Date Reviewed: March 17th, 2011
Cigar Date: 2007
A gift from a friend… he didn’t have the whole box with him to get the month off of it… but it was an original release purchase in 2007. I had mentioned that I wasn’t extremely fond of the Cohiba maduros… and even I (a self-admitted habanophile) prefer non-Cubans for my maduros (Padron 1964 and 1926 maduros, 601 Blue Label maduros, Oliva V maduros, Fuente Anejos, etc…… shhhh…. don’t tell anyone…). I simply think that other nations have a much better handle on aging and maturity than Habanos, S.A. (HSA).
In semi-protest, he argued that I should try one of the Cohiba maduros with some more age on them… and so gifted me one from his original release stash the next time we met up over poker and drinks! I also selected a unique beer to pair it with yesterday afternoon: last year’s Festbier from Weihenstephaner…
Right off the bat… even when he gifted it to me… I noticed that the wrapper was a bit more dark and oily than newer specimens I’ve seen of the Maduro 5 Genios. It was perfectly triple capped and had some thick veins visible, particularly in the bottom half. Some leathery notes were present in the aromas of the wrapper, but smelling the foot only brought on some mild earthiness and a raw tobacco scent.
After I made my cut… drawing was extremely open and perhaps displayed a little bit of an underfilled quality to it (and I would find out soon enough), but not a ton of flavors were immediately evident without lighting up. I simply got a little bit of dark chocolate on my lips and some earthy characteristics in my mouth.
Upon lighting, though… huge bursts of dark chocolate with some creaminess and sweet cedar notes completely filled my mouth! It was immediately MUCH more flavorful than I remember it being for sure… That said, those chocolate notes faded pretty quickly and left some creamy coffee and earth notes at the forefront of the palate. That sweet cedar was still there, but seemed more on the lips than anywhere else. It was also still a bit underfilled and my ash even started to flower a little bit in the first inch.
As for the beer pairing… this Festbier was a truly great choice for a cigar pairing…… though not the best beer, on the planet, by any stretch! I actually expected it to be a little more of a rich Marzen… but it turns out to taste a lot more like a summer blending if that makes sense. The nose was extremely floral and citrusy… almost like lemon zest and wildflowers.
It attacked with light carbonation and very fruit forward flavors of lemon, oranges and maybe a little peach. The finish is what made this a great pairing beer… it was clean and crisp! A little bit og hops hang on the palate for a moment, but the whole experience was very light and mild. I can’t say this beer knocked my socks of as purely delicious… but I’d certainly consider it to use against a cigar anytime!
Back to the cigar…
Around the middle, I felt like those initial flavors were all still there… but very muted. Almost no more chocolate was coming through, the sweetness on the lips had dissipated and the creaminess wasn’t even around as much… leaving just little bit of a coffee flavor and some major earthiness and some metallic tinge in my jowls. This is more like what I remember the Cohiba maduros to be like… just not quite the flavor bombs I keep hoping them to be…
A little bit of bitterness started comping through a lot more in the back end… but some of the coffee notes got a bit stronger and the chocolate reared its head one last time before it got too warm to keep smoking. I also had another bit of ash flowering (still a bit open and underfilled as well) in the back third, but nothing major and the burn stayed fairly even all the way down.
Final Notes: Perhaps I’ve just come to expect a lot more out of a maduro cigar because of other worldwide regions… but Cohiba maduros just never seem to quite deliver for me. I will certainly admit that the initial chocolaty flavors were fantastic… but they faded so fast and some bitterness was so present at the end, I can’t say I loved this smoke. It was better than the last one I tried for sure… but still not great…… and GREAT is what I expect from a matured Cohiba, ya know?
Aging Notes: That bitterness and the inconsistency of flavors tells me these sticks STILL need a bit more age to come into their own. When they finally settle and refine into their consistent flavor profile… I’m still not sure I’m gonna be blown away…… but I have to keep giving them a shot. If you’ve got some original release sticks, I’d recommend waiting until 2012 to start breaking into the box and tasting to see where they go.