Ramón Allones Private Stock 230
Words from Omar
When asked what a cigar is I channel my inner Morpheus and answer with that single word.
When all is said and done, the cigar is smoked, the drinks are drunk and the time has been spent, the memories of that time is all that's left.
The - often times - deep, fulfilling and insightful conversation you've just had is what lingers, as well as the anticipation of finding another excuse to assemble a group of family and friends to commit time to one another for the duration of a smoke.
Every time I think of a cigar, of course I remember whether or not I enjoyed that particular cigar but, what I really dwell on is the person or people I smoked with and how their company impacted me.
As far as I’m concerned, we have nothing more valuable than our time, there is no commodity more desired nor as finite. The cigar is an instrument we can use to ensure time well spent.
My dear friend the English Cigar Aficionado (now to be referred to as ECA) and I were extraordinarily fortunate to sample the Ramón Allones Private Stock 230, the most recent UK regional release celebrating Hunters & Frankau’s 230th anniversary.
Ramón Allones Private Stock 230 with The Cigar Holder Case Taken on Nikon Z6
For the more fastidious cigar enthusiast, you will note that the Private Stock 230 has not been released to the public, so I'm afraid you won’t be able to sample it just yet.
Sucks to be you.
Or am I?
All jokes aside, view this piece as a first impression, not a comprehensive review of what it will smoke like upon release. The plan is that ECA and I will sample the cigar again in a few months once its been released and will let you all know how it has changed during those months.
I know right, what an arduous task we have to complete…
For those of you who have been following my cigar journey you’ll know I am a particular fan of the Ramón Allones Specially Selected (RASS). In my opinion its the perfect cigar to step your game up, perhaps after the first 3 or 4 cigars.
What the RASS did for me is allowed me to understand the difference between a good and a great cigar. A good cigar is one that provides you with a delightful, non offensive experience, reliabily delivering on your favourite flavour profiles. A great cigar is one that offers you complexity, challenges your senses and most importantly takes you on a flavour adventure. The best cigars take you on a beautifully undulating journey, supplying abundant range, depth and interest to the smoker.
Before I pass you over to the man who actually knows what he’s talking about, I came across some interesting facts about the Ramón Allones brand that I find both to be exceedingly interesting but also relevant to answer the question as to why Ramón is a suitable brand for Hunters to partner with on such a momentous occasion!
Something that did come to me as a surprise was to learn that Ramón Allones are in fact the second oldest Cuban cigar brand in production, second only to Por Larranaga, another one of my favourites.
During the brands 185 year history it really has had some interesting peaks and valleys, none more relevant than the period of which John Hunter, Morris & Elkan Limited, the importer now part of Hunters & Frankau owned Ramón between 1911 - 1927. It is said by those far more knowledgeable than I that it was this period that Ramón experienced the pinnacle of its glory. To provide a little context to that statement, in 2022 Ramón currently has three 3 vitolas available in regular production, the Gigantes, RASS and Small Club Coronas. According to the catalogue in 1924 Ramón had 62 different vitolas available for purchase.
Holy shit indeed.
The final factoid I found rather enlightening and perhaps the icing on the proverbial cake is that in 2004/05 the first ever UK regional edition was released in the form of the revered Ramón Belicosos. I will probably never have a chance to try this but from all accounts, it is a fucking cracker of a cigar.
Now on to the juicy stuff.
The cigar itself is extraordinarily handsome. A culmination of the grand elegance of its size, the mono chromatic band, the delicious milk chocolate coloured wrapper and of course that remarkable second band denoting this as a UK Regional.
Ramón Allones Private Stock 230 Taken on Nikon Z6
Upon first draw of this behemoth - both in name and stature - both ECA and I shared a look with the same pleasantly surprised expression. From my experience, Ramón Allones are known for their signature intensity in both aroma and flavour, the Private Stock 230 is quite different. I was greeted with a refreshingly light, smooth, sweet flavour profile, very uncharacteristically Ramón but definitly something I know myself and many others will be over the moon about.
For those who demand enough strength to knock them in to next week, fret not, at the half way point I found it to be reminiscent of the RASS and in the final third it was really able to spread it's wings and unleash a sophisticated spicy punch that kept me engaged.
A legitimate masterpiece of blending.
In fact, for my teetotallers out there there are two pairings you must try with this cigar that from my sampling taste absolutely to die for. One of the Esmerelda Geisha coffee from Difference Coffee, the delicate floral notes of the coffee really highlights that initial sweetness and the acidic bite from the coffee prepares you for the spiciness to come.
