It is, perhaps, the hottest, most sought-after regional-edition Cuban cigar of 2008, but you'll probably have to travel to Beirut to get it. The Ramon Allones Phoenicio Edicion Regional Exclusivo Líbano was made for Beirut's duty-free circuit, and collectors of Cuban cigars from around the world are talking about this regional rarity. Distributed by Habanos S.A. dealer Phoenicia Trading, the new cigar commemorates the latter company's 30th anniversary.
The Phoenicio is a Sublime size, measuring 6 1/2 inches long by 54 ring gauge—a vitola first made for the Cohiba brand in 2004 and then again for Montecristo last year. Only 6,000 varnished boxes of 30 Phoenicios were supposed to be sold in Beirut's duty-free shops, but the cigar's popularity prompted Phoenicia Trading to call for a secondary production run of 3,000 boxes of 15 cigars, which are now on sale.
Why the demand? The cigar has a number of unique qualities. Never has a Ramon Allones-brand cigar been so thick; never has a Ramon Allones come in boxes of 30; never has a Ramon Allones been named after a company; and never has a Ramon Allones been so expensive. The 30-count box retails for $600, or $20 per cigar.
If a trip to Lebanon isn't in the cards, you just might be able to find the cigar in other shops throughout Europe.
"Phoenicios are sold only at Beirut duty-free," said Walid Saleh, managing director of Phoenicia Trading. "Nevertheless, if any of the worldwide Habanos distributors request Phoenicios for collectors, then we send them a master case just for this purpose."
Resale prices outside of Beirut, however, are sure to vary.
With offices in Cyprus, Greece, and Beirut, Phoenicia Trading is the exclusive Habanos distributor for the Middle East, parts of Europe and most of continental Africa, providing cigars for more than 40 countries, and is one of Habanos's largest customers. The Phoenicio is made at the Partagas factory in Havana and developed in conjunction with Habanos by Mohammed Zeidan, founder and president of Phoenicia.
Cigar Insider, the semi-monthly online newsletter produced by the publisher of Cigar Aficionado, managed to get some of the Phoenicios. Are they worth the hype? For the answer, see the rating and tasting note in the current issue of Cigar Insider.