Origin : Cuba
Format : Petit Robusto
Size : 119 (4.7”) x 20.64 mm
Ring : 52
Price : In Cuba $18.50 (Other Parts of the World, $30.00 -$45.00)
In 2010, Cohiba officially unveiled perhaps one of its more exclusive cigars ever. The cigar received extensive reviews at the time of release ranging from over-priced to the best cigar the reviewer had ever tasted. I understand that whenever a cigar is priced in the highest end of the price range for a particular product, there will often be resentment associated with that. However, the fact they are priced in the “exclusive” end is perhaps why they are consistently sold out even two years after their release. Although we can still call this cigar new to the scene, it really isn’t all that new to the aficionado anymore because anyone with a passion for Cuban cigars knows very well about the story behind these cigars and their desire among smokers and collectors alike. One of the best cigars to come out of Cuba in a long time is also one of the most, if not THE most expensive to come off the Island and as a result, people will have varying opinions, often wrongly, because of that price tag.
What makes the Behike so special is that unlike many other Cubans, this cigar, for all intent and purpose really needs no aging in large part due to the fact that the cigar is essentially constructed with aged tobacco. For example, the filler is made up of tobacco known as medio tiempo which is a sun-grown leaf that grows at the top of tobacco plants. Not all tobacco plants produce this leaf though but it is known to be full-bodied and loaded with coffee-like flavors with a very creamy texture to the smoke. Essentially, this leaf has elements of tobacco leaf that has already been aged and, even with young medio tiempo, one can detect the same creamy, earthy and coffee-like flavors of a well-aged cigar. The BHK comes in 52, 54 and 56 which corresponds to their respective ring gauges and, once stabilized for humidity, can be smoked “out of the box”.
I’ve been lucky enough to obtain 2 boxes both from Cuba and at Cuban pricing. The first one, bearing a box date of October 2011, was brought back for me in early December of 2011 from a vacationing friend. At 180 Cuban Pesos per cigar, the 10-count box worked out to 18.00 Cuban Pesos per stick. With an exchange rate to the Canadian dollar being almost equal, we can fairly say that these cigars were roughly $18.00 each. The second box was purchased for me in June of 2012 and they carried a box date of May 2012. Again, I placed the order through a vacationing friend and that second box cost me 183.00 Cuban Convertible Pesos or roughly $185.00 Canadian dollars for a 10 count box ($18.50 each cigar).
These cigars sell out fast wherever they are, indicating that the price is not keeping people from indulging in the pleasure. I’ll comment some more about this later. First, however, let’s talk about these cigars of which I have 1 box left, having smoked the last one out of my first box just a few weeks ago.
Appearance : Rating:
This cigar is simply beautiful. It has a virtually seamless wrapper and while there is some veining present, it is absent of any distracting ones. The cigar is firm and evenly packed with no detectable soft spots. The beautiful band has two security holograms on it. Truly, this cigar, along with the very lush packaging looks the part. The band is meticulously applied to the cigar and comes off with relative ease so as not to damage the cigar in any way. The Behike has a pigtail and a very inviting sheen to the wrapper that is just a tad darker/redder than a colorado shade leaf. The cigars come in a lacquered box which itself comes in a velvet pouch. Very nice. The box is sealed magnetically and I currently use my empty box as a dry box on my desk where I normally place the cigars I intend to smoke in the next 24 hours. With a humidity pouch, these boxes can also be used as a travel humidor in which you can place a few sticks for a weekend getaway or a week long trip.
Construction : Rating:
As I indicated above, the Behikes are meticulously crafted. From the elegant pigtail to the perfect cuts at the foot to the perfectly applied triple cap. The cigar is put together by Cuba’s best rollers and it certainly shows. The draw of the cigar was perfect. Just the perfect amount of resistance and every draw yielded clouds of thick, velvety smoke. The burn was exceptional and having smoked 10 now, I can say that they are very consistent in this regard. I can’t seem to recall ever having to touch these up and most certainly they never required a re-light of any kind. Having rated appearance and construction at a perfect 5, it now boils down to the main reason why we smoke cigars; to immerse ourselves in a relaxing stimulation of the senses and to enjoy pleasant flavors that only fine cigars can offer. So, none of the construction or appearance ratings matter if the cigar doesn’t taste good. With that said, here’s what I feel about the BHK 52.
