My Name is Gene and I’ll be spending some time these next few months contributing to this wonderful site.
As I write this I’m smoking a wonderful 3 year old Bolivar Royal Corona. Yesterday I enjoyed a Montecristo Edmundo which I found tantalizing and the day before, if memory serves me right, I had a Ramon Allones Specially Selected. I feel fortunate in that I have a well stocked humidor with many different Cuban cigars which never let me down. What does this have to do with a Cohiba blog you may be asking yourself? Well, I’ll tell you….. But just not yet…
When I first went to Cuba some years ago I have to admit that I went for the sun, the rum and to experience the culture which was teeming with music, laughter and a wonderful sense of pride regarding their exquisite cigars. I didn’t really know much back then about cigars but felt that I should sample a few and thought that well, maybe the smaller ring gauge would turn out to be milder and easier to smoke. I bought a few H. Upmann coronas junior and R&J No. 3 in the tubes which tasted fine to me but as I sat in the Havana bars I kept seeing a lot of other patrons smoking the larger ring gauge cigars which made me wonder how long it took for these other smokers to develop a taste for such powerful and strong beasts. On the way home from Havana I stopped in at the airport duty free and picked up a few boxes of my small ring gauge friends and with a song in my heart and a spring in my step I then flew home and immediately bought a humidor. This began a journey which was exciting, educational and extremely rewarding but if this was a movie this would be the time to cue the music which would be the ominous minor chord.
A very good friend of mine was given a box of Esplendidos that came from his son in law returning from a trip to Costa Rica. We were both really excited about this treasure and I was given a couple to try. Now I had always been told that Cohiba produces some of the finest quality cigars the world has ever seen and I couldn’t wait to light one up, sit back and relax. The music is getting darker and louder. I couldn’t believe that anything could be so painful to smoke but I was still new to the game and was sure that I still had a long way to go in culturing a taste for what everyone else was saying was the finest that Cuba had to offer.
What I did next was maybe the smartest thing I could have done and that was to completely avoid the Cohiba line for what seemed like an eternity. I smoked every other brand to come out of Cuba and developed a real passion for Robustos, Churchills, Corona Gordas and pretty much anything else I could get my hands on or afford. Oh yeah, I also noticed that there was a bit of a price tag for my new found passion and Cohiba appeared to be leading the charge in the price department but so many people smoke Cohibas and after a while I felt the same curiosity I had back in Havana when I observed the more seasoned and experienced smokers. More time went on and then one of my good friends from Vancouver Cigar gave me a Cohiba Robusto (Cue the music).
This robusto sat in my humidor for a few days and then one Sunday morning I couldn’t take it any longer. Hey, this was a free cigar, if I didn’t like it I could always throw it away without any harm done so I pulled it out, removed the cap and set the foot on fire. What happened next was something I’ll never forget. I was riveted to my chair as I tasted the most beautiful Cuban tobacco I had ever smoked. This cigar seemed to have 3 different stages which started with pepper and leather and then moved quickly into dried fruit and the final third revealed chocolate and coffee. Angels were singing as I tasted this example of Cohiba perfection and I began to feel sad about all the time I spent not smoking anything from Cohiba for such a length of time. I took a picture of the robusto with it’s white ash as it burned peacefully in the sunlight and to this day it is that picture that I use as my cel phone’s desktop.
Since that day I’ve enjoyed many REAL Esplendidos and as time goes on while I am here I’ll be spending more time talking about the moments I’ve spent smoking other shapes and sizes from what I think is the finest brand of cigar made today. At the end of all of this I still feel so lucky that I took the time to learn what the other Cuban brands had to offer and I DO have a passion for so many of them but for now and this next little while I’d like to concentrate on Cohiba.
Please let me know if this is a story that is in any way similar to your own Cuban cigar experience.