The Essential Cohiba Cigars Tasting Guide
By the Cigar Advisor Staff
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. Today, we’ll explain why – as all 4 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.
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…
Cohiba Red Dot Cigar Review
By John Pullo
Cigar Name: Cohiba Red Dot
Country of Origin: Dominican Republic
Size: Toro (6″ x 50)
Filler: Cuban-seed Dominican
Binder: Indonesian Jember
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.
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.
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 whisky.
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.
Cohiba Nicaragua Cigar Review
By Fred Lunt
Cigar Name: Cohiba Nicaragua
Country of Origin: Dominican Republic
Size: N5.5 x 54 Robusto
Wrapper: Sun grown Colorado Oscuro, Honduras
Binder: Nicaraguan, Jalapa
Filler: Nicaraguan, Esteli and Jalapa
Paired with: Water
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.
After initial puffs a peppery flavor comes into play, slight tingle on the tongue.
Starting on medium.
Creamy, thick smoke.
With progression, a subtle charred wood flavor.
2/3, pepper coming back with a bit more intensity, nice notes of cedar wood and creamy, a subtle sweetness still lingering.
3/3 smokes became very savory, ultra-smooth. Toasty flavor from the beginning has come back with slight vanilla hint.
Not spicy or uber-strong like most Nicaraguans
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.
Cohiba Nicaragua N.5 comes in a stout 5 ½ 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.
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 Black Cigar Review
By Gary Korb
Cigar Name: Cohiba Black
Country of Origin: Dominican Republic
Size: Robusto (5½” x 50)
Wrapper: Connecticut Broadleaf Maduro
Filler: Dominican Piloto Cubano & Mexican (Aged 3 years in palm tercios)
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.
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.
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 Macassar Cigar Review
By Tommy Zman
Cigar Name: Cohiba Macassar
Country of Origin: Dominican Republic
Size: Double Corona (7 ¼” x 54)
Construction and Overall Appearance: Dark & oily
Base flavors: wood, pepper, spice, espresso, black cherry
Burn / Ash Quality: Solid
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.
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.