Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Cigar Review: Carlos Fernandez Behike (Extra Ligero)

Habanos S.A. has its pros and cons, but one aspect that it has, which is absolutely great, is that they send their best rollers around the world to La Casa del Habanos for events and so forth. They even do rollings in Cuba for tourists, and you are able to get cigars from these men and women right from the rolling table. Catfish knows more about this side of Habanos S.A. then I do, but one individual that is a well known roller, and use to roll at the Partagas Factory is Carlos Fernandez. Today I am going to be looking at some of his custom rolls, and these were rolled by the request of Catfish. Technically it is not a Habano, but it is composed of 100% Cuban tobacco, and is rolled by one of the best rollers for Habanos S.A. The cigar I am smoking is the Carlos Fernandez Behike, and per Catfish's request, it has extra ligero in the blend.

For those who don't know, the  Behike was once a limited edition released in 2006, and was a release that was honoring the 40th anniversary of the brand. It was a one vitola release, and the original Behike measured 192 mm (7.6") with a 52 ring gauge. It is classified as a Double Robusto-T, and is a massive cigar. This Behike was the same size and was gorgeous in appearance. Composed of all Cuban tobacco, the cigar features a wonderful pigtail cap and it has a nice closed foot. There are some veins present throughout and it is firm to touch. The coloring is that between Natural and Colorado, and it is basic but beautiful color when it comes to a cigar. The wrapper has an aroma of soft tobacco, wood and hay notes, and on the foot I am getting some tobacco, wood and earthy qualities with some soft pepper on the finish.

The first third opens up by showing some awesome coffee and chocolate flavors. There are some woody notes present as well, and it is showing some light peppery spices with that. There is a definite leather and tobacco flavor present with the cigar as well and it is balanced and showing tons of awesome flavors. It is great to see the creativity with the Cuban tobacco and not have it be reviewed and approved by a group before release. In terms of construction the cigar is phenomenal and it is showing a razor sharp burn line with a gorgeous light charcoal ash on the end. The ash is holding on firmly and there is a nice bit of smoke being produced with each draw. I would say that the strength is around a medium to medium full level and the body is right there as well. You can taste the ligero tobacco, and it is good and tasty, but it is not overpowering.

When I get into the second third of the cigar I find that the sweet coffee and chocolate flavors from the first third have taken a back seat and the tobacco and leather flavors have really come forward. I am still getting some spice and pepper notes with the cigar and it has a nice bit of ligero present with the smoking experience as well. I am loving this custom and think it is one of the top smokes I have had this year. In terms of construction, this massive cigar continues to smoke wonderfully and it is producing a nice even burn line. There is a lovely light charcoal ash on the end and a draw that is absolutely perfect. I have had a bunch of these now and every single one of them smokes perfectly. In terms of strength and body the cigar has picked up some as well and I would say the body and strength are right at the solid medium full level and it is showing the strength of the tobacco more and more.

When I get into the final third I find that the cigar has shown some more transitioning and the strength is really creeping up on me. I can taste the aged and wonderful ligero tobacco that is in the blend and in a couple years this third is going to smoke even better than it already is. I am picking up lots of spice notes, pepper and cinnamon, and it is showing those quality oak, leather and tobacco notes as well. There are bits of cocoa powder present as well in this third, and the finish is that of dark roast coffee beans. The blend is absolutely incredible and with the extra ligero it gives it a unique touch that will only get better with age. The construction remains perfect through this third, and it is a cigar that has smoked wonderfully from the get go. The draw has been easy and cool from the beginning, and it has a strength and body level that ends right between medium full and full.

I loved this smoke and believe they will age wonderfully. I think in a couple years they will be even better and I also think that the blend in general has some long aging potential with that. It is simply terrific right now and imagining this cigar with at least three years of age on it shows even better flavors. The construction was terrific from beginning to end and the burn line was nearly perfect throughout. You could not ask for a better draw and the smoke production was absolutely perfect as well. What was really wowing to me in this cigar were the flavors, and it showed those great Cuban tobacco flavors, but there was a little more to it, with a nice bit of creativity. I think Catfish has some winners with this stick and I am incredibly interested in the whole process now that I have smoked some. I would love to meet Carlos Fernandez, spend some time with him and watch him roll, but in the meantime I will simply enjoy these sticks. I am giving this stick a solid rating between 92-94, and I think with age it will be close to being between 95 and 97.

Young Rating: 92-94
With Age Rating: 95-97