Cohiba Behike 52 (Cuban)
This week’s review is a cigar that I have been absolutely dying to try. I finally got my hands on the Cohiba Behike and I am wasting no time firing this bad boy up.
The Good Stuff: The Cohiba Behike (or “Tribal Chief) was once deemed the most expensive cigar in the world. I’m not entirely sure when the original release was, but I can tell you the re-release happened this year (2010) during the XII Festival del Habano. Along with the re-release came a dramatic price drop. Although the Behike price has dropped, paying $40+ a stick for a cigar isn’t something I do often. I have seen these cigars for sale ranging from $30 all the way up to $90 a peice. Of course size plays a big role in the price tag. The Behike is composed of Cuban “Medio Tiempo” leaves wich are taken from the top leaves of each tobacco plant. These leaves are said to absorb the most sun therefore produce a unique flavor profile. Needless to say this is probably the main reason why the Behike’s are so rare and will only be produced in very small quantities each year.
Size: 4.75 x 52 – Wrapper: Cuban – Binder/Filler: Cuban
Prelight: The Cohiba Behike is a short, stubby, wider ring gauged cigar. The wrapper is composed of a medium to light brown wrapper which is extremely consistent in color, and silky enough to shine at almost every ray of light it comes across. The cap of the Behike is a double capped semi-pig tail that bleeds seamlessly into the body of the cigar. There are quite a few smaller veins running the length of the body, but far less than most Cuban cigars I have seen. There are no soft spots at all and the body of the cigar is very firm to the touch giving a ton of resistance when compressed between my fingers. The band is very similar to the yellow and black Cohiba band, but instead of the main crest being the brand name, it is embossed with a gold “BEHIKE” stamp along with a textured hologram of the Cohiba Head logo. At the price each one of these cigars run I am glad to see the extra hologrammed precautions used to ensure authenticity. The back of band has yet another hologram. This one is composed of a ton of smaller “COHIBA” logos along with the head. Above this hologram is the gold COHIBA logo along with another logo as well as the yellow “Habana, Cuba” emblem we are all used to.
The Behike gives off a very slight grassy/earthy aroma from the wrapper which is only more pronounced at the foot with a little touch of spice. The cap cut off clean and easy using my Palio Double Bladed cutter. The cold draw seems a bit tight, actually very tight. I really hope this doesn’t transpose into the smoking experience. The flavors that I picked up in the cold draw is a very starchy, zest flavor backed by grassy and earthy notes. I don’t know what it is but almost every Cuban cigar I have ever had has started off with an almost saltiness that is coming off of the cap of the wrapper.
First Smoke: Yup, saltiness still there. Luckily it was only evident into the first couple of draws before simmering down. After that the flavors really start to take off. The first third gives off a very mild smoke with the flavor profile composed mostly of softer cedar and earthly flavors backed by a very nice spice and even just a dash of pepper that is only evident enough to tease the tip of my tongue. The draw, yup, as expected very tight. I wouldn’t say it was plugged but I really wish it wasn’t as tight as it is. The draw, once it hits me is semi-thick and produces a decent amount of solid white smoke. The Behike does give off a hell of a lot of stationary smoke. At times you can see the oils burning off the wrapper. Very pleasant in scent as well with cedar and spice being the main aromas. Straight out of the gate a large wave started down the burline. This raised quite some concern but amazingly by the end of the first third the Behike managed to correct itself leaving behind an almost perfect burline (amazing for a Cuban at least), with a thicker edge that left behind a trail of darker grey, flaky ash.
Halfway There: The pepper and spice really mellowed out into the second third of the Behike. The cedar and earthy tones are still there in full force but the entire experience has turned to a much more creamy, softer one. I honestly though that, judging by the first third, that this would be a much bolder, harsh smoke. But as of the second third its been more of a smooth flavor bomb. The draw really started opening up (thank god) into the second third and the ash was beautiful for Cuban tobacco. A lot more compressed and compact than I am used to. The burnline is running great and I am only feeling a slight bit of nicotine from this stick.
Finish: Wow, holy crap did the spice and pepper make a comeback and its making for a totally badass retrohale! The main flavors have to be the pepper and spice mixture with the cedar and earthy tones making only subtle appearances. The saltiness is still there, but not as evident as the first and second thirds. The burnline has been near perfect all the way through and the ash was amazing for a Cuban cigar. I really started to feel a bit of the nicotine into the final third. It wasn’t enough to knock me off my feet but it’s definitely in there. After all was said and done the Behike took me a little over an hour and a half to smoke. That was WAY longer than I expected. The tighter draw may have had something to do with that but the tobacco used in this cigar really burned a lot slower than I anticipated.
Overview: I really wanted to hate this cigar. The price, the exclusiveness, the marketing behind it, all in my corner. Did I ? Absolutely not. This is one hell of a cigar and sets the bar WAY high for any type of future Cuban cigar manufacturing. This is an extremely complex, yet very well balanced smoke with enough changeups to keep anyone entertained. It was mild/medium with just enough extra punch to keep you on your toes. Flawless construction, excellent burn, with a great flavor profile. If this cigar wasn’t so damn expensive it would be in my everyday line up. I do see myself keeping a few of these on hand though for those “special” occasions.
Pairing: The Cohiba Behike was paired with another one of my regular rotation beers, Belhaven’s Scottish ale. Belhaven’s Scottish Ale is a very malty, hoppy ale with a creamy fruity finish. At 5.2% this beer was a perfect pairing for the Behike. It married up very well with the smoother creamy notes in the cigar and produced a nice balance once the cigar’s spice really took off. This ale would go perfect with just about any cigar. The Behike would work very well with any ale, IPA, water, coffee, or tea.