Earlier on today I stopped into the Vancouver Cigar Company to take a look around at their humidors and the exotic cars in their showroom. This is no ordinary outlet dedicated to the appreciation and sales of some of the world’s finest authentic Cuban cigars, a few steps away from the humidors reveal exotic high performance automobiles and luxury sedans, anyone who appreciates items of great beauty will Not be disappointed by their efforts to drop by. I had a chat with both Trevor and Aaron, who had just returned from Havana’s “Habanos Festival”, and listened to every detail they passed on to me about the world’s premier gathering of cigar aficionados. Each February, Habanos hosts a week long event where participants attend seminars about rolling cigars, the construction and blending of cigars, pairing with different beverages, visits to cigar factories and tobacco fields. There’s music performed by Cuba’s finest musicians at prestigios gala events where new Cuban cigars are unveiled and the whole city comes alive with parties in every restaurant and hotel rooftop.
What shocked and amazed me was that Aaron and Trevor brought me back a sample of what Cuban has in store for 2014. I was gifted the new Cohiba Robustos Supremos Edicion Limitada 2014 which was unveiled this year on February 28 at a special dinner in tribute to the Trinidad brand. A 2 Michelin star chef, Ron Blaauw, from the Netherlands with sommelier, Cuno Van’t Hoff had prepared a meal of incredible food, fine French and Italian wines and enthusiastic diners were given a few of this year’s new releases by Habanos. On the menu were appetizers of caviar or tuna tartare, main courses of Free range chicken with foie gras and truffle sauce or Tournedos of roast beef served with a red wine sauce. From Trevor’s report, the big winner was the caviar. Cigars given out were: Trinidad Reyes, Trinidad Coloniales, the new Trinidad Vigia and finally the Cohiba Robustos Supremos Edicion Limitada 2014.
When I got home I kept rolling this cigar in my hands and marvelling at it’s construction, this was a firmly rolled cigar with not even a hint of a soft spot anywhere, so much so that I had some concern about the draw. My concerns were needless because after I carefully clipped only the cap off the head I was met with almost no resistance whatsoever, a beautiful draw. It would probably be a safe bet to assume that the finest rollers Cuba has to offer are given their quota of bundles of blended tobacco leaves to roll into these cigars that will be handed out to international delegates and aficionados alike. The pre-light draw was pure barnyard, plain and simple, I kept tasting the flavours present for a length of time before I reached for my lighter and then wasted no time in toasting the foot.
At first I was met with a powerful Cohiba taste full of grass and cedar but there was a tang and spiciness that had a real mysterious quality about it. The spice continued as the first third finally opened up and powerful hints of dark chocolate were in your face along side the rich Cohiba herbal flavours. This was a complex cigar, there were slight changes to the flavour profile with almost every puff, I swear I could taste coffee and nutmeg then a dark woodiness would appear along side healthy doses of leather.
Second third introduced a wonderful rich sweetness into the picture. The cedar flavours were somewhat present throughout but mixed with very subtle notes of black coffee and even licorice. Those would appear then the leather would again make it’s presence known all with a strong cedar finish that would last for minutes. Final third settled down into mainly herbs, cedar and sweet leather notes. Because of this cigar’s youth I was expecting a huge dose of nicotine but none of the usual young cigar dizziness came into play today at all. The tobacco leaves used for these Special edition cigars go through enough aging that you can expect a fantastic smoking experience right out of the box.
Once again I would like to thank Aaron and Trevor for thinking of me and allowing me to get a glimpse of what the lucky participants were tasting that night at the Trinidad Dinner in havana.
Perhaps the significance of 10 years can be, as a safe start, referenced from the bible.
10 Brothers….. (Genesis)
10 Lepers……..(Luke.. Here’s where we cigar smokers step into the picture) I firmly believe that instead of social outcasts we are proud members of a fraternity of thinkers, observers of the subtle nuance and those willing to to make the time to create memories that will be taken along to that moment when you reflect, for the very last time upon your accomplishments. Center stage will be the scenes we recollect where hand rolled works of art were set ablaze, when numerous flavors of organic variance emerged not unlike the scenes of a very thought out and complex drama we’ve seen in a theater. )
The seventies brought us a new example of 10 with Bo Derek in a poster which is still hung on many a wall, 10 is pure perfection indeed! 10 can mean the loudest, the hottest setting on the dial of your stove or the the coldest setting in your freezer. How would we classify one’s performance during an Olympic event without 10? The Mayas considered 10 to be the place where life came to an end and a new life emerged. 10 cent coins, when multiplied by 10 will give you a dollar. Now THIS is where we get to the good part!
