RoMa Craft Tobac Aquitaine Blockhead (Monte’s Exclusive)
RoMa Craft Tobac’s Aquitaine Blockhead has been on my radar ever since my friend Nick told me about stumbling into them at Monte’s Cigar shop in Albuquerque, New Mexico a few weeks back. I picked up a few of these shop exclusive sticks for Jeremy and I while I was out there last week and couldn’t wait to fire them up.
The Good Stuff: As I said, the Aquitaine Blockhead is a shop exclusive to Monte’s in Albuquerque and used to be only available at events. The Aquitaine blend itself is not an exclusive and made it’s debut at last year’s IPCPR. The exclusiveness pertains to the box-pressed format of the blockhead while the blend remains the same. The Aquitaine blockhead isn’t RoMa Craft Tobac’s first shop exclusive. Actually, it’s not even the first “Blockhead”. Skip Martin of RoMa Craft Tobac had previously released a Blockhead version of the Aquitaine’s sister line, the Cromagnon (which I reviewed here) to Tower Pipes and Cigars in Sacramento, California and Tobacco Grove in Maple Grove, Minnesota. The Aquitaine starts off with an Ecuadorian Habano Ligero wrapper, a Cameroon binder, and 3 different Nicaraguan fillers each from Esteli, Condega, and Pueblo Nuevo which is a small town on the Northern border of Nicaraguan and Honduras. The blend is identical to the Cromagnon only replaces the Connecticut Broadleaf with the Ecuadorian Habano Ligero. The Aquitaine comes in 8 different sizes including the Box Pressed Blockhead (6 x 54), the Knuckle Dragger (4 x 52), the Mandible (4.5 x 60), the EMH Early Modern Human (5 x 56), the Anthropology (5.75 x 56), the Cranium (6 x 54), and two limited edition sizes including the Atlatl (7 x 38) and the Mode 5 (5 x 50 perfecto). The Blockhead runs $9 a stick and they had plenty in stock at Monte’s while I was there. For more information about Monte’s you can visit their site here, Facebook here, instagram here or twitter here. I always stop in whenever I am in town (El Paso isn’t too far from them) and they have always been great people.
Size: 6 x 54 Box Pressed
Wrapper: Ecuadorian Habano Ligero
Filler: Nicaraguan from Condega, Esteli, and a Ligero from Pueblo Nuevo
Pairing: Prairie Artisan Ales / Evil Twin Brewing Bible Belt (Imperial Coffee/Vanilla/Chili/Cacao Stout 13% ABV)
Prelight: The Aquitaine Blockhead is one badass looking cigar. We’ll start with the format in which the name “Blockhead” is obviously pulled from. It’s box-pressed to the max almost forming a perfect square. The corners and edges are real sharp and hard. Again, I’ve said it over and over I am a huge box-press fan and absolutely love this size. It’s very comfortable in both the hand and the mouth. Next we have the wrapper. The Aquitaine carries a very thick, incredibly toothy, and incredibly oily texture. It’s definitely one of the prettier wrapper leafs as the medium and dark brown color showcases the natural webbing in the leaf and carries only a few smaller veins. The Blockhead is rather firm and packed pretty tightly. It’s a heavier cigar but again the box-press makes it really comfortable to hold despite being a longer format. There are absolutely no soft spots or construction flaws. The cigar is capped off with a stoutly round, seamless, triple cap. The Aquitaine Blockhead is then polished off with the standard brown, and white layered, letterpressed bands with the word “Aquitaine” pressed into the front and the RoMa Craft Tobac logo in white on the back. I am a HUGE fan of these bands. Simple, elegant, clean, and they serve the purpose of distinguishing your cigars without the need to be overly flashy letting the cigar’s appearance speak for itself. I’ll put these bands up there with the Liga Privada, Most Tatuaje, and Illusione bands as my all time favorites.
