Overpriced brand-name cigar: Thou Name Is Cohiba Robusto

Cohiba is one of the cigar brands that need no introductions. The flagship brand of Habanos S.A. and the personal brand to Dictator Fidel Castro, Cohiba is the cream of the crop for Cuban cigars and you certainly pay top dollar for that.

As the Robusto is my favorite cigar vitola, it should come as no surprise that the Cohiba Robusto would be a cigar I would be interested in. I have looked forward to having one for a very long time and opportunity came knocking. Here are my thoughts.

Construction

I’ve read from a number of sites that construction issues plague Cohiba; complaints range from loosely rolled cigars to cracked wrappers. Fortunately the three Cohiba Robustos I sampled exhibited no problems, physically anyways.

The Cohiba Robusto has very small, minor veins on it’s otherwise ordinary looking milky chocolate wrapper. When squeezed, there is some slight sponginess, but no soft spots so no odd burning issues are anticipated. The burn is decent, I did touch it up a few times with my Zippo Blu. The ash is an unimpressive flaky salt-and-pepper color that refused to hold for more than an inch at a time.

Flavor & Taste

Pre-light draw revealed very subtle hints of…hay/grass…? The foot of the Cohiba Robusto smelled like nothing but perhaps the subtle scent of floral.

The first third of the cigar is the worse in flavor. A combination of what I can only describe as chewing on wet, bitter grass. Of the two Cohiba Robusto I smoked, as well as my buddy who had one, that inital crap taste was consistent on all three. Yum.

By the second third, things definitely started getting better. The bitterness resided and flavors of coffee as well as dark chocolate began to overtake.

The last third is where this baby starts to shine and becomes what one would expect of a Cuban cigar. A touch of pleasant spiciness develops and becomes an enjoyable smoke.

Despite all the talk about the strength, power, and kick of Cohiba cigars, I hate to say it but, it is overstated. The Cohiba Robusto, in my opinion, is more of a decent medium body cigar compared to, say, the Bolivar Royal Corona. But let me add, what I consider a strong cigar isn’t one that necessarily is overpowering, kicks the crap out of you and churns your stomach like drinking heavy liquor on an empty stomach, but rather the quality and complexity of taste.

Value

At $15 a cigar, the Cohiba Robusto, to me anyways, is hardly a value buy. A box purchase of 25 will certainly set you back a pretty penny. Had this cigar been more enjoyable from the get-go, it would be worth having a few sticks lying around in the humidor for those special occasions.

Conclusion

Undoubtedly, I’m sure some readers may find my observations and experience with the Cohiba Robusto a bit harsh, but when a cigar passes the $10 mark, I’d expect to pay for more than just the brand name. Given the many Robusto choices, I have to say I’m more likely to reach for a Bolivar Royal Corona or a Montecristo Petit Edmundo for more half the price of a Cohiba Robusto. Obviously everyone’s taste varies, but for my taste, despite how much I’ve been looking forward to having a Cohiba Robusto and finally having one, the experience came up short.

I’m sure down the road, I may consider trying a couple or few more to be sure, but that won’t be anytime soon.

Montecristo Petit Edmundo vs Montecristo Edmundo

Every Montecristo Edmundo cigar I’ve smoked have been exquisite, but I don’t always have the 90-minutes to enjoy them fully. I was super excited to see that Montecristo offers an 1-inch shorter version, aptly named the Petit Edmundo, that retains all the great flavors in a shorter vitola.

I was planning to review the Petit Edmundo without many comparisons to its larger brother, the Edmundo, but there are more similarities than differences of the two vitolas. So this review will be different that other cigar reviews in that it is more of a comparison between the two Edmundos.

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Montecristo Petit Edmundo

Origin: Cuba
Format: Petit Robusto
Size: 4.3
Ring: 52
Wrapper: Cuban
Filler: Cuban
Binder: Cuban
Made: Handmade
Strength: Medium/Full
Smoke Time: ~45 minutes
Price: $7.56, box of 25

Construction

The Petit Edmundos has a nice oily-sheen milk chocolate-brown wrapper with many fine veins very similar to the Edmundos. I noticed with the Petit Edmundo, the triple cap seems to be hastily applied on more than a few sticks, surprising since the Montecristo Edmundo has some of the best looking triple caps I’ve seen of the Cuban cigars I’ve tried.

