How do cigars taste?

About the taste of the Zechbauer Royales

Is the taste smooth, mild, spicy or aromatic?

As is well known, one can argue about taste. What tastes good for you may not necessarily taste good for your best friend. From milk chocolate to earth, cedar wood and leather to floral-sweet or roasted aromas: the tastes of cigars couldn't be more different.

To help you choose your next Royales cigar, we are gradually collecting tasting reports from aficionados for you. So keep checking back – it's worth it!

Zechbauer Royales Wide Churchill Limited Edition 2022

Cigar tasting: Royales Wide Churchill

Royales "Wide Churchill" | Churchill format | Length: 14 cm | Ring Gauge: 56

How do you start writing about a cigar without writing the same things you used to? What superlatives are still available when the previous cigars from Zechbauer have so far cleared all superlatives, similar to the white-and-red soccer club from the same city clearing titles? Perhaps it makes sense, especially with this cigar, to simply start from the back: with the conclusion. Perhaps it is appropriate to restructure the narrative aspects as boldly as former CEO Mirko Pettene exemplifies with the Royales series. Well then it seems the time has come to be bold!

The conclusion

The Wide Churchill is a cigar whose aroma spectrum seems to be constantly in motion. However, she does not appear restless or even unstable. The basic concept of cedar, caramel and coffee remains the same as with all formats in the series. Around these key data, she releases a wide variety of aromas, ranging from clove to lavender, from chocolate to coffee beans. With the Wide Churchill, it was possible to create a floral superstructure on the basis of well-known and valued aromas, which for my taste could almost be the quintessence of all royales. The nice thing about it has always been that she doesn't need "strength" to be versatile!

The measurements

The Wide Churchill presents itself with a ring gauge of 56 and a length of 140 mm.

The cover sheet

When it comes to the color of the cover sheet, things are already getting exciting. It already covers a certain spectrum here. Depending on the color template, the description ranges from Colorado Claro to Colorado Rosado to the borders of Colorado Maduro. I commit myself here with a Solomonic judgment and say: it is a bit of everything. The wrapper itself is superficially dry/matt, at second glance slightly oily and has hardly any leaf veins.

Haptics & cold smell

In terms of feel, the cigar tends to be a bit softer than its series relatives. The cold smell immediately shows the influence of floral notes. So I was quite inclined to combine the Royales typical cedar with sandalwood. At the same time, I experienced the reliability of caramelized sugar and a refreshing flowery meadow of herbs.

First cut & cold draw

Then I cut the cigar with a classic cut. The cold draw immediately provided "proofed" that it must be a Limitada, because the draw was pleasantly light and revealed – apart from mild, balanced tobacco – not much. The fire was accepted without any problems and an even burn began until the end, with a pleasantly sufficient smoke development. At first, surprisingly clear mineral tones came to the fore, which quickly turned into flowery aspects. Exactly this alternation screwed up until the end of the first third, until clove and lavender alternated with coffee and chocolate almost step by step. The room note always offered a mature and seasoned, rich tobacco scent that lacked any form of sharpness – there was more of a hint of lavender in it.

After the first third, the Wide Churchill seemed to level off a bit. The classic tobacco flavors became a bit more prominent and the caramel followed in the slipstream. I had no idea that the Royales would only run up to fireworks!

Halfway through, she released her full potential bit by bit: lemongrass, cloves, herb meadow, caramel, coffee beans, a little more bitterness. Enjoyable amazement? Yes. restlessness? no way.

Towards the last third, it developed a warm, slightly mineral tingling to end on a high level.

The Burn

For those who love detail, it should also be mentioned that, despite some breaks, I never had to light the cigar again. The burn was absolutely even. The ash was white gray and the cone had the structure of a palm tree bark. Attention: the ash falls after about 3.5 cm. Gerry Lächnfinga

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Zechbauer Royales Maduro I Gordos von Zechbauer

Cigar tasting: Royales Maduro I Gordos

Royales "Maduro I Gordos" | Gordo format | Length: 12,5 cm | Ring Gauge: 63 

Those of you who thought Zechbauer Munich played all its trump cards already with the previous Royales had better think again! Once again, Zechbauer has kept all of us aficionados guessing, by not only supplementing the series with a Gordo format, but also creating a flavourful add-on with a Maduro wrapper, requiring expertise and courage.

And once again, my closing words are "One after the other..."

