Given that the Cohiba brand has reached its 50th anniversary this year, it feels quite apt to smoke a Cohiba for you,
and a vintage one at that. I won’t bore you with the history of Cohiba but I’m sure you know it was created
exclusively for Fidel Castro in 1966. Initially there were only three sizes rolled - the favourite sizes for El
Commandante. The Lancero is a classically elegant cigar and a format I love to smoke. As the both the New World and
Cuba continue to make larger ring gauge cigars, I find myself seeking the opposite and smoking 50 and below ring
gauge cigars. There’s more skill required to roll a slender cigar and the blends are slightly different for a
slighter smoke as well.
In any case, I’ve found a cellophane wrapped Cohiba Lancero from the mid-80's in my humidor. Cellophane wrapped Cuban
cigars were the norm from the mid 1930's to the early 90's. In 1992, the procedure changed and cellophane wrappers
are now only used on machine made cigars. As I have learned, cellophane wrapped cigars age remarkably well and are
now sought after by collectors (machine made and handmade versions).
A pigtailed cigar just oozes elegance and style. This type of cap finish was only used on the best cigars by the best
rollers. The band is circa 70-90's and is printed not embossed. The initial smell of the tobacco is a little muted,
not earthy and woody like some cigars I've smelt from the 60-80's. This may be the cellophane effect. I press the
cellophane and as I push out the air I can distinctively pick up a strong sweet cocoa aroma. A sign of things to
The wrapper is typical of Cohiba and although it doesn’t have an oily shine like a fresh cigar, it’s a fine wrapper
with just a couple of thicker protruding veins. The colour is even throughout. The old band looks resplendent on
this cigar. The cigar feels in good condition with just the right amount of spring to the touch. I use a straight
cut and I'm happy that the cut is clean and there isn't any damage to the cigar, which can happen on older cigars as
they dry out a little. I normally moisten the cap in my mouth with older cigars, this often helps the cutting
process to make sure the cutter doesn't crack the cap.
"There’s more skill required to roll a slender cigar and the blends are slightly different for a slighter smoke as
The draw is a little tight and the pre-draw flavour has a slight menthol note. I light up with my DuPont Defi-Extreme
lighter. I think I'm a little unlucky with this cigar as it's definitely more on the tight draw side but I will
persevere for all The Rake’s readers.
The cigar starts with a little uneven burn but, I am smoking on a terrace with the retractable roof open. I just
rotate the cigar and hope it catches up. Smoke production isn't great due to the tight draw. The flavour is a little
light in the first third – but one should always be patient and not judge a cigar from the first inch, it needs time
to really develop. The ash falls after an inch, I do get that distinctive Cohiba taste as the finish is smooth and
round but not the strength I expected.
Entering the second inch there's a little pick up in flavour. The head of the cigar is very tight and I think that's
the root cause of my difficult draw. The rest of the cigar is softening up as I smoke which is normal. I’ll resist
cutting to see what happens.
Half way through there's a noticeable flavour change. The strength has picked up and there's a sudden hit of grass.
Wow. The burn has evened out without touching up and the ash is firm and light grey.
In the final third I've made a thin recut and that's helped the draw a little. There's definitely some nicotine left
in this cigar. My lips are tingling a little. The flavour is still a medium at most and there's a sweet nuttiness
coming through. The retro hale is very smooth which is normal with older tobacco. I always find with young cigars,
the nasal burn stops me from doing it many times. Woody and nutty, yum! Although the draw has been testing, I really
have to recommend trying a cigar like this or the Corona Especiales. There’s an old world elegance to smoking a
slender gauge cigar which you don’t get from smoking something like a Texas Lancero (Alec Bradley 70 x 7”). Of
course, each to their own - this is just my personal opinion.
COHIBA LANCEROS CELLOPHANE WRAPPED
The Cohiba Lancero looks magnificent in this format and you can easily imagine Castro reaching for one of these in
his breast pocket. Don’t be fooled by the cellophane, it doesn’t mean it’s cheap. The overall look of the cigar is
first class, particularly the pigtail cap. The wrapper is fine, has even colour throughout and just a few veins. The
ash is a decent soft grey.
It was let down by a tight draw which I struggled with initially and perhaps I should have recut sooner rather than
later in this instance. Admittedly as a slower smoker, it wasn’t the end of the world, but after two thirds I was
tiring from the effort required to draw. The cigar did everything except draw well. The cap was well made and was
firm throughout with no soft spots which would indicate under filling.
SMELL AND TASTE: 8/10
Like a good racehorse, the flavour and development of this cigar waited till the last few furlongs before coming in
to its own. It was a long wait for the flavours to develop, but they did grow into exactly what you would imagine an
aged Cohiba to taste like. Aged Cuban tobacco is a delight to smoke; it really does get better with time, the longer
the better. There are those who say that ageing is just hype and that it makes no difference. I won’t argue with
this, but until you undertake a side-by-side smoke comparison you can never truly know how a cigar will change over
time. Personally, I would always recommend trying an aged smoke, you never know how it might surprise you.