Size: Très Petit Corona 4.0″ x 40 ring
Cohiba is one of the most famous cigar brands in the world. Thanks to the United States trade embargo with Cuba and General Cigar’s appropriation of the trademark in the US market, it is also a brand name surrounded by a lot of confusion. There are a surprising number of people out there including some who consider themselves “cigar smokers” that fail to understand that the famous Cohiba, the Cuban version, in no way shape or form is related to or similar to the Cohiba that is for Sale in the US. The matter gets even more muddled when you bring into the conversation the other company that was making Dominican Cohibas. I believe this third company was called “Cohiba Caribbean’s Finest Cigars”. The cigar bands on this company’s version of the cigar more closely resembled the famous Cuban cigar band whereas General Cigar’s Cohiba band is very different. General’s Cohiba is commonly referred to as “Red Dot” due to the red dot that fills the letter “O” in Cohiba on their bands. General Cigar sued Cohiba Caribbean over the Cohiba name and won. Cohiba Caribbean was ordered to stop sales and production of their version of the Cohiba cigar. To take the story to Soap Opera proportions, Cubatobacco, the Cuban company that owns the original and some would say “real” Cohiba brand has sued General Cigar over the trademark and is seeking to had the courts stop them from branding and selling cigars with the Cohiba name. That suit has gone back and forth for a while and as far as I know is still ongoing. I did see an interesting post about it on The Stogie Guys’ website that linked to an actual court opinion that had ruled in favor of Cubatobacco. General had planned to appeal. I don’t know where that battle stands today but I assume it is still on going. What all this drama boils down to is this…Your Dominican “Red Dot” Cohiba has nothing to do with the famous Cohiba brand. It just happens to bear the same name. Other than that the Dominican Cohiba probably has more in common with a Macanudo.
I will refrain from delving deeper into the origins of Cohiba but I do want to take a moment to share some information on the Siglo line, because after all, eventually I’ll get to talking about the cigar I smoked which was a Cohiba Siglo I. I’ll keep it short, mainly because I only know what Min Ron NEE tells me in his book, An Illustrated Encyclopedia of Post-Revolution Havana Cigars. The Siglo Series was introduced in 1992. According to MRN it is speculated that the line was created to fill the void left by the discontinuation of the Davidoff marca. All of the Siglo line is reportedly milder than your standard Cohiba. There is actually an italicized note from MRN saying that going over the draft of the book, his Cuban consultant that was working with him confirmed it is true that the line was created to fill that gap left by Davidoff. I can say that while milder than a Cohiba Robusto, the Siglo I is not a mild cigar. I have never had the pleasure of a Cuban Davidoff, so I have no personal knowledge of how the Siglos compare to the cigar they have replaced in the Habanos catalog. The Siglo I comes in cardboard packs of 5 or 10, in 3 packs of tubos, and in varnished Slide Lid Boxes of 25 cigars. The one I am smoking today was a gift from a very generous friend so I have no idea what type of packaging it spent the first part of its life in.
Lets start off with appearance. The Siglo I is a très petit corona, or if you like to use the official Habanos, S.A. factory names for the vitolas, then you’d call it a perlas. It measures a diminutive four inches in length and a thin 40 ring gauge. The wrapper is a little darker than what I have seen on the standard Cohiba line and this specimen has a small water spot on the wrapper. It sports a triple cap like all Cuban parejos do. A little bumpy and rustic looking, it seems well filled and exhibited a nice firm draw before I lit it. With eager anticipation I used the “Three Match” technique to get this cigar lit. The technique is much easier on a smaller cigar like this than it is on a thicker robusto or a long double corona. A few puffs in and I immediately realized my mistake. I decided to light this cigar up much too early. There were moments of harshness and a grassiness that told me this cigar could have used some time aging, probably a year or two at least to settle in. You could definitely see this cigars potential to be stellar though. There was an underlying creaminess to it and perhaps some notes of roasted nuts complimented by a vague hint of sweet tea. Those flavors only occasional came through as the more vegetal and grassy flavors of youth dominated the smoke. I really wish I had been more patient with this one. I think once it has a chance to settle down this would be an very excellent medium bodied smoke. Patience is a must though if you want to find that out.