Owning many of those dollars would give you the ability to purchase the cigar you see above in the picture but only by finding a collector who is willing to part with them. Good luck. They are now very rare and are improving in flavor as every day goes by.
10 will be this cigar’s age when I finally light it up next year, I have from now until then to pick a date.
Vancouver winning the Stanley Cup?
Maybe Christmas day?
As angelic as the cherub in the picture may seem, the real heavenly experience starts when you light the also displayed Cohiba Siglo I. I’m not sure there is another Cuban cigar in that small size ( 40 ring gauge and 4 inches long- “Perla” factory name ) that can compete in flavour and construction. Speak to anyone who is a Cuban cigar lover and they’ll tell you that Cohiba, who gets first pick of all cigar tobacco in Cuba, has raised the bar with this small cigar and leaves all others in the dust when it comes to taste.
Although you won’t be getting much more than 4o minutes of relaxed smoking time with the Siglo I, what you will be experiencing is a beautiful spicy bomb with an herbal beginning and slight notes of cocoa and pepper. When young these can be a bit sharp,which is an attractive proposition for veteran smokers with a passion for strength, but when aged these beautiful little cigars obtain a creaminess that is very pronounced.
I’ll never forget my first Siglo I. We were in Havana, Cuba and I visited the second story cigar shop in the Hostel Conde Villanueva. Sidestep the peacock on the ground floor and make your way up the stairs and you’ll be greeted by the most beautiful aroma as you walk into the shop which sells authentic handmade Cuban cigars. The walk in humidor is stocked with some nicely aged Cubans and the staff was somewhat friendly and helpful. Hey, thats Cuba for you.
I didn’t have a lot of time so I sat in their bar to the left of the front door, ordered a rum, clipped the cap and had the best 40 minutes of our Cuban holiday. Did I smoke cigars in Cuba that I enjoyed more? Probably, but my point is that I was met with more complexity than I had expected for a 40 ring gauge cigar and it went so well with the dark rum.
The construction was perfect, the ash was white as snow and even to this day I get taken back to a great holiday whenever I light this cigar.
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!!!!
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??
I’ve smoked a lot of Siglo I’s, IV’s and a handful of the Siglo VI’s but for some reason, through the years’ the Siglo V is a cigar that I’ve spent only a little time with. Don’t ask me why, its just worked out that way. A shame, if you ask me, it may be one of the best in the Siglo line, very grassy, herbal and of extreme quality.
At least thats what hit me last night as I smoked one on the deck after dinner. Last night was a bit of a cool night in Vancouver, so the gas heater had to be lit and all improved, as far as comfort goes.. Cooler nights are on their way and I was trying to get a bit more acclimatized to what is in our future, for the next few months. We don’t have extreme winters so we are a lot better off than the rest of Canada. Friends of mine occasionally visit throughout the winter, we golf, we try to catch a steelhead, but most of all we enjoy great cigars under the warm natural gas glow of the deck heater.
Getting back to the Siglo V, I found that last night’s cigar had everything I want in a cigar. This being 2011 meant that the ’09 Cohiba had 2 years of age and the draw, the even burn and the flavors were absolutely perfect. I paired this beauty with my favorite beverage, Oban, a fine fine single malt. I get a kick out of the burst of caramel that happens on your taste buds after a sip of this Scotch and enjoyed 3 of them with the hour and a half that the cigar burned.
I’m one of these guys that loves to go to my humidor and check on my cigars after an experience like this, I make sure that the humidity is right, make sure that all cigars are lined up with the bands facing up and making sure that there are no non-cubans right next to Cubans.. Things get a bit obsessive after a Scotch or two and seeing that I only have a few Siglo V’s left made me wonder why I don’t own more…. First thing on tomorrow’s to do list will be a bit of a cigar shopping trip.
