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.
The Cohiba Robustos, pictured above, was not my first experience with this stately Cuban brand, in fact my first experience with a cigar sporting a Cohiba label wasn’t a Cohiba at all… Not even close..
This is how my love for Cuban cigars began…. With a lousy counterfeit !
OK, so I hated every inch of the fake Cohiba Esplendidos that came in the acrylic top box of 25. I hated them to the point that I didn’t want to see or smoke anything with the gold and yellow band for a number of years, so I moved on to get to know every other brand out of Cuba and really developed a passion for Partagas, RyJ, Hoyo de Monterrey, H. Upmann and well, I guess every other brand that I could get my hands on. I really got to understand how a cigar evolves as you smoke it and started tasting some of the most beautiful flavors I could imagine in a Cuban cigar then something wonderful happened.
Trevor, from “The Vancouver Cigar Company” gave me a Cohiba Robustos and told me to try it out with an open mind, which is what I did one Sunday morning. I couldn’t believe how beautiful that cigar was and felt really foolish about my opinion of Cohiba until that point in time. The Robustos was about a year old and revealed all of my favorite flavors in one cigar. I could taste dried fruit, white pepper, leather, cedar and strong coffee notes and NONE of the harsh bitter tobacco flavor I initially had in my experience with the counterfeits I thought were the “real thing”..
Needless to say, I now KNOW how an authentic Cohiba should taste and have no problem shelling out the money it takes to smoke the real thing. The one thing that I AM grateful for is the time I took in getting to know all of the other Cuban brands, there are some beautiful cigars out there and I love 99% of them, even some of the machine made cigars have their moment in the sun but Cohiba stands out as being the pinnacle of quality.
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??
Taking the fly rod, food for the day, warm clothing and your best Cohiba, whether it be a Robusto, Esplendidos or one from the Cohiba Maduro series, down to the river may or may not be the best idea.. OK, not like its a bad idea to have a beautiful cigar when fishing, but there are conditions that are better suited for smoking one of Cuba’s finest creations.. My feelings are that the ride in the car on the way to the river would be better for having the ability to taste every nuance that the cigar’s profile has to offer.
Wind, rain, sleet and hail are just a few of the conditions I’ve run into when fishing in British Columbia on any given day and I think that cigarettes would probably be the lesser waste of money during that kind of day. I’ve had the good fortune to smoke a few Cohiba Behikes these last few months and, believe me, they ARE as good as people have been saying in their reviews and blogs. Any cigar that starts out with a 52 ring gauge and has brothers that are 54 and 56 will only let you know that there is a lot of tobacco blended in this size of cigar, so why would you fight to keep a cigar dry in a torrential downpour when fighting a 16 pound salmon on a fly rod? Save it for a quiet moment by the fire at the end of the day.
A round of golf with a cigar in the cart is probably the most popular place to enjoy a stogie these days but there ARE some courses that do NOT allow smoking…. Just avoid these courses ! Golf elsewhere and enjoy the freedom that you have …. For now……
A garage, den, rumpus room or a computer room can be a place where you have the freedom to do what you want, as long as you aren’t endangering the health of anyone else.. Scared of smelling up one of the rooms in your house?? Know what a paintbrush is? Real men know how to paint and clean up any kind of issue a cigar has caused before you sell the house !
I simply believe that a controlled environment free of wind and cold should be your main quest before applying a flame to the head of some of the finest cigars in the world,
Its that time again in Canada when the Canadian Country Music Association or CCMA has it’s annual Awards weekend where it showcases country music and it’s performers with a series of musical workshops, a gala dinner where awards are given out to industry people and a televised awards show the following evening which spotlights the winners in various categories. This is one of the most exciting weekends for country fans and industry alike because of the many late night jams played by the best pickers in Canada and of late, bands like “Jetty Road” from Australia, who’ve been performing and lighting up Canadian stages in the last few years.
These evenings are, most often, in local bars and rooms which are focused on live music with stages, lights and great sound in place and ready for an onslaught of maniacal country music folks hellbent on having the most fun they’ve had all year. This year will be again a meeting of musicians, TV personalities and producers now realizing that cigars are yet another thing that they have in common, will take place for 4 days in Hamilton Ontario. This event moves from host cities in the west to the maritimes and this year’s event will will be very close to it’s association’s home town of Toronto.
Many great cigars will be passed back and forth and a whole bunch of drinking will take place. One can only imagine the stories that will be told over breakfast tables this year. I know that I’ll be seeing friends who play music and friends that are more involved in the technical end of things as well as producers that I sometimes only run into once a year.
As well as sharing Cuban cigars with old smoking buddies I always try to convert new smokers over to the cigar way of thinking… Yeeeeehaaaaaw!
I’m a guy that will always be on the hunt for a good cigar at a great price and quite often I check on Craigslist, here in Vancouver, to see if anyone is selling off any of theirs at a good price. Now and then I find some real hidden treasure but I don’t believe I thought I’d find aged cigars so close to home like I did yesterday.
