Sunday, July 29, 2007

The Smoking Lounge Review: Ramón Allones Specially Selected

Size: 4 7/8"(124 mm)

Gauge: 50
Weight: 11.66 grams
Originated: MAR 06
Vitola: Robusto
Country of Origin: Cuba


The brand was created by brothers Ramón and Antonio Allones (no relation to the Antonio Allones of El Rey del Mundo fame) in 1845 and is supposedly the first cigar brand to have utilized colorful lithographs for box art, the first brand to utilize bands on cigars, and the first to package cigars in the "8-9-8" style (though there are several rival claimants as to who first made box art and bands).

The brand went through numerous ownership changes before it was finally bought by the Cifuentes family and production was moved to the famous Partagás Factory, where Ramón Allones cigars are still made to this day.

After the Revolution, production continued uninterrupted and Ramón Allones has consistently stayed popular with cigar aficionados through the decades. In the opinions of many, it shares many similarities with its cousin Partagás as far as body, sizes, and packaging. It has always been produced in smaller quantities than Partagás, possibly to insure higher quality and raised demand for the brand.

Since 2001, when Altadis bought a controlling share of Habanos SA, the Ramón Allones marque has seen the majority of its manufactured sizes discontinued, including the much-beloved Coronas and even the 8-9-8 size it helped pioneer. Of the sizes available now, the Specially Selected, Gigantes, and Small Club Coronas are still incredibly popular among aficionados. The Bit of Havana is still listed as in production by Habanos SA, but few have seen this cigar since 2001.

In 2005, as part of Edición Regional series of new vitolas, Switzerland received a limited release of Ramón Allones Eminencias.

Appearance: An interesting looking cigar. Smooth and vein free, this cigar was wrapped in a nice light brown wrapper (though not as dark brown as a Partagas Serie D No. 4 or reddish like a Hoyo de Monterrey Epicure No. 2, just a nice middle of the road tan color.). Another thing to note is this cigar is lightly box pressed, which adds a refined touch.

Pre-Light: Clip was a breeze, flush and without issue. The prelight draw was just perfect, free and easy but with just enough resistance to make sure it would not burn to hot. The initial prelight note were of that great horse barn Cuban earthiness, tempered with a great note of organic honey sweetness.

Burn/Draw: The burn on this cigar was about as good as any Cuban cigar I have tried (In my experience , Habanos often have inconsistent burn.). The burn line was straight and even the whole way down. The draw was great, producing bunches of cool, grey, smoke without burning too hot or fast. The ash held for about an inch and a half or so, and was mottled grey.

Flavors: An interesting cigar. It is a bit milder than the two other Cuban Robustos I have reviewed so far int his little mini-series. There was a nice base of that Habano earthiness, leatheriness, and cedar woodiness that stayed pretty constant throughout the smoke. Playing in an out on top of that nice base were some delicate sweet notes, like organic honey or raw sugar. This cigar was decidedly medium bodied and medium strength. It would make a wonderful earlier in the day smoke. From what I have heard, these cigars really benefit from serious aging (three years or more), and so maybe at a mere sixteen month, this cigar was just beginning to show its promise. I think they might just be worth the wait.


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