Cigars, Havana Cigar Festival

Best Cigars Released, Smoked at 2015 Havana Cigar Festival

We smoked a number of new releases at the 2015 Havana Cigar Festival, and the best cigar so far was actually not one of the official releases from Habanos, the global marketing and distribution company for Cuban cigars.

The Hunters & Frankau Aniversario 225 Ramon Allones (50 ring gauge x 140 mm) is a phenomenal cigar showing breathtaking depth and flavor. It is reminiscent of the great Ramon Allones of the early 1990s. We smoked it twice: Once at a launch party in a protocol house in the Siboney neighborhood of Havana and another in our office in Old Havana.

Havana Cigar Festival
Hunters & Frankau Ramon Allones Aniversario 225

The HK RA 225 was made in 2012 in the Partagas factory. The cigars come in specially produced cedar cabinet boxes, 2,000 in total and all numbered. Hunters also asked Havana Club to make a limited production of half bottles of 25-year-old rum, which is fantastic and is very similar in taste to a fine-aged Cognac with its dense, silky texture and sweet, fruity and creamy character. It will be sold in a special pack with cigars.

Here is our cigar rating of the Hunters & Frankau Ramon Allones Aniversario 225:

This is a phenomenal cigar to be released in the United Kingdom this June. It has such depth and richness like the great Ramon Allones of the 1990s. It’s full and intense with walnuts, tobacco, and mahogany, plus dark tea undertones. Full-bodied, it displays a long and soulful character. It was aged in the warehouse of a British cigar merchant in England and produced for importer Hunters & Frankau to celebrate its 225th anniversary. It’s a tribute to the great cigar merchant and its key owner, the Freeman family. 99 points.

Havana Cigar Festival
Romeo & Julieta Piramide Añejados

Another cigar we smoked was the new Romeo & Julieta Piramide Añejados (52 ring gauge x 156 mm). This is one of two cigars released with the “aged” moniker indicating that the tobacco in the cigars is at least five years old and up to eight. The other is a Montecristo Churchill Añejados (47 ring gauge x 178 mm). The torpedo R&J was given to everyone at the opening night event at the Antiguo Almacén del Tabaco y la Madera in the Old Havana port. The warehouse is now a microbrewery.

We smoked the cigar at the opening and have to admit that we were underwhelmed and found the cigar rather monolithic and not showing much R&J character. We heard many similar comments from cigar aficionados at the event. Some people maliciously said the cigar was a rebanded Montecristo No. 2.

However, we smoked the cigar again this morning and have to say it’s a beautiful smoke. (This proves that smoking aged cigars is not a great thing outside, but that’s another blog.)

Here is our rating of the Romeo & Julieta Piramide Añejados:

This cigar delivers what it is supposed to with an aged tobacco character of almonds and cedar plus hints of subtle spicy character. It’s full-bodied with a very smooth texture and wonderful length. The bouquet from this cigar fills the room with fresh Spanish cedar character. Smoke and enjoy. 92 points.

Havana Cigar Festival
Romeo & Julieta Wide Churchill Gran Reserva Cosecha 2009

We also smoked the Romeo & Julieta Wide Churchill Gran Reserva Cosecha 2009 (55 ring gauge x 130 mm), which was handed out in a slick two-pack black lacquered box in a velvet pouch. It is sold in 5,000 numbered boxes and will be available later this year. The cigar is said to be produced of tobacco that has “undergone a long and careful ageing process of fives years.” Indeed, you can taste the maturation.

Here is our rating of the Romeo & Julieta Wide Churchill Gran Reserva Cosecha 2009:

This is a cigar that shows a very refined cedar and sweet tealeaf character that is unique to the Gran Reserva series, now a benchmark for modern Cuban cigars. It is so balanced and refined with a silky texture and a light tea and milk character. The finish shows an ultra-clean aftertaste that beckons you to smoke more. 96 points.