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Wives, Smoking and Cohibas

The combination doesn't always click, even for the head of a major Cuban cigar factory
James Suckling
From the Print Edition:
Tom Berenger, July/Aug 2007

I am still surprised to hear so many guys say that they can't smoke at home because their wife or girlfriend won't let them. Even some of the most successful and macho dudes I know are banished to their porches, their cars or their backyards to enjoy the pleasures of the leaf. I am honestly not sure what to say, other than I share their pain.

I still remember when I just started smoking fine cigars in the early 1980s and I visited cigar merchant Edward Sahakian in London at his Davidoff shop in the West End with my first wife, and I asked him what I should smoke because she didn't like the smell of cigars. He said, "The only thing you can do is change your wife." I took his advice. We were divorced a short time later, obviously for other reasons, as well, but it makes a nice story.

I have been married twice. And smoking at home was a factor in my last marriage. I was pretty sure the whole thing was over after I arrived at our home in England and she told me that I couldn't smoke in the house anymore. I, too, had been banished to the environs of the garden. Whatever happened to the idea of a man and his castle, I thought to myself as I smoked outside in the dark on a cold autumn's night in the depths of northern England? It's no longer an issue now that I am single.

But we punished cigar smokers, past, present and future, should feel a little better after what I am about to tell you. How would you like to be the head of what is perhaps the greatest cigar factory in the world and you can't smoke in su casa? Yes, you make none other than the great Cuban Cohiba at the legendary factory of El Laguito in Havana, and your old lady won't let you smoke at home. In fact, the whole family doesn't want you to smoke. Feel better?

That's what Rafael Collazo Cabrera, 58, the new head of El Laguito, who formerly ran such factories as Héroes de Moncada and Romeo y Julieta, told me last fall during a quick visit and interview. I think we should smoke a cigar in his honor, or perhaps in protest. Qué lástima! What a pain for the man.

Luckily, Collazo confided to me, he's able to light up occasionally behind closed doors in his office, and his favorite cigar—surprise, surprise—is a Cohiba. He likes all the sizes, including, in a pinch, the Lancero. I am with him 100 percent on that one. What would you do if you could smoke whatever Cohiba you wanted every day? I probably would go for the Siglo VI, but I wouldn't mind a Lancero, Robusto or anything else in the brand. Maybe it is a good thing the guy doesn't smoke at home after all? Too much of a good thing...

I love smoking Cohiba. I will admit it. It's the brand as much as the quality of the smoke. It's the same buzz buying fashion labels, or watch brands, or car marques. But it's a consumable product, like first-growth Bordeaux such as Latour or Margaux, or Beluga caviar. The brand is important, but the quality has to be the very best of its kind. No one would pay a premium for Latour or Margaux if the reds were not some of the best in the world. And nobody would buy and smoke Cohiba if the cigar was not fabulous.

Granted, bad Cohibas do exist and I have had my fill over the last two decades. Most had a problem with drawing. I couldn't smoke them because they had a twisted bunch. It was mostly with the thin cigars in the range such as the Lancero and Corona Especiale. My other bad experiences with the brand have come when someone slipped me a fake Cohiba and I didn't notice. But such an occurrence is pretty rare.

Nevertheless, Cohibas are the most faked of all cigars. They are mostly the Churchill-sized Espléndido (7 inches by 47 ring gauge) and Lancero (7 by 38), which is why I think that many aficionados no longer smoke these sizes. They are afraid that the cigars they are buying are fake. Moreover, they don't want others to think that they buy fake cigars—even if the cigar is real!


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Comments   1 comment(s)

ROBERT BIDO — CLIFFSIDE PARK, NEW JERSEY,  —  January 30, 2011 7:10am ET

Cohiba edicion limitada 2004 piramides, Are these cigars from cuba real or fake

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