Cohiba cigars carry a great deal of mystique and allure. The cigar was originally made exclusively for Fidel Castro. He smoked them and he gave them away as gifts. Back in the day, if you saw someone with a Cohiba you knew they had received it directly from El Comandante. Cigar Aficionado did a great story several years ago about JFK– the president ordered his press secretary to go out and buy as many Cuban cigars as he could find. The man came back with over 1,000 cigars, and after inspecting them, president Kennedy took out a pen and promptly signed the Executive Order imposing the Cuban Embargo.
For most guys who started smoking during the cigar boom of the mid-1990’s, a Cuban Cohiba cigar was the holy grail. Anyone who had smoked a Cuban Cohiba was clearly more traveled, more experienced, and more connected than the rest of us. Like a 7th grader listening to older guys talking about having “seen a real boob”, my friends and I would sit in awe and listen to stories of others who had a connection and were able to get “genuine Cohibas.” This was great, outstanding stuff… real cloak and dagger. We were such goobers.
(Side note: How much does Goober look like Tony Romo!!!)
Due to high demand that could not be satisfied, cigars in the early part of the 2000’s were of lower quality, often using tobacco that had not aged properly. There was also a rash of fake Cuban cigars being circulated around the US. Because Cohiba was the gold standard, it was a prime victim of widespread forgery and fraud.
While this was all happening to the established cigar makers, many other countries and cigar makers improved the quality of their tobacco blends, decreasing the gap between Cuban cigars and cigars from other countries like Honduras, the Dominican Republic, and Nicaragua. There was a time when Dominican cigars could compete in taste tests with any Cuban cigar. However, Cohiba has recently made a comeback and is once again claiming the throne as the gold standard.
Their newest release, which I will most likely never have the opportunity to sample, is the Cohiba Behikes. Originally released in 2006 to celebrate the 40th anniversary, the Behike was built in only one-size and “was virtually unobtainable: production was limited to a mere 4,000 cigars.” This new release of Behike (BHK) will be available (not to us, of course) sometime in June of 2010 to the tune of about 5,000 boxes… this according to James Suckling of C.A.
I have since had the chance to smoke many Cuban cigars. A Cohiba is a very good cigars, but I prefer Partagas and even a Montecristo. Please don’t read that as me saying I would turn down a Cuban Cohiba– if you’d like to send one my way I would certainly thank you and enjoy the smoke.