Zechbauer is set to continue launching the Royales series as Maduros over the next few years. So for Gordos, think Maduro I. And the format for Maduro II remains anyone’s guess.

Haptics and optics – before lighting up

What is inarguable is that the Maduro I – 12.5 cm long and with a 63 diameter ring gauge – already has a head-turning appearance. The wrapper colour – despite reading "Maduro” – may not be any darker than its predecessors in the Royales series. If we're talking shades and hues, it's somewhere between "Colorado Maduro" and "Maduro.”

When it came to cutting this cigar, I decided to use a cigar knife and remove nothing more than the cap halfway through the diameter. Smelling the cigar cold conjured up vivid impressions of just-opened coffee beans at the base. A cold draw later and my mental picture turned to chocolate, allied to a feeling of basic "maturity". While I still found the draw resistance on the light side, the overall tobacco aroma that pervaded was rich, but not overpoweringly so.

From lighting to putting down

While it fired up without any issues and remained lit, the smoke took a little longer to emerge – about the first centimetre – before remaining stable and replete. Black pepper was top of mind when the first puffs were taken. However, it is worth mentioning at this point that alongside the pepper, the magic of the Maduro wrapper and the chocolatey garnishments it brought in its wake came into play.

"Creamy smoke" is a term oft-used by cigar aficionados in the know. Maduro I delivers a full freight train of flavours right from the very first puffs: besides pepper and chocolate, notes of leather and cedarwood also await. Royales fans in the know will find all of this nothing new, but it's the stand-out sweetness in this cigar that sets it apart. Also fascinating is the fact that, despite a smorgasbord of flavour, the smoke texture appears slightly creamy at most.

After the first centimetre is when the smoking experience seems to find its feet, paving the way to reap all the potential in the Gordos. As the aromatic radius expands, the cigar becomes ever more full-bodied. A marriage of sweetness and spice that leaves you wanting more!

From around the second centimetre, the opening salvo you savour develops into a mild and multicoloured peppery taste, blending even more seamlessly with the chocolate notes of the Maduro wrapper. A status quo that the Royales Maduro I cigar maintains for a good long while. It takes a lot of self-control not to just smoke this cigar greedily while hot!

Once you've enjoyed the first third of the cigar, the sweetness carrying you along evolves to become increasingly caramelized. Alongside it, subtle woody notes make themselves known. Simply classing it as cedar would not do it justice – it's more of a timbery recipe, awash with complexity – indeed it brings "joinery" to mind. Anyone who thinks this cigar already put all its eggs in the basket versatility-wise – is in for a shock. Midway through the smoke, the spiciness reappears, now with more mineral notes and seemingly weaving the woody aspects to become walnutty in the process.

Unsurprisingly, we see pepper re-emerging once again, plus added pep for the palate in the shape of some star anise. Meanwhile the tongue encounters the coffee elements from the cold cigar aroma, increasingly clearly. All of which means I can enjoy another inch or two of the Maduro before placing it down, after smoking just over two-thirds.

Conclusion on Royales Maduro I Gordos

As a cigar, the Maduro I goes from strength to strength in one direction, from the time you light up, right to when you stub it out. Wonderfully versatile – but non-chaotic – a tribute to the overall quality of the tobaccos used in this blend. On the one hand, you can buy the cigar ready to smoke. On the other, why not savour its potential to become even sweeter and more stable, a year or so down the line after storing in the humidor? At 65 to 70 minutes, you can expect ample time to take in all the smoking pleasure. It stayed lit throughout, with a super-stable burn and ash which was easy to tap away after 3.5 centimetres or so had been smoked and enjoyed.

Black coffee is my go-to for this cigar, because the bitterness of the former married to the "spice" of the latter Gordos elicits a sweetness which brings all the taste to the fore. The wrapper, binder and filling all originate from Costa Rica. Gerry Lächnfinga

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Cigar tasting: Royales Coronas

Royales Coronas | Corona format | Length: 15 cm | Ring Gauge: 54

At long last the moment came. We were finally once again able to grace a time-honoured address at Opernplatz in Munich. Founded in 1830, the emporium remains a tried and trusted establishment for tobacco products and cigars. In 1886, Max Zechbauer was appointed Royal Bavarian Court Supplier. And yes, I returned to the Zechbauerhaus and gratefully accepted the pointer from current Managing Director, Mirko Pettene, to try the Royales Coronas.

