Saturday, July 5, 2014

Royale Redux

Whether it's a TV show, a restaurant, or a cigar, there's nothing suckier than when something you love jumps the shark after making unnecessary changes. There is no persistence without consistency, and despite Emerson's oft-misquoted bit about consistency and hobgoblins, in the world of commerce you need to make sure your product isn't given to mutation. Starbucks and I had a falling-out a few years back when they completely bastardized the formula for the Frappucino and had the gall to present the new mess to the public as an "improvement". (Fortunately, I subsequently became seduced by the mermaid's siren song again after switching to their caramel iced coffee.)

So when a brand-new box of my formerly favorite cigar, Rocky Patel Royale, showed up on the shelf at La Habana Cigar Club in Pasadena, I was horrified to find it has transmogrified into a completely different cigar altogether. It's made in a different, slightly larger, box press than before. It has a different, darker wrapper. It's firmer and more brittle. And the taste is not the same at all; it's more akin to the somewhat dirtier taste of Rocky's Olde World Reserve, which I regard as not his finest hour but will often turn to in a pinch when I don't feel like experimenting and I can't get a Royale or a XEN. (The Olde World Reserve does have a perfect draw, in part because it's made on the same style of box press as the aforementioned two others.)

I gave the new "improved" Royale two chances. I no longer love it. My favorite cigar is dead. That's a drag. Thank goodness the boys at Central Cigars in St. Petersburg still have a supply of the old-formula Royales, and I will continue to nab them until there's none left to nab. I feel bad now, because La Habana had stocked the Royales at my urging.

On the other hand, life moves pretty fast in Interzone and I've already got a new girlfriend - the clunkily-named but delicious Casa Magna D. Magnus II Limitada. (On the other other hand, it's fifteen bucks a stick. But I figure I'm worth it.)


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