The samples here came from a slide lid cedar cab of 25 from 2009. The wrappers had a few slight veins and the construction was a bit lumpy as you can see in the photos but nothing outlandish. This format tends to be light in the hand compared with a lot of non-Cuban robustos. Yet there is no sense when smoking these that they are in any way under filled, as also evidenced by the slight resistance on the draw.
Just as a dram of Lagavulin 16 might come as a shock to a Macallan 12 drinker, the RASS is bold right out of the chute. Sharp. Spicy. Woody. There's a dusty, graham cracker like element to the smoke and a little anise and licorice on the finish as well as a citrus sweet and sour. It's like the cigar equivalent to a really good dish of nachos: lots of different but simple and distinct flavors and even contrasting textural elements.
However, there is a problem, albeit a high class one. These samples lacked a richness and resonance on the finish that we've come to expect from recent production as well as production from the late 1990s and mid-2000s. There was an almost paper-like thinness to it that left us somewhat perplexed. Could it be that the flavors were so bold and distinct that any aftertaste would pale by comparison? Possibly. More likely these are just in a awkward place in terms of aging. Two or three more years of tempering might bring about a more balanced experience. We will wait and see.
One thing we are unreservedly pleased with is the price. Ranging from the US equivalent of approximately $7.50 in less heavily taxed countries up to about $20 in England, these are notably inexpensive. We'd have a hard time passing on these if we saw them on a daily basis!
So, like most Cuban cigars, these benefit from extensive aging, just more so than usual. Smoke them young for a solid sock of flavor straight to the puss, or sit on them for at least five to six years for an equally distinctive but more refined and mellow treat. Either way, you need to try an RASS if you want to truly appreciate the full diversity of Havanas cigars.
4.875 x 50
£12.99 GB (as of 2/14)
Bold and full of distinct character. RASS is a delightful detour from the ordinary. Best smoked young or with significant age. A must try.