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CA Report: The Essential Cigar Advisor Guide to Cohiba Cigars

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The Cigar Advisor Cohiba Cigars Tasting Guide

A 1-click collection of tasting notes and recommendations for the first name in cigars: Cohiba. Our Advisors have done the tasting to save you time and money – read their reviews to find your next favorite!

COHIBA – it’s a name that strikes temptation in the heart of every avid cigar smoker. Although the Cuban Cohiba cigars gave the name its fame, the Dominican-made Cohibas have become as desirable as their Cuban cousins, and more diverse in their blending. In this guide, we’ll explain why – as the Advisors sample the entire lineup of Cohiba’s most popular collections sold in the U.S.: Cohiba Red Dot, Cohiba Black, Cohiba Nicaragua, and Cohiba Macassar; we updated this Guide in 2019 to include tasting notes for the Cohiba Connecticut and the Cohiba Blue selections, and again in 2022 to account for Cohiba Royale. 

cigar advisor essential guide to cohiba - cohiba cigar sitting on a cohiba ashtray
Image via Cohiba.com

 

The Meaning of Cohiba

This has always seemed to be the brand that non-smokers know when the subject of smoking cigars is discussed. How many times have you been asked, “Is that a Cohiba?” So while they may be the first name in cigars to the world at large, let’s discuss what’s really behind each of the Cohiba bands…

The word “Cohiba” comes from the Taino, an indigenous people who lived in both Cuba and Hispaniola (now the Dominican Republic) – and it was how they referred to tobacco. There were two pronunciations: Cohiba and Cojoba. Other sources refer to the word Cohiba more specifically as “cured tobacco,” or the word for “cigar” which could be considered one in the same. Suffice it to say – for all intents and purposes – the word Cohiba literally means “tobacco.”

The word Cuaba, which sounds a lot like Cohiba, is another old Taino word for a highly flammable bush they used to make torches.

 

The History of Cohiba Cigars

Cohiba is actually one of the youngest brands of Cuban cigars. Legend has it that, sometime in the mid-1960’s, one of Castro’s bodyguards was smoking a cigar…. Impressed with its aroma, Fidel questioned the man on where it came from. After learning that a friend of his bodyguard was rolling them personally, he sought out the man and inquired about the blend. Again, it’s a legend – but what happened next was real: with a recipe in hand, Castro had a factory set up in 1968 to produce the cigars. They were rolled under tight security, expressly for the dictator and top government officials. That meant that unless Fidel or his cronies handed it to you, you couldn’t smoke a genuine Cohiba – until they were marketed for sale to the general public in the early 1980’s.

cigar advisor essential guide to cohiba - tobacco field with mountains in the background
One of Cohiba’s many tobacco fields. Image via Cohiba.com

Because of the ongoing Embargo, the United States refuses to acknowledge Cuban trademarks; that allowed General Cigar to trademark a competing Cohiba cigar brand in the United States, which they did in 1978. This was the birth of the Cohiba Red Dot, which did much to anger Cuba’s state-run tobacco company named Cubatabaco.

 

Bring on the Fake Cuban Cohibas

Cuban Cohibas are among the most expensive cigars sold around the world (America excluded) – they’re also among the most counterfeited cigars in the world. So in the event you’re ever asking if it’s a fake Cuban, then it probably is. But if you didn’t pay a lot for it, and it tastes good, smokes well, and you enjoyed it, the least you can do is chalk it up to a positive experience.

cigar advisor essential guide to cohiba - old map of cuba

Think you’ve spotted a fake? Here are some tips: How to Spot Fake Cuban Cigars

 

Modern Cohiba Cigars

Since their debut in the 1970’s and on into the Cigar Boom, the Cohiba name pretty much spoke for itself. Meaning, even if you weren’t a cigar smoker, you knew what a Cohiba was – it’s that much of a household name.