20091229-Montecristo-Petit-Edmundo-Bui4Ever-011The Petit Edmundos I’ve tried so far, all of them have exhibited consistent smooth draws; not too tight and not too loose giving you nice bellows of smoke. The Petit Edmundo is solidly built with no hint of soft spots when squeezed. The burn is decent, solid and slow with salt-and-pepper colored ash that holds on for an inch or more easily. The occasional minor burn corrections are needed to keep the Petit Edmundo burning evenly.

I was surprised to find that the Petit Edmundo has a larger ring guage (52mm) than the Edmundo (50mm) despite advertising suggesting otherwise. I can’t imagine this is a typo as many other online cigar review sites have listed the Edmundo and Petit Edmundo as having 52mm ring gauges. The Edmundos I own are not counterfeits, so it’s a bit perplexing. So as an FYI, the Montecristo Petit Edmundo has a 52mm ring gauge and the Montecristo Edmundo has a 50mm ring gauge. [2010-01-22 UPDATE: So this is quite interesting, I just received a box of 25 of the Montecristo Edmundo and it has a ring size of 52mm. It seems like the Montecristo Edmundo tubos have a slightly smaller ring gauge for whatever reason.]

When purchased in a box, the Montecristo cedar dress box is absolutely beautifully constructed with perfect hinges and a similar decorative lock type latch found on the Cohiba dress boxes, minus the shiny veneer finish on the Cohiba.

The Montecristo cigar band has also changed. The 2007 band on my Edmundos are plain, faded milk chocolate-brown and cheap looking where the 2009 cigar band is darker brown with raised lettering and accents. The new bands look better and less counterfeit looking. According to this website, the Montecristo band was changed sometime in 2007.

Flavors & Taste

20091230-Montecristo-Petit-Edmundo-Bui4Ever-013According to the box code, the Petit Edmundos I have are dated as May 2009, unusually young Cubans, and despite better judgment, I couldn’t resist trying one as soon I received my box. While I can taste the same flavors as the Edmundo, there is a bit of bitterness which I attribute to the youngness factor. The Edmundos I have are more than twice the age and the flavors and taste on those are finally settling in real nice. That’s unfortunate as I don’t think I can let the Petit Edmundo sit undisturbed for a year or more without enjoying some. They don’t taste bad, but when you know how good they can be with age, it’s hard to fully enjoy. I’ll try and let them sit in my humidor for a month and see if the taste settles any better.

Otherwise, pre-light taste has hints of almond, chocolate, and pepper. The flavors of the Petit Edmundo is identical to the Edmundo. Flavors remain consistent throughout to the nub. The Petit Edmundo is classified as medium-full bodied as with the Edmundo. There are also a number of people who seem to prefer the Petit over the full-size Edmundo.

Value

A box of 25 sets you back $189 USD where the Edmundo is slightly more at $220 USD. Despite being slightly shorter than a typical Robusto, the larger ring gauge should make it burn about the same speed.

Conclusion

I’m a big Robusto fan and the size of the Petit Edmundo is about right for my on-the-go life where the Edmundo is better suited for when time is not a concern. In short, the Montecristo Petit Edmundo has the famous Montecristo taste and you can’t go wrong with having a box or even a few sticks of these in your humidors. Despite designed to be a quicker smoke, I would definitely suggest that you take the time to savior each and every draw and the wonderful taste of this cigar.

Check out these other great reviews on the Petit Edmundo:

Montecristo Petit Edmundo Gallery Pictures

Montecristo Edmuno Cigar Review

Next to Cohiba, Montecristo is perhaps one of the most recognizable Cuban cigar brand in the world. Their flagship cigar, the Montecristo No. 2, considered one of the finest full-bodies torpedo cigars made by many cigar aficionados, rated as a 94 by Cigar Aficionado (Feb 2008 edition).

I, not being a fan of torpedo shaped cigars or full-bodied Cubans (yet), opted for the Montecristo Edmundo. Montecristo also makes a shorter version, the Petit Edmundo, which is also very highly rated for those who are shorter on time or prefer a smaller vitola. I have not  tried the Petit Edmunodo yet, but from what I hear, it hits the sweet spot sooner. Definitely on my to try next list.

