Got a call to go down to LA tomorrow for a few days. Back home Thursday… I’m always up for a trip to California since its a lot warmer than Vancouver right now but more than that, I’m very excited to visit a few tobacco shops to see if I can get my hands on a few cigars.
Canada has some of the highest sin tax in the world and Canadians end up paying twenty five dollars or more for a cigar that Americans pay six dollars for.. I know, I know, it sounds crazy, but its true. I’ll be going to Santa Monica and from what I’ve read, there are a few cigar stores that have a nice selection of Dominicans, Hondurans and others that aren’t even available in Canada.
One that I’ll be looking for is the Arturo Fuente Opus X. Wow, what a great cigar, and from what I read, it is a cigar that isn’t available at all times of year so I guess ya gotta be there at the right time and the right place.
Last point I want to make is…… Will I be taking any Cohibas with me???? Nope, no way!!!!
A few summers back we had an awfully hot stretch in Vancouver in the month of July. You know the kind of day when everything in the house is hot hot hot and you go to bed at night with windows open, you are laying on top of the covers and toss and turn for the majority of the first few hours of sleep. You may ask as to why we don’t have an air conditioner.. Save your breath.. This is Canada and days like I just described don’t really happen that often, so what would be the point??
The one thing that had me more concerned than anything was, how safe the temperatures in my cigar humidors were in case any cigar beetle eggs should incubate and start growing a little colony of young bugs who would be gleefully munching away on my cigars.. I couldn’t have that.. I’ve spent too much on Cuban cigars and that would be a tragedy.
I decided to put the humidors ( well, 2 of them ) in a plastic Coleman cooler, and on a daily basis, include a little ice pack, stuffed in the side, to keep the temperature down. It worked great and I believe I dodged a bullet as far as bugs go. Yeah, it was a bit of work but I felt that the effort was more than worth it and sleep came easily after I knew that my cigars were safe.
Something happened in the following months that actually had me wondering about my good fortune and made we wonder if any one else is doing the same as me. I kept the humidors in the cooler and noticed that the moisture level in both humidors was staying very very even, so much so that I started seeing a bit of plume forming on my cigars. Something right was happening….
Instead of putting humidifier pucks into the humidors themselves, I simply added the humidification devices in the cooler beside the humidors, keep the lid of the cooler closed and a great environment for aging cigars was in place. After doing a bit of research, I read that cigars need oxygen and if left alone without opening the lids on the humidors, problems could start. No problem, because I’m always at the humidors, checking quite a few times a week for humidity levels with my digital hygrometer and the cigars are, quite often, getting a breath of fresh air…..
Huh, who knew!!!
Tomorrow morning will be early, cool and probably windy out on the boat outside of Vancouver, where crab traps will be dropped and then trolling for salmon will be next on the agenda. I’ll drop by the “Seastar”, moored by the Bayshore, where Preston the captain, will take us out for a morning of sports fishing.
There are a lot of different guys that offer fishing expeditions for a fair price and a lot of action but Preston Steele is probably the guy that they all call when they want to find out where the action is on the water. Over the years, we’ve eaten a lot of Dungeness crab that Preston has caught and no one knows more than him on how to get them and prepare them for a real tasty meal. His boat is comfortable and very seaworthy, fast and agile in the water. Why would you call anyone else in this area?
As I think about what I’ll wear for tomorrow’s action, my mind also thinks about what cigar to take along. There’s no point in taking along a large expensive Cuban cigar since there’ll be wind and wind is a quality cigar’s greatest enemy. The burn is always uneven and then the cigar takes on a whole new flavor, which is always bitter and unpleasant.
The perfect cigar, or cigars, for a morning in the wind will be the Cohiba mini. This tiny cigar has an incredible taste for something so small. They’re really quite tiny and if you can get more than 12 minutes of smoking time out of one, I’d be very surprised. There are a lot of larger ring gauge Cuban cigars out there that have more power and strength which makes this little cigar a real surprise in that the richness of the smoke has a quality that makes it very easy to believe that it comes from Cohiba.
Much has been written about the Cohiba Behike since last year’s release of the beautiful trio of larger ring gauge cigars containing the medio tiempo leaf. Initially the Behike was introduced in 2006 and rolled, exclusively by one roller, or in this case the “torcedora”, Norma Fernandez. The original Behike at a 52 ring gauge and 7 1/2 inches long was in a humidor of 40 cigars and only 100 numbered humidors. Thats a lot of rolling …. and rolling….. The more I hear and read about this woman, the more impressed I am by her stature in the Cuban cigar industry. She was given the task of blending and designing the cigar that became the most expensive in the world. Originally these cigars were around $440 each but I’m guessing that when auctions come up in our future, we’ll be seeing these initial prices skyrocket.
I smoked a few of the Behike 52′s last summer and creamy and sweet were the first two descriptions of the flavors, this cigar had in it’s profile, popped into my mind. I had a wonderful time smoking this smallest of the three and although my mind was always on the price, I felt that I truly had something special burning in my hand. I remember looking at the 52′s wrapper and remarking to myself that I had never seen a cigar so perfectly rolled, so smooth and free of any large veins and with a color and sheen that easily showed that Cohiba had raised the bar in cigar production.