Then, in their desire to expand the Cohiba experience and “[deepen] retailer and consumer engagement around this pivotal brand,” General Cigar – owner of the non-Cuban Cohiba marca – appointed Sean Williams as brand ambassador. Since his appointment in spring of 2017, Sean has overseen all Cohiba cigar events – as well as been integral to the release of the most recent addition to our guide, Cohiba Royale.

 

About Our List of Cohiba Cigars…

For our Cohiba guide, we’ve sampled and reviewed each of their brands in the current (as of 2022) cigar lineup available at Famous Smoke Shop. These quick recaps offer our basic experiences with and impressions of each cigar, summing up what you might expect when you smoke it yourself. We invite you to leave a comment at the end, sharing your experience with any of the Cohiba cigars in our guide.

 

Cohiba Royale Cigar Review

By John Pullo

Country of Origin: Honduras
Size: Robusto (5 ½” x 54)
Strength:  Medium
Wrapper: Nicaragua Jalapa Broadleaf
Binder: Dominican Republic
Filler: Dominican Republic, Honduras, Nicaraguacigar advisor essential guide to cohiba - cohiba royale at famous smoke shop

Construction and Overall Appearance: The oily Broadleaf wrapper has a reddish hue; overall, the cigar is well-packed, with a triple-seam cap that cuts easily.
Draw/Pre-light: Because the tobaccos are rolled in the Cuban-style entubar method, there’s an even draw that offers cold notes of leather and spice.  
Toasting & Light: The initial flavors were leathery, with earth and bright, peppery notes.
Base flavors: Leather, earth, cedar, and sweet spice.
Retrohale: There’s more pepper to be found here…
Aroma: Burns with a sweet, floral fragrance.

Summary: When we smoked the Cohiba Royale with Sean Williams, he said, “Cohiba Royale was created with the cigar connoisseur in mind.” That means every leaf in the blend has been extensively aged, from 5 to 6 years, and “represent the best-of-the-best tobacco growing regions in the world.”

The initial shot of pepper drops by the 3/4-inch mark, as does the first ash. The smoke is quite smooth, coating the palate and revealing a sweet, slightly floral room note. But the most impressive part of this cigar is how it was full-bodied, but not strong; that’s the long-aging of the leaves at work for you.

cigar advisor essential guide to cohiba - cohiba royale review by john pullo

In sum: the Cohiba Royale Robusto is a 54-ring stunner offering a chewy, creamy, and well-balanced smoke with a full-flavored profile and some pleasant change-ups: layers of earth, wood, and spice, plus a just-right amount of sweetness. If you’d like a Cohiba Royale drink pairing suggestion, Sean Williams recommends iced tea; we paired it with Old Forester and did just fine.

As noted in our #nowsmoking Cohiba Royale review, the price is a little steep – but sometimes you find that the extra investment is worth it: “In recent years there have been several cigars with similar price points which I feel have been worth the investment. That’s why I’m glad they did the Royale in 5-packs, too. The long-aged tobaccos are definitely one of the keys to this cigar. They also account for this cigar’s smoothness and ability to deliver a full-bodied smoke without overpowering you. For those who appreciate the ultra-smoothness and complexity of such highly refined blends, the Cohiba Royale Robusto is a keeper.”

 

Cohiba Black Cigar Review

By Gary Korb

Country of Origin: Dominican Republic
Size: Supremo (6″ x 54)
Strength: Medium
Wrapper: Connecticut Broadleaf Maduro
Binder:  Dominican Republic
Filler: Dominican Piloto Cubano & Mexican (Aged 3 years in palm tercios)

cigar advisor essential guide to cohiba - cohiba black at famous smoke shop

Construction and Overall Appearance: Excellent. The cigar is almost black in color, more like an Oscuro, and firmly rolled with no soft spots. Wrapper is a bit rustic and toothy, (typical of Connecticut Broadleaf), with an oily patina and a couple of conspicuous veins.
Draw (airflow): Very good.
Pre-light flavor (cold draw): Sweet tobacco and leather.
First few puffs: Creamy and sweet.
Retrohale: Smooth, creamy and sweet.
Base flavors: Sweet tobacco, cedar, cocoa, espresso.
Aroma: Sweet.
Burn / Ash Quality: Excellent. Burn is perfect with a barely visible carbon line. Ash is firm and almost entirely white in color.
Balance of flavors: Excellent.

