Cigar Review: RoMa Craft Neanderthal and the Evolution of Pepper

 I remember asking my local B&M for a peppery cigar recommendation in 2017 and was directed to this cigar. Flash-forward 4 years later, I finally was able to get my hands on a box to smoke through and review. I remember the strength and complexity of the cigar, along with the nerdiness of a name like “Neanderthal” and “Cro-Magnon.” If you do not know, Cro-Magnon is another prehistoric human species.  

RoMa Craft furthered their creativity in the nomenclature for the different vitolas of cigars by choosing to give abbreviations based on evolution, genealogy and other cultural references. Neanderthal SGP (Shallow Gene Pool), Neanderthal GD (Genetic Deformity), and Neanderthal HoxD (Homeobox D Gene) are examples of this creativity. The nerd in me and the glutton for harsh and bold taste I have made this cigar an easy selection to pick up and try. 

OVERVIEW

VITOLA:   Robusto
SIZE:   [4 1/4″ x 52]

ORIGIN:   Nicaragua
FACTORY:   Fabrica de Tabacos Nica Sueno S.A 

WRAPPER:   Mexican San Andres Maduro
BINDER:   Connecticut Broadleaf 
FILLER:   Pennsylvania double Ligero, Dominican, Nicaraguan

STRENGTH:   Full-Bodied

SOURCE:   
Oxford Cigars

ENVIRONMENT

WHERE:   
Back Patio

WHEN:   
September 11 9:00 AM

DRINKS:   
Cafe Bustelo

WEATHER:   
Cool Fall Morning

WHAT’S ON:   
Album: Reckless by Morgan Wade

PRODUCTION

RELEASE TYPE  Regular Production

ORIGINALLY RELEASE DATE  2015

TOTAL PRODUCTION
Typical Box Size:     Boxes of 15 
Production Totals:  Unknown

VITOLA BREAKDOWN
Robusto  (4 1/4″ x  52)
o
 Perfecto  (5″ x 52/56)
o  Petit Corona  (4″ x 46)
o  Robusto Extra  (5″ x 58)
o  Corona Extra  (5 3/4″ x 58)
o  Long Panatela  (7″ x 38)

BAND DESIGN

The Band is a simple design; orange with the cigar name “Neanderthal” and the Chi Rho. The Chi Rho is a symbol for Christ which was made famous by the Roman Emperor Constantine. The Chi Rho famously appeared to Constantine in a dream and lead his troops to victory at the Battle of Milvian Bridge. Underneath the orange band is a white backing. If you manage to separate the two bands you will see the archipelago which is included on the box and the evolution of the Neanderthal from ape to standing erect.   

I will reiterate, this band is simple, but a good cigar does not require a complex band design. I look forward to see how the simple band reflects in the cigar and how the flavor evolves. 

PRE-LIGHT OBSERVATIONS

CONSTRUCTION
The first thing you notice about the Neanderthal is the flathead on this cigar. I immediately thought of going to my v-cut to preserve the shape of the cap. The dark rich wrapper pops against the simple orange band. As I press onto the cigar, I feel an extremely firm cigar with very little give. The firmness reminds me of trying to compress a fully inflated soccer ball. There are no blemishes to see. I cannot wait to light this cigar up to enjoy.

AROMA
After feeling the firmness of the Neanderthal, I bring the cigar up to my nose and inhale. I smell very little other than aged tobacco and fait wooden notes picked up from the cigar box.

COLD DRAW
With a v-cut, the draw is very open allowing air to quickly travel through the cigar. WOW. I am hit with the distinct flavor of bitter chocolate. The bitter chocolate is so pronounced, I would swear I was eating a 98% Lindt Cocoa square.  

SMOKING EXPERIENCE

LIGHT & DRAW
Cut:  Colibri SV — V-Cut 
Fire: Vertigo Hawk
Upon toasting the Neanderthal and taking the first draw, I became confused. This confusion excites me because my expectations are completely shattered. I came in expecting a full bodied cigar with bold flavor, which was verified with the bitter chocolate notes on the cold draw. However, the tasting notes are extremely light and delicate after toasting the cigar. Light sweet Chocolate, light hay earthiness, and white pepper are the notes that gently ease me in to my morning smoke and coffee.

