Today we are bringing you a guest cigar review by Sean. Rafael Gonzalez Perlas is a good value Cuban cigar that shouldn't be overlooked.
Pre-light : Dark Maduro wrapper that has a slightly dusty bloom. It looks very welcoming. Decent construction, although the cap is not executed perfectly as you get with other cigars this size like Cohiba Siglo I, or Montecristo No. 5. There are small veins that are not at all dominant, and overall the cigar feels quite heavy for its small size and is well packed with uniform feel. The smell is that of mild barnyard that has a hint of sweetness, reminiscent of dark chocolate. The cold draw tasted somewhat sweet with hints of roasted nuts and typical Cuban tobacco. The band is the non-glossy, non-embossed band, which I still haven’t figured out, as other vitolas are donning a darker more glossy embossed band. According to the information obtained online, the non-glossy band was discontinued in 2010, so I suspect that these cigars are 2 years aged prior to their 2012 release, explaining the band.
The Ediciones Limitadas are released every year and are manufactured with carefully selected wrapper, filler and binder tobaccos which have been aged for a period of at least 2 years. The wrapper for these cigars comes from the top leaves of the Tapado – shade-grown black Cuban tobacco plant, and is a relevant characteristic that identifies these special productions. This wrapper is usually darker than the wrappers of regular range sizes of the brand and this is immediately noticeable to anyone who smokes H. Upmann cigars like I do.
The Ediciones Limitadas are made with the finest tobacco leaves coming from Vuelta Abajo and also feature long filler from that region. Since my favorite vitola is the Robusto, I was intrigued by the H. Upmann 2012 Edicion Limitada Robusto. This is a size that does not exist in the regular production run of H. Upmann Cigars. For cost purposes, I don’t set out to try all of the Limitadas, instead I focus on the ones that interest me.
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.
Fonseca is an under appreciated brand in my opinion. You don’t find too many people talking about it and there are plenty who haven’t even heard of it. I have found it to be a sort of hidden gem. Milder than most Cuban cigars it is still full of refined, complex flavors and they are a joy to smoke. The hallmark of the Fonseca is the white tissue paper wrapper that graces every stick in the marca, and the bold portrait of Francisco E. Fonseca that adorns each box.
If I am not mistaken, the La Casa Del Habanos exclusive releases were started in 2004 and this is the 6th one of the series. There were originally 5,000 unnumbered boxes produced but I am sure they rolled another batch of these as they are quite popular. I am a big fan of the Ramon Allones marca and of the grand corona vitola. It was only right for me to do a review of this cigar.
Back in November I attended the famous Partagas festival in Havana, Cuba along with the Toronto contingent. This was my first time going and I must say I am now hooked. After a few days of hunting in every cigar store in town, I was invited by the good people at the Montreal branch of the Casa Del Habanos to a pre-launch tasting of this year’s Edicion Regional Canada, the Vegas Robaina Aniversario XV Exclusivo Canada. Vegas Robaina is not a marca I particularly appreciate but I am more than ready to have my mind changed.
In 2010, Cohiba officially unveiled perhaps one of its more exclusive cigars ever. The cigar received extensive reviews at the time of release ranging from over-priced to the best cigar the reviewer had ever tasted. I understand that whenever a cigar is priced in the highest end of the price range for a particular product, there will often be resentment associated with that. However, the fact they are priced in the “exclusive” end is perhaps why they are consistently sold out even two years after their release. Although we can still call this cigar new to the scene, it really isn’t all that new to the aficionado anymore because anyone with a passion for Cuban cigars knows very well about the story behind these cigars and their desire among smokers and collectors alike. One of the best cigars to come out of Cuba in a long time is also one of the most, if not THE most expensive to come off the Island and as a result, people will have varying opinions, often wrongly, because of that price tag.
What makes the Behike so special is that unlike many other Cubans, this cigar, for all intent and purpose really needs no aging in large part due to the fact that the cigar is essentially constructed with aged tobacco. For example, the filler is made up of tobacco known as medio tiempo which is a sun-grown leaf that grows at the top of tobacco plants. Not all tobacco plants produce this leaf though but it is known to be full-bodied and loaded with coffee-like flavors with a very creamy texture to the smoke. Essentially, this leaf has elements of tobacco leaf that has already been aged and, even with young medio tiempo, one can detect the same creamy, earthy and coffee-like flavors of a well-aged cigar. The BHK comes in 52, 54 and 56 which corresponds to their respective ring gauges and, once stabilized for humidity, can be smoked “out of the box”.
I’ve been lucky enough to obtain 2 boxes both from Cuba and at Cuban pricing. The first one, bearing a box date of October 2011, was brought back for me in early December of 2011 from a vacationing friend. At 180 Cuban Pesos per cigar, the 10-count box worked out to 18.00 Cuban Pesos per stick. With an exchange rate to the Canadian dollar being almost equal, we can fairly say that these cigars were roughly $18.00 each. The second box was purchased for me in June of 2012 and they carried a box date of May 2012. Again, I placed the order through a vacationing friend and that second box cost me 183.00 Cuban Convertible Pesos or roughly $185.00 Canadian dollars for a 10 count box ($18.50 each cigar).
These cigars sell out fast wherever they are, indicating that the price is not keeping people from indulging in the pleasure. I’ll comment some more about this later. First, however, let’s talk about these cigars of which I have 1 box left, having smoked the last one out of my first box just a few weeks ago.
I got this cigar in a trade on r/cigars and, to be honest, wasn't expecting much out of it. Not my favorite brand, not my favorite format (although Montecristo Especial No. 1, a slightly thicker panatela, is a fine smoke!). These cigars used to be machine-made back in the days, but now proudly bear the hand-made tag. Besides, they are rather cheap... Let's see how the Por Larranaga Montecarlo fared?