This post is equal parts cigar review and international tale of intrigue. Well, actually, it’s more crackpot theory that happens to turn into a cigar review at the end. Anyways, the mystery is, what cigar did Brian smoke on the way back from the golf course over the holiday weekend?
The cigar was given to me by some friends who live in my building, fresh from a trip back from an exotic tropical location. (I know it sounds like I’m saying they went to Cuba, but I don’t think they did. I’m actually not sure where they went. Sorry to lead you on like that.) They know I’m really into cigars, and they swapped the cigar for the cookies my very cool wife decided to bake for our neighbors.
I’m no dummy, I immediately did some research. I started out with one of the better sources of counterfeit Cuban cigars I know of, the Cigar Aficionado’s counterfeit Cuban hall of shame. (I recommend you check it out before you try picking one up on your international travels. Also, as Bob and Dale of the Dog Watch Social Club will tell you, make sure you’re buying from a legitimate Habanos S.A. merchant.)
Well from what I can tell, the band is legitimate. So I smoked that baby after a long hard day of five-putting (but hey, my drives have improved and I actually got to experience playing on the fairway for once). And I really enjoyed it.
Case closed, right? Not quite. In doing some research to compile the cigar’s stats, I noticed something disturbing. Sure, the band looks legit, but the pyramid has two bands! Mine only had the one. And it fit very loosely. Take a look at the picture below I pilfered from a Canadian cigar website. Mine did not have the gold and black second band.
Figure 1: The Real Deal.
So it’s fake then, right? Well, maybe. What we have here is a couple of possible scenarios.
1.) It’s Cuban, and the bands were taken off. To facilitate passage through customs, it’s often recommended that people remove the bands from their tasty contraband. If that’s the case, it’s likely that the second band was either lost or forgotten about.
2.) It’s Cuban, and the band fell off. This cigar was, what I like to call, suitcase-pressed. That’s kind of like a box pressed, except the manufacturer has nothing to do with it. It’s generally caused by bumping into books, flip flops and tourist trinkets while hiding out in your luggage. As long as there is a band there, it’s likely that you wouldn’t realize one was missing. This scenario is probably less likely, as it would have to slide off over the other band on the cigar. The pyramid shape makes it hard to slide off the other end.
3.) It probably not a Cuban, and definitely not a Cohiba. In this case, the band was taken from another, possibly smoked, cigar of unknown origin and put on my cigar. This other cigar might be a factory second from Cuba (best case scenario), or some other more available, less expensive cigar.
I think it was scenario 1 or 2, but I can’t rule out unlucky number 3. In this case, the third time is not the charm. Unless it saves me from jail time. But that doesn’t seem a likely concern. 🙂 (Did I say I smoked it? I meant my good friend and Cuban penpal Alberto Hernandez smoked it. We commonly speak of each other as I. It’s a funny inside joke that I haven’t made up yet.)
Anyway, let’s get to why I think mine might have been the real suitcase-pressed deal, the review:
Size: 6 x 52 (Torpedo/Pyramid) (Assuming it’s a Cuban, I didn’t measure it.)
Price Per Cigar: Free! 😀
The first thing I noticed when I held the cigar was that the wrapper felt like velvet. If I wasn’t about to smoke it, I’d want to sleep on it. That immediately altered my impression of its uneven suitcase-pressed appearance. This cigar was a stamp away from looking like road warrior luggage.
I gave it the squeeze test, and it felt pretty uneven too, with some noticeable soft spots. I immediately had concerns that I was in for a less than stellar burn. But I wasn’t about to let that stop me from lighting it up. The cut was nearly perfect, in spite of the inconsistent feel.
Before lit, it had a bit of a honey/farm smell; definitely different than others I’ve smoked.
I was surprised, this cigar did not have significant burn issues. While it didn’t burn even all the time, it did correct itself as it smoked. I didn’t have to touch it up or relight it until the near end. And at that point I should have probably put it down, but I was determined to smoke this until I got blisters on my fingers. Besides, I there wasn’t much else to do on the drive home other than puff and listen to the radio.
Since I was driving the whole time, I didn’t take any notes. But this cigar was memorable enough that I didn’t have to. (And the details I don’t remember, I can always make up. Just kidding. 🙂 ) It started out creamy with a very nice subdued pepper after taste. Very subtle, but I immediately loved it. As I proceeded through the first 3rd and into the second, it picked up a nice amount of cinnamon, almond and the occasional bit of vanilla. The pepperiness went away in the second third, but returned with a tasty amount of molasses in the final 3rd to finish of a delicious cigar.
I encourage you to buy any cigar at this price. Free cigars rule! (Unless it makes you sick, and then it’s just funny! Sorry Jerry, but I still laugh when I think about that review.)
I might have been a bit biased when I smoked it, thinking it was a Cuban. But whatever it was, I really, really enjoyed this cigar. I don’t know what it actually cost my friends to buy, but it was worth it. I made a point to thank them. I believe the phrase I used was “work of art”.
Like It: HELL YEAH!
Buy It Again: YES!
Recommend It: YES!
What Other People Are Saying
Unfortunately, there are not a lot of thorough reviews of this cigar online. At least not many that my Google prowess was able to harvest. I guess that isn’t too surprising with the U.S. embargo!
- A bunch of short user reviews on Cigars Review – The average score for this cigar is 4 out of 5 stars.
- Mentioned on Cigar Aficionado’s Cuban Forums in 2004 – Says it’s good, but should be better in a couple of years. Like now! 🙂
- “The Prince” on Club Stogie holds nothing back on his feelings about a fake Cohiba Pyramid he smoked. – Worth it just for the animated gif! Raises my hopes that my cigar was the real deal.
- Stevejb didn’t care for this cigar – “Tasted like cardboard.”
- Discussion of “Re-branding” of the Pyramid on Brothers of the Leaf
- Discussion of Fake Cohibas on Cuba Mania
My Other Reviews
- CAO Vision Catalyst
- Cuesta Rey 1884 Lonsdale
- CAO Gold Natural
- Diamond Crown Maximus Toro #4
- CAO Sopranos Associate
- Extra Ordinary Larry (Drew Estate Acid)
- Ashton VSG vs. Diamond Crown Maximus Toro
In Memory of My Favorite Cigar Cutter 2003 – 2007
You didn’t cost me a lot, and you didn’t always cut clean, but we had a lot of fun together. If you had to take a fatal spill, I’m glad you had a chance to share this cigar with me first.