Summary: It’s been a while since I smoked a Cohiba Black, but I remembered it fondly, and after lighting one up again, it was every bit as smooth, creamy and sweet as I expected. (You won’t find many cigars with U.S. Connecticut Broadleaf wrappers of this quality, either.) The smoke is mostly medium in body brimming with sweetness, and issues a redolent aroma. Flavors of sweet tobacco, cedar and hints of cocoa dominate the first half. Not an overly complex smoke, but you will find several different flavors lingering on the palate. In the final third the smoke becomes more formidable as the sweeter components wane, while notes of espresso enter the fray. Cohiba Black is one of the few upmarket cigars that’s well worth its price point.

 

 

Cohiba Connecticut Cigar Review

by Gary Korb

Country of Origin: Dominican Republic
Size: Robusto (5½” x 50)
Strength: Mellow to Medium
Wrapper: Ecuadorian Connecticut Shade
Binder: Mexican San Andrés
Filler: Brazilian Mata Fina, Dominican Piloto Cubano, Dominican Olor and Nicaraguan tobacco from Jalapa

cigar advisor essential guide to cohiba - cohiba connecticut at famous smoke shop

Construction and Overall Appearance: Beautifully rolled. Wrapper is immaculate with an attractive Colorado patina, a silky texture, and fashioned with a deftly applied triple seam cap.
Draw: Just right.
Pre-light flavor (cold draw): Salt and sweet grass.
First few puffs: Mellow, creamy and cedary.
Retrohale: Peppery spice.
Base flavors: Sweet & peppery spices, sweet cream, cedar, and some earthiness.
Aroma: Sweet and woody.
Burn / Ash Quality: Burn is even with a firm, light grey, gravity-defying ash. The first ash was 1¼-inches long.
Balance of flavors: Perfect. The base flavors offer just the right amount of charm in equal amounts at various intervals.

Summary: You’d think they would have done it by now, but better late than never, right? This is the first Cohiba cigar to be rolled in Connecticut Shade wrapper, and it’s a beauty. It was grown in Ecuador’s Los Rios province on a plantation beside the Vinces River where the soil is rich in volcanic assets. The result is a very clean looking and virtually veinless leaf.

Once lit, there’s a sweet woody aroma off the wrapper as essentially matching notes of sweet cream and cedar lap the palate. Sweet spice and cedar notes dominate the smoke leaving a long, semi-dry finish. There is also a chorus of cream, light peppery spice and a hint of earth that sing-along in perfect harmony. Just past the midsection, I picked up a light mix of nutmeg and cinnamon, as the cedar flavor took the Conn for a woody change-up.

cohiba cigars guide buy cohiba connecticut cigars cohiba connecticut cigar review by Gary Korb

In the final act, the Robusto takes on a more earthy tone, while the cedary layer remains in command. Some sweetness remains, but the finish leaves a peppery smudge on the palate. Some bitterness sets in with just under two inches remaining, then rounds out to stronger notes of earth, wood, and spice as the sweetness exits, stage left.

Suffice it to say. . .the Cohiba Connecticut Robusto is a refined, mellow to medium-bodied smoke that leans more to medium once it gets going. It also offers some interesting change-ups along the way, while providing a creamy, yet mostly sweet, woody, and spicy smoke. An ideal candidate for cigar smokers who want to discover the richness of the Dominican-made Cohiba cigars, and a must-smoke for fans of top-grade Connecticut Shade wrappers.

