. I think he was joking, but maybe there is a similar practice in Peru.
My final opinion is that the R Y J Reserve Maduro is a cigar of interest. Definitely worth a try just for the experience, but I don’t think I’ll add it to my regular rotation.