Ramon Allones by AJ Fernandez | Cigar Reviews by the Katman

Wrapper: Nicaraguan Medio-Tiempo Habano Oscuro
Binder: Nicaraguan Corojo ‘99
Filler: Nicaraguan Corojo ’99, Jalapa, Criollo ’98, Condega, Hybrid Estelí, Pueblo Nuevo
Size: 6 x 52 Toro
Strength: Full
Price: $13.00 (A buck less online)



Today we take a look at the Ramon Allones by AJ Fernandez.
I bought a fiver on Cbid for $30.00.
I’ve had the cigars for two months.

BACKGROUND:
Released: June 9, 2018
Regular production
Rated 92 by Cigar Aficionado plus made #25 of their top cigars of 2018.
According to Cigar Aficionado:
“A.J. Fernandez is undoubtedly the “go-to-guy” in the industry for reinvigorating classic Cuban cigar lines with strong, Nicaraguan blends. Ramon Allones is a perfect example. Owned by General Cigar, Ramon Allones was never very successful in the United States, so Fernandez wanted to see if he could succeed where General could not. What he came up with was a purely Nicaraguan cigar made with a blend of Corojo ’98, Criollo ’99, medio tiempo and a hybrid tobacco that he grows in Estelí. General still owns the trademark, but they’ve turned over both manufacturing and distribution of Ramon Allones to Fernandez, who has given splendid new life to a cigar brand that definitely deserves it.”

SIZES AND PRICING:
Robusto 5.5 x 50 $12.00
Toro 6 x 52 $13.00
Churchill 7 x 50 $14.00
Torpedo 6,5 x 54 $15.00

APPEARANCE:
This is a nice looking cigar. The super dark espresso hued wrapper is thick with oils.
Toothy as hell…feels like #6 grit sandpaper. The stick is solid as a rock….packed to the hilt. Seams are hidden. Lots of small veinage. The application of the triple cap is perfection. And it’s all dressed up for the prom with a cedar sleeve, and main and secondary cigar bands.
One online store described the cigar as ‘slightly box pressed.’ Wrong.
And when I measure the stick, I find they are all 5-7/8” long rather than the advertised 6”.

SMELL THE GLOVE:
Aromas are faint. But I do smell the small notes of floral, chocolate. mint, malt, cedar, black pepper, vanilla, barnyard, a scoche of citrus, and a touch of creaminess.
The cold draw presents flavors of…nada…The draw is D.O.A. I grab my PerfecDraw draw adjustment tool and clear the plug so there is a pleasant draw. I am forced to ream the cigar several times in order to clear the offending plugged tobacco all the way up and down the stick. After I ream the cigar, the aromas perk up dramatically. The black pepper is so potent that it gives me a sneezing fit. Now my sinuses are clogged. I use the PerfecDraw tool to ream them and I appear to be bleeding out. I should be able to get through the review before I expire.

Back to the cold draw…once again: Minty chocolate, almonds, creamy, peppery, malty, a bit citrusy, cedar, barnyard, and vanilla.

FIRST THIRD:
The stick is hard as a cop’s baton and is extremely heavy in the hand.
First puffs are dynamic with black pepper, creaminess, chocolate, espresso, malt, cedar, earthy tobacco…in essence, your typical good Nic puro. But we have only just begun.

Strength starts off by not foolin’ around at medium/full.

I like just about everything AJ Fernandez touches. He is one of the great masters of cigar blending. He has the consistency and imagination that Don Pepin Garcia possesses.
Half of my go to sticks are by AJ. Always reliable…always consistent.

The spiciness is nearly overwhelming. My eyes are watering and my nose is running.

I’m also a fan of the Cuban Ramon Allones. So far, there is no resemblance of this blend to the Cuban blends. You’d think Fernandez would try to regulate the beast to achieve some similarity. Basically, it is just AJ taking an already known blend and putting his own unique brand on it; and nothing more.

Meanwhile, the cigar is excellent with some real balance appearing along with a touch of complexity. Transitions are numbed out by the spiciness. The finish is strictly black pepper. Methinks that maybe another 2 or more months of humi time might tame the spiciness as it is dominating the blend.

Sweetness makes a grand entry with notes of summer fruit, a touch of caramel, black cherry, and vanilla ice cream.
Due to the bowel impaction of the tobacco in this sausage, this will be, at a minimum, a 2-hour smoke.

The spiciness begins to relent allowing other flavors to shine a bit more. The complex nature of this beast is ever present making sure the smoker realizes this ain’t no Puro Authentico. The blend is high premium.

A great blend for those who don’t dissect flavors the way I do. It has a lovely presence that is deep, dark, and foreboding. This is a very meaty cigar…and will only get better with time. Now I realize, I’m a year late on reviewing a cigar you probably have smoked already. But then some of you may have held back due to price. As you can see in my beginning statement, I procured a fiver on Cbid for $30. This would never have happened a year ago when the cigars were released. This is a killer $6 stick. Of course, by telling you this, I’ve fucked it for myself to ever get that deal again.

Flavors are not as distinct as the morphing process begins. There is some real finesse going on here. But I’m not telling you anything new. The cigar has gotten rave reviews from everyone.