 

Cohiba Blue Cigar Review

By Gary Korb

Country of Origin: Dominican Republic
Size:
Robusto (5½” x 50)
Strength: Medium
Wrapper: Honduran Olancho San Augustin (OSA)
Binder: Honduran OSA
Filler: Honduran Jamastran, Nicaraguan Ometepe, Dominican Piloto Cubano

cigar advisor essential guide to cohiba - cohiba blue at famous smoke shop

Construction and Overall Appearance: Excellent. Wrapper is a little rustic in appearance with some unobtrusive veins, and even in color with a slightly reddish patina.
Draw: Very good.
Pre-light flavor (cold draw): Mildly sweet tobacco.
First few puffs: Sweet and creamy.
Retrohale: Peppery.
Base flavors: Cedar, molasses, light pepper
Burn / Ash Quality: Very good. Burn was mostly even with a thin carbon line. No significant issues. Ash was mostly light grey in color and firm.
Balance of flavors: Excellent.

cigar advisor essential guide to cohiba - cohiba blue review

Summary: A mild, creamy and slightly sweet start develops into a more medium-bodied smoke with more pronounced flavor of sweet cedar and a nip of white pepper on the finish. Within the first inch, the flavors of the Cohiba Blue opened-up like turning a photograph from black and white to color. A little more pepper was revealed on the finish at this stage. The base flavors at this early stage were essentially cedar and molasses, which I found very satisfying. For the second and third acts, the pepper was all but gone leaving just smooth, sweet and creamy smoke with a mostly woody character. Overall, very enjoyable, and if I had to make a comparison to other Cohiba cigars, the Blue is closest to the Cohiba Black.

 

Cohiba Nicaragua Cigar Review

By Fred Lunt

Country of Origin:  Dominican Republic
Size: N5 1/4X54 (5 ¼” x 54)
Strength: Full
Wrapper: Sun grown Colorado Oscuro, Honduras
Binder:  Nicaraguan, Jalapa
Filler: Nicaraguan, Esteli and Jalapa

cigar advisor essential guide to cohiba - cohiba nicaragua at famous smoke shop

Construction and Overall Appearance: The highly-textured Colorado Oscuro wrapper is a rustic mahogany brown with some toothiness to it. Slight peeling of the wrapper in one section, and what appears to be water stain which could have come from shipping. Appears to be well constructed. No noticeable soft spots.
Draw: Nice and easy, smooth and cool burn
Pre-light flavor: Pre-light featured notes of leather and woods with a subtle note of cocoa. At the foot, a leather and subtle woodiness was detected.
Toasting & Light: Right off the bat a sweet cedar; also notes of grass, barnyard, light pepper and wood. The finish was slightly tangy and a bit woody, too.
Base flavors: Wood, pepper, leather, and cedar; a lot of sweetness in there.
Retrohale: Very peppery, cedar finish
Burn / Ash Quality: Very solid ash, canoed a few times but the Cohiba Nicaragua fixed itself pretty quickly. About 2/3 in I had a small battle with keeping the cherry going. Due to its cool burn, it became prone to going out, leading me to several touchups, I was forced to quit after the third touchup.
Balance of flavors: Well balanced with a pleasant pepper-spice combination that would pop its head up occasionally.
Consistency: The flavors in both cigars were spot on with each other; unfortunately the burn issues were as well.

Summary: When you think of Nicaraguan cigars, you think brands such as Padron, Drew Estate and Alec Bradley’s Nica Puro. And as Nicaraguan tobacco has reached mainstream success, Dominican companies have been more than eager to produce some of their own – evidenced by Davidoff Nicaragua, Romeo y Julieta’s RyJ, and now Cohiba Nicaragua.