SMOKE
Once lit, the Neanderthal provided a steady, medium smoke which had me excited me for the tasting to come. The grey smoke dancing through the air in dreamy exuberance. 

FIRST THIRD
>> Pepper, Oak, Chocolate

A chimney of smoke bellows through the cigar into my mouth. A creaminess and airiness hits my pallet. A strong pepper note comes bursting through the smoke as I am finally hit with a strong, bold flavor. Pepper hits on the retrohale pleasantly stinging the nostrils. The pepper subsides as deep, rich, wooden earthy oak note emerges. Strong and full of flavor, I exhale again. A faint hit of chocolate in the back of the mouth remains to remind me of where this cigar once was. Puff by puff, this cigar is evolving into a wonderful smoke. The burn line is not tight, but has a slight meandering wave. I am not concerned as there is plenty of time for the cigar to correct its self.

SECOND THIRD
>> Pepper, Leather, Molasses 

The pepper note continues onward as if I were after the spice melange on Arrakis. The spice must flow, but this time boldness is familiar and slightly diminished. Pepper gives way and melts into a familiar leathery note. After another large bellow of creamy smoke is expelled from my mouth, a hollow complex notes remains in my mouth.  I call this note molasses since the tasting note has a perceived thickness like molasses, the tasting note has a complexity like molasses, the tasting note has a richness like molasses. However, unlike molasses, this note is not sweet. The burn line has sharpened up becoming more even. The firmness of the cigar has now shown to provide beautiful ash as the cigar is able to support a long stack.

FINAL THIRD
>> Pepper, Leather, Chocolate  

Reaching the final third, the notes are extremely familiar as they a generally been flirting between the same notes. Pepper is permeating the palate. However, the spiciness of the pepper has mellowed even further from the second third. I am amazed how the pepper note is tiered through the different thirds of the cigar. Leather is also pronounced on the exhale. Smooth and mellowed, the leather reminds me of a tried and true lazy boy I will be sitting in to watch the upcoming day of college football. A sweetness of chocolate finishes the note. Comforting is the word I would use to describe how I feel in the final third. The burn line is tight clean.

RATING & FINAL THOUGHTS

FLAVOR PROGRESSION
Much like the name’s sake of this cigar, the flavor evolves and learns to stand up right. The key gene of this cigar is pepper. As the pepper notes progress through the burn, they mellow and mature but do not loose their sense of identity.   

BURN EXPERIENCE
The Neanderthal Burned wonderfully. I had only the slightest issues upon first light as the burn line was wavy. The cigar was able to correct its self with no touch-up.

RATING BREAKDOWN
0.72 / 0.80 … Craft & Aesthetic
0.50 / 0.50 … Pre-Light Characteristics
0.48 / 0.50 … Lighting Process
7.14 / 7.70 … Smoking Experience
0.50 / 0.50 … Personal Enjoyment

COMPLIMENTS & CRITIQUES

ROMA CRAFT’S EVOLUTION OF PEPPER

This cigar is a pepper bomb. If you love spicy pepper this is a cigar for you. If you are not a big fan of pepper, this cigar is worth the try. I think the evolution of this cigar mirrors the evolution of the Neanderthal from apes. The pepper bomb starts off raw and untamed, but as you progress for the cigar, the pepper becomes less spicy and more subtle. The firm construction for the flathead did not hinder the airflow. The burn experience was as good as you could ask for requiring no touch ups. I want to end this review with one last pepper joke: If Peter Piper likes peppers so much that he picked a patched of peppers, does Peter Piper pick up this pepper cigar? I think he does.       

SIMPLY STOGIES RATING:  9.26 / 10.0

HOW WE COMPARE

I love reading other reviewers’ thoughts on the cigars I’m smoking and reviewing – it helps to show that no one review is perfect and there’s always different opinions and tastes out there.  Here’s how my review stacks up with some of the best in the biz.

 

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