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Montecristo Edmundo

Origin: Cuba
Format: Robusto
Size: 5.3
Ring: 50
Wrapper: Cuban
Filler: Cuban
Binder: Cuban
Made: Handmade
Smoke Time: ~90 minutes
Price: $8.80, box of 25

Construction

20091210-Montecristo-Edmundo-Cuban-Cigar-002Beautifully constructed, this Robusto vitola named after Edmundo Dantes, the hero in Alexandro Dumas’ famous novel, “The Count of Montecristo”, a favorite reading for the torcedores of the Montecristo brand.

This is a large puro measuring 5.3 inches with a 50 ring. There is hardly any veins in the wrapper with no soft spots when gently squeezed. There is plenty of tobacco packed into this beast. The wrapper has a nice naturally, oily sheen and smells great. (2010-01-25 UPDATE: I found something quite interesting. Apparently the Montecristo Edmundos that come in the tubos are 50mm ring gauges where the Edmundos from a box of 25 are 52mm. Not entirely sure why the tubed version would be noticeably smaller.)

The cigar band is a very simple design, perhaps the smallest and least decorative of its other Cuban brothers. The band design is so boring and uninspiring (Montecristo name on top and Habana at the bottom with a Fleur in the middle) you could think the cigar was a counterfeit if not for the beautiful construction, the perfect triple cap, and the robust flavors.

I received the Montecristo Edmundo 3-pack that comes in a very nice package, complete the Country’s seals of authenticity. The Edmundo in the 3-packs come in a very attractive yellow metal tubo with the ornate Montecristo logo, the cigar name, and a bar-code on each. Inside, lays an Edmundo wrapped in a thin piece of cedar to help lock in the flavor. What’s great about the metal tubos is that they prevent the cigar from getting damaged when traveling with a stick. Normally I carry cigars i plan on consuming in a Cigar Caddy, but with the tubos I can travel light and not worry my cigar being destroyed in my pocket or bag. Even with the tubos, you’ll still need to place them in a humidor to keep them until you’re ready to enjoy them.

[showads]

My friends and I have not had any burn issues with the Montecristo Edmundo. Once started, it keeps a very precise burn until the end, no corrections needed. The salt-and-pepper ash produced is solid an holds for an inch-and-half easily. Because of the size and how well it’s packed, it’s easy to get large billows of nice white smoke.

Flavor and Taste

20091210-Montecristo-Edmundo-Cuban-Cigar-006The Montecristo Edmundo has a wonderful medium-to-full-bodied taste that remains unchanged except near the end. The flavors are buttery, with pepper, vanilla, chocolate with a hint of coffee beans throughout, but pickup more in pepper once you hit the last 1/3rd.

This is a cigar that you need adequate time to enjoy. Try rushing it and the strong flavors will kick your ass like gulping down hard Scotch, shot after shot. To truly appreciate this masterpiece, you need to take sips and let the taste flow around in your mouth before letting it out. I’ve tried to smoke these down to the nub a few times, but the flavors get too strong for me near the end, so generally I know when it’s time to put it down, it’s time to put it down. Also because this is more of a medium-to-full body cigar, make sure you have a hearty meal before enjoying one, or you will get sick.

The 5-pack of 3-packs (15 cigars) I have has a date code 2007 of making them 2 years-old (3 years, if you consider that the leaves are aged a year before being used) and from what I’ve read, can only get better with age.

Value

Purchased in a box of 25, the Montecristo Edmundo works out to $8.80 per stick. Purchased individually, the cost becomes a bit more on the pricey side of ~$13. Even at $13 a cigar, I definitely think it’s worth the value unlike the $36 Opus X Churchill I had.

For those who can legally acquire these beauties, they come as a single tubo, a 3-pack of tubos, a 5-pack of 3-packs (15 Edmundos), and a clamshell box of 25.

Conclusion

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This has become one of my favorite cigars, so far. If you want to experience Cuban cigars at its finest, I would certainly recommend the Edmundo for its beautiful construction and yummy flavors. For $8.80 a cigar, you’ll be hard pressed to find even a Cohiba that taste as good for the same price.

Be sure to read other reviews:

Montecristo Edmuno Gallery