Cohiba cigars

Cohíba is a brand for two kinds of premium cigar, one produced in Cuba for Habanos SA, the Cuban state-owned tobacco company, and the other produced in the Dominican Republic for General Cigar. The name cohíba derives from the Taino word for "tobacco". The Cuban brand is filled with top-quality tobacco which, unique to Cohiba, has undergone an extra fermentation process; it is a type as well as a brand.

Cohíba was originally a private brand supplied exclusively to Fidel Castro and high level Cuban government and communist party officials. Often given as diplomatic gifts, the Cohíba brand gradually developed a "cult" status. It was released commercially for sale to the public in 1982.

Cuban Cohíbas are known to use some of the finest cigar tobacco available in Cuba. The tobacco for Cohíba is selected from the finest Vegas Finas de Primera (first-class tobacco fields) in da San Luis & San Juan y Martinez zones of the Vuelta Abajo region of Pinar del Río Province. The tobacco used to fill the cigars is unique among Cuban marques because it undergoes a third fermentation process in barrels, which is reputed to give it a smoother flavor than other cigars. Originally all Cohíbas were made at the El Laguito factory, a converted mansion located on the outskirts of Havana. Later, production of some Cohiba vitolas was expanded to other factories.

The flavour of these cigars tends towards medium to full-bodied.

Cohíba began with the cigars smoked by a bodyguard of Fidel Castro's named Bienvenido "Chicho" Perez. Castro noticed he often smoked a "very aromatic, very nice" cigar. When asked by Castro what brand he smoked, he replied that it was rolled by a friend of his who would give him some of these special cigars as gifts.

The man in question was a cigar roller working at the La Corona factory in Havana named Eduardo Rivera. Castro approached Rivera about rolling cigars for him personally and set him up with five other rollers in a former diplomatic mansion in a suburb of Havana known as El Laguito (Spanish for "the little lake"). Later, the factory became the first cigar factory to be staffed entirely by women torcedoras (cigar rollers). Historically, security at the factory was tightly regulated, with only designated officials and workers allowed entry into the most critical work areas of the factory.

The cigars were reserved for Castro and other high-ranking Cuban officials, and were often presented to foreign dignitaries as gifts. Additionally, with rumors and fears of a CIA assassination attempt running rampant, it made sense for Castro to smoke only cigars that were manufactured under extremely secure and secretive conditions. (The CIA had allegedly contemplated using exploding cigars as a means of assassinating Castro). Castro himself is said to be particularly fond of the long, thin cigars rolled for him, especially the sizes that would become the Lancero and Corona Especial.

Castro decided to release his personal cigars as a premium cigar brand for public consumption when the 1982 World Cup was held in Spain. When first launched in 1982 the Cohíba marque consisted of three vitolas or sizes: the Panetela, the Corona Especial, and the Lancero. In 1989 three more vitolas, the Robusto, the Exquisito, and the Espléndido, were added; the six are referred to as the Línea Clásica (classic line).

In 1992 Habanos SA launched the first sizes in what it calls the Línea 1492, commemorating Christopher Columbus and his voyage to the Americas, with each size named for a century since Columbus' discovery. The initial launch included the Siglo I, Siglo II, Siglo III, Siglo IV, and Siglo V, with a Siglo VI added in 2002. A long-standing rumor is that the original Línea 1492 was a replacement for the Davidoff marque that recently ceased production in Cuba (each of the first five "Siglos" corresponded to a size in the Davidoff line-up).

Besides regular production, Habanos SA regularly releases limited release Cohíba cigars for such events as the annual Habanos Festival, brand anniversaries, and their annual Edición Limitada (limited edition) release of special sizes of their various cigar brands wrapped in a darker vintage leaf. In 2007, Habanos released a new line of maduro-wrapped Cohibas, called "Maduro 5," in three sizes.

Cohíba also produces two machine-made cigarillos: the Mini and the Club.

Habanos SA have used their Cohiba brand name for non-cigar products, manufacturing Cohiba cigarettes since 1987 and Extra Cohiba Cognac since 1999.

As of late 2006 Cohíba had released three different Edición Limitada Cohíbas: the Pirámide released in 2001 and re-released in 2006, the Double Corona in 2003, and the Sublime in 2004.

The following list of the Cohíba marque includes the size in inches and ring gauge with metric in parenthesis. Also, the vitola de galera or factory name of that size is included along with its popular size name in American cigar vocabulary.

La Línea Clásica

  • Lancero - 7 1/2" x 38 (192 x 15.08 mm) Laguito No. 1, a long panetela
  • Corona Especial - 6" x 38 (152 x 15.08 mm) Laguito No. 2, a panetela
  • Panetela - 4 1/2" x 26 (115 x 10.32 mm) Laguito No. 3, a cigarillo
  • Exquisito - 4 7/8" x 36 (125 x 14.29 mm) Seoane, a cigarillo
  • Robusto - 4 7/8" x 50 (124 x 19.84 mm) Robusto, a robusto or rothschild
  • Espléndido - 7" x 47 (178 x 18.65 mm) Julieta, a churchill

La Línea 1492

  • Siglo I - 4" x 40 (102 x 15.87 mm) Perla, a tres petit corona
  • Siglo II - 5 1/8" x 42 (129 x 16.67 mm) Mareva, a petit corona
  • Siglo III - 6 1/8" x 42 (155 x 16.67 mm) Corona Grande, a long corona
  • Siglo IV - 5 5/8" x 46 (143 x 18.26 mm) Corona Gorda, a corona gorda
  • Siglo V - 6 3/4" x 43 (170 x 17.07 mm) Dalia, a lonsdale
  • Siglo VI - 5 7/8" x 52 (150 x 20.64 mm) Cañonazo, a toro

Maduro 5

  • Secretos - 4 1/2 x 40 (110 x 15.87 mm) Reyes, a tres petit corona
  • Magicos - 4 1/2" x 52 (115 x 20.64 mm) Magicos, a robusto or rothschild
  • Genios - 5 1/2 x 52 (140 X 20.64 mm) Estupendos, a robusto extra

Edición Limitada Releases

  • Pirámide (2001) - 6 1/8" x 52 (156 x 20.64 mm) Pirámide, a pyramid or torpedo
  • Double Corona (2003) - 7 5/8" x 49 (194 x 19.45 mm) Prominente, a double corona
  • Sublime (2004) - 6 1/2" x 54 (164 x 21.43 mm) Sublime, a large toro
  • Pirámide (2006) - 6 1/8" x 52 (156 x 20.64 mm) Pirámide, a pyramid or torpedo; a remake of the 2001 EL

Special Releases

  • Millennium Reserve Pirámide - 6 1/8" x 52 (156 x 20.64 mm) Pirámide, a pyramid or torpedo
  • Behike - 7 1/2" x 52 (192 x 20 mm) Behike, a double robusto