The Coronas cigar from the premium Royales range is a hand-rolled longfiller, containing tobacco aged for seven (!) years and the masterpiece of Mirko Pettene. Each cigar is 15 centimetres long and 16 millimetres in diameter (Ring Gauge: 54). It also has a certain "weight", feels harder than it is soft and its wrapper is on the oily side as well as having almost zero leaf veins. The cigar comes in an enticing mocha shade and is full of that try-me vibe. The (V-) cut is just as appealing – with no tears to be seen. Meanwhile, the cold draw brings with it medium draw resistance. So the cigar looks great and is processed at an absolute premium level!

Anyway, enough about the key data for now...

Haptics and optics – before lighting up

The cold aroma of the Royales carries with it immediate promise. Roasted aromas – like coffee – carried by leather and cedarwood. We already note a subtle sweetness, which, for me, seems to come into the "cocoa bean" category. Impressions that come thick and fast, heralding a spice-like mineral when smoked.

From lighting to putting down

Fire-cured to perfection. And perhaps most fascinating – when the cigar is lit, the original draw resistance declines during the cold draw. Even the way the smoke emerges is pleasing: The first puffs bring a spicy sharpness to the fore, albeit short-lived. In retrospect, the rich flavours jostle for position in the first half-centimetre before settling down. The Coronas, meanwhile, remain spicy-strong: Earth/minerals, rich tobacco, toasted and roasted aromas and the unmistakable smell of saddle leather.

In fact it's heaven-scent – I've rarely experienced such olfactory enjoyment in a cigar! A context in which it ticks all the boxes expected of a Munich cigar. In Munich, a city bursting with life, beer, roast pork, Bavarian cream and roasted almonds, you have to make your presence felt and ensure the locals take this cigar quality on board. Coronas leads by example and entices along the way – regal, yet with in-your-face familiarity and class all in one!

One centimetre into your smoke sees the sweeter section come to the fore – before being spicily framed by additional cedar aromas. Abundant tastes that remain balanced, on point and even setting each other off. This was the story for some of the cigars I tried. The Royales Coronas range, meanwhile, is as full-bodied as ever. 

Burning evenly to leave behind a stable ash cone with minimal cracks. The wrapper ash is whiter than it is grey and the smoke it produced, if anything, is creamy in consistency. All of which means a perfect vehicle for those spicy notes and that mineral tingling. Finish the first third and the spiciness bounces right back, though the leather, mineral and cedarwood notes remain constant. A symphony that is "superimposed" on sweetness; fractions of which evoke coffee, cocoa beans and dark chocolate.

Then, if anything, it levelled off halfway along at the high point we described earlier. Leaving behind a scent that can only be described as beguiling, the full-bodied taste sustained by slowly smoking and avoiding excessive intensity in the process. Drawing on it any more strongly would over-spice things up and see the Royales sink into a one-dimensionality of flavour. En route to the end of the second third, a spicy tingling rears its head now and then, as if keeping greater intensity in reserve. Time to put the cigar down...

Conclusion on Royales Coronas

The Zechbauer Royales Coronas will be as good as ever-present in my humidor. Having said that, it's much more than just another cigar on the side. Key to getting the most out of this smoke are the focus, time and calmness to embrace the pleasurable experience in store. A handle is kept on complexity and the proportions are clear. In other words, they are versatile but approachable and enjoyable. Well worth not just a place in your humidor, but also royal recognition. An hour and six minutes (66 minutes) of traditional Munich smoking pleasure.

One more conclusion: Zechbauer's house brand is the premium Royales series. With this quality, it already had me convinced the private label could be ticked, like Davidoff, Romeo and Juliet, Alec Bradley etc. Sold exclusively at the Zechbauer store and online. Nevertheless, I’ll be astonished if other major online retailers don't join the party soon – the potential is enormous!

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Tasting report on the Royales 190th Anniversary

Cigar tasting: Royales 190th Anniversary

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

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In the smoke channel of life's questions: The Royales Coronas on the cigar couch

Off to the cigar couch! Episode 40 of the podcast by and with Gerry Lächnfinga and Maria Macanudo is located at the Zechbauer Lounge in the Hotel Vier Jahreszeiten Kempinski in Munich. The two enjoy – of course – a Royales Coronas. But listen for yourself...

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We're sorry, but the podcast is only available in German.

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