If you're not feeling the whole coffee vibe then the Wonder Darjeeling 1st Flush from Lalani & Co is truly a match made in heaven. The distinct tropical fruitiness of this tea really allows this cigar to shine, for me, as I got in to the final third, it helped manage some of the strength. The tannic properties seem to very effectively cleanse and reset the palette in-between puffs. If you want to take the experience to the next level these two are the best non-alcoholic options you have.
I know my smoking experience is limited but this is easily one of the greatest smokes I have been privileged enough to smoke, thank you and congratulations to Hunters & Frankau for a home run hit. Over to you ECA!
Words from ECA
Hunters & Frankau, the UK’s importer and distributor of Havana cigars, belatedly celebrates an extraordinary 230th anniversary with the imminent release of a highly anticipated Cuban cigar, the Ramón Allones Private Stock 230 in the autumn this year. Characteristic of many Cuban cigar releases, this one comes a little late to the party with their anniversary being in 2020.
As Omar and I were lucky enough to find out, these recently sampled cigars were every bit worth the wait.
Ramón Allones Private Stock 230 Taken on Nikon Z6
A little word about the programme that this cigar is released as, Regional Editions (or Ediciónes Regionales) since is not only a special anniversary cigar but joins a growing list of unarguably legendary cigars released by Hunters & Frankau as part of the programme overseen by Habanos S.A. (the commercial entity that distributes Cuban cigars worldwide).
The Regional Edition programme is intended to give distributors an annual opportunity to commission special exclusive cigars for their region. Introduced in 2005, they come with a far from straight-forward set of rules.
First, the cigar should not come from one of the global brands that you will find all over the world (for example, Cohiba, Montecristo, and Romeo y Julieta).
Second, it should be made from an unusual vitola (shape and size of a cigar) and it must not be a size that the chosen brand already has in its range, but it must be a size in current production. Third, it must come from a so-called “Value Brand” or “Other Brand” (such as, Ramón Allones). Although Trinidad is indeed part of this grouping, the position of it being available as a Regional Edition is still unclear.
As Omar previously mentioned, the brand, Ramón Allones, is ordinarily known as a more powerful smoke, but this cigar experience favoured finesse rather than pure strength. It should prove a joy to both the experienced and more novice cigar smoker alike.
Ramón Allones is especially appropriate for this anniversary since between 1911 and 1927 the brand was owned by John Hunter, Morris & Elkan Limited, the importer now part of Hunters & Frankau. Not only that, but that brand’s standard production robusto sized cigar (Ramón Allones, Specially Selected) is said to be one of the firm’s favourite smokes. The reference to Private Stock harks back to a Ramón Allones vitola discontinued in the 1970s and said to be a great classic.
The Ramón Allones Private Stock 230, undoubtedly a beautiful cigar, was a big smoke with a 50 ring gauge (a measure of the diameter of the cigar, with one ring gauge being 1/64th of an inch) and 6 3/4 inches long; a vitola known as a Partagas 16. The cigar wrapper was impeccable with some oiliness. The Ramón Allones Private Stock band dates from the pre-1960s and was discontinued from regular use in approximately 2005. It has a second band marking the regional exclusivity and its anniversary, “H&F Exclusivo Gran Bretaña 1790-2020”.
The presentation was fabulous.
Ramón Allones Private Stock 230 Taken on Nikon Z6
The construction was a testament to the fine cigar rollers. It burnt evenly throughout with an attractive solid ash and perfectly filled – not overfilled nor underfilled – delivering a gorgeous draw with just the right amount of resistance for my taste and generous smoke production.
The pre-light draw and aroma showed a promising sweetness, a characteristic hint of the Ramón Allones brand. The first third of the cigar was delightful: sweet, smooth and a lack of bitterness (which you might expect in a youthful box). Approaching the second third, the smoke continued to be welcomingly mellow. It was in the final third that the spice ramped up and strength kicked in.
Over the years, many Regional Editions have become extremely collectible and difficult to acquire and this is reflected on the secondary market. This release, when it comes, can safely be predicted to be an example of where the demand will be insatiable. Try them whilst you can, they won’t be around for long.
Hunters & Frankau undoubtedly releases some of the finest Regional Editions issued by any distributor in the world (for example, the El Rey del Mundo, La Reina, for 2018’s regional offering is already a classic). The Ramón Allones Private Stock 230 will be no exception. With Cuban cigars, as with say fine wine, they continue to excel with age.
This is smoking beautifully right now, but I have no doubt will continue to develop gloriously.
Mark Twain famously commented, “If heaven has no cigars, I shall not go there”. This ethereal cigar transcends the ordinary. With this smoke, it is a very happy birthday to Hunters & Frankau!