This Cohiba Nicaragua comes in a stout 5 ¼ x 54 Robusto, adorned in a mahogany brown Colorado Oscuro wrapper, sun grown in Honduras. While not a puro, this version of Cohiba takes on a Nicaraguan binder from the Jalapa growing region with Jalapa and Esteli long filler. So it’s mostly Nicaraguan tobacco – though it’s certainly not a pepper-bomb like one might imagine. I found this stogie on the medium-to full side but very complex, creamy, savory, and sweet.

cigar advisor essential guide to cohiba - cohiba nicaragua review

This cigar wasted no time opening medium in body, with flavors of wood, hay, and sweet pepper. Within a few puffs those flavors tapered off, yet intensity remained the same. The first third was marked by a peppery tang, woody and earthy notes, with a full, thick and creamy smoke. This pepper would come in and out of the cigar at various intervals. The second third added some sweetness to that same peppery tang; the intensity kicked up another notch while a creamy cedar flavor took over. The transition into the last third was marked by another outburst of pepper, followed by a caramel-like sweetness and a pleasant, almost savory smoke.

Cohiba Nicaragua would be considered a full-bodied smoke by most, yet it certainly isn’t overpowering. Unfortunately, a few burn issues plagued both samples, and repeated relights ended with a bitter aftertaste.

When smoking a Cohiba, you know you’re paying for some quality tobacco and a consistently good smoke – and even in light of the touch ups, this is a very fine cigar. But my wheelhouse for Nicaraguan cigars are the sticks that are more consistent in their spicy flavors – and though it’s fairly complex, I instead found this Nicaragua edition of Cohiba to smoke with a pronounced natural sweetness. So if you like your cigars smooth, with a creamy pepper flavor that’s wrapped up in sweet, these Cohibas might be right for you.

 

Cohiba Macassar Cigar Review

By Tommy Zman

Country of Origin: Dominican Republic
Size: Double Corona  (7 ¼” x 54)
Strength: Full
Construction and Overall Appearance: Dark & oily
Draw: Excellent
Base flavors: wood, pepper, spice, espresso, black cherry
Burn / Ash Quality: Solid

cigar advisor essential guide to cohiba - cohiba macassar at famous smoke shop

Summary: Spoiler Alert…in my opinion, THIS is the best Cohiba that the good people at General Cigar create. Okay, now I am obligated to tell you why I feel that way and why I think you’re going to like it.

Make no mistake about it, the Macassar is a super-premium cigar, and while the price point reflects that statement, upon smoking one you’ll instantly come to the same conclusion. The filler tobacco is an interesting combination of Nicaraguan and Dominican goodness that is aged no less than four full years. The binder is a hearty Connecticut broadleaf and that wrapper is a dark and oily Connecticut Habano leaf that is slowly aged for a full year in deliciously fragrant rum barrels.

The pre-light has a pleasant flavor of sweet wood and a sweet, yet a peppery scent when you put your nose to the open foot. Now, this stick is a big boy at 7 ¼ x 54 and what’s awesome is that the flavors change nicely throughout the smoke, making this a hell of a complex treat.

cigar advisor essential guide to cohiba - cohiba macassar review

Right off the back you get a little front-loaded pepper on the tongue, not overpowering, but just enough to let you know you’ve got a flavor bomb on your hands. After about two minutes or so, a sweet wood flavor begins to take over which is sublime and a result of the tobacco aging for twelve months in those rum barrels. Some spice kicks in for that complex sweet and spicy combo and I just can’t put this thing down for even a second. But, it’s about the halfway point where you start to taste espresso and a definite hit of black cherry, which is just stupid delicious.

This really is one of those sticks where you become saddened when it’s done, but after an hour and a half of aged tobacco euphoria, the needle on your satisfaction meter is at its high point. The Cohiba Macassar is indeed a super-premium that is worth your time when celebrating life is beckoning you. Like I said, my favorite of all the Cohibas.