The Behike 54, which I smoked a few months later had all of the wonderful visible characteristics of the smaller 52 but with flavors that had more power, more complexity and more evolution as the cigar progressed. The 52 and the 54 had slight similar flavors but the richness of the 54′s chocolate and creamy coffee notes had me guessing which other Cohiba cigar, or cigars, this middle child could be compared to. The Maduro series always captivates me whenever I smoke one, the Genios being my favorite and for a while I found myself comparing, very slightly, some of what I was tasting in the Behike 54 to that other series… But only for a moment, these are very different lines in Cuba’s prestigious brand and the similarities are few.
The Behike 56 was again a beautifully constructed cigar and, as before, I felt a bit of sadness as I clipped off the pigtail cap and lit the foot. I feel great pride and adoration for cigars like the Behike whenever I lift the lid of my humidor and gaze upon them as they rest and age, surrounded by the beautiful aroma of Cuban tobacco and Spanish cedar. But really, why do we go through all the trouble of obtaining fine cigars, quality humidors, hygrometers that give you accurate moisture readings without actually smoking these handmade Cuban products?
The first few puffs of the Behike 56 were mild but complex, again revealing what I had tasted in the 52 and 54 but it didn’t seem to have the strength as the middle size cigar. Here is where I will probably get in trouble with a lot of you who have smoked the 56. I will be the first to admit that in order to be an authority on the subject of judging this cigar, perhaps smoking 15 or 20 ….. Or 1,500 to 2,000 of these large ring gauge cigars would be a proper place to start but I’m simply offering what I noticed. The 56′s flavors evolved very nicely as the cigar burned into the second third but I kept remembering what the 54 had to offer and I wondered if I am alone with my observations in comparing the two. The one thing I DID notice was that the 56 might have needed more time in the humidor, more so than the smaller two. Of course, any Cuban cigar only improves with age but I remembered being quite blissful during the smoking period of the 52 and 54. The 56 had me asking myself more questions about it’s youthfulness and wondering what it’s future would reveal after a year or two of rest.
Volumes could be filled with everyone’s opinions of these three cigars, and I’m only one person, but the more I read about last year’s Cohiba release, the more I see that I may not be alone with what I’ve discovered. The one thing I DO know is that I feel very fortunate in knowing that I’m able to buy, smoke and lose myself in the flavors of the Behike whenever I feel wealthy enough to go to the Vancouver Cigar Company and pick up a few. I feel sad whenever I read about people getting counterfeits of this cigar but feel fortunate that I have a reputable source for a cigar of this calibre.
If you have any opinions you’d like to share, please leave a comment..
Ever wonder if a Cohiba tastes better in Cuba??? Would the moist tropical air affect the taste and give you more than if you were smoking the same cigar, let’s say, in Montana?? Probably !!! But if thats the case then it would probably taste the same in Miami since its only a handful of miles away. I love Miami with it’s beaches, sun and stone crab.. I could go on for a while about stone crab but this is a cigar blog!
While smoking cigars with a few buddies a few days back, the topic of how cigars taste in Cuba came up and all who had been there seem to agree that cigars have an incredible taste in the country of their origin. I guess to some degree I have to go along with that because I remember smoking cigars from the Siglo series, the Maduro series and Non-Cohiba Cuban cigars. To be honest, they were all great but I was drinking a lot of rum from breakfast onward so everything was great.
I DO remember that cigars tended to burn a bit slower in Cuba, not much, but definitely noticeable. The air is heavy and moist, warm and to die for. Holidays tend to do that to you, your senses are heightened and everything is beautiful. Maybe not having a care in the world and no cel phone has a lot to do with it! My cel stayed in the hotel room safe and got turned back on when we landed in Canada.
Lately I’ve been hearing a bit about Monsdales… Can anyone shed a bit of light on those cigars??
One person’s toasted coconut is another person’s vanilla.
One person’s cedar is another person’s burned oak.
One person’s leather is another person’s musky earth.
One person’s bitter chocolate is another person’s strong espresso.
It may or may not be all that far fetched but, from time to time, I have a bit of difficulty understanding how some of these cigar reviewers palates can be so developed and advanced that they can identify subtle walnuts amidst clouds of cigar smoke. I guess its possible and far be it from me to disagree with what someone is tasting but the game we play of identifying flavors is very subjective.
I was spending some time with a few buddies last night, telling lies about the fish we caught and different accomplishments we were able to pull off in our youth and the topic of picking subtle flavors in cigars came up. One of the quiet old guys in the corner piped up and asked if any of us could tell us what a banana tasted like… Kind of stopped us in our tracks when we thought about it, the room went silent.
Exactly HOW could you ever describe that kind of flavor in words?? Where would you start?? Are there any phrases you could utter that would accurately flip a switch in our olfactory nerves that would send that kind of message to our brains so we would get it??
Anyone who smokes quality Cuban cigars and has a hot blooded passion for the pastime would probably love to be sitting in a room somewhere in a cigar factory in Cuba and be a cigar taster. You’d get handed robustos, double coronas, marevas and get paid to smoke them!! Now we’re talking. It makes me drool just to think about the situation, but I’m sure those people probably get tired of it like anything else in life you’re supposed to do day after day…….
How do you get that job? Is a sensitive nose something that develops over time or are you simply blessed with it from day one? When is this gift discovered, in your youth?
Just a few questions that have been on my mind lately……………