From 2010 till 2015, when the Dutch FDA closed us down, I was one of the people behind the Dutch Big Smoke. One day, in the early summer of 2012, I went to the zoo with my nephew and my phone rings, unknown number, I pick up and it was the marketing manager of Royal Agio telling me that they wanted to introduce a new Balmoral cigar, the Balmoral Anejo 18, and asked me of we could fit them in at the Big Smoke mid september. Now Balmoral is mainly known for their shortfillers that, in The Netherlands, are sold in convenience stores, gas stations etc and their line of longfillers are dated and way under the radar of the cigar geeks like me, the only Balmoral I liked at the moment was the Balmoral Dominican Selection, a short filler dry cigar with Dominican tobacco and its a very good cigar for a short filler. So my response was blunt “why do you think we want a gas station cigar on the Big Smoke?”. Boy, was I wrong there!
A few weeks later Jaco de Kramer, who now owns Jacks’ Cigar bar in Rotterdam, tells me that he was at a barbecue and one of the Wintermans (owners of Agio) was there and he smoked that unreleased cigar, according to him it was great. I decided to call the Agio Marketing manager and told him to meet me, my employer, my Big Smoke co-organizer and Ed van Dalen, a well known cigar retailer, in the Van Dalen Lounge in Rotterdam the next Friday with some samples so we could try them and make up our minds. So that Friday he showed up, we all cut the cigar, lit it and after 3 puffs I look at the Agio guy and go “ok, how do you want to proceed from here?”, that cigar was great, and like I was so wrong to shut him down on that first phone call. Now the Anejo 18 had an 18 year old wrapper, so after 2 years of production they ran out of it and the follow up was the Balmoral Anejo XO, which came pretty close to the Anejo 18. I jumped for joy when I heard Agio would do a limited run of my favorite vitola, a 7×40 lancero. First they were released in the States but then 750 cigars (75 boxes of 10) came to The Netherlands. I managed to buy two at Primera Lelycentre, the shop of Ronald Riecker, a very passionated tobacco retailer in Lelystad.
I just love the size, not just because a Lancero has a beautiful wrapper to filler ratio, the wrapper gives most of the flavor, because of the low amount of filler the cigar gets more dynamic, its also an elegant cigar due to the length and the slenderness of the ring gauge. For the blend Agio used Dominican, Nicaraguan and Brazilian filler, a Dominican Olor binder and a Brazilian Arapiraca wrapper and as expected from Brazilian wrappers it is a bit rustic yet it also has a mild oily shine. A nice detail is the small pig tail. The construction feels good. The cigar has a deep, dark and relatively strong barnyard aroma, like walking into a stable with some cows but before they pissed all over the floor. The cigar has a double ring, a gray foot band with a white and gold line at the bottom and golden letters saying Anejo XO and in smaller letters Lancero FT. The normal band is white and gray with gray and golden letters. It says Balmoral on top in white and the B logo in gold, near the bottom it says Lancero FT in gray and underneath edicion 2016 limitada in white and god. The band is simple but tasteful, no coloring, its very clear what it is and I like it.
Because of the ring gauge and the pig tail I cut the cigar and this time I used a cutter from the Spanish company HF Barcelona. The cold draw is flawless. The flavor is mild spicy. After I lit the cigar with my Ronson lighter I taste a very pleasant full coffee flavor. After a few puffs I also taste some dark chocolate. Soon after I also taste pepper, it’s all balanced.
After in inch the coffee is gone and I taste spices, chocolate and some herbs. A third in I taste herbs, cedar and some nuts with a peppery aftertaste. Every few puffs I taste a faint chocolate too. Halfway there is a little citrus flavor too. When I review I don’t eat anything and I only drink water but I think this cigar would be spectacular with some dark chocolate. Slowly but surely the cigar gains strength and becomes more peppery. After two thirds pepper is the main flavor but every now and then I still taste the chocolates.
The draw is perfect, 100 out of 100 points. The smoke is thick and full. The ash is frayed, light gray with dark spots but it is firm. The burn is razor sharp. The cigar is full bodied and full of strong full flavors yet well balanced and full of evolution. The smoke time is an hour and forty five minutes.
Would I buy this cigar again? I’m afraid they are all sold out, I would by a box or two, or three, or four, or five if possible.