Flavor : Rating:
I’ve smoked cheap cigars that tasted fantastic and I’ve smoked expensive cigars that tasted like wet sod wrapped in spent cigarette wrappers. It is fair to say that I don’t think anyone who smokes this cigar will be disappointed. I can honestly say that for the first time in a long time, smoking the Behike BHK 52 actually stimulated all 5 of my senses at the same time combining everything into an excellent 70 minutes experience. Even after smoking 10 of them, my experience never changes.
The cigar starts with a very creamy, velvety smoke that leaves a very pleasant sheen on your palate that never disappears. The smoke output from the moment you light it never changes, remaining consistently thick and creamy.
The initial flavors are woodsy with some very pleasant earthiness and slight coffee flavors. You can say that they are typical of the high quality Cohibas however there is an added dimension to these cigars on lighting them that can easily be detected. Prerhaps it is the fact that they are so smokeable right out of the box. There is just a hint of pepper on the finish and a perfectly balanced saltiness on the lips that helps marry the flavors.
By the time the first third of the cigar is finished, you’ve already gone through some very complex flavors that many cigars lack during their entire smoking time. I picked up hints of vanilla, cocoa, earth, cedar and some slight citrus, all coming and going all the while having that pleasant saltiness on the lips that only a Cuban cigar can offer. The spice was always there but neatly packed away at the back of the palate and never getting in the way of the enjoyment of the cigar.
The second third of the cigar continues to give me something different with each draw. The primary flavors remain chocolaty, woodsy and coffee but there are always hints of flavour coming into the profile. At this point I start to pick up hints of citrus, vanilla and the occasional sweetness similar to that of a thick cocoa or a perfectly brewed espresso with the right amount of crema on top. So many flavors but yet so perfectly balanced.
I start to detect some leather notes as I approach the halfway point of the cigar with some very creamy smoke. I liken the smoke to the foam of a perfectly made cappuccino. Thick, velvety and flavourful; I wouldn’t say that it is caramel-like but more of a textured, creamy smoke. It is a very pleasant texture indeed.
The cigar continues to provide very complex and extremely pleasing flavours right until the very end. Trying to break down each third is pointless for such a fine and deeply complex cigar because it is constantly evolving as you smoke it.
This cigar takes you on a very pleasant journey. What starts as a slightly woodsy cigar, reminiscent of the Cohiba brand as we know it, turns into a cigar that offers the occasional hint of orange peel, coffee, and semi-sweet chocolate. Some very sweet flavors that are occasionally mixed in with some spots where one can pick up some unsweetened coffee, dark chocolate, leather and cedar. The transition from sweetness to the occasional pleasant bitterness is seamless and very well blended. The bitterness isn’t a disturbing bitterness but more like the flavors one gets from a quality dark chocolate or unsweetened espresso, however the slight hints of vanilla and citrus magnificently balance it all.
The spice is pure Cohiba. You know it’s there, it is clearly detectable in the finish but never gets in the way of the enjoyment of the cigar. There is just enough of it and exactly when the cigar needs it. I have been smoking cigars for 20 years and I can honestly say that I have had maybe 5 brands that had such a complex flavour profile with a seemingly perfect blend and transition.
As I said at the outset, this cigar truly utilizes all 5 of your senses. First and most importantly, the taste is something that once you smoke one, you never forget. You are constantly challenging your palate trying to pick out that next enjoyable flavour note. All the while you can hear that cigar burning with every draw as your eyes remain fixed on those thick white clouds of creamy smoke, that is, if you can take your eyes off the beautiful band that graces the cigar. Finally, if tasting, listening, looking and smelling the experience isn’t enough, you will be more than pleased with the perfect balance of this very well constructed cigar. You can feel its flawless construction and perfect balance in your hand while taking in all that this cigar has to offer. It is truly an aficionado’s experience and such a pleasure to see Cuba putting out a true standout. I can’t find one negative about this cigar’s flavour profile.