I know nothing about motorcycles except that whenever I’ve ever sat behind the handlebars, I’ve always tried to drive the thing as fast as physics would allow. This fact is why my parents never allowed me to own a bike and now that I’m old, I can see their point. I would never have made it this far, thats for sure.
I have a friend, Bobby, who is a motorcycle enthusiast, who has taken his bike all over North America in his quest to photograph scenes from Florida to Alaska. I think that he has some fine shots of Mount Rushmore, Banff, golf courses in San Diego to military ships in Halifax. Bobby is a gentle giant who’d never hurt a soul but as kids, we used to get mouthy around local hoodlums and Bobby would always come to our rescue.. But he was never happy with us and would show his displeasure after we would escape these situations.
I’ve stayed in touch with him all my life and decided to drop into the small garage behind his house yesterday.. He did a bit of a motorcycle tune-up while I sat and smoked a Cohiba Genios in the corner of his shop. The weather was gray and not extremely warm so the shelter and good conversation was what I needed. It had been a while since I lit a Genios and as usual, I was sad that I had abandoned this beautiful cigar for as long as I had. This happens to me from time to time, and I always make the promise that I’ll pay more attention to the maduro line from Cohiba.
The 5 1/2 inch long, 52 ring gauge cigar is packed full of dark chocolate and strong coffee which is perfect for a cool day in a garage. There’s something comforting about a good friend telling stories about his travels while smoking a cigar of that stature. I feel that I can be myself and pick up where I left off whenever I run into my old high school buddy.. I mean, I could try to big time him with exploits of supposed greatness but he’d quickly put me in my place so, what’s the point!
The cigar lasted about 1 1/2 hours until I finally had to set it down and when I did, I noticed that we had covered all that we needed to talk about so I hit the road.. I think I’ll go see him more often and smoke more cigars with the Cohiba Maduro wrapper.
A few post ago I revealed that I had a neighbor who had lost her husband and was getting rid of his cigar collection. I did very well and obtained, not only some beautiful aged cigars, but a quality humidor as part of the package. She revealed that she had more cigars so I thought I’d pay her a visit this morning and see if she needed any yard work done. Thats an understatement since her lawn is quite overgrown and full of weeds. We are approaching the winter season in Vancouver so the grass will slow down, as far as it’s growth is concerned, so I’m feeling that a single cut will be all that will be needed.
After finishing my own lawn this morning after a slight drizzle, I pushed my lawn mower over a few doors down and started in on her front lawn. She waved to me from her living room window and all I needed was about 20 minutes to blast away at her grass and weeds. After a small amount of raking and adding a few leaves to her compost bin, I knocked on her door to say a quick hello. Although I’m getting on in years, she is considerably older than I am and was glad to have some company as I sat down in front of a steaming cup of coffee. I remembered her saying that she loved the smell of cigar smoke so I felt comfortable in pulling out a Romeo y Julieta No 3 I had in my shirt pocket. Before I had the chance to light the little coronitas she asked if I would like to smoke one of her late husband’s cigars instead…. Was I about to be rude and refuse her offer??
After disappearing into another room, she returned with a dark and rich Piramides with, once again, that oh so recognizable gold and yellow band.. My God, this was the Cohiba Piramides from 2001.. I have some of the 2006 releases but have only smoked one or two of the first edition from ’01.. What I remember about the experience was that it was a cigar that was nicely balanced and brimming with rich flavors but for some reason I never smoked that many.
Now this is a 10 year old cigar that I’m having with a coffee after a bit of yard work.. Seems a bit over the top for such a casual moment, this is more of a grand occasion cigar, so I pulled out my torch and lit the foot. There are times when it is easy to describe flavors that a cigar will give you but this torpedo left me speechless. I told her that I felt that she grossly overpaid me for something that a friendly neighbor would gladly do free of charge, and with that she disappeared again and came back with 4 more from the same amazing vintage……….
She told me that she was planning on having a yard sale the next sunny day and needed some help cleaning out a shed that is full of tools…. I think I’ll offer my services……