Ramon Allones Gran Robusto (Benelux Regional Edition)

Ramon Allones Gran Robusto Benelux Exclusivo

Ramon AllonesOrigin : Cuba
Format : Robusto Extra
Size : 155 x 20 mm (6.1 x 50)
Ring : 50
Released in : 2007 & 2008
Price : 13.50 EUR each

This guest review comes courtesy of our friend Nick, a.k.a. @wristriction. Enjoy!

The Ramon Allones Gran Robusto Exclusivo Benelux (yes that’s a mouthful) is a Robusto Extra Vitola originally released in 2007 in a rather exclusive quantity. Six hundred numbered boxes containing 25 cigars and 204 numbered cabinets containing 50 cigars for a total of 25,200 cigars were made available for the Benelux market. These first samples proved to be such a success that Ramon Allones decided to repeat the feat by re-releasing the cigar in 2008 on rather generous terms: 1,400 boxes of 25 and 600 Cabinets of 50 cigars (65,000 cigars in 2008) flooded the market. A lot of the cigars are still out there and a trip to my regular cigar supplier (Le Roi Du Cigare, Koningstraat 25, 1000 Brussels) proved ample supply. Not that its availability detracts from its appeal, but let’s say that I’m a sucker for everything exclusive. After purchase these cigars have been sitting another 6 months in my humidor at 72% humidity.

Appearance : Rating: ★★★½☆
With a 50 ring gauge this cigar is surely in line with current market trends though its 155mm (6.1 in) length makes sure it still looks refined and elegant. The wrapper has a nice light brown color which has become almost matte due to the residue of essential oils, obviously a result of the aging process that these cigars have undergone prior to release. Nevertheless the cigar still carries that light oily sheen I like to see on my wrappers. The samples I’ve tasted (I smoked 4 over the past months) all came from different boxes of the 2008 release and thus might have different taste notes from the cabinet version I still have to get my hands on. The cap is well executed and clipped away perfectly with my Xikar double guillotine cutter.

Construction : Rating: ★★½☆☆
There was a big difference in construction between the cigars I had, with some of them showing very poor construction up to the point where you believe it will create some serious issues during smoking. All the cigars have one protrusive vein that seems to compress the cigar near the middle. Unfortunately I don’t have a picture of the cigar where this was so extreme the cigar actually curved inwards. The cigar I used for the review pictures was the best one of all 4 and actually the replacement I received upon return of the former (draw was so tight that there was no pleasure in smoking). Apart from the one vein, the construction of these cigars is OK but never exceptional.

On the picture below you can see the “bumpiness” of the vein, almost trying to pull the wrapper into the cigar.

Ramon Allones Benelux

As with the quality of construction, the draw on these cigars also varied heavily, from almost completely stuck, too tight, to absolutely perfect. Since the cigars came from different boxes we can assume that it’s not a problem related to one roller or a certain batch, so watch out when you buy these online for instance, you could have a bad surprise. But on the last one I smoked the draw was as perfect as it gets for me. Open with just that little bit of resistance that makes you draw the smoke in your mouth just a little longer than usual, just for fun, giving out tons of silky smoke. Almost heavy enough to bite, but ever so subtle and light. Because of my previous experience with this cigar, I rolled it in my hands prior to smoking so this might have helped with the draw; in any case it was very, very good. The burn was good and didn’t need any touching up during the whole smoke. The ash is a mix between very light and darker grey layers that holds on very well.

Flavor : Rating: ★★★★½
Now this is where this cigar shines, and probably why people were so fond of it RA had to release these to the market again. Pre-light, this cigar has the typical Cuban manure scent to it assisted by some white pepper, undertone of vanilla and a lingering sweetness, something of a light caramel in the pre-draw.

After toasting the foot the first puffs give way to hay and grass, tastes that I wouldn’t necessarily link to a cigar of this age. After the first cm though nothing of its young profile remains and the cigar turns to more bitterness, always with a sweet touch, the light caramel from the pre-light has turned darker brown. From this point you get a little more pepper lingering on the lips and a lot of salt, not your everyday kitchen salt but good authentic sea salt such as you might find in gastronomic butter, just lovely. I was enjoying a lovely Brunello 2004 with this cigar which really helped to bring out the floral notes and fruitiness that hide a little bit deeper in this cigar’s light bodied flavor profile.

Ramon Allones Gran Robusto (Benelux Regional Edition)

This is not a cigar that overwhelms you with power or taste; it’s very complex, elegant, and rather light. It would do very well together with nice full bodied champagne (preferably 100% pinot noir). For instance, when celebrating new years in the South of France after having just acquired a cabinet as a self-given Christmas present. In this regard the pairing with the Brunello was maybe not the best option: although its age had given the wine more roundness and length it was a little bit overpowering to the cigar at some points.

But I digress, back to the cigar shall we! At the end of the first third the cigar kept on giving out nice clouds of smoke with increasing amounts of pepper and first hints of walnuts.

This nutty experience continues in the second third and is joined by its friends leather and wood, always supported by the more fruity and floral notes. I would say that the cigar has gone from a light to a light medium body profile. One of the things this cigar does so well is to throw flavors at you that you don’t expect, which disappear again moments later and keep you pondering later on. It’s like behind the curtain of a quite consistent though very enjoyable flavor profile you also get a very playful and entertaining cigar that leaves a lasting impression. By the end of the second third the floral notes are becoming more prominent.

In the last third the bitterness increased again and we can now speak of a medium bodied cigar. This bitterness accompanied by leather as before is never intrusive or unpleasant in any way as it’s always accompanied by an almost unidentifiable sweetness that reminds one of dark chocolate and caramel. The cigar stays soft and smooth until the end, a real masterpiece of flavor and complexity.

Value : Rating: ★★★★☆
At 13,50EUR/piece I consider this cigar to be good value. The experience you get tastewise is very enjoyable. It took me a little bit more than an hour to smoke this cigar and I enjoyed every minute of it! I will certainly buy this one again.

Overall Rating : Rating: ★★★★☆
This cigar is a very special and complex cigar in every way. The problems I encountered with the construction followed by the surprise in taste have led me to make the analogy between this cigar and a well known Italian sports car. Although very enjoyable and without a doubt, performance-wise, at the top of its class, sometimes a costly experience. Good service with this cigar is a must as I would imagine buying a box or cabinet could contain a high risk of more than a few unsmokeable cigars. Once you’ve experienced a good sample of this cigar though, you forget all the bad ones, as they are really very lovely. The last cigar I smoked, the one I smoked for this review, made me fall in love with this cigar again. Will I buy it again, most certainly, but never a box, nor from a supplier that I don’t know, or where I can’t easily return my cigar in case of a problem.