Ramon Allones is the best cigar AJ has made to date. That’s right boys and girls, I’m skipping all the mumbo-jumbo and history I normally stuff into the beginning of my reviews and jumping right to the good stuff: this cigar is the best. Seriously. My favorite cigar I’ve tried this year. And when you’re going through 10-12 cigars a week that says something. Call me a sucker, but I love everything AJ makes: from the boutique, full-bodied creations of Man O’ War and Diesel, to his collaborative projects like Punch Diablo and H. Upmann by AJ Fernandez, to his national brand lines like New World and Enclave, I can’t get enough of this stuff. Hell, I even love his older, discontinued lines like Spectre and Pinolero.
Suffice to say, when a co-worker at this year’s IPCPR (the industry trade show) told me that the new cigar from AJ was his best work yet, I was hesitant to believe him. How could he make something more flavorful than Diesel Unholy Cocktail? Bolder than Montecristo Nicaragua? Fuller-bodied than New World? I high-tailed it to the booth and finagled myself a few samples, and went about my day. You see, while the trade show is awesome for trying new stuff, it’s hard to really enjoy a cigar there. Every 10 feet you walk you’re running into another cigar maker who wants you to try his latest release: basically meaning I end up tasting every cigar for 15 or 20 minutes before I’m forced to move onto the next.
I packed the Toros I had scored up into my travel case, threw them in my suitcase, and waited. When we got back from Las Vegas, I had a ton of new cigars to sample, but I knew I’d be going for Ramon Allones first. And I’ll be honest with you, I liked it, but it didn’t really “wow” me from the moment I sat down with it. I continued working through the samples, figuring out what we want to get online, pricing out new products, and going on with my life. But I kept thinking about that Ramon Allones. Like when you get a drunken craving for Taco Bell at 3 AM (just me?) I just couldn’t shake this cigar out of my brain. I knew I needed another one.
So, a few weekends later, I lit up the second sample I had. It was awesome. The next day, I burnt the last one. That Monday, I went in and bought 5 more, handing a couple out to some of the fellas in the office, and saving the rest for myself. By that Friday, those were gone.
And boys, I took the plunge. I hate shelling out cash for cigars, especially when we get so many in the office for free (tough job, huh?). But this thing is worth every penny. I’m happy to report there’s a full box sitting in my cooler under my desk right now, and I’m considering even grabbing a second size.
The flavor is amazing, don’t get me wrong, but I’d be doing this cigar an injustice by just skipping all the history. Originally created in Havana, Cuba, Ramon Allones has a ton of firsts: the boxes were the first cigars to feature colorful artwork in order to help market the product. On top of that, this was the first cigar to use bands. Yes, that’s right boys, back in the day every cigar was unbanded. And finally, this cigar was the first to be packaged in the classic 8-9-8 fashion (though there’s a few other brands that try to claim that milestone). The cigars have gone through multiple non-Cuban versions, but AJ always wanted to make the brand: you see, this was the cigar his father enjoyed the most when they lived back in Cuba. AJ’s at his best when he’s focusing on heritage and family, and believe me: there’s a ton of it here.
The packaging on this cigar is awesome, but as regular readers of my reviews know, I ultimately don’t care how nice a cigar looks as long as it performs well. That being said, really take a moment to study the wrapper. It’s an ultra-dark Habano Oscuro Medio Tempo leaf, one that makes this cigar looks like a rich chocolate bar. Oily and shiny, every sample I enjoyed had minimal veins.
Here’s the part you’ve been waiting for: the flavor. The profile is medium to full-bodied, if not outright full, but the cigar is never harsh or overpowering. Instead, uber-smooth waves of flavor greet you on every puff. In the beginning, lots of pepper booms forth, reminding me of some old school Pepin blends. Keep going, and the cigar mellows out, delivering a rich, fruity sweetness, creamy chocolate, and hints of cedar (no doubt thanks to the cedar sleeve). Draw is awesome, burn line is razor sharp, and construction is spot on. Zero complaints.
I don’t love assigning a point value to cigars (I’m not sure what the real difference between a 93 and a 90 is, honestly) but I’m giving this one the highest-rating I’ve ever given: 96. Just knocking a couple points off for the price. If this cigar landed at $10, I couldn’t find a single fault with it. As is, it’s still in the top ten cigars I’ve ever had. Get some.