The wrapper on the Aquitaine Blockhead lets looks a whole ton of syrupy, molasses, chocolate aroma mixed over some bold tobacco notes while the foot of the cigar is a bit more modest only showing some natural tobacco and spice aromas. The cap cut very clean and easily using my handy Palio double bladed cutter. The cold draw produces some strong syrup, and raisin notes with a bit of spice and tobacco mixed in.
First Smoke: The Aquitaine Blockhead starts off with some modest black pepper backed by some sharp spice, raisin, espresso and some grassy tobacco flavors. As I smoked down the first inch the pepper completely faded away and a real nice brown sugar sweetness crept its way in. While the Blockhead is very tightly packed with tobacco the format makes it incredibly easy to get a nice, big, thick draw with every little puff kicking out tons of dense, white smoke. The burnline is a bit thick, but dead even forming a compacted medium and dark gray ash which held on for about an inch before falling into my ashtray.
Halfway There: As I venture into the second third of RoMa Craft Tobac’s Aquitaine Blockhead some really interesting charred meat flavors began to sneak into the flavor profile. Maybe I’m just hungry, maybe the heat is starting to get to me but it was actually pretty potent and mixed in well with the syrup, cedar, and spice while there was still a slight sugar and espresso on the aftertaste. The retrohale far more modest than I was expecting as it coats my nasal passage with some soft cedar, spice, and plum. I really enjoy the retrohale from the Aquitaine and find myself routing it that way quite often. The draw is still flawless and the burnline is perfect and I am feeling zero in the nicotine department.
Finish: RoMa Craft Tobac’s Aquitaine Blockhead really took off into the final third. The spice and espresso ramped up, the pepper came back, the brown sugar and raisin stayed strong, and even that meaty flavor stayed with it. This is a flavorful cigar and I found it pretty bold, but the one thing I enjoyed the most was how creamy and balanced the flavors were. They weren’t fighting for your attention, instead they complimented each other resulting in a complete performance. The burn and draw were perfect the entire time and I never had to take my torch back out of my pocket for any touchups or relights nor did I feel much in the nicotine department. It took me about 2 hours to smoke this bad boy down to the nub and I enjoyed every minute of it. I experience no harshness and the only heat I felt was from the sun on my head.
Overview: It’s not hard to tell how much I enjoy the Aquitaine blend. I always have. Jeremy and I actually had a conversation the other day about where we would rank each of Skip’s blend and both of us had the Aquitaine right up at #1 or #2. The Blockhead has to be one of my favorites in terms of formats for the Aquitaine. The boxpress is comfortable and produces a massive draw which really lets the cigar showcase how complex, yet balanced it’s flavors are. At $9 a pop these are priced perfectly and I am glad I picked a few up while I was at Monte’s. The shop is about 4 hours away from me, but I tend to visit Albuquerque quite often so it’s not too hard for me to get my hands on them and I plan on picking up quite a few more next time I make a trek up there. Hell, this is a box purchase for sure as these are the perfect addition to just about anyone’s rotation.
Pairing: This is the second time I’ve paired a cigar with Prairie Artisan Ale’s Bible Belt which they produced in collaboration with Evil Twin Brewing (see Espinosa’s 601 La Bomba Bunker Buster). Why? Two reasons: 1) It’s simply a badass beer which pairs perfectly with most bolder cigars and 2) Skip has been on a tear with these beers lately and I found it fitting to do an homage to him. Bible Belt is a hefty Imperial Stout weighing in at 13% ABV which is basically a mash up of Prairie Artisan’s popular Prairie Bomb! (which I paired with Viaje’s 2013 Christmas Tree) and Evil Twin’s Even more Jesus. The result is a crazy flavorful stout aged over coffee, cacao nibs, vanilla beans and chili peppers. In contrast to the Prairie Bomb! the Bible belt is much more chili heavy which creates this awesome spice which pairs up perfectly with the spice in most cigar experiences while the creaminess, sweetness, coffee and chocolate do the rest of the work marrying up with the robust flavors of the Aquitaine creating a pairing that’s near flawless and impossible to replace. Knowing how often Skip smokes his own supply it’s easy to see why he’s been such a fan of this beer.