Limited Edition 2019 Tasting Notes
Ramón Allones is one of the oldest Cuban cigar brands still in current production having been established in 1837. It was set up by two brothers, Antonio and Ramón Allones and was originally housed in La Eminencia Factory, 129 Animas Street, Havana.
The Ramón Allones brand is widley credited with developing the use of colour lithography on the cigar box trimmings and it is also a widely held opinion that they were responsible for the production of the first 8-
9-8 boxes of cigars. Some also attribute them with the development of the cigar band.
In 1908, the brand was purchased by ‘Allones Limited’ a company owned by one half of what was to go on to become Hunters & Frankau. Then in 1927, the brand was sold to Cifuentes, Pego y Cia, owners of the Partagás Factory. With the completion of this deal manufacturing of Ramon Allones was transferred to the Partagás Factory, an arrangement that continues to this day.
Despite having a range of over 60 sizes at one point just three vitolas (sizes) remain in production today. They are:
Perhaps partly due to the small number of vitolas Ramón Allones produce, the brand accounts for less than 1.5% of the duty paid Habanos market in the United Kingdom.
However, despite its modest UK sales and limited range, the brand has a reputation as a connoisseur’s cigar. Indeed, Simon Chase (the late Marketing Director at Hunters & Frankau) awarded the Specially Selected top spot more than once in ‘Top Ten’ lists he was invited to write for various magazines over the years. He once wrote;
“I am asked at virtually every cigar dinner I host: ‘What's your favourite cigar?’ This is a legitimate question, although it doesn't allow for the time of day etc. If I rephrase it to assume that I am facing a firing squad and have one last wish of a Habano to smoke before it's all over, then my choice is the Ramón Allones Specially Selected. A classic robusto size, the Specially Selected has been around a lot longer than I have in the trade. I was first captivated by its deep, earthy, full bodied flavour and aroma, characteristic of many of the cigars from Havana's Partagás factory where Ramón Allones is made, back in the early 1980s. It has proved a faithful friend, particularly after a substantial dinner, and it remains my No. 1."
Each year Habanos S.A. in Cuba releases a number of exceptional cigars known as Ediciónes Limitadas, or
Since 2000 when the first series of four Limited Edition cigars was presented, a further two to five releases have been made annually, except in 2002 when there were none.
The characteristics of Limited Editions are that they:
• are made by the most celebrated
houses in Havana
• are made in rare or unique sizes
• use darker coloured wrapper leaves
• use extra aged tobaccos
The production run for each cigar takes place within a limited period usually during the year for which it is designated. The exact quantity made of each release is not declared because the Cuban industry cannot
tell how many cigars of each size it will be able to make until the bales of specially aged wrapper leaves are opened and graded for quality and colour.
The most celebrated houses in Havana
Up until 2005 Limited Editions were only found in five of the most prestigious Habanos brands.
Limited Edition sizes are rare because they must not replicate any of the sizes normally made by the brands in question. Sometimes they are entirely new sizes, never produced before in Havana, such as the Sublimes (6½"/ 164mm x 54 ring gauge) first made for Cohiba in 2004 or the Duke (5½"/ 140mm x 54 ring gauge) first made for Romeo in 2009. They can also be sizes that have not been made for many years like the 2004 Partagás Serie D No. 1 (6¾"/ 170mm x 50 ring gauge), which had not been seen since the 1950s.
In 2006, three sizes from previous years were re-released (the Cohiba Pirámides, Montecristo Robusto and Partagás Serie D No. 3) as a celebration of the project. Each release can easily be identified by the year on their second bands.
Dark coloured wrapper leaves
Limited Edition wrappers are darker than those found on standard Habanos. Dark wrappers can only come from the leaves at the top of shade-grown tobacco plants, which are younger, thicker and fuller of natural oils and sugar. Such leaves demand longer periods for fermentation and ageing than normal wrappers – up to nine months for fermentation as opposed to one and over a year for ageing compared to six months. All Limited Edition wrappers have been fermented and aged for at least two years before being used. Some variation of wrapper colour occurs on Limited Edition cigars from Colorado (dark brown) to Maduro (nearly black). Contrary to popular belief they are not all Maduro, but most are.
Up until 2006 it was only the wrapper leaves in Limited Edition cigars that were aged for two years. However, from 2007 onwards, all the filler leaves including the binders were subjected to an extra ageing process so that all the leaves are now a minimum of two years old before the cigars are made. The extra ageing of the filler tobaccos gives a rounded, mellow flavour to which the higher sugar content of the darker wrapper adds a hint of sweetness.
In 2005 when Hunters & Frankau were invited to help pioneer the Regional Edition concept with Habanos, the cigar chosen for the project was the Ramón Allones Belicoso - exactly the same brand and shape as this 2019 Limited Edition. With that, and the brands previous ownership in mind, it is perhaps unsurprising that the Hunters & Frankau is so delighted to be hosting the global launch for this cigar in the UK.
This is only the third time that the Ramón Allones brand has been selected to produce a Limited Edition cigar, following the 2011 Allones Extra and the Club Allones from 2015.
Those fortunate enough to have sampled these cigars, in the UK and Havana, tend to agree that although they smoke well now, they have the potential to develop and mature for many years to come.
The dark wrapper of these Limited Editions adds a satisfying dimension of sweetness as a top taste and the extra age (minimum two years) has smoothed off some of the edges to the blend, leaving a cigar of rare power and balance.