(Size: 4 3/4″ x 52 — Time: 1hr 10mins)
After months of anticipation, Cohiba’s new premium line of cigars, the Behikes, hit the markets in May. I was lucky enough to be at the launch party in London (see previous post) – the first opportunity to try outside of Cuba itself. I’ve been over the back-story of the new Behike line a couple of times before, so won’t do so again – if you missed it before, just click on the link above. They are of course ‘new’ Behikes, with a previous release of ultra-premium cigars going before.
This review is based on three separate experiences of smoking the BHK 52. It’s an expensive cigar, coming in at around £28 per stick in the UK, for something which is essentially robusto sized.
Let’s start with the band. A little showy perhaps, but a thing of beauty I’d have to say personally – I know the ‘showiness’ is a devisive issue amongst many cigar smokers; however, as I remove my bands early on where possible, it is not something which worries me. Interestingly, one of the reasons for the new band was so that two security holograms could be incorporate – a further step by Habanos SA to try and reduce the risk of consumers paying big money for knock-offs. Can you spot the two holograms? As for the cigar itself: the wrapper is a beautiful shade, nice and deep with just a few small veins and a well applied cap. Not bad at all. 14
Smoking Characteristics /25
The aroma, pre-light, was slightly vegetal. It lit nicely first time, and the draw was absolutely perfect from the off. These cigars are well packed, containing lots of tobacco, so it is no surprise that they give off satisfyingly large amounts of smoke. Wonderful! The burn started off straight-and-true. The burn line was crisp and even throughout – something which I absolutely adore, there is nothing I like less than a lot of trouble with touching up, dampening etc to try and keep it well behaved – the BHK 52 has clearly been to a Swiss finishing school… The only, remarkably small, issue which I can bring up is the aroma of the smoke. Not something I’d usually notice – and indeed I didn’t – but when smoking in company it’s always interesting to hear their thoughts. The BHK 52, is not, apparantly, as aromatic as the CAO La Traviata which I enjoyed the day before. 24
With the use of the fabled medio tiempo leaf from the top tobacco plant (the first two primings of specific plants to be exact), the Cubans anticipated the addition of a smooth, flavourful power which would be difficult to balance well by using just ligero for the strength. It works. Straight from the powerful first draw this cigar manages to give you a good medium-to-full body and flavour profile whilst never feeling overpowering. It started off smooth and creamy – my notes from one day described it as a ‘Cohiba on steroids’ – all those great flavours, just with a little extra punch. Maybe because these were pretty much the first shipment, but at around the one-third stage, there were some vegetal flavours coming into the experience. The had a taste which, whilst not unpleasant, certainly felt inconspicuous given the creamy array of other flavours, which included a middle-third providing a wonderful lingering ‘finish’ in the mouth which was sweet and crab-like. As we neared the final third, the intensity of flavours rose again. The creaminess, accompanied by the crab-like sweetness, gave way to far crisper flavours: Aztec style chocolate came to mind – a great combination of cocoa with a slight spiciness too. This too developed as the burn line approached the nub… Just as my fingers were starting to burn, a final twist excited me. The spiciness ramped up a little (not in a harsh, end-of-cigar way), and a great richness came through too, coating the mouth like a fine wine. Complexity and great development mark this cigar out as being potentially phenomenal. For now it will have to settle for great… Maybe with a couple of years on these the slightly out of place vegetal interlude will fade, leaving a cigar worthy of a full 25 marks for flavour? For now… 23
Overall Impression /35
What an incredible cigar this is. Faultless construction, great complexity and as gorgeous as a Victoria’s Secret shoot. A couple of minor flaws, yes, but many of these will probably disappear with a couple of years in the humi – indeed, despite the wonderful tobacco used, one has to acknowledge that these are still young cigars. Of course, a major talking point of any of the BHK cigars will be their price. This little boy comes in at £28… The BHK 56 is slightly more ey-watering. So, unless you are crazy rich, these will be celebration cigars for most people. And what a great way to celebrate. Hopefully the larger vitolas of this line will live up to the promise of the 52, because two and a half hours of this would be very well spent… 32
Grand total… 93/100
UPDATE: (11 June 2014) Since their release, as one might imagine, the Cohiba BHK line of cigars has been a target for counterfeiters. This was in-spite of a raft of security measures (as detailed above). In response to this issues, the authorities have updated these measures. Details of what you should now be looking out for, when current production starts hitting the shelves, can be found here: http://www.cigaraficionado.com/webfeatures/show/id/17649