Value : Rating:
This is perhaps the most debatable aspect of this review and any review for that matter. What is value after all? Many will despise the cigar simply because of the price. There is no way that they will spend so much money on 1 cigar yet those same people will surely hunt out the best bottle of wine or spirit of their choice. There is admittedly a trap when reviewing something so expensive. It is easy to simply love the cigar because you are getting a chance to smoke something so exclusive and pricey in an attempt to justify the price tag.
I find myself asking why some people spend extra money on the “better” bottle of wine, or on the XO cognac or the scotch with more age to it? It’s simple. Because we want the best that our money can buy. I don’t begrudge anyone for buying Louis XIII Cognac if they can afford to, nor do I begrudge anyone for buying a bottle of Glenfiddich Royal Salute 21 year old scotch or a bottle of Johnny Walker Blue. It’s because those that do, like what they are spending their money on and don’t mind paying that little bit extra to ensure that they enjoy their experience.
Sure, this cigar does not fall into every smoker’s budget but neither are any of the aforementioned spirits. That doesn’t necessarily make those products “poor value”. When assessing Value, I like to ask myself if what I just enjoyed was worth the money spent. In that regard, and of course taking into consideration that my BHK 52’s were purchased in Cuba, the answer is an un-resounding “yes”. Would I pay $40.00 for one? Absolutely, but not in the same quantity but certainly for that moment when I truly want to sit down and know that I am about to experience something special.
Now I understand that not every smoker will be able to get these cigars at Cuban prices but not every drinker of fine spirits can get their hands on duty free liquor either but they continue to spend money on what they perceive to be the best their money can buy and if the best your money can buy includes a BHK 52 then I don’t have a problem with that.
All in all, value is perceived as being worth the price of admission. A cigar can have tremendous value but taste horrible. A great tasting cigar might not be worth the money spent on it because there are better cigars available for the price. However, the Behike, price tag aside, is perhaps the best cigar I have smoked in the last 10 years or so and for that reason alone, it was worth every cent. As a smoker, I received excellent value for my cigar experience.
When assessing value we must also consider the market that this cigar is manufactured for. Therefore as I noted, It was worth every cent because the experience I had from smoking it was exactly what I have been waiting for from a cigar for a very long time and is unique to anything else out there on the market.
Overall Rating : Rating:
In conclusion, it’s easy to say that I’ve fallen into the trap of trying to justify such an expensive cigar however I can equally state that some critics of the cigar are basing their experience on the price tag too. Remember, I absolutely despised the Alec Bradley Prensado, despite the fact that it was named the cigar of the year and at the time seemed it was in style to simply like that cigar as a result without dissecting it. Those Prensado Churchill cigars aren’t cheap here in Canada after our taxes are included into the pricing and easily exceed $20.00 a cigar. The point is that notwithstanding the price tag, the BHK 52 is worth every cent paid for it and truly offers an aficionado a glimpse into the world of what a cigar was meant to taste like. Not unlike some of the higher end Padron Series of cigars, this cigar is meant to cater to the true aficionado that loves a quality cigar and is willing to pay for the experience. It is really a very unique and rewarding experience. It’s like sipping a sniffer of Louis XIII de Rémy Martin Cognac or enjoying a bottle of the best red wine on the wine list at your favorite fine dining establishment. You do it because you want to enjoy your experience.
I certainly wouldn’t call this cigar an “every day” smoke because of its price but then again, in the real world, Louis XIII de Rémy Martin Cognac or the best red on the list aren’t daily drinking spirits either. However, this cigar, like those fine spirits, is there for those times when you want to relax and take yourself on a magnificent 70 minute journey of the senses. The best part is, you know what you are going to get for your money because the consistency that accompanies this cigar’s profile and construction s simply astounding.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this review. Please feel free to leave your comments below.