Thursday, May 15, 2014

Cigar Review: Cohiba Espléndidos (2012)

There is really now way to introduce the Cohiba brand and do it successfully. I believe anyone who is reading this is fairly familiar with the story of the brand and how it came to exist, so talking about the origins and how it was Castro's smoke seems silly. Instead, I am going to tell you about the word Cohiba. The word is not Spanish, it is actually a Taino word, and it was their word for "tobacco." When Columbus arrived in Hispaniola and Cuba, the Taino people were smoking these leaves and when the Spanish asked what they hell they were doing/smoking the natives said Cohiba. That is why on the Cohiba packaging/brand you see the face of a Taino native. Interestingly enough, what the Taino natives used to light their Cohibas was Cuaba, another brand by Habanos. Cuaba is actually a bush and it was used almost the same way cedar spills are used. With that being said, let us look at the most popular brand in the world and probably one of the most popular vitolas for that brand.  

There is a great debate as to whether this is the most popular vitola in the Cohiba brand. I think it is a great poll to see whether the Robusto, Siglo VI or Espléndidos is the more popular of the vitolas in the brand, and that poll can be found here. There are other popular vitolas in the Cohiba brand, but I believe these three are the biggest. The Espléndidos is one of the three vitolas that was introduced to the market in 1989 and is a part of the Línea Clásica line. These Habanos are considered to be medium full in strength level, and heavier than the Siglos. Cohiba as a brand receives the best tobacco from Vuelta Abajo and the filler tobacco receives additional fermentation than other brands. Most Cohibas are coming out of El Laguito Cigar Factory, but there are a few made in other factories. The Espléndidos is a Churchill or Julieta No. 2 and measures 178 mm (7.0") with a 47 ring gauge. The Habano has a wrapper that is silky in texture and while there are a couple major veins here and there, for the most part the Habano is practically vein free. It has a lovely triple cap applied and the coloring is Natural and light Colorado in coloring. There is a very faint aroma to the Habano and it is showing some ligt cedar, grass and hay notes. I am getting some faint tobacco qualities to the smoke and I am not getting that lemon grass flavor that I typically get with the Cohiba brand.

The first third begins by showing those classic Cohiba flavors and I am picking up some cedar, hay, lemongrass and most of all coffee notes. The coffee bean flavors present are wonderful and with the citrus qualities present through the lemongrass flavors it is truly an amazing experience. There is a soft bit of spices present on the finish as well and it is not peppery, but showing some faint cinnamon notes. Overall the flavors are great and for this being a young Habano and more importantly a young Cohiba, I am impressed. There is a slightly tight draw to the Habano which I love and it is producing a concentrated amount of smoke with each draw. In terms of construction it is producing a fairly even burn line and it with that is a dark charcoal ash that is holding on firmly to the end. In terms of strength and body I would say that it is smoking at a level between medium and medium full and it is a Habano that I would have in the evening with these qualities and size overall.

When I get into the second third of the Habano I find that the coffee bean flavors have come down some and the lemongrass flavors have taken center stage. It is a very citrus focused second third and there are some definite young qualities to the smoke. I am picking up some grass and hay flavors as well, and the finish is bitter with notes of spices and soft chocolate cake qualities. Overall the second third is not as good as the first in that sense, but the Habano is young and needs more time to really age and open up. In terms of construction I found that the draw was a little bit tighter than before and it is slightly warmer as well. The burn line is fairly similar, not perfect, and it is producing a dark charcoal ash on the end. The smoke being produced is minimal and it is the same with each draw. I would say that the strength and body are smoking at a medium full level in this third as well and in that sense it is like the first third.

I am in the final third and I am finding that it is finishing much like the second third. There is a focus on the lemongrass flavors and there is some harshness present with that. There are some faint notes of coffee beans, soft chocolate cake and spices, and it has a finish that  is showing some hay and grass notes. You can definitely taste the young blend of tobacco and it is a Habano that needs more time to age and have the tobacco come together. In terms of construction, the Habano is finishing very similar to how it was smoking in the second third and it is producing a burn line that is slightly uneven and an ash that is dark charcoal in coloring and between firm and flaky. The draw has gotten a little bit warmer in this third and with it having a tighter draw it is not the best of experiences. The body and strength are at a medium full level in this third third and it finishes very similar to how it has been smoking since the beginning.

This is a young Habano, there is no doubt about that, but unlike some that only need a couple years to really find their way and smoke like the beauties that they are, the Espléndidos needs a lot of age to really show its greatness as a Habano. I love the Churchill size, and I believe Habanos has done a great job making a Cohiba version of the size, but I believe there are better ones out there. I am not the biggest lover of the Cohiba brand to begin with, and when it comes to comparing the Línea Clásica with the Línea 1492 lines, I tend to choose the Línea 1492 smokes. I find that they smoke better out of the gate and they do not need as much age the Robusto, Espléndidos or other vitolas in the line. I am going to be honest with you and tell you that I am not going to come back to this Habano for at least five to seven years and I think even then they will still be young. Right now I am giving this between an 85-87. The first third started out nice but it went downhill quickly. I do see this smoking in the high 90s with age though.

Young Rating: 85-87
With Age Rating: 93-95