Monday, October 20, 2008

Flor de A. Allones Belicoso
Size: 6.12 x 50
Tobacco: Honduras, with Ecuadorian Sumatra wrapper
Price: $3.83

This brand intrigued me when I first read about its history in a JR-Cigar catalogue (for my money, the JR catalog is the most professional and well-written, even though you can often get better deals from CI and you find more rare, highly-sought limited-releases at CigarsDirect)

Although I could not verify this fact, it seems very probable the cigar is named for prominent Spanish businessman Antonio Allones, who is best known for acquiring the El Rey Del Mundo trademark way back in 1892.

For several years, Flor de A. Allones existed only as a private-label crafted by Villazon (the makers of Punch, Excalibur, etc) for Alfred Dunhill, Ltd. I thought it was odd that Dunhill, a men’s apparel company, sold tobacco products, but a little research turned up the fact that its founder and namesake was an avid pipe smoker and was famous for designing the Dunhill pipe. In the early 20th century, he opened several cigar stores; two of his most famous customers were King George VI and Sir Winston Churchill. Today, there is even a Dunhill cigar named in Alfred’s honor. (Dunhill. Ltd. also sells high-end timepieces, luxury leather goods, and lighters.)

Lew Rothman (long before he sold JR Cigars to Altadis) liked Flor de A. Allones so much, it became the inspiration for his JR Ultimate line; not only do the Ultimates taste similar, they carry an almost identical logo. Lew tried to convince Villazon and Dunhill to let him sell Flor de A. Allones to the general public, but they refused. It took nearly 30 years to get exclusive distribution rights to sell this cigar.

I used a couple of gift certificates from Alie and Meredith to purchase a box of the belicosos--usually $95 but I got them on auction for $69. Unfortunately, I was out of humidor space at the time. The JR web site said the Spanish Cedar cabinets were suitable for long-term aging, so I threw a hydrostat tube in the box and left them alone for 8 weeks. Big mistake! The cabinets were not airtight and the uncellophaned cigars severely dried out. It took another 6 weeks in a humidor to bring them back to smoking condition, but even now some of the wrappers still look bumpy and stretched.

These cigars have a dark, almost maduro-colored wrapper leaf. They are not rolled very tightly, which gives them a loose, warm draw. It is a medium-to-full bodied, with a lean, leathery taste, notes of nuts and pepper, and a very long, satisfying, spicy finish.

This cigar perfectly illustrates the distinction between full flavor and full body. There is a lot of pepper/spice flavor; not as spicy as a Don Pepin Legends, but on par with a CAO Black or LFD Ligero. They are too spicy to be a morning cigar, but not quite heavy-bodied enough to satisfy after a really big meal. (For that, you might need something along the lines of a Padron or LGC Serie R). Flor de A. Allones finds its niche in the late autumn afternoon during football games or paired with a Yuengling lager after a light dinner.

I’ve been smoking FdA for four or five months now, and they keep getting better with age. However, I’ve loaned out some to friends, and no one else seems to be as impressed. I don’t understand why, but I’m not complaining: since it means more for me.

Update 5/9/14: I broke down and smoked the last Flor de A. Allones from my Lost Sticks Tray two nights ago.  I paired it with a glass of Auchentoshan 12-year single malt, sitting on the pool patio reading Last of the Mohicans.  The book was a disappointment (good story, but some of the worst prose ever perpetrated on the English tongue), but the cigar and scotch were excellent.  I didn't notice as much pepper as I did in my 2008 review, although the "lean, leathery tastes" and the "long, satisfying, spicy finish" were still in abundant display.  Six years of aging mellowed this cigar, perhaps, but it certainly didn't diminish it.  This was as good as the best Flor de A. Allones I remember.

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