For the 2014 year there have not been a lot of cigar that have really wowed me. While it is only the end of March, my list of cigars that are in the early running phase for Top 25 of 2014 are few. Nothing seems to wow me, but one manufacturer that has released some sticks that have impressed me is RoMa Craft Tobac. I figured that since he was one of the few grabbing my attention, I should spend more time on his products. I have reviewed three of their four lines to date, but today I look at the original line and a line that for a while did not wow me. I am very tough when it comes to Connecticut Broadleaf wrappers, so I was always hesitant in reaching out for this line. I have smoked other vitolas in the past, never thoroughly impressed, but today I look at a vitola that I am a fan of. So with that being said, let us begin my assessment on the CroMagnon line and the Knuckle Dragger vitola.
A line that needs no introduction, the CroMagnon line is the definition of a full bodied Connecticut Broadleaf cigar. The cigar sports a thick Connecticut Broadleaf wrapper that is easily Maduro in coloring, and it has a wonderful amount of tooth present throughout. There are thick veins present throughout the cigar as well, and it is Connecticut Broadleaf by definition. Underneath that is a Cameroon binder, and this is a leaf that is used well as a binder, and often used there for the wonderful flavors it has to offer. The filler tobacco is a blend of Nicaraguan tobacco, and it is tobacco from Esteli, Pueblo Nuevo and Condega. The Knuckle Dragger is a petit robusto and measures 4" with a 52 ring gauge. Off the foot I am getting an aroma of raisins, chocolate, strong tobacco and dry earth.
Lighting up the cigar I am greeted by some rich tobacco and earth notes, and there is this amazing chocolaty flavor profile resent as well. I am getting some raisin notes with that, and it has some pepper and spiciness as well which is a lovely addition. The finish has some solid aged tobacco notes present and this cigar is smoking well. In terms of construction the petit robusto is perfect and it has a razor sharp burn line with that charcoal ash holding on to the end firmly. The draw is absolutely incredible as well, and it has a nice level of resistance and is very cool. I would say that the body of the cigar right now is slightly above the medium level, and the same is for the strength, but it is just beginning, and I know that these cigars grow in both categories as they progress. So far, this is definitely my favorite size in the line.
I am in the second third of the cigar now and the strength is really kicking it up a notch. It is easily a high medium full body level cigar now and the strength is right there as well. In just above an inch this cigar has reached a whole new level and a great one at that. I am still getting those strong tobacco notes to the cigar, and it has those rich earth flavors with raisins present as well. There are some damp wood notes present with the cigar now as well, and it is showing a nice bit of transition and complexity. I am finding the chocolate and spice notes are less than they were before and it is interesting that the cigar is less rich but stronger overall. In terms of construction, the cigar is still producing tons of great smoke and a beautiful charcoal colored ash. The burn line on the smoke is razor sharp and it has a great draw with that.
The cigar finishes even stronger than the second third, and the cigar throughout the whole smoking experience grew in strength and body. I'm picking up a lot of similar flavors in the final third to what I saw in the second third, but they just seem dark this time around. The tobacco wood and earth flavors are heavy and dark, and even the raisin qualities are less sweet than they were previously. I am getting some coffee notes to the smoke with a nice bit of spice, and the pepper flavor profile is quite enjoyable. The chocolate notes are still fairly low key as well, and this is a full bodied cigar. I would classify this cigar as easily full strength and body in this third, and while it is strong, there is still a nice bit of balance to the cigar that makes it enjoyable. The construction is perfect in the final third and it is producing a wonderful burn line, beautiful charcoal ash, cool draw and flavors to the nub.
I have never been the biggest fan of the CroMagnon line, I always thought the Aquitaine was superior, but it is a line that is growing on me as Connecticut Broadleaf wrappers are growing on me as well. I still believe that the wrapper is tough to use, and that a lot of manufacturers use them poorly, but there are some who know how to use. I think Skip does a good job with the wrapper, and it gets a lot of support from the filler blend in this cigar. (The same can be applied for Mexican San Andres) The Knuckle Dragger is the one size in the line that I can connect with and have it show the lines wonderful qualities. The blend excels in this format because there is the perfect ratio of wrapper to filler tobacco, and the length helps the cigar out as well. Most manufacturers are making cigars are way too big, but this cigar really falls into the perfect area with the length and ring gauge. I would prefer it smaller, but there are not a lot of guys who want smaller smokes. When I smoked other vitolas in the line, I had them in the high 80's, but I am giving this particular vitola a 91.
Seth's Humidor Rating: 91