I woke up and was very excited that Kim Mitchell was playing at the PNE… I wrote an entry about that yesterday morning on this blog and after I hit the publish button I went to Craigslist to see if anyone had cigars to sell.. Bingo!!!! A very short ad describing cigars for sale came up and I emailed the address given, I got an answer right away only to find out that a few doors down from where I live, an older woman was getting rid of about 30 cigars for $100…. What????
After getting her phone number, I gave her a call and we were both quite pleased and surprised to find out that we were neighbors.. I walked over… In a city of this size you have no idea who some of your neighbors are and quite often we just don’t make the effort to get to know those who live close to us. Life is changing, things get more complicated and I believe that we humans tend to cocoon more and more so maybe we live more guarded lives.. I guess I do that as well now…..As I walked into the entry of her home I was met with the smell that reminded me of Havana, you know the one, it is the aroma of a home that has seen many a burning cigar.. I was becoming very excited, I had no idea there was a cigar smoker who lived so close to me.. How could I have missed this?
This very pleasant woman, who could have been in her 80′s, explained that her husband, who smoked cigars all his life, had died and she was getting rid of his possessions before putting up their house for sale. Her realtor told her that she would have to do a big house cleaning and paint the interior of the home before the sign would be stuck into the front lawn. She also explained that the “wooden box” where he kept his cigars would be also thrown in as part of the deal… blink…… Ummmm, Ok…. Now my heart rate starts to go up 20 beats or so as she tells me to have a seat and drink some tea as she shuffles into another room to retrieve the “wooden box”..
I wasn’t sure what to expect but was very excited to see her return with a beautiful humidor that had the capacity to hold, I guessed, about 75 cigars.. This “wooden box” had the most beautiful barnyard smell come out of it after I opened the lid and inside were an impressive collection of cigars covered in plume… Good Lord.. What laid in front of me were Montecristo No 2′s, Partagas Lusitanias, 2 Cuaba Salomons, 4 H. Upmann Magnum 50′s, 3 Montecristo A’s, a few Romeo Churchills and the rest of the nicely aged cigars had that familiar black, white and gold band that we all love so much… I had to sit down and try to contain myself. I didn’t say anything for a while as she went to the kitchen to get more tea.
You know that dizzy feeling you get when you realize something has just happened but you’re not sure that it just happened and that maybe you shouldn’t have had those mushrooms sprinkled on top of that salad that those hippies just made for you….. Yeah, yeah, thats the feeling…
When she returned, I asked her if the smell of cigars bothered her and she told me that she loved the aroma so I reached into my pocket for my clipper and lit a Robusto adorned with that lovely yellow band.. The clouds parted, I was bathed in a warm comfortable glow as the first puff hit my olfactory nerves which told me that I now knew how the first guy felt as he picked up that rock which told him that the California gold rush was about to begin. Just a few doors down???? I have a nose like a Steelhead when it comes to cigar smoke.. Why didn’t I ever smell cigar smoke so close to my home before???
I didn’t say much as I listened to this woman talk to her cat but decided that I would be a good neighbor and offer to cut her lawn as she was selling her house and moving out of our part of town.. This made her very happy and as I paid her the five 20 dollar bills she told me that the next time I came over, she’d let me pick a few cigars out of another “wooden box” that she was planning on giving to her brother…….. Heart rate goes up again……
Father’s day is an occasion where many sons and fathers get together and either knock a golf ball around, catch a fish or two, share advice and light up a great cigar after dinner. This time of year is usually busy at cigar shops where sons purchase their father’s favorites and Cohiba is a brand that sells very well. This time of year is perfect for sitting out on the deck with a cigar in one hand and a glass of something potent in the other because of the warmer weather that has finally arrived. The winter months are a royal pain for many cigar enthusiasts, with the winter and icy winds that blow a chill deep into your bones and insure that your cigars burn unevenly. Many space heaters take the terrible chill out of countless garages and work shops during the winter months, a guy has to do all that he can to get the most enjoyment out of a premium cigar.
My father is NOT a cigar smoker, NOT a cigarette smoker and the glare I get from him whenever I light one up in his presence is something that I’ll always remember but I do it anyway. Funny how we tend to sacrifice almost anything, including a parent’s approval, to enjoy a wonderful cigar with family. I have a sister who is a cigarette smoker and we’ve shared a lifetime of laughs and memories around a community ashtray. I’ll never trade those moments for the world. When I was younger I used to compare smokers and non-smokers and wonder what made people tick and why some smoked and some didn’t .. For a great number of years I told myself that I preferred the company of smokers to almost anyone else but as I get older I’ve relaxed my harsh judgements and see people for what they harbor within.
I can’t see any cigar on a day like this to be better than a Cohiba for it’s classic taste and full body. The original Cohibas before the Siglo series with their grassy profile are a favorite of mine but in recent years I’ve learned to enjoy the Siglos and can see that for every occasion there is a need for different flavors and strengths. The world is made up of millions of different personalities and needs and adapting to the moment is what I’ve been striving for lately. I guess we’re all looking for a balance.
