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Cigar: Rafael Gonzalez 88 regional Asia-Pacifico Cutter: Palio Lighter: DuPont Defi Drink: Caol Ila 16 year refill hogshead ex Bourbon Single barrel and Glenmorangie 11 year first fill ex bourbon Single barrel Location: outdoors, mildly windy. Pre-Cut light: good Britanicas shape, slightly box pressed, one soft spot near the regional band Aroma at cold: Graham cracker and maple syrup. Pre-light draw: very good, slight sweetness, nuttiness. First third: takes to lighting well, toasted tobacco, nuts, dry cocoa powder, salt. Some wood and more dry cocoa salted nuts which lasts very long pallet, quite enjoyable. Pepper through the retro inhale. The burn is doing fairly well, there is a slight run to one side of the cigar which I find is fairly typical with this vitola. This seemed to happen both in the Bolivar Britannica’s UK as well as the Ramon Allones AP. Cocoa continues to be very long pallet, and with a smaller retro inhale some floral notes begin to develop. As for the drink pairings the Caol Ila peat plays very well with the salt in the cigar albeit slightly overpowering, the Glenmorangie does much better with puffs that reveal cocoa and the floral retro inhale. About an inch in the cigar becomes a little muted and jumbled as well as a little harsh making it difficult to discern different flavors. Toasted tobacco is still present but little else. Second third: ash drops right as the second third begins, still a lot of muted tobacco and toasted flavors. General nuttiness and not much else. I try to slow my smoking rate down some in some vegetal green type notes start to develop. Generally, I am not a big fan of these sorts of flavors in a cigar. I much prefer to eat my salad not smoke it. The burn has actually corrected quite well, no touchups needed. The cigar is burning pretty hot, and is pretty soft now at the foot. I think these are underfilled. I will have to smoke a couple more to get a better sense though. As soon as I write this the wind picks up and the cigar does go on a bit of a run to one side. A touch up is needed. Still very muted tobacco flavors. I am pretty disappointed at this point in cigar. When the ash falls you can see that the center cone burning is off center in the cigar, which I believe is affecting flavor. Last third: not good, no change, nothing to write home about. Laid it down with about 2 inches left. Final thoughts: The very best part of the cigar was the opening inch, and the scotch. There were a lot of good flavors of cocoa, nuts, salty woody– ness, and pepper/floral aspects in the retro inhale. Unfortunately, many of these aspects disappeared in the middle and end part of the cigar, I believe secondary to construction issues. While I do believe that the regional program is great for producing unique cigars, which are generally good to very good, there are undoubtedly more construction issues in these cigars then regular production. Further from my own experience I believe that worst constructed cigars in the Cuban portfolio are double perfectos including Salamonas, Tacos, and these Britanicas. I would like to think that if more of these sizes were introduced to the regular production of different marcas that many of these construction issues would become less frequent because rollers would get more experience in the various sizes. These are beautiful sizes which when constructed appropriately add a lot to the cigar smoking experience. I have smoked a couple other of these Rafael Gonzalez 88 and they did not suffer as much from construction issues but none have had what I call superior construction. In general, I think that the idea of this release is very good and that better constructed specimens do have aging potential. With that said paying a premium for this release and having construction issues like this is not acceptable. Other Rafael Gonzalez 88: 82-83 This Rafael Gonzalez 88: 70
Rafael González 88 - Edición Regional Asia Pacifico 2016 (SOM Dic 2016) Vitola: Británicas Extra (48 ring gauge x 137 mm or 5.4 inches) Introduction: I had the opportunity to sample this newly-released Regional Edition cigar this week with Trevor Leask, the founder of Cuban Cigar Website, as I'm on vacation. There has been some outstanding PCC (Pacific Cigar Company) Asia-Pacific Regional Edition releases such as the Ramon Allones Celestiales Finos, the Por Larranaga Encantos and the Diplomaticos Bushidos to name a few, and this release saw much demand from our members when it became available late last month. The reason? Perhaps it was the cigar-aficionado friendly vitola, a Británicas Extra at under 50/64ths of an inch ring gauge, perhaps it was the fact that it was only the second Rafael Gonzalez Regional Edition release other than the 2013 German Petit Piramides, perhaps it was its availability in a 10-count box, or perhaps it was just because, as far as Regional Editions go, it was just so different in comparison to others. Aroma and Cold Draw: I found the aroma unlike the typical cocoa-rich, refined barnyard one gets with Limited Edition releases, rather this was very light and had more of a natural grass/hay aroma, so to speak. My cold draw was similarly very mild, but I was happy to sense the Rafael Gonzalez cocoa prior to lighting. First Third: In comparison to the PMS Abr 2015 box of Rafael Gonzalez Perlas I've been enjoying the past month or so (oh my, I've already gone through half a box!), the initial puffs were similarly very, very good, alas, the Rafael Gonzalez 88 was more refined, more milder. There were distinctive notes of cocoa and a floral sweetness, and a 'breadiness' in its spine (or core). Trevor found his peppery through the nose at first, but this settled for him. In contrast, my retrohale was very easy, no strong spice through the nose at all. In fact, this cigar was very mild through the nose for such a young cigar. Second Third: At this point, I felt that the strength picked up a little and the flavours were less distinctive. Perhaps a little light leather or nut combined with the cocoa. Final Third: During the final third, both Trevor and I remarked how non-descript the cigar had become. This wasn't a bad thing mind you, rather, the flavours we were able to delineate in the first half of the cigar were now much less definitive. Conclusion: I felt after smoking this that this cigar deserves some time down to properly blend. I spoke to El Pres (Rob) today to wish him well in regards to his health and the upcoming deciding State of Origin Rugby League game next week, and he was able to enlighten me in regards to my thoughts on this cigar in relation to the Rafael Gonzalez Coronas Extra, which was deleted in 2010. A little nut, a subtle refinedness and a reminder that PCC aim for their Regional Edition blends to develop with age, and I have no doubt that this will come into its own in the future. If you are expecting a powerhouse cigar, full of flavour, like recent Limited Editions, understand that this is the antithesis of that. Mild and subtle, the Rafael Gonzalez 88 is the type of cigar that will reward you for patience and is an homage to refinement and subtlety. I look forward to Ken and Rob's upcoming Video Review of this cigar, as they will be able to offer a fuller comparison to previous Rafael Gonzalez vitolas now deleted. In the meantime, below are some forum and video links to the Rafael Gonzalez Coronas Extra for your discernment.