Rafael González Panatela Extra

Here is a cigar that’s with me for a long time. I bought this box seven or eight years ago, so this had a good chance to age well. Still, this is a Panatela, usually a cigar people buy to smoke quickly and do not give it a chance to let is age. Hey, but I did! Rafael González is a very small brand, that has always been known for a very good Lonsdale or Corona Extra. Now only this Panatela Extra, a Petit Corona and a Perla are made. All small cigars.

Cuban Rafael González Panatela Extra (36 x 127mm, Vegueritos, Short Panatela, Box Code ORE JUN 04)

Color and Looks: Colorado with a big green spot. (It was the only one in the box with a green spot). One larger vein, otherwise smooth surface and no frays. Feels firm.

A cru: Nice ‘old’ smell. Well aged. Nothing overpowering. The foot smells great. With cedar, leather and old books.

Taste: Draw was ok, a bit heavy at first. Great smoke that’s a bit sour. Woody and well rounded out, very balanced. Ageing did this cigar well. Mild smoke. Draw now ok. Mocha, milk chocolate mousse. Firm white ash. Easy, uncomplicated smoke. Again the second-hand smoke smells great. Still it’s not overly complex. Ash falls off rather quickly. The whole taste is on the dry side, woody, cedar, it would have been nicer if it had a creamy component.

Almost halfway its grassy, cool and I detect something chemical, but I can’t put my finger on it. Predominantly white ash with some grey thrown in. After the halfway point the wrapper started to crack. Later I found out that the binder was locally folded and wanted to unfold itself. All this without any problems in draw. The cigar keeps giving you a lot of smoke.

Than the last third, and boy what a turn! When the first part of the cigar is very mild and tasty, the last third is extremely strong. It does have its merits but if you are an inexperienced smoker, this part is the part that turns you green! (I’ve seen it happen to someone at work, with this cigar when it was younger). The strength is well countered by a good coffee, but without is it is extremely drying and a bit harsh. Heavy on nicotine. The ash turns brown so you’ll even have a visual aide in recognizing the last third…

This cigar tastes great with double roasted coffee and also does very well with water. I didn’t try it with anything alcoholic, because the cigar doesn’t call for it. It doesn’t need anything really, it does very well on its own. Beware of the last third! I’m writing this the next day and I still have the taste of the last third firmly embedded in my mouth.

76 Points

P.S. Both guys are really called Rafael González. If you turn out to be one of them, I hope you let me use these pictures.

Saint Luis Rey Regios

Another fine day to have a quiet smoke on the porch. This time it wasn’t so easy to pick a cigar from one of my humidors. In the end I settled for something that I always call the “Almost Robusto”.

This Cuban San Luis Rey Regios (48 x 127mm, Hermosos No.4, Corona Extra, Box Code Unknown) is slightly different from the typical Robusto size. Robustos are very popular these days, since they offer a relatively short smoke (nobody seems to have time anymore) with good aroma since it has an impressive ring gauge. Mind you, Robustos are nothing like a Behike, which looks like a tree trunk and makes you over stretch your jaws. Cigars are supposed not to be altogether healthy for you, but nobody thought it would break your jaw physically.

Back to this SLR then. Saint Luis Ray saw the light of day in 1940. Saint Luis is a district in Vuelta Abajo. And just like Por Larrañaga it comes in only three models: Serie A (Corona Gorda), Double Corona and this Regios (Corona Extra). When Por Larrañaga has a lot of Regionales versions. San Luis Rey had only one. In 2009 they issued a Pirámides. SLR is said to be on the stronger side and also uses tobacco leaves from the Semi Vuelta regions.

Color and Looks: Colorado Maduro. No frays, firm, not much veins, well cut. Some green and black spots and slightly box pressed. This one has aged a long time.

A cru: Sour, woody, elegant smell, old leather bicycle saddle, oaky. After I cut it, out comes a fresh, almost ozonic smell with hay and grass. I was a bit surprised by this.

Taste: Very good draw at first and the first whiffs of smoke smells very promising. Inside the mouth and the smoke on the outside, the smoke your average innocent bystander would smell is excellent and elegant. Now some ammonia. Lots of rich smoke that’s very woody. Ash is extremely white, but only from the wrapper. Inside it’s black but no brown core ash. This one should be smoked inside ones library.

After two centimetres the draw becomes cumbersome. You have to work this cigar and there is almost no smoke. Obviously the cigar gets rather hot. As long as it seems blocked there is a piney addition. After 2,5 cm the ash fell of and immediately the draw was good again and the smoke returned. The ash cone worked like a plug. No pine anymore, return of the oak and spice, but still rather linear. I smoked this with a Lavazza doppio espresso and again with some sparkling water. It was OK with the coffee, and it was just OK with the water, but nothing special. I didn’t try it with something else since probably nothing would go very well with it, but of course I could be wrong.

Halfway through, lots of menthol on my tongue, which was a sort of nice effect when drinking sparkling water. You could say the cigar turned a little but overall it’s pretty linear and hot on the tongue. In fact there isn’t a lot happening really. Near the very end I got some notes of inner tubes from a bicycle.

Apart from the problems with its draw, and the lack of evolution, this cigar would have benefitted from a creamy component. But sadly it doesn’t have this so, to sum up this cigar you could say it’s OK. It’s not bad really, it’s decent, but I wouldn’t go out of my way to get this. Lacks in balance and is a let down after the promising start. As I mentioned before SLR are said to be strong cigars. I couldn’t detect that when I was smoking it, but when I finished with it I noticed my hand were trembling, so there might be some truth to that rumour. Definitively a pre dinner cigar since this got me craving for some food afterwards.

74 points