Origin : Cuba
Format : Robusto
Size : 124 x 19.84 mm
Box code : April 2009
Weight : 11.66 g
Price : ~$265 for a box of 25 (if bought in Cuba)
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Perhaps one of the more reviewed cigars has to be the Cohiba Robusto. I find that smokers of this cigar either love it or hate it with no real in-between. I for one don’t like all my cigars to taste the same and look to different brands and varieties to keep my interest. What good would only drinking your favorite bottle of wine be? At some point the anticipation of enjoying that glass of wine or, in this case, that cigar would be lost. This is why I ensure my humidor always has cigars with different flavor profiles and vitolas. This particular sample came from a batch that was brought back to me from Cuba by a vacationing friend back in 2009. With a box date of April 2009, this cigar is ready for smoking. Being one of my favorite robustos, I’ve smoked many of these over the years. For the purpose of this review though, I was sure to pay special attention to why this robusto has become a must have in my humidor. Having been a fairly regular smoker of this cigar for the last 10 years or so, it has been my experience that this cigar does benefit from a little age and, at 3 years, becomes very smokeable. Younger samples tend to be a tad bitter as you approach the center of the cigar and that bitterness lingers. I find that a little age does it well in that regard.
Appearance : (4.75)
The cigar sports the iconic COHIBA band with raised gold lettering and the label that we have always come to know as “The” Cuban cigar. A perfectly applied triple cap tops this medium brown cigar. In my view, 2009 was the start of better constructed cigars out of Cuba. The cigar has some give to it when lightly squeezed and as such I expect an effortless draw. Deduction was for the veins that appeared quite thick and the sample I smoked had a water spot near the foot. Pre-light aroma was woodsy and earthy. The foot had a very pleasing natural tobacco aroma with hints of leather and cedar. Pre-light draw was easy and provided cedar and earthy tones.
I used a straight cut for this cigar as I do about 90% of the time. This cigar had the best burn of any cigar I've had in recent memory. It was perfect during the entire 55-60 minutes smoking time. No touch-ups were needed. It was a joy to smoke a cigar and never once need a touch-up. The draw was perfect as I had expected, with the cigar burning beautifully. The smoke remained cool. I had no construction issues with this cigar. The ash remained firm with no flaking.
Flavor : (4.75)
The first few draws greet you with a very peppery blast with hints of cedar and leather. Great white clouds of 'creamy' smoke. It screamed "Cuba" with that unmistakable Cuban aroma. The first third provides flavors of cedar, leather with an earthy finish. There are some cracked pepper notes on my palate with a long and pleasing finish. The peppery hints lingered at the back of my tongue, never overpowering the well-balanced earthy notes.
The pepper hints slowly subsided as I made my way through the first third; salty notes started to enter the flavor profile. By the end of the first third a pleasant saltiness remained on my lips with sweeter cocoa notes emerging. The hints of cracked pepper decreased but remained mildly present, subtle enough to be noticeable but light enough to let the flavors of the cigar shine through.
I like cigars with thick smoke output and this one didn't disappoint in that regard. The smoke output remained thick and consistent. The burn was impeccable. The ash was grey/tanned white in appearance and held firm until almost the halfway mark. There was a beautiful layering in the ash's appearance indicative of exceptional construction.
As I entered the second third of the cigar I started to pick up some sweeter notes with hints of dried fruit and toasted nuts. Some black cherry and slight citrus were picked up on my palate with the finish being sweeter and somewhat creamier.
The second third offered a perfect balance of salt and sweetness underneath the primary woodsy, leathery and earthy notes. The hints of cracked pepper faded as I entered the final third. There was an ever so slight bitterness like that of dark chocolate near the halfway mark but this did not last long, quickly evolving into a pleasant espresso like flavor. Smoke output remained full and thick.
For me, the final third is where this cigar shined, going to an entirely different level. The smoke was rich, oily and almost honey-like. Hints of black cherry, citrus and cocoa blended nicely with the primary cedar and leather notes of the cigar.
These flavors remained perfectly balanced and at times it really felt like every puff was offering something different. Either I got the earthiness with a sweet finish or a sweet citrus and cocoa mouthful with an earthy/leathery finish. The complexity was very noticeable and kept my interest.
If smoked slowly enough this cigar can surely be "nubbed" without any harsh bitterness and that is exactly what I did. I managed to nub this cigar, keeping my puffs regularly spaced near the end without getting any bitterness or heat that one gets by forcing a cigar longer than one should. The band came off without effort.
Value : (4.25)
There is often talk about how pricey Cohibas are and in fairness, unless purchasing them in Cuba where they still cost roughly $265.00 per box of 25 (I recently re-stocked 3 months ago in Cuba and managed to get an April 2011 box of 25 for $265.00) most people outside of Cuba will pay significantly more for this cigar. As such, using the Cuban price, the value is exceptional for the quality you get. I understand, however, that outside of Cuba these cigars can get quite pricey. For example here in Canada, they range from $575 to over $750 per box of 25 depending on the vendor (thanks to our hefty tobacco taxes). It would be irresponsible of me to suggest you pay $30.00 for this robusto. There are really good cigars on the market that sell for a fraction of the price, however there are very few stogies that give you the perfect cigar experience that the Cohiba Robusto always gives me. If you can get this cigar for a reasonable price like $10.00 -$15.00 then, by all means, get a few.
I am always rewarded with a perfectly complex, balanced and constructed cigar. Now keep in mind I’m basing the value rating of this cigar on the price I paid, which was the Cuban tag (which still makes it quite expensive, almost double the price of another top rated Cuban robusto, the Partagas Series D No. 4). Had I rated a sample purchased here in Canada, my rating would have definitely been lower because the price associated with owning these cigars can be quite high. I am convinced that many of the poorer ratings of this cigar are somehow connected to the hefty price tag attached them which is fair given that there are better things to spend one’s money on than over-priced cigars. However, finding a good source, asking travelling friends or visiting Cuba yourself as is easy and quite inexpensive for me, being Canadian, is what allows me to regularly stock up on these. Not everyone has that luxury, which is understandable, but the price should not detract from the actual cigar experience when it comes to taste and overall flavor profile which I found to be, and have for the last 10 years that I have been smoking the Cohiba Robusto, consistent and pleasing.
Overall Rating : (4.75)
Overall, the cigar was very complex, starting with a hit of cracked pepper over deep woodsy and earthy notes that evolved perfectly into cocoa, dried fruit, citrus and leathery notes with a subtle offering of cedar. The smoke output was full, rich and had a velvety texture to it. All of this was perfectly complimented by an ever so subtle salt on the lips.
I am a fan of this vitola. The Hoyo de Monterrey Epicure No.2 and Partagas Series D No. 4's are unique and exceptional in their own way and are right up there with the Cohiba Robusto as my three preferred robustos. However where the Epicure is lighter in strength and is a somewhat sweeter cigar and the Partagas can often be a tighter packed cigar offering less woodsy notes, the Cohiba Robusto, at least in my view, has a perfect draw, is not as sweet or loosely rolled as the Hoyo and is not as firmly packed or peppery than the Partagas. It almost strikes a beautiful balance of the two. When I want sweet and light I reach for the Hoyo. When I want peppery and strength I reach for the Partagas and when I want that woodsy medium to full body strength I reach for the Cohiba.