Sippin' with Stogies
Milton by Royal Oak
Origin Country: Dominican Republic
Wrapper: Capa Habano
Binder and Filler: Dominican Piloto Cubano, Criollo and Corojo tobaccos
Vitola: Robusto, 5 x 50
Price: $7.95 (grossly underpriced for the quality) exclusively at Holy Smokes in Jacksonville
What makes it special:
It’s always an honor to be asked by a cigar’s creator to do a review, but this was special and worthy of a pairing. One of Royal Oak’s creators asked me to review the “Milton”, described as “a collaborative creation between a Welsh Jamaican, a Latino, and your average white guy.” This had to be interesting!
What strikes me: I recently had a conversation at a lounge about the definition of “smooth” and how much it can vary from one person to the next. In this pairing, I believe I’ve identified at least one definition of smooth – put simply, a montage of flavors so balanced that it’s difficult to say which one dominates, but all of them are good (per the smoker’s palate).
Visual / Pre-light Draw
There’s a lot of visual character; I can see the craftsmanship in the Milton. The consistency is perfect, a gorgeous, honey-gold brown glows from the wrapper and the lines of the leaves almost tell their story of how they came to be.
In the dry draw I didn’t taste much, and for a moment was worried. I later chalked this up as either a palate error or any other error of complete insignificance.
A few puffs in and I was still waiting to be surprised when flavors started blooming like a Russian nesting doll. At first, I tasted what I can only describe as “woodsy and cinnamon”. A few more puffs and it seems like a wave of honey came over my nose – the surprise has arrived! A sweetness emerges, and it seems the cigar is ready to introduce itself. The burn is razor-sharp. The flavor is rich and bold, but the sweetness prevents me from labeling it “strong”. After retrohale, I can taste caramel, but all the flavors are so balanced that the cigar can only be described as “smooth”.
There’s no black pepper-spiciness to Royal Oak’s Milton. As I begin the second third, I can say that the boldness has increased and the smoke is rich. I’m pleased to still taste the sweetness, and a nutty, new flavor emerges – roasted almond! That balance remains, that harmony of flavors that makes me call it smooth. While even some of my favorite cigars can have a touch of bitterness after the halfway point, the Milton is anything but bitter. I haven’t touched it up once; it’s a perfect burn
The band is off, and I continue to be surprised by the consistency. From construction to blend, this is a very surprising smoke for the price point. I wouldn’t normally expect such flavor, consistency, and a clean burn in a cigar that costs less than $10, but this is the adventure of the cigar hunt! The sweetness dissipates as the heat and smoke get closer to the mouth, naturally, but I’m still shocked that this cigar isn’t priced higher (yet). The Milton is definitely an undiscovered gem of a cigar.
I chose Russell’s Reserve Private Single Barrell Selection to pair with the Milton. I had heard mixed reviews, and I wanted to find out for myself. Between the Royal Oak Milton and the Russell’s Reserve, I certainly got lucky. The Russell’s Reserve echoed some of the flavors of the Milton, but I could also taste an almost-tart fruit… either cherry or cranberry, but it didn’t overpower the dominant flavor of toffee, which paired with the Milton’s caramel notes perfectly. The Russell’s Reserve also has nutty and cinnamon notes, distinct from the Milton’s, but in the same realm. The pairing is perfect. I wouldn’t take away the hints of fruit, as they seem to make the flavors dance between berry and nutty. Furthermore, they do pair very well. The fruit notes give the palate a little surprise, while the toffee and nuttiness segue back to the caramel and almond of the cigar perfectly. The Russell’s Reserve is 55% ABV, but it seems the consistent sweetness of the Milton keeps it from taking center stage.