SECOND THIRD:
It’s taken a good 40 minutes to get through the first third.
Strength hits full. This is one powerful stogie.

The black pepper sits at the back of my throat. I suppose the Corojo may be the culprit.
Construction and burn have been first rate.

Flavors of pomegranate have shown up for the first time. It is paired with a citrusy element that gives the profile a tart/sweetness that hits the spot. A slight steak sauce enters as well for the first time. A smoky meatiness. And a rich balance of all that mixed tobacco gives the blend some real oomph.

Chocolate and black cherry are toothsome duo. The malt finally surges as the black pepper slips back into acceptable mode.

For a stick so hard and packed, the ash certainly doesn’t align with that premise; as I’ve now had the damn ash fall into my lap three times now. Charlotte bought me Kevlar boxers for Hanukkah.

Speaking of which, had to go to Walmart yesterday and what a circus. People had sharpened their elbows for their shopping excursion. So glad our holiday shopping is over with. I saw two dwarves fighting over a Barbie House. I stepped in announcing I am King Solomon and proceeded to cut one of the dwarves in half. As I look back, I may have bastardized the Solomon reasoning a bit.

This is a great cigar. But it needs more humi time than I gave it. The black pepper is just too strong…even for me. It is blotting out the sun and nuanced flavors I should be tasting.

I expect a full tilt nicotine wet dream in the last third.

Ever notice that John Mellencamp’s songs, “R.O.C.K. In The USA” and “The Authority Song” both sound a lot like the 60’s hit, “I Fought the Law.”

Finally. The spiciness is on a smoke break…allowing flavors to blossom. The creaminess excels. The fruitiness returns in force. The chocolate and espresso are the backbone of the blend. Cinnamon toothpicks show up unannounced.

I hit the halfway point at over an hour.

I initially thought the $13 price tag was excessive. Not now. For the simple reason that this is a great blend but also because it delivers a huge amount of smoke time.
But then, I didn’t pay $13, did I?

The Ramon Allones by AJ Fernandez is a cigar for grownups. It’s for the sophisticated palate. It is intense and complex. The richness of the blend covers a wide spectrum. I do think it’s my bad that I only allowed it 2 months of humi time. Once the black pepper recedes, the true intent of the cigar flourishes.

For the first time, the blend smooths out dramatically. The hyper spiciness was a true buzz kill.

I’ve yet to tap the ash off. The bloody wanker only falls into my lap at inopportune moments.

Extreme earthiness is at play. This is anything but a light cigar. Its depth is like the well your dumb ass cousin fell into when he was 5. And you witnessed it but failed to tell anyone because you forgot.

I expect the next blends to be ‘fixed’ by AJ will be Partagas, Gurkha, and Torano. Or has he already done it? I can’t keep up.

All aforementioned flavors are in interplay mode. Highly complex. Transitions are on the run now that the black pepper hanged itself like David Carradine. The finish is lighter with blank notes of savory v. sweet.

It’s a tobacco thing. This is one of those blends in which the pulchritude of screaming laughter is the guiding force. (Those flashbacks from my Hippie days come more frequently now). Remember kids, say no to drugs…give them to me.

LAST THIRD:
We have liftoff.
Chocolate, steak sauce, cedar, malt, creaminess, citrus, cinnamon, black cherry, vanilla, pomegranate, dark earthiness, and a smoky meatiness are wiping the floor with my palate.

It is now the golden hour for this blend. The Ramon Allones by AJ Fernandez is just outstanding now. Everything has fallen into place. Nothing out of balance.
I don’t know if newbies would survive this cigar. Go ahead and try; and let Darwin do his thing.

I’m afraid I’m going to jinx it but no nicotine. Considering how powerful this stick is, I’m impressed.

Of all the cigar brands that Fernandez meddled in, this is by far his best effort. It doesn’t resemble any Ramon Allones I’ve smoked but it is a stunning blend on its own.

Fernandez went big with the 4 sizes. I’d have loved to see this blend in a Corona Gorda (5.5 x 46). If all his sizes are as packed to the hilt like this Toro, it would be nice to try the stick in a condensed size for time’s sake.
But big is what’s in.

Spiciness returns but not as an affliction. This time, it rounds out the balance of the blend.
This is not a flavor bomb by any stretch of the imagination. It is a great example of the whole exceeding its parts. Everyone has a voice but the depth of the tobacco still leads the charge.

As the cigar burns down to its feral death, the strength increases. The first touch of nicotine arrives. I give the nicotine a Greyhound bus pass and send it on its way.

If you have a sophisticated palate and can handle a super strong blend, this baby is a must.

I must ready myself now. I have an appointment with Testicles ‘R’ Us. They have a contraption you can wear that keeps your nuts from banging around your knees. I wonder if I should take the cat’s electric shears and do some trimming before I go?

A great cigar but I do recommend letting it rest naked in your humidor for at least 3-4 months. I say this because of the black pepper onslaught that should calm down after that amount of time.
Final smoke time is 2 hours 10 minutes.

