You only need to mention the name Cohiba and opinions are divided.

Some begin to reminisce, others roll their eyes, and still others are not interested at all. Particularly recently, passionados have been heard talking again in the cigar lounges of this wondrous world. Not only behind closed doors have some people dropped their relationship with a cigar, and as so often, the trigger has been money and the disdainful mammon. Hardly anyone has been spared the latest price increase of Cuban cigars. And so, welcome to our literary smoking salon to a joint tasting of a very special kind. Admittedly, today’s tasting will not be without harsh reality, and yet, as always, we will strive for objectivity.

For many years, or rather many decades, it was considered the cigar par excellence. Cohiba was the measure of all things and the Cohiba Robusto was the Robusto of Robustos, the prototype, the benchmark, the epitome of good taste, an absolute institution and a common denominator on which everyone could agree. But as times change, so do tastes, perceptions, and, not least, price tags; and with price comes change. This brings us to the crucial question and the crux of the matter. The question we want to ask ourselves today is simply whether the Cohiba Robusto is still worth its valuation and whether our own perception of the cigar has changed since the international cost was raised to the price level of Hong Kong. As an exception, I as the author am allowed to address you directly, but in preparation for this text, it was already a considerable experience to visit my trusted tobacconist and to put EUR 340.00 on the counter for five Robustos (EUR 68.00 each in Austria). At that moment, particularly the urgency of the question of my own objectivity arose. Because to honor the truth, I would probably never spend that much money on five Robustos.

Now that this fact is openly on the table, we can finally devote ourselves to our tasting. So, grab a Cohiba Robusto and join me on this short journey through the world of yesterday, which perhaps also seems eternally outdated at times. We will see.

I have opted for a straight cut, a classic cut for a classic cigar. The Cohiba Robusto sits tightly rolled between my fingers. The cold draw reveals the typical Cohiba aroma of leather, earth and what can probably only be described as a Cuban aroma. One that can be discerned from a hundred cigars. The cold draw is already often the first hurdle, because if you’re unlucky, the draw behavior of many a Cuban beauty is somewhat restrained, to say the least. But I am lucky, and the cold draw seems almost perfect. Like all cigars rolled in the entubado style (a traditional Cuban rolling method), the Cohiba Robusto lights quickly, and the first puffs reveal a spicy, creamy density that plays on the palate. It’s always amazing how uniquely terroir can affect a cigar. Because you really only find this flavor in Cuban cigars. It is this blend of strength and cream, paired with a very special minerality. The first puffs of the Cohiba Robusto are characterized by this aroma. An author once very aptly spoke of “tamed Cuban wildness.” A truly excellent description!

So the first third starts very typically of the country’s cigars and notes of coffee gradually join in. Pay attention to the bitter nuances in the background. These are also reminiscent of coffee. With a longer aging time of about five years, this bitterness would of course turn into sweetness. But even so, it makes for an extremely interesting smoke. Towards the end of the first third, one can retronasally detect the scent of freshly baked bread and – with a lot of imagination – even some vanilla. It’s best you put your cigar down for a bit at this point; it has earned a break.

After the break, you notice that this Cuban “institution” is not as mild to medium-bodied as one is accustomed to. In the second third, the Cohiba Robusto clearly increases in strength, which, however, is good for it. Just like the subtle pepper note, which can only be sensed upon second, if not third, observation. There’s also a hint of chocolate. It’s recommended to smoke this cigar particularly slowly, as entubado-style cigars are generally rolled a bit tighter. The trick here is to adjust the pace so that the cigar just stays alight. This way, you avoid hot smoking and can approach the flavors perfectly. Wood flavors especially don’t like heat at all.

In the final third, leather aromas emerge once again, combined with some earth and chocolaty coffee. There’s also a hint of pepper. And at the end, a final sip of bitter chocolate awaits.

After this somewhat brief “guide” through the course of the smoke, however, let’s turn to the most important question, that of value for money. Perception definitely changes due to the price increase, that much I can say. Unless you’re used to spending over EUR 60.00 on your cigars, this new price makes for a very special experience. Even if you’ve smoked the cigar before – this awareness is hard to turn off. But is this cigar worth the new price?

This question can be answered from two different angles. From an economic point of view, the new price is absolutely justified; supply and demand increase the price. From that point of view, this pricing policy is of course completely understandable.

On the other hand, however, there’s the fact that due to the increased prices, the production method will probably not really change. So there will certainly still be problems with draw, and we will still have to store cigars for years before they give us the promised smoking pleasure. And here the question is legitimate as to whether the price of over EUR 60.00 seems justified.

I personally, for my part, can answer this question quite simply. Although I have definitely smoked a really great cigar here, to me it’s certainly not worth EUR 68.00. For me, there are equivalent and also better cigars available for much less money, the processing of which is also much more accurate.

Fortunately, my word is not authoritative. Tastes will still vary, and so the myth of the Cuban cigar will continue to accompany us. It will stir up and delight minds and continue to provide material for conversations and heated discussions. Because at the end of the day, a Cohiba may be a myth, but it’s still just a cigar. And that’s a good thing.

Klaus Hruby learned his trade as a journalist at a young age and published articles in various media such as Die Zeit, Der Falter, as well as in renowned literature competitions in German-speaking countries. His love for cigars was ignited during his apprenticeship; his great-grandfather still owned a tobacco field. Klaus Hruby has been writing Austria’s biggest cigar blog, www.derblauedunst.com, since 2014.




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