In 2008, Habanos S.A.’s still relatively young Edición Regional program really took off, jumping to 17 releases from just seven releases in 2007. One of those was the Ramón Allones Grandes, a corona doble produced for Spain.
The size of the cigar is of particular note; as has been discussed numerous times about the Edición Regional program, the size must be in the Habanos S.A. portfolio but not an active vitola in a particular marca. In the case of Ramón Allones and this release, the Grandes is just half-an-inch shorter than the regular production Gigantes, also a Corona Doble but one that measures 7 3/5 inches by a 49 ring gauge. In this particular case, the size was borrowed from the San Cristóbal El Morro, a cigar that debuted in 1999 and comes from the youngest marca in Habanos S.A.’s portfolio.
The cigar came packed in varnished 10-count boxes packed in the 8-9-8 format, though in this case it was 3-4-3. It’s a fitting style for the release, as Allones is credited with having developed the 8-9-8 packaging format, as well as being one of, if not the first, to use color lithographs on boxes and bands on cigars. The brand dates back to as early as 1837, though the more commonly used date is 1845. It’s also fitting as Allones was born in Spain, in the northwestern town of Galicia, before emigrating to Cuba and setting up a factory in Havana.
The tobacco all comes from Vuelta Abajo region of Pínar del Río, the westernmost province in Cuba and home to the country’s premium tobacco farms.
The Grandes was one of three regional releases to use the Ramón Allones marca, joining the Especial de Allones for France and the Phoenicio for Lebanon, and trailed only Bolívar in terms of number of releases, as that marca had four regional editions produced in 2008, while Punch tied for second with three as well.
- Cigar Reviewed: Ramón Allones Grandes Edición Regional España (2008)
- Country of Origin: Cuba
- Factory: n/a
- Wrapper: Cuba
- Binder: Cuba
- Filler: Cuba
- Size: 7 1/11 Inches
- Ring Gauge: 49
- Vitola: Double Corona
- Est. MSRP: $17.53 (Boxes of 10, $175.35)
- Release Date: 2008
- Number of Cigars Released: 12,000 Boxes of 10 Cigars (120,000 Total Cigars)
- Number of Cigars Smoked for Review: 3
I love the shade of the wrapper on this Ramón Allones, as the larger size gives the eye that much more to appreciate about its slightly reddish shade. It is a much toothier leaf than I expect to see on a Cuban cigar, and the veins are very small for the most part, with the two biggest placed on the back side of the cigar where they belong. The cap is equally as impressive, evenly placed and asking for just a small clipping with the cigar scissors to preserve the look. The Grandes has just a bit of uniform give to it and exhibits the fairly typical sponginess of Cuban cigars, though one sample is firm from head to toe. The aroma off the foot is almost non-existent save for some sweet wood and a very subtle suggestion at orange jam with a touch of baking spices. The cold draw is inconsistent from cigar to cigar, ranging from perfect to incredibly tight, while the flavors lean toward cocoa powder and wood.
There’s no delay in getting down to business with the Ramón Allones Grandes as it serves up a fairly hearty beginning that has notes of coffee and earth; the flavors are fleeting and still feel a bit muddled, but the cigar is certainly trying to get things started quickly. What pepper is present is focused primarily on the nose, picked up more through the ambient smoke and retrohales than on the palate, and what is there is fairly soft. A few puffs in and the flavor has dialed back a bit, leaving the retrohale as the star as it brightens up with some very clean and punchy light pepper, an excellent balance and offering stimulation without being overwhelming. The smoke production from the cigar is decent though can be a bit underwhelming, and it is quickly whisked away with even the slightest breeze. The first clump of ash breaks off unexpectedly at just about an inch, though the burn line has been sharp and even so far. A fairly dry and warm flavor profile sets up the next section of the cigar by offering a touch of sour earth, more wood and a bit of pepper, while the aroma has picked up a touch of barnyard and lemon citrus.
By the start of the second third the flavor has started to increase in intensity, returning to the coffee note it had at the very start while also adding a bit of toffee sweetness, a very enjoyable flavor pairing that helps provide balance to the cigar without overstepping its role. I find myself still left with a fairly dry mouth though, and while I wouldn’t want to call the cigar salty, it feels like I’m getting a little bit of it at the halfway mark. The ash appears to be holding on much better past the midpoint, approaching two inches in length before finally giving way. There’s another step forward in the strength and robustness of the cigar as it makes its way to the final third, seemingly setting up a promise of its most flavorful and strongest section yet.
There’s a robust earthiness that sets the basic framework for the final third of the Ramón Allones Grandes, though it’s not the most distinct note I have ever tasted and does more to coat the palate as opposed to stimulate it. The pepper has picked up on the tongue and in the nose, becoming more plentiful and more punchy in the latter. The oomph that the cigar offers is also at a high point, giving off much more nicotine and raw strength in the throat and leaving more of a physical impression than it did in the prior two thirds. The draw and smoke production continue to be solid, and the ash is doing a better job holding on that it had earlier. There’s just a little bit of dark chocolate that comes along in the final inches, a much different form of sweetness that what was offered earlier but one that plays well with the more robust flavor offering. There are no issues getting the Grandes down to a small nub, something I’d encourage given the higher price tag and enjoyable flavor profile on this limited cigar.
- I had the privilege of covering the Festival del Habano XVII this past February; you can read my daily recaps from the event here.
- One of the things I found interesting during the Festival was how many times it was reiterated that you can’t judge a Cuban cigar off the first inch as the blend hasn’t had time to develop. I found that sort of odd, and in this case, the first inch is one of the best parts.
- The vitola de galera, or factory name for this size is pacos. It is the same size as the current production San Cristóbal El Morro, as well as the limited edition Romeo y Julieta Double Corona from 2000 that appeared in the 125th Anniversary humidor.
- When I have the time for it, the corona doble vitola is one of my absolute favorites.
- It’s up to the distributor to front the costs of an Edición Regional release; in the case of Spain, Altadis S.A. handles the distribution in that region for both the duty free and domestic market, though it does not cover the Canary Islands.
- Should you ever visit Havana, the original Ramón Allones factory can be found at 129 Animas Street.
- The Ramón Allones line currently sits at just three regular production sizes: the 4 3/10 x 42 Small Club Corona, the 7 3/5 x 49 Gigantes, and the 4 9/10 x 50 Specially Selected.
- Final smoking time was just about two hours and 30 minutes on average.
- The cigars for this review were purchased by halfwheel.
While I don’t smoke tons of them, the Ramón Allones marca has rarely let me down, especially in the smaller Specially Selected and Small Club Corona vitolas. Yet while the Grandes and Specially Selected are nearly identical in ring gauge, something about the added length seems to have affected my impressions of the cigar. If anything, the added two inches didn’t necessarily enhance my enjoyment of it, as there weren’t any additional flavor changes and the cigar seemed like it was dragging a bit at times. It’s still very good, and the age on it is really becoming apparent as the flavors are still present but have lost just a bit of the edge you would find on current stock, which is the one thing this cigar really has going for it. I still have a hard time justifying the premium price for a cigar that is half-an-inch shorter than a regular production size, but given that this was made for one of Habanos S.A.’s top markets and comes with a good bit of time on it, makes for a worthwhile treat if you can still find them or have some sitting in your humidor.