[EDIT / NOTE – I actually wrote this review on Feb 25th earlier this year, ahead of my Feb-Mar Havana trip. But, for whatever reason, it looks like it wasn’t published, and I just noticed it sitting in my “Drafts” folder while compiling some other reviews. So, here you go…]
So, in “recovery” mode after last November’s Encuentros Partagas, I decided to indulge a little for some good “me-time”.
This cigar was from a charity auction event from earlier in the year, and as such, I’m not 100% sure of the box code from this sample. My initial plan was to set this aside, and save it for a special event. Well, simply, surviving the monsoon week we had in Havana in November, the digestive issues of a fair few of us, and having my wallet get raped by Customs on my way back, well, frankly, an afternoon to myself to sit back in the hot tub and indulge was enough of a special event for me.
This was my first of these, that I recollect, since I got back into cigars in 2005 or so and started keeping records in a Cigar Dossier (highly recommend it to those who want helpful tasting notes at hand, and are quite simply, uhhhh, anal retentive enough like me to keep up with it, LOL). I think I might have tried a couple of these when they came out, but I’m not 100%, and there’s nothing in my recent notes. So, for all intents and purposes, I was really going into this cigar with a blank slate. Albeit, with some hopes.
A revered cigar – how did it fare?
Reviewed Cigar: Cohiba Piramides EL 2001
Box Date: Unk. (2001-2002 production, 2002 release)
Factory / Manufacture Code: Unk.
Packaging: Came in 25-boxes, varnished semi-boite nature box
Price per cigar: Unk. initial cost, paid $110 or so at the charity auction
Length: 6 1/8″, or 156 mm
Ring Gauge: 52
Weight: Unk. (forgot to weigh this bad boy)
Construction/Appearance & Pre-Light: This cigar was quite nice. A darker wrapper with an ever-so-slight sheen, this cigar actually had a nice, maduro-like-but-silky wrapper. Early Edicion Limitada program cigars were (and sometimes still are) characterized by thick, heavy, fire-retardant wrapper leaves. In the early years of the EL program, it was only the wrapper leaves that were aged for at least 2 years (as opposed to 6-12 months usually), but all EL releases since about 2007, if I recall correctly, have all tobaccos used aged to at least this 2 year mark (my Trinidad Ingenios EL 2007 were part of the start of this).
This cigar’s only real blemish I could find, construction-wise, was one small water spot on the wrapper – and, while it’s noticeable on the darker wrapper, it does NOTHING to affect the performance of the cigar, nor my scoring on construction. The foot itself was also very nicely bunched and arranged, and the colour palate to the rich tobaccos within were wonderful – a great “mixing” evident in there. No hard or soft spots – construction-wise, this thing was in the Goldilocks zone!
After clipping the head, taking some cold draws….mmmm, rich black tea with a honey tinge. Almost a dark element there – old leather perhaps?
Opening Impressions: After a lighting up and initial draws, the opening had a perfect draw and smoke volumes – took to flame and lit well. Light wispy smoke, but fairly potent and powerful – big hits of earth and leather. No “Cohiba-ness” to it at all (not surprising, with the EL thing).
First Third: Into the first third, I noticed that the burn was easily transitioning the burning cigar to darker charcoal-coloured ash, which was somewhat soft and flakey. The smoke wasn’t creamy or overly viscous. Thin smoke, but some decently potent flavours there. Sitting just above the medium mark on boldness, but just below on potency. Some mild black pepper on the retrohale, but lots of leather and earth on the tongue. Some dark black tea in there too.
While the smoke itself was thin, I was still getting big smokey mouthfuls when pulled on. Blue smoke off the burnt end, pure white, almost fog-like smoke on the exhale from the mouth, and mildly-dark grey charcoal ash – this thing was a colour palate.
Second Third: Into the second third, it was continuing along somewhat similarly. Burn was continuing to be fairly wonky, but no so bad as to need a torch correction. Mild leather stepping back now, hmmm….
Big, rich, smokey honey tinges. Almost to a slightly darkened-but-not-quite-burnt caramel tone. Yup – rich, dark, unfiltered, smoke-riddled honey. Man, it blended so nice with the mild leather and earthiness of this cigar.
Almost got hints of old hay, swinging in and out of the dark honey hits – when one faded out, the other one stepped in.
Final Third: Into the final third, similar to the second in burn qualities. Needed to do some torch touch-ups – the burn just wouldn’t find that razor’s edge. The honey and hay sweetness started to subside, and then gave way to a flow right back to the old leather and earthiness, this time accompanied by that dark black tea essence in full stride.
Smoked this puppy right down. Deeee-lish.
Finishing Comments / Overall Impression: This cigar was a treat. A much-needed, wanted, and enjoyed treat. The wonky burn and such deflected a few points, and parts of it were a bit more bland than others, but without that nice, potent perfumy aspect that I find so lovely with aged cigars in the 10-15+ year range. Was hoping to get that with this one, and it lost out on not having that present.
All that said…
Price justification (either for this cigar as a single or as a box currently)???
No, not really. While I was glad to purchase it as some of my planned money outlay at the charity auction, it wasn’t a dollar-performer for me. Still a wonderful experience nonetheless, and whether it cost me $20 or $200 wouldn’t have affected the score allotted for this singular smoking experience. It’s just one to be scratched off the list, so to speak.
While there were some dark honey qualities hiding in the experience, there was no Cohiba-esque-ness (if that’s a word, LOL) to this cigar for me. None of that lemongrass and beaniness to it (vanilla bean, light coffee bean). While there was honey in strides, the leather and earthiness took away from that a bit for me.
And, I have to say, with the overall flavours as it came across my palate, mixed in with the hay tinges, I couldn’t help but think: My gawd, this should be labelled as a Trinidad Piramides!!!
It got me to thinking – now, THAT is a blend that could really work well in a piramides. Amazing that they haven’t done that yet, in adding a pyramid to the Trinidad line – but, then again, it’s perhaps not that surprising given their past actions in butchering the line apart, discontinuing the Trinidad Robustos T that many loved so much (and only after a minimal time on the market), and their current actions in loveless quality control that’s been going on with Trinidad in recent years (its sooooo hard to find decent boxes of Fundadores lately!)
But, a great experience nonetheless, but to see this blend with a Trinidad label on it would strike me as more in keeping than with the Cohiba band.
Final Score: 93
Total Smoking Time: 1 hour and 25 minutes
Date & Time Smoked: November 27th, 2014; lit up at 1:40 pm, done at 3:05 pm
Paired Beverage: El Dorado 12 & Coke
Last Meal: Three cheese hamburger helper, 12:30 pm
Smoking Conditions: Mild wind, overcast, 1 degree Celsius, 73% RH
Thanks for reading my review. Hope you enjoyed it.