The fragrance right from the cellophane brings to mind the warm, familiar barnyard notes that well-aged cigar leaf is famous for, with just a hint of cupboard spices in the background. The cold draw is a bit on the tight side, but it reinforces the musty promise of the package fragrance. No hint of ammonia or other off-putting dissonance dampens the anticipation of a good smoke.
On light-up, first flavor notes come in at a mild to medium body with oak, cream and leather. The snug draw keeps the cigar from delivering maximum volume, and every draw really needs three puffs to get stoked up (at first). Snug draw or not, that flavor keeps you coming back—an old-fashioned, traditional kind of cigar warmth on the palate that seems almost (this overused expression is hard to avoid) cubanesque. That makes for a promising start, though one does hope the draw will eventually open up a tad.
Ten minutes after light-up, the slightly wavy burn is about three-quarters of an inch down, and the flavors have not yet disclosed any new secrets—which is fine since what you are getting is velvety and delicious. The cigar is up to a solid medium body at a quarter-hour; the retrohale is easy on the sinuses and rewards the smoker with a mild wash of condimental black pepper—aromatherapy for the cigar gourmet. As hoped, the draw is opening up a bit, too.
At 20 minutes, the well-formed, slate-white ash is 1 1/2 inches long and hanging on tight, confirming the well-conceived pack of long filler. The flavors are still woody and creamy—not at all sweet, though not quite dry, either. Leather and earth are coming to the fore now; the retrohale is still just a little zesty but not ornery in the least. Any nicotine buzz is mild to the point of being undetectable.
Thirty minutes after light-up, the 2-inch ash is still holding on rock-solid, and the waviness of the burn line has straightened itself with no need of any touch-up. Flavors of leather and cinnamon linger on the palate generously after each puff, permitting full enjoyment at an unhurried pace. Forty-five minutes in, it’s time to remove the band, which is self-adhesive, popping right off without effort or damage. Here the flavors begin to multiply and open up, with a taste of baker’s chocolate entering the picture and just the slightest note of mild chili pepper. After an hour and 10 minutes, the smoke is still surprisingly cool and sumptuous, even starting to deliver a slight sweetness faintly resembling sponge cake. With such agreeable transitions unfolding to the very end, you’ll be in no hurry to set this cigar down. I did not until an hour and 35 minutes had passed.
The Cohiba Blue is by no means a light-bodied cigar, and in the Toro size especially it is a feast, pressing the lower bounds of full body by late in the smoke. It could still fall within the wheelhouse of novices seeking to widen their experience into easily digestible fuller flavors. It could also serve as an any-occasion smoke for veteran enthusiasts (including after dinner), and a great companion to a favorite whiskey on ice. Moreover, this is a supremely well-behaved cigar—straight-burning, never needing touch-up or relighting. The cherry remains compact and well-formed; the shoulder of the cap never unravels.
The Cohiba name (both the domestic market and Cuban versions) brings with it a reputation for ultra-premium quality and a price to match. Cohiba Blue is a new gesture to the mid-price market, but General Cigar did not cut any corners in its selection of finely aged leaf or construction. General’s widespread retail placement should make this an easy cigar for shoppers to find. Well worth seeking out, the Cohiba Blue Toro is excellent, the opposite of boring, and while not exactly cheap, not budget-busting, either. Put this one on your shopping list.