Cigar of the Year
Cohiba Behike BHK 52

Cohiba Behike BHK 52

Rank: 1
Rating: 97
Price: £28.70
Made By: El Laguito Factory
Factory Location: Cuba
Dimensions: 4 3/4" by 52 ring gauge
Filler: Cuba
Binder: Cuba
Wrapper: Cuba
Strength: Medium

In 2010, which will likely go down as the year of the Cuban cigar, we smoked many fine Havana-made smokes, from majestic double coronas to bracing robustos, and found the quality of Cuban cigars to be at its best since the mid-1990s. And no cigar from Cuba—or from anywhere else for that matter—impressed our tasting panel as much as the Cohiba Behike BHK 52.

This is a classic cigar. The shortish, fat smoke, made with an artful pigtail and clad in gorgeous Colorado wrapper of reddish brown, is a phenomenally rich, delicious smoke that more than lives up to the reputation of cigars with the name Cohiba. It is the finest cigar to come out of Cuba in a long time, and Cigar Aficionado's top cigar of 2010.

A new cigar that was unveiled in February 2010 at the Habanos Festival in Cuba, the Behike BHK 52 has made its way to markets around the world since its launch in London in May. It is the thinnest in a trio of new sizes, all of which have tidy little pigtail caps and names that include their ring gauges.

The Behike BHK 52 is a petit robusto, a size known as a Laguito No. 4 in Cuban cigar factories, and it wowed our tasting panel from the get-go. In a vertical brand tasting in the June 8 Cigar Insider the BHK 52 scored 94 points, the best of a trio that includes the BHK 54 and the very fat BHK 56. The 52 has remained delicious ever since, performing admirably in taste test after taste test as they have sold out in world markets.

Cohiba has long been a marquis name in Cuban cigars. This new smoke has done what no special release Cohiba has done before: win critical acclaim as well as commercial success. The original Cohiba Behike from 2006 was unavailable to nearly all smokers—only 4,000 cigars were released at a price of $400 or more per cigar. The Cohiba Siglo VI Grand Reserva debuted in 2009 at a price of about £85 ($130), with only 75,000 cigars produced. The Behike BHK 52 combines the excitement of those rare Cohibas with a much larger production goal—150,000 in 2011. The Cuban cigar industry will continue to make batches of it every year in the stately El Laguito factory.

Cohiba Behike BHK cigars are made with a portion of filler tobacco known as medio tiempo, a type of sun-grown tobacco leaf that grows at the top of some, but not all tobacco plants. The cigars show great balance even in youth, with a medium to full body, creamy coffee flavors and some earthiness. They show elements of Cuban cigars of old, and should get even better with age—if you can be patient.