This week I lit up the latest addition to the Cohiba brand, the more accessibly priced Cohiba Blue. When Ben and I were down in the Dominican Republic touring the General Cigar facilities we got to see the boxes being painted in the factory. The process was fascinating to watch and I’ve been looking forward to trying them ever since. But before we get into the review, here’s an excerpt from the press release:
Cohiba has always been synonymous with luxury smoking experiences. The brand’s latest collection, Cohiba Blue, takes this to an entirely different level by introducing the notion of inclusive luxury.
Andres Maturen, brand manager of Cohiba said, “With Cohiba Blue, we present collection that speaks to the ethos of the Cohiba brand. Made with a curated selection of tobaccos, handcrafted by renowned artisans, and created for all those who seek the indulgence of a fine cigar, Cohiba Blue symbolizes a life well lived.”
The Cohiba blending team created a velvety, medium-bodied cigar with a rich, complex taste and enticing aroma. To achieve the desired flavor, they began with a silky, rosado-hued Honduran Olancho San Agustin (OSA) wrapper and took a unique approach by selecting Honduran OSA for the binder as well. The layered wrapper-binder deepens the smoking experience and imparts subtle, earthy notes. The blend consists of Honduran Jamastran, Nicaraguan Ometepe and Dominican Piloto Cubano to provide hints of cocoa and caramel, with a light touch of sweetness. The unique, three-country blend represents the world’s most revered tobacco growing regions and delivers a sophisticated, memorable smoke.
The cigars are protected hand-painted bright blue wooden boxes, each containing 20 flawlessly handcrafted cigars.
Churchill (7.5 X 50); SRP per cigar is $10.99
Robusto (5.5 X 50); SRP per cigar is $9.99
Rothschild (4.5 X 50); SRP per cigar $8.99
Toro (6 X 54); SRP per cigar is $10.49
Sounds good to me, let’s go.
Size: 5 1/2 x 50
Wrapper: Honduran Olancho San Agustin (OSA)
Binder: Honduran Olancho San Agustin (OSA)
Filler: Honduran Jamastran, Nicaraguan Ometepe, Dominican Piloto Cubano
Smoking Time: 1 3/4 hour
The Pre Light
None of the cigars I lit for this review had any major flaws visible before I lit up. Most of them did have a small water spot or two on the wrapper. The veins ranged in size from fine to medium and the light brown wrapper had a little darker discoloration on closer inspection. In most cases, the head of the cigar was considerably firmer than the rest of the cigar, and in several cases it was also quite hard right around the band. The wrapper leaf had a sweet, somewhat floral barnyard and chocolate aroma. The foot of the cigar smelled more like earthy sweet prunes.
From the outset the draw was on the firm side with this cigar. Every time. In half of the cases, the draw would ease up a little as the first third burned. Often assisted by a second, slightly deeper cut. The rest of this review will focus mostly on the cigars that burned well.
After a brief initial sweetness, the Cohiba Blue settled into an earthier set of flavors in the first third. Toast, cocoa, pepper and some lingering spices were the typical of each puff. In one case, I tasted an unpleasantly bitter walnut flavor in this third, but thankfully it was short lived. Here and there I also noted a little raisin sweetness and faint vanilla. I wondered as I smoked it if the vanilla might become a little more pronounced with age. I suspect it would.
At this point, if the cigar was still having draw problems it was starting to show in the way it burned. Typically, that meant noticeable swelling, wrapper cracks in various locations around the cigar and an uneven burn. The cigars that loosened up in the first third burned without significant issue, and produced lighter gray ashes.
As for flavor, sweeter notes were a bigger part of the earthy profile. The raisin and vanilla from the prior third were joined by a light sweet syrup. In a few of the cigars I also noted some cinnamon in this third, and found the profile to be briefly reminiscent of a cinnamon roll. In all cases there was some sort of spice presence here. But earth, cocoa, and toast were running the show. The Cohiba Blue is at it’s very best in terms of flavor just after the halfway point.
The cigars that burned well up to this point continued to do so through most of the final third. The burn line may stray a bit to the point of needing a touch up, maybe a relight, but no other issues arose.
The cigar kicked it up a notch in terms of body in the final third, and it did so pretty quickly. Earth and cocoa started to take a back seat to savory pepper and wood. In most cases some sweetness remained, but had transitioned into things like jammy raisins and burnt sugar.
When it burns well the Cohiba Blue offers you respectable, enjoyable flavors. We’re not talking about “wow factor” stuff, but I liked what I tasted and it kept me interested. (One outlier was very good.) I think this will appeal to fans of stronger boutiques more than, say, the original Red Dot. I’m not put off by the ten dollar price tag either. (Do I wish it was cheaper? Sure. But I always wish everything was cheaper.) The problem is, of the samples I smoked, almost half of them were plugged. The rest had draws ranging from “it’s a little tight” to “I think I dislocated my larynx”. It is my hope that the cigars I smoked were a momentary snag in quality control, but I really have no way to be sure. I’ve done my best to capture the experience of smoking the Cohiba Blue in this review, but inconsistencies made it difficult to do so. My advice is if you’re going to try the Cohiba Blue, don’t rush it. Let it sit in the humidor for a while. And I mean weeks, not days. And when you do buy one, check how firm the head of the cigar feels. If it’s as hard as a rock, pick another. And consider cutting it with a quality v-cutter. As for me, I will follow this advice and try mixing in a Cohiba Blue in a future Week In Smoke to see where they’re at then.