Royales "190th Anniversary" | Toro format | Length: 14,5 cm | Ring Gauge: 56
Munich and Costa Rica. Anyone spot the connection? Well, at least one of our band of cigar lovers associates Upper Bavaria with the Caribbean: Former Zechbauer CEP Mirko Pettene, who hails from Zechbauer Cigars in Munich.
Through patient and painstaking years of toil, he created the Royales series for the former Bavarian purveyor to the court. Then, on the occasion of the 190th Anniversary, he created another cigar for the Royales series, with the final tobacco filler component still secret to this day. Fast forward to now, as I sit, cigar in hand, knowing its recipe is set to remain a mystery come what may and however curious we become. Still keen to play Sherlock with your taste buds? Don't hang around then – 190th Anniversary stocks are limited!
Haptics and optics – before lighting up
I'll try and narrow it down a bit and give you some key data: The "190th Anniversary" is already emerging sharply into focus. At 14.5 centimetres long and with a ring gauge of 56, it is clearly a Toro. Reassuringly heavy, everything about it tells you it’s a valuable premium cigar.
Visually, meanwhile, we take it up a few notches. Inspiration galore from the milky mocha coloured creation in our palm and a wrapper free of thicker leaf veins, no matter how closely you look. A wrapper in fact, which is smooth, slightly oily, and hugs a cigar on the softish side at the cut, lending it a stable and "rugged" appearance. Royales regulars will already be familiar with the black sealing band and the Z-crowned tobacco leaf. What will turn heads, though, is the red cloth band at the base of the cigar. Sash-like, it conjures up thoughts of royalty and the history of the Zechbauer house in equal measure. Pondering further, perhaps Zechbauer is simply indulging his own red carpet for personal enjoyment.
Behold a cold bouquet, from which rich aromas of the freshest earth, cedarwood, full-bodied tobacco, dark chocolate and a touch of new leather emerge, all set against a seemingly mineral backdrop. In-between, an ever-present sweetness, which makes its presence felt in the smoke. The smell of the 190th Anniversary, while fresh and young, still brings home to mind.
From the outset, the draw resistance of this cigar is around 6 out of 10. Smoke a little longer though and it settles at 5 out of 10, putting it in the "medium” class. Personally, I prefer cigars when the draw resistance makes you work a little. It helps build a sense of anticipation for the upcoming test!
The first surprising flush of what are floral, sweet and altogether fresh aromas come immediately when you cold-draw this cigar. A tobacco blend giving us an inkling of its inner complexity: the seemingly mutually exclusive cold smell and draw actually fitting together hand-in-glove. After all, a true queen knows how to reign.
From lighting to putting down
Some of the toro-type cigars need a bit of coaxing to burn properly. Royales, conversely, flame up with no fuss at all, for a full-circle glowing end in no time. Even the way the smoke emerges is pleasing: Conditionally creamy in texture – yet another plus. A full-bodied cigar, sealing in wide-ranging flavours. And best of all, free of "thick and heavy” smoke, which would be stale and even suffocating. And once lit, you can let go – as well as being so subtly satisfying, the cigar does not even go out, even when you take time-outs between puffs.
That stirring spicy flavour you get with early inhaling, together with a kick guaranteed to wake up your taste buds. A half-inch later, things lighten and aromas of tobacco, cedar and a hint of lemon make their presence felt. Right from the start, the Royales develop a coolish tobacco-saturated room note. Lowering the temperature with a “chilled” vibe that remains ever-fresh and never stale. Now I come to the mysterious sweetness, an eye-opener right from the first cold draw. Smoke just a centimetre and a small hint of seared caramel repeatedly emerges, between the stronger cedar aromas. Or is the sweetness actually from the cedar and I’m mixing things up?
Indulge a further two centimetres of this cigar and the Royales 190th Anniversary remains at a pinnacle, setting the bar sky-high and lightening things off again taste-wise, but with all of its spectrum intact. Every now and again, a tangy note emerges, over and above the earth, cedar and sweet tobacco – akin to liquorice. The initial verdict? A cigar we could call an "easy smoke", evolving in gradual steps, rather than leaps and jumps. Even so, delving into the Royales and their pleasingly playful aspect, bit by bit, is more than enticing.
You can expect the first micro-shower of light grey ash after enjoying an inch or so of the cigar. Meanwhile, as hairline horizontal cracks emerge along the ash cone, the cigar starts to resemble a metal thread. The burn remains uniform throughout your smoke. But once you're halfway through, the background notes change a bit. Fresh leather comes into the mix, alongside the previous aromas.
As the remaining half beckons, the initially inexplicable sweetness deep-dives into a dark chocolate aroma. The sweet caramel tips, which morph into liquorice, take on their own tang; as if cloves were present. And you may know already, these are the precursors of ammonia, to be expected given the format, as well as the tobacco filler in the cigar. Fortunately, this takes time to evolve and remains enveloped in flavour. In the last third, meanwhile, expect a spicy surge. After savouring three quarters of the cigar in its entirety, I reluctantly placed it to one side, after a good 65 to 70 minutes of enjoyment.
Conclusion on the Royales "190th Anniversary"
Yes, certain toros are one to one and a half inches longer, but fall below the 56 ring gauge diameter. In my humble opinion, such a substantive and rich tobacco deserved nothing less than the larger ring gauge it was accorded. Thicker cigars simply "forgive" a stronger and more frequent draw, remain cooler for longer and come without that bite. Evidence from Mirko Pettene, if any were needed after the success of his Royales range, that the Costa Rican tobacco in this limited-edition cigar is perfect for premium products. Personally, I will watch how this series evolves with great interest. I am convinced that Zechbauer Royales are far more than "just another house brand", but an independent range of cigars, which deserve to be known far beyond Munich. Gerry Lächnfinga
Convinced already? Buy the cigar online