Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Cigar Review: Rafael González Coronas Extra (2009) (Discontinued)


While Habanos S.A. has many well known brands, many I don't see any purpose in naming, they have just as many or more brands that are quite obscure or very low key brands. Some of these brands are absolutely incredible and brands that I smoke all the time, and others are obscure and unknown for reasons that are not surprising. Because of my limited access to my local La Casa del Habano, construction issues..., there are some brands that I have never really reached out to before. One of these brands is the Rafael González brand and it is a brand that has been around since the late 1920's. I believe I have smoked one or two of these years back, but it is a brand I have never purchased. Fortunately I have a good friend in the bayou and one day over crawfish étouffée he handed me a couple.

I am not fully aware of the complete history of the brand, but it is a pre-revolution brand that was discontinued in the early 1960's and then brought back to the market. I will tell you that this brand was the first brand to use the Lonsdale size, and the first ever cigar called a Lonsdale was a Rafael González. It is classified as a Local Brand and is composed of tobacco from the Vuelta Abajo region in Pinar del Rio. For this review I was given the Coronas Extra and it measures 143 mm (5.6") with a 46 ring gauge. The cigar features a simple band that has been mimicked by quite well by a non-Cuban manufacturer. That cigar by the way is simply incredible and the band is perfect. This Coronas Extra features a wrapper that has a dark natural coloring and is silky to touch. There are some noticeable veins throughout and it has a nice firmness with an excellent triple cap. The aroma at the foot is that of hay, chocolate, tobacco and pepper, and on the wrapper I am picking up some definite cedar and hay qualities.

The Habano begins by showing some lovely cedar, hay and soft chocolate notes. There is this faint bit of leather present as well and it has a very nice soft spice that is present on the finish which adds to the complexity of it all. I know these have been aging for a while and I can tell you with ease that age has done wonders to this smoke. The construction has been terrific thus far as well and it has produced a razor sharp burn line with a soft light charcoal ash holding on firmly to the foot. There is a great bit of smoke being produced with each draw and it is a cool draw so far. I would say that overall the Habano is smoking at a level between mild and medium in terms of strength, and the body is right at a medium level. It is an easy enough Habano for me, but after hearing that it was a light smoke, I was expecting it to be a little bit lighter.

When I get into the second third of the cigar I find that the flavor profile shows some transitioning and it is good to see that in the Habano, but the flavor profile is not what I was expecting or looking for. I am picking up those soft wood and hay notes, but it is showing some coffee beans, citrus and pepper notes along with that. Right now this is a Habano that does not wow me and I can see why this is not a larger brand. I am sure there are people out there who enjoy the offerings, but the fact that it has shown limited regional releases and has had cuts across the boar shows that it is not overly popular. The construction however remains perfect throughout this third and it is showing a razor sharp burn line with a nice light gray ash on the end. The draw is cool, while producing a nice bit of smoke, and I would say that overall the Habano is at a solid medium level in body and strength.

The final third shows a little bit more transitioning and it is showing a lot of cedar and hay notes. There are some soft citrus aspects to the cigar, coffee bean flavors as well, and it has a bitter and spicy finish. I am picking up some black pepper notes in this third and it is a Habano that is definitely lighter and suitable as a morning smoke. Right now I am not crazy about this smoke and I am hating how it is finishing. It may have a clean finish that does not kill the palate, but the flavors are just terrible in my opinion. The strength and body have made it so that they are a smoke that could be enjoyed by all, different times of the day for all, but still a cigar that is just at or under the medium level in body and strength. In terms of construction, the cigar smoked cool all the way to end and it produces an even burn line with that light charcoal ash on the end. The final draw showed those flavors of the final third and was cool.

I did not really care for this smoke. While the Habano showed excellent construction from beginning to end, showed transitioning in flavors and was a Habano that many could enjoy because of its strength and body, it was not a Habano that I could connect with. I thought the flavors were scattered and never delivering what a great smoke should. I think if there was a little bit more body to the Habano, they used some higher priming leaves in the blend, that there would be some better flavors generated. With that being said, we are not going to love every Habano out there, that is why they have so many brands. I would not recommend this to many smokers out there, I think there are better options for smokers looking for something similar, and this is a brand that I ignore. I have no idea why Germany would want to do a regional edition of this brand, but then again they could make that release to their liking. I am giving this Habano between an 82 and 84.

Young Rating: Inconclusive
With Age Rating: 82-84