Cuba's new Regional Edition cigar is a first, rolled for the three southernmost countries of South America. The Ramon Allones Patagón, which debuted in Chile on November 23 and is now on sale, is a cigar made exclusively for "El Cono Sur," which translates to "The Southern Cone," a reference to the South American countries of Chile, Argentina and Uruguay. Those three countries, which have never had a Regional Edition before, have a combined population of 65 million people.
The size name Patagón is a reference to Patagonia, the land at the southernmost tip of the borders of Chile and Argentina that is close to Antarctica.
The project was three years in the making, conceived by José Miguel Salvador, owner of the La Casa del Habano in Santiago, Chile, and launched by Puro Tabaco S.A., the distributor of Habanos S.A. for the Southern Cone.
"It took me more than a year to persuade Habanos to do such a difficult project for relatively small markets like ours," Salvador told Cigar Aficionado. After that one year of negotiations, it took two more years to get the cigars to market. "I was looking for a higher range of intensity than the standard Ramon Allones, but adding richness, complexity and balance, so it is not just intensity by itself," he said. "Last July, I went to the factory in Santa Clara to do the last tasting. They finally achieved what I was looking for."
The cigars are Petit Edmundos, identical in dimension to the Montecristo Petit Edmundo and Vegueros Entretiempos, measuring 4 3/8 inches long by 52 ring gauge. Salvador called the size one of the most popular formats in Chile and Argentina. The new Patagóns come in cedar boxes of 10 and retail for around $22 per cigar.
The cigars were rolled in Santa Clara, an area in central Cuba about 200 miles east of Havana, and some 60,000 cigars were made.
Salvador said the cigar was meant to be paired with spirits, such as rum or pisco.
"We put an extra ligero leaf to give more intensity and flavor to the cigar," he said, "which makes it perfect for pairing with any spirit."
A sample (smoked with the band on) proved its power, with a robust, red pepper zing and a hearty core of wood.
Cuba's Regional Edition program, which has proved quite popular, consists of cigars made for specific countries, such as the United Kingdom, Switzerland and France, as well as those like the Patagón that are created around broader geographic areas, such as Asia/Pacific or the Benelux group of countries.
Look for a review in a future issue of Cigar Insider.
This article first appeared in the January 10 edition of Cigar Insider.
NOTE: The original version of this story had an incorrect figure for the population of the Southern Cone region. It has been corrected.