Connoisseur's Corner: Honoring 50 Years Of Cohiba
As Cuba prepared to honor 50 years of Cohiba, its most famous cigar brand, we at Cigar Aficionado looked into our humidors to smoke some older versions to see how they had aged. The cigars did not disappoint. A box of Lanceros, the original size, dating back to around 1982 were first up. The white box seemed out of place, the cellophaned cigars bearing the familiar yellow, black and white bands, but in the older, modified pattern of dots rather than squares. The cigars were remarkably vibrant for their age, showcasing classic flavors of earth, coffee bean, chalk and honey. (See a video of the cigars being smoked.) A pirámide-shaped Cohiba taken from a ceramic jar made for the millennium celebration proved almost as delicious. Both were classics.
Cohiba Lancero (circa 1982)
Plucked from a white box from the early commercial days of Cohiba, this well-aged smoke surprised me with its bold start. The decades have been kind, leaving the slim cigar with a robust earthy quality and a distinct minerality. The burn is nearly perfect. Austere at first, a honeyed sweetness emerges later, with a backbone of roasted coffee beans and a chalky note on the finish. A classic smoke from Cuba’s most famous cigar brand.
Cohiba Millennium Reserve (2000)
This special-edition Cohiba, in a torpedo shape, still packs quite a punch. It has a central core of earth and leather, with a long earthy finish and a bit of pepper on the mid-palate. With more than 15 years of age, this cigar still offers a complete package, with a good balance of flavors and intensity.
Juan Lopez Selección No. 2 (1995)
After spending more than 20 years in a cabinet, there are still plenty of oils left on the wrapper of this robusto. It’s become very toasty and rich with a dried fruit and fig paste sweetness. Picks up a nuttiness redolent of chestnuts and pecans. An elegant smoke that’s been sweetened with time.
Quai d’Orsay Imperiales (1988)
This big cigar from one of Cuba’s lesser-known brands has a zippy start, showing some honeyed wood and a touch of spice, despite it being nearly 30 years old. It mellows as it is puffed, taking on notes of slate and gritty earth. A cedary note emerges, along with some hints of graham cracker. Pleasant and medium bodied.
Ramon Allones Specially Selected (1995)
A chunky, toothy cigar with a pleasantly dark wrapper taken from a dress box of 25. It has a full, opulent draw and a robust earthy character to start. There’s a faint, earthy sweetness smacking of raisin, with a dry-wood finish. The dry note persists, while the sweetness doesn’t grow, but nevertheless it’s a pleasant smoke with a medium body.
Punch Royal Selección No. 11 (1995)
This slim, unbanded Punch, taken from a cabinet of 25, has a rather mellow and somewhat lackluster start. It’s quite dry, with a big minerality, some earthy qualities and a dry-wood character. The cigar has a smooth, effortless draw, and is very well made, but it never takes on the big flavors one expects from the Punch brand.