The top of Cigar Aficionado's Cigar of the Year list is normally dominated by major cigar brands with a long track record of produce famous cigars. But when they gave the #1 spot to the Cuban Montecristo No. 2, the second place went to a small-batch cigar from a brand new cigar brand. The aptly named Boutique Blends launched the super-premium Aging Room line in 2012 and earned the highest honor of any non-Cuban brand in their very first year of production. It takes a truly remarkable cigar to launch a brand to such enormous success right out of the gate.
Boutique Blends founder Rafael Nodal not to be confused with tennis master Rafael Nadal never wanted to create the next big brand. When he decided to launch Aging Room, he didn't partner with any major brands or build his own factory with the intention of creating a new cigar empire. Instead, he turned to the Tabacalera Palma, which produces cigars for various international brands including Romeo y Julieta and Montecristo, but up until that point only sold cigars under the company's own name within its native Dominican Republic. Following the success of Aging Room, Boutique Blends has become part of the massive Altadis brand and Tabacalera Palma achieved worldwide fame with its La Galera brand. But back in 2012, neither company was part of the mainstream cigar world.
This was just what Nodal wanted.
His mission was to use his freedom as an independent blender to create groundbreaking small-batch cigars. Tabacalera Palma was the perfect partner for this endeavor because they produced a wide range of remarkable tobaccos which allowed him to experiment and create unique blends with the craftsmanship that his ambition demanded. Their Dominican long-fillers and binder give the Aging Room cigars their mellow, complex backbone.
But Nodal wasn't going to stop with Tabacalera Palma's wonderful tobaccos. He embarked on a worldwide quest for the perfect wrappers to adorn his debut cigars. This led him to the aging room of a German cigar company, where he discovered rare Sumatra leaves from the actual Indonesian island of Sumatra which had been left there to mature since 2003. While Sumatra-seed tobaccos are a mainstay of the tobacco industry, genuine Sumatra leaves are just about unheard of in the craft cigar world. As soon as Nodal saw these wrappers, he knew that he struck gold. And cigar enthusiasts around the world could not agree more.
The super-aged Sumatra wrapper is what makes the Aging Room Quattro F55 such a luxurious, unique cigar. Ten years of aging have allowed the flavors to become full-bodied but immensely smooth. The Quattro F55 even looks and feels like a one-of-kind super-premium cigar. The box-pressed Churchill is reassuringly firm and the wrapper's smooth, blemish-free luster stands out as soon as you pick one of these masterpieces up.
But the party really starts when you snip the cap and light one of the beauties up. The draw is just right, allowing you to instantly produce plumes of thick, creamy smoke that is immensely aromatic thanks to the Sumatra wrapper. It starts off with a heady combination of cedar and peppery-spice which only gets better as the spice recedes and refined notes of espresso and cream come into play to produce a truly delicious bouquet. The best is yet to come though, as the strength builds and the palate becomes dominated by sweet cedar and freshly roasted coffee.
The grand finale sees a return of all of the flavors that have defined the smoke so far but turned up to 11: the peppery-spice, cedar, coffee, and even a new cocoa note. And the masterful blending and aged wrapper keep things balanced and smooth even as the strength reaches an all-time high. With the Aging Room Quattro F55, Nodal has created a small-batch masterpiece that rivals anything produced by better-known brands in the past decade. If you can manage to get your hands on these super-rare cigars, stock up because we guarantee you won't be able to get enough of them after that first puff.
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