Happy Father’s Day !
Cigar Aficionado’s latest piece on counterfeit Behikes was informative and heartbreaking at the same time.. Its great to know that we can access sites like theirs and learn so much about cigars, wine, scotch and well.. almost anything in life that is decadent and worthwhile.. I read their on-line magazine daily and believe that anyone who has ever put a match to the end of a cigar, whether it is Cuban or Non-Cuban, should take the time to learn from a site like theirs..
I’ve had the pleasure of smoking the amazing Cohiba Behikes and can agree with many of you out there that Cohiba has raised the bar and given us a new line of 3 sizes of cigars that will tantalize many a palate for years to come… The introduction of the Medio Tiempo leaf has added a subtle new dimension to these pricy little babies.. But….. Its always heartbreaking to know that the dark side of the underground cigar industry in Cuba is now counterfeiting Behikes as well and…. are we surprised??
I’m sad that many gullible cigar smokers going to Cuba for the first time will run into serpents of every description telling tales and taking hard earned money for the same old banana leaf and floor sweepings that we know all too well.. If you’ve been smoking cigars for as many years as I have, I’m sure you’ve tasted these mild nondescript counterfeits with the black, gold and yellow band… The individuals selling them on the streets of Havana need to feed their families and I don’t hold this against them but the next time I get the great fortune to walk those beautiful streets, I’ll visit the government stores and shell out my cash for the real thing…. Compared to the prices in Canada you can’t go wrong!!
I’ve been a big fan of many kinds of music through the years but as I get older I keep going back to the jazz albums I used to listen to in the early 70′s…. I was a big fan of Miles, early Coltrane and then Weather Report as time went on. I wasn’t yet a cigar smoker back in the 70′s, something I regret today, but I can remember hearing albums that were beautiful and timeless.
One of my favorite composers was always Antonio Carlos Jobim and one tragic thing is that most people usually remember him for composing ” The Girl From Ipanema” , a great structured song, but certainly not the only masterpiece he composed. He is regarded as one of Brazil’s greatest treasures and the more you listen to his music the more you’ll understand why that country considers him to be so valuable to their culture.
I was on youtube tonight and didn’t plan on having a cigar until I found this song… It is “Wave” by Jobim but NOT recorded by the master… Instead, this is a recording from 1973 by Oscar Peterson with strings arranged by Claus Ogerman. The album is called “Motions and Emotions”… As soon as I heard this track I was stopped dead in my tracks as I listened to the song…. I played it again and then went over to the humidor and chose an Esplendidos, went back to the computer and lit up and played the song again…. Oscar’s piano solo at the end of this song is stellar and the strings are divine.
The cigar tasted better with a song like this in the background. This made me sort of sad about the condition of jazz bars these days with no smoking policies because when listening to something this beautiful in a live music environment, there is nothing better than a great cigar and a glass of Scotch on a table in front of you.. These days all you smell in a jazz bar is chicken wings…. Good grief!!!! Something is wrong with us…. Cuba is still where its at!!!! Period
So anyway, sit back, light up your most prized Cohiba and listen to THIS !!
Good Friday was the day to get out on to the links with a Cohiba Robusto I had been saving through the winter. An 8 month old robusto from Cohiba will never taste better than when with a great foursome, a day with little to no wind on a golf course that was groomed to perfection and playing host to golfers from all over the lower mainland.
The Falls is a course that we’ve been visiting for years and when a few of us had a day off we saw no reason to golf anywhere else, so a quick drive from Vancouver got us to our destination, just past Chilliwack on Canada’s number 1 highway. If you haven’t seen this course and you live in the lower mainland, I would seriously recommend you make the trip out to this beautiful course carved into the side of a mountain with the most beautiful scenery you’ll see on a golf course ANYWHERE..
If you’re expecting to shoot in the low 70′s your first time out you may want to lower your expectations a bit because of the surprises that await you. Anyone would have a great time golfing here, regardless of your handicap due to the fact that all of the fairways are wide enough to hit from the t-boxes. What makes this course impressive are the views that golfers photograph before they reach for their drivers from hole to hole.. The golf carts are equipped with GPS screens that let you know the number of yards you need to think about before each shot and helpful tips at the push of a button are always free of charge.
I lit the Cohiba on hole number 4 instead of waiting, like I usually do, for the back nine to light up. This gorgeous par 3 actually yielded a birdie for me, my only bird of the day… My t-shot was short and to the right but a 58 degree wedge from the first cut was all I needed to use to drop it into the hole.. I walked back to my power cart and tasted the beginning of what was going to be a beautiful first third of the robusto. Wind is usually the worst enemy of a great cigar but yesterday’s Good Friday weather at The Falls allowed me to see an even burn for the duration of the cigar.