RATING: 93

And now for something completely different:

I watched part of a new movie last week called “Not Fade Away.” It took place in the mid 1960’s and whose plot was about a kid influenced by the rock scene and playing in a band. Man, that hit home…Hard.

Unfortunately, the movie was not that good but I hung in long enough to enjoy some of the similarities to my life back then in that same time period.

Back then, burgeoning rock bands didn’t play concerts in arenas. They played at parties when the parents were on vacation.

My first band played dozens of those parties. You set up in the corner of the living room and play. Amps weren’t that great so volume wasn’t an issue. Plus, we were high school kids who couldn’t afford a Marshall stack.

Our guitarist had a Sears Silvertone guitar. Sears even built a small amp into the guitar case. It was hilarious and our guitarist used it for a bit until he could save for a real amp rig.

I played my used 1964 Hofner Beatle bass. I paid $80 ($650 in 2019 dollars).

And I had a “Knox” amp. A real piece of shit. It had one 10” speaker and no power. It sounded terrible. My dad had a “friend.” We drove out to Palos Verdes to this guy’s guitar shop. My dad paid $75 for it new. It was my first rig. It never worked properly and was always failing on me.

At one party, it failed and no matter how many times I kicked it, I could not bring it back into the light.

So, I plugged into the Sears guitar case so now both the guitarist and I were playing out of a 3 watts rig. What a laugh and not a soul could hear the bass; including me.

We were a four-piece band and three of us went to Millikan High School in Long Beach. The singer was a year older so he could drive. He went to a high school in Lakewood; a neighboring city. I was only 15. So, I had to be picked up for gigs.

Gigs never went late. By 11pm, they were over. No one really drank. But there was a lot of pot smoking. And the band was popular. Always. So, the chicks liked us. It was simply the adoration of the female species that made me want to have a career in music. While I was no Wilt Chamberlain, I did alright.

After the gigs, we usually got invited to houses with some girls. And we “made out.” Maybe a little second base but that’s it.

After that, we headed over to Bob’s Big Boy restaurant on Bellflower Blvd in Long Beach. It was crowded. And we got the special for $1.35 of a Big Boy hamburger, fries, side salad, and a Coke. We were infuriated when the price went up to $1.65 a couple years later.

If we were broke, we headed over to Taco Bell and stuffed our faces for about a buck.

Back then, a gig paid around $30 ($250 in 2019 dollars) for the four of us. $7.50 each. Some gigs didn’t pay at all. But the parties had a lot of girls that were willing.

I wasn’t a very good bassist then. The guitarist had to show me all the bass riffs.
But I improved a lot by the time of my next band. I was out of high school and met some guys and we started a band. 5 piece. Called “Homegrown.” I know, not very original. But it was 1969. That first band was called: “The Southern California Exposition and Musical Aggregation.” And the drummer got his older brother to get all of it on the bass drum head. He was a graphics major in college.

Homegrown did very well and was booked every weekend. We rehearsed at least three times per week. It was the most fun I had in a band…ever.
We were one of those perfect cover bands. We could do anyone to a tee. Especially Zep. That made us very popular.

I played in that band until 1972. The drummer quit and joined a show band that played Vegas. I even ventured a trip by myself to see him. I was so embarrassed for him. The band was a lounge act. 5 players. A chick singer that played bass. The drummer told me to watch the keys player when the chick played her bass solo. She played the exact same thing every time so the keys player played along with her, very quietly with a big smile on his face.

Homegrown disbanded. I was lost. I played in a couple other bands but they weren’t fun.
Then Skip and Travis and I put a band together. We were going to take it to Europe in 1974. A couple months before we were to leave, Travis got drunk and wrapped his bike around a big tree and broke his leg into a million pieces.
Skip and I still went to Europe totally bewildered.
6 weeks later I was in Curved Air.




Categories: CIGAR REVIEWS

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9 replies

  1. Sounds like you need a Nut Bra, Phil. I love mine!

  2. Tellya what, Phil…I can purty much claim that I’ve never smoked an AJ that hasn’t satisfied and pleased me! Right now, I do believe every ceegar in there was built by his factory, whether or not they have his name on ’em. It was when Southern Draw partnered with him that I became aware, and although I don’t claim to have any sort of sophisticated palette as you do, there IS a distinctive AJ Fernandez profile! I reckon I’ll just have to try a few of these! Thanks for your outstanding blog…it always seems that if Phil likes it, Vance likes it!

    Merry Christmas to you and yours, sir…

    VK

  3. This cigar is definitely one of the best “made by AJ” cigars I ever had too. Very meaty, like smoking a stick of beef jerky. I almost liked it more than AJ’s H.Upmann blend. Almost..

  4. I ran out to my local B+M to try one of these and was told they had them but didn’t re-order because no one bought them, sigh… Oh Well I’ll get some on-line. By the way, I notice you haven’t reviewed my favorite “XXX by AJ “cigar the Romeo y Julieta Crafted by AJ Fernandez. This is my favorite “by AJ” and I’m really interested in knowing what you think. I just refreshed my supply from the JR auction, so if you need a few for review let me know.

  5. Happy New Year Phil! It’s been another great year reading your reviews and stories. Good health and prosperity to you and yours in 2020.

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