Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Cigar Review: Rafael González Perlas (BRA SEP-12)

The idea of making a Habano in the Perlas format is a brave one. It is a very small smoke so you have to be able to grab the smoker early on, but you have to keep their interest to the end as well. If you are going to keep the interest of the smoker, you need to make them look at this small Habano as an alternative that is appropriate when you don't have much time. There are not many brands that offer the vitola, just Rafael Gonzalez, Cohiba and Montecristo, so you can see that Habanos is careful in putting it on the market. I think Cohiba and Montecristo do a solid job in offering the Perlas vitola, but today I am looking at how it is in the Rafael Gonzalez brand. I was tough on the brand earlier this year so let's see how I am this time around. Will the Rafael Gonzalez end up in my humidor?

Measuring 102 mm (4.0") with a 40 ring gauge, the Perlas is the smallest offering of the brand in terms of length, and the second smallest in terms of ring gauge. It is composed of tobacco from the Vuelta Abajo region in Pinar del Rio, and the Habano is rolled in Habana with the remaining vitolas in the brand. I have been informed that the factory producing the brand is La Corona, but it might be made all over the city at different factories from time to time. The Perlas is nice in hand and it has a solid cap applied and a nice simple wrapper. It has a coloring that is right at a Colorado coloring and it shows some very small veins throughout. It is firm from head to foot and this is a well constructed Habano. It has an aroma of strong tobacco and herbs on the foot, and the wrapper is showing some salty notes with some wood and hay qualities present as well.

The first half opens up by showing some very soft flavors and it has a smoothness present that is mint like. There are some herbal qualities present as well, and it has clean flavor profile that is green like. It has a woody quality present as well, and it has a saltiness with that. There are some tobacco notes present as well, and this is a nice Habano that is not overpowering or in your face, but not underwhelming either. It is an easy and enjoyable flavor profile, and it is a flavor profile many could enjoy. The construction is terrific and the Habano is showing an even burn line, a cool draw, nice bit of smoke and a charcoal ash. The ash is not holding on well, it falls off quite frequently, but that is okay given the size. The body and strength are at a level between mild and medium and this is a morning smoke for me.

The second half of the Habano shows a lot of the characteristics that are present in the first half and it has that minty quality present still and some wood and hay notes. There is a slight bit of tobacco notes present as well, and it has a finish that is showing some pepper qualities. Overall, it is very clean and smooth to the nub. It is a nice flavor profile, one that would speak to certain smokers more than others, and it is a Habano I would begin my day with. Overall, it is a decent smoke but not mind-blowing. I find that the construction is absolutely terrific though and it is producing a cool draw and a nice bit of smoke. The ash is still that dark charcoal color, and holding on well, and the final raw is cool and showing those soft flavors from throughout the smoke. I would say it finishes at a level between mild and medium, and this is a simple and small smoke that is great for a lot of occasions and a lot of people.

Months back I reviewed the discontinued Coronas Extra for this brand  and was not impressed. I believe my direct quote was that I can see why this smoke was discontinued. While I was not blown away by the Perlas, I believed it to be a better offering than the Coronas Extra. It showed some continues flavors that were not overly complex but fairly enjoyable and just enough to keep my interest from beginning to end. It is a very small smoke and because of that I believe it works. I believe it is a nice morning Habano and that is when I would typically smoke it. It smokes cool from beginning to end and produces great construction with that. While some may love the brand and come back to them more often than not, this is not my cup of tea. For being two years old, I would give it a rating between 87 and 89 and believe that in a couple years it will get better and smoke at a level between 90 and 91.

Young Rating: 87-89
With Age Rating: 90-91