 

Cohiba Red Dot Cigar Review

By John Pullo

Country of Origin: Dominican Republic
Size: Toro Tube (6″ x 50)
Presentation: Tube
Strength:  Medium
Wrapper: Cameroon
Binder: Indonesian Jember
Filler: Cuban-seed Dominican

cigar advisor essential guide to cohiba - cohiba red dot at famous smoke shop

Construction and Overall Appearance: The wrapper is a dark Cameroon; somewhat silky, a little veiny and slightly toothy. The leaf used on this NC Cohiba is very thin, and very delicate; it’s also seriously tasty.
Draw/Pre-light flavor: A straight/guillotine cut reveals just a little resistance. Pre-light flavor is a clean, natural tobacco sensation and a bit of a grassy or wheaty taste – there’s not a lot of intensity to it at all, which I think might be why people believe Cohiba smokes lighter than it really does.
Toasting & Light: Takes the flame easily, with a very mild body on the first few pulls –but a rush of spice comes to the tongue in short order.
Base flavors: Clean, light, grassy, wheaty. As a fun surprise, the mild taste gets a sudden peppery pick-me-up, which comes and goes through the whole smoke. There’s always been an amount of hype about Cohiba having notes of caramel; I disagree – it’s more like honey. Cedar, tea and salt all make an appearance while smoking it.
Retrohale: Being a little milder makes this Toro an easy retrohale, but I feel an exotic spice pops the senses with some zang.
Aroma: Very smooth, very buttery with a hint of sweet tobacco. You certainly won’t be tossed out of a herf or cigar bar for firing this one up – it’s a crowd-pleaser.
Burn / Ash Quality: These Cohibas both burned with a white, tight and solid ash. That tells me two things: the cigars’ construction is excellent, and the soil in which the tobacco was grown was full of nutrients – so you know the plants were taken care of. These are good things.

Summary: When you’re Cohiba, one of the most recognizable cigar brands in world history – you’re expected to do it right, and show up with a rock-solid consistency; yet still provide an easy, laid-back smoke that is tinged with a variety of nuances from start to finish.

The first third of this NC Cohiba has a mild start that’s creamy with a hint of pepper, though it’s really more noticeable than just a hint. Before long a tangy flavor takes over, with a taste that’s somewhat salty.

Second third is when tea and honey flavors start to perk up, along with a woody/cedar sensation. It’s also at this point that this Red Dot bumps up to a more medium bodied cigar, and settles there for the rest of the time I’m smoking it.

cigar advisor essential guide to cohiba - cohiba red dot cigar review

Last third, the cedar notes pop and the whole taste of the cigar gets a little earthy before I have to put it down with an inch to go.

Bottom line: starts mild, and intensifies over the 90 minutes I smoked it; there’s a bit of oomph in there, but never over the top or out of balance. You could pair this Dominican Cohiba with a variety of good drinks – doing so would actually bring even more out of it. Just go light…while Cohiba won’t overpower you, too strong a drink could overpower the cigar. For instance: I’m not a brandy guy (it’s too sweet for my liking), but I’m wondering what would happen if I matched this cigar this with a mellow, less peaty Scotch.

Cohiba cigars are sometimes passed over for fuller smokes…my advice is that if you opt for this non-Cuban Cohiba, take your time and let the flavors develop – as this cigar blossoms with a variety of mellow tastes you might otherwise miss.

 

 

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Ngh To
5 years ago

Thanks for the great article! I can taste the Cohiba while reading the complex favors if it.

Fredric C Foerster
4 years ago

I came looking for Cohiba reviews because I’d gotten some Blues and liked them, so decided I wanted to try the lot. I got some Red Dots next and they ranged from OK to Horrible. Consistency is off the charts and I have read other comments to that effect. I have some Nicaraguas and Blacks coming and I hope they are a better experience with a more consistent smoke. Based on the Red Dots I wouldn’t go any further except I aleady ordered the others and figure the money’s spent. Might as well smoke them. But I’m skeptical now.

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The Cigar Advisor Staff is comprised of three good-humored, yet dangerously unpredictable writers who share over 60 years of premium cigar smoking experience. Traversing the tobacco landscape like smoke-shrouded Avengers, they wander (mostly because the fat one ate the map) in search of new leaf adventures armed with nothing but torch lighters and runcible spoons as their weapons. Each is equally knowledgeable on the matters and pursuits of the cigar lifestyle, with his own unique and capricious insights on various luxury, sports, automobiles and entertainment affairs - all served with good counsel for your reading pleasure.

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