Posted on 23-03-2013

So many new things are happening in the world of Cuban cigars.  Every year we see very exciting new releases, whether it be Limited Editions or Regional Editions, cigar smokers are presented with exciting possibilities not yet in their humidors.  2012 saw Cohiba introduce the first figurado in their regular production line.  Wearing a new band complete with Taino head and holograms, this Piramides is giving the public a rich, full flavor experience comparable to the 1966 and Behike line.  Although slightly smoother and maybe not as big and bold, this new Torpedo is going to raise the bar once again for Cohiba, giving those who appreciate a full flavored cigar a very exciting new option.

This 54 ring gauge and 6 1/8 inch cigar is an example of fine craftsmanship which results in a perfect draw and razor sharp burn.  Initially you’ll be able to notice Cohiba’s trademark grassy presence as you taste loads of honey and cedar.  As the cigar burns, the taste of leather becomes present and then this sweet and complex flavor slowly builds in strength into an elegant and memorable cigar experience.  Maybe not as overbearing as the more powerful Cohibas released in recent years, this Piramides will recruit new Cohiba followers who may usually choose a Montecristo No 2 or H Upmann No 2 when opting for this vitola (size).

Very exciting things are also happening for my favorite cigar shop the Vancouver Cigar Company.  They are located in the Autoform Exotic car dealership and it is Vancouver’s perfect marriage of high end vehicles and Cuban cigars.  The Cohiba Piramides Extra is sitting on the front of a 1974 Karmann Ghia 2 DR Coupe, a vintage car perfect in every way.  Its not often enough you get to be in a showroom with Maseratis and Montecristos, this is the beginning of a new chapter for the Vancouver Cigar Company and cigar smokers in Vancouver.  With numerous humidors in this outlet we may soon be seeing one of the finest selections of Cuban cigars in the city.

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        Perhaps the significance of 10 years can be, as a safe start, referenced from the bible.

As in:

10 Brothers….. (Genesis)

10 Virgins………(Matthew)

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.

Birthday?

Vancouver winning the Stanley Cup?

Maybe Christmas day?

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From time to time I read different cigar blogs and feel that there is a wealth of information for people who are interested in learning all there is to know about the passion we share concerning Cuban cigars.  As a young man I felt that there was an element of mystery surrounding Cuban cigars and I knew that there must have been something more to cigars than the wonderful aroma in the air whenever I would walk by a cigar smoker.  I never knew about a cigar’s complex flavour profile, the fact that a cigar’s burn was described in thirds or the older they were, the smoother they became.

 

After going to Cuba, my passion for Cuban cigars grew to the point where I now spend thousands annually on Cubans and I see no reason to curtail my spending because of the excitement I get whenever I toast the foot and light one up.  Hey, ya only live once !

 

In cigar blogs, the question is sometimes raised as to what people think is the perfect Cuban cigar to introduce to a Non-Cuban smoker and I believe that if you want to taste a cigar that embodies all that is perfect with Cuban tobacco, you really don’t have to go further than the Cohiba Esplendidos.  Cohiba gets first pick of all of the tobacco in Cuba and their cigars are, on an annual basis, as good as it gets.

 

The factory name for this cigar is the Julieta No. 2 and is a 47 ring gauge and 6.9 inches long.  This is enough of a cigar to give you close to 2 hours of smoking time for the slow smoker, the complexity of the cigar’s flavour profile will simply dazzle you with flavours from black pepper to creamy chocolate and coffee.  When this elegant cigar has had a few years in your humidor, your patience will be rewarded with, in my opinion, the perfect Cuban export.  It just doesn’t get any better than this !!

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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!!!!

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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.

So…………..

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.

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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..

Thank you,

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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……